I Watched This Game: Canucks at Dallas Stars, December 19, 2013

Hey, remember when the Canucks were dynamite on the road but they couldn’t seem to win at home? That was a frustrating time. Fortunately, their recent successful homestand suggests that they’ve gotten that sorted out, and I’m happy to report that they aren’t suddenly and inexplicably plagued by an inversion of the same issue.

That’s what someone who didn’t watch this game might say. So I won’t say it, because I watched this game.

Canucks 1 – 4 Stars

  • The Canucks have now dropped both games to Dallas this season, and I’ll tell you what the problem probably is: Glen Gulutzan. My guess is the team is looking to him for guidance, since he coached the Stars guys last year, and he’s giving it to them as though nothing’s changed: “Okay, so they’re going to skate around for awhile and then give the puck away and seem totally inept and it should be really easy to score on them.” Glen. No. That was last year.
  • The trick to beating the Dallas Stars is shutting down Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Of course, that’s easier said than done. You definitely can’t make a bad line change when they’re on the ice, for instance, which is what the Canucks did on the game’s first goal. Here’s what you’re supposed to do: get the puck deep, then switch. Here’s what the Canucks did: give the puck to Kevin “puck-moving defenceman” Connauton, then switched. That’s a bad change. As bad changes go, it was up there with letting Joel Schumacher take over the Batman franchise from Tim Burton. It was this bad.
  • Speaking of bad, the Stars scored again 15 seconds later. After Yannick Weber got caught up the ice, Dallas came back on a 2-on-2. Unfortunately, one of Vancouver’s two men back was Tom Sestito, who was covering Weber. This concerned me. Unlike the Backstreet Boys, when Sestito’s back, I do not say, “All right!” Sure enough, Sestito’s contribution to this play was getting into position, then taking about as long to turn around as it takes Alicia Keys to sing the anthem while Colton Sceviour breezed effortlessly around him to the net. Seriously, watch Sestito on this play again and explain to me how he got 3 more shifts in the period.
  • Yannick Weber deserves blame on this play as well. That was a poor time to leave the point. Expecting Tom Sestito to cover for you is a bad idea. His cover is bad. Ken bad.
  • Weber finished the night minus-3, and while that doesn’t always speak to how you played, in this case, it’s a well-earned blight. He deserves blame on the Stars’ final two goals as well. On Dallas’s third, he drifted too far into the middle, giving Erik Cole too much room wide. And on the fourth, he let Cole freeze him at the top of the zone, leaving room for Valeri Nichushkin to slide into the big passing lane in the middle of the ice. Rough night for Weber and it’s too bad. As Roger Millions might say, immediately after a famous NSFW gaffe, he was doing so well.
  • While we’re handing out blame, Roberto Luongo should have had the Cole goal, much like I should have had the salad at dinner. But I had the fries, and I ordered them slathered in gravy and cheese after writing about Milan Lucic gave me a hankering for poutine. As a result, I feel how Luongo looked tonight: sluggish..
  • Shortly after the Canucks went down two, Chris Higgins tried to take the team on his back. (Of course, because he plays to his strength, he lifted with his knees and let his finely-sculpted abdomen do most of the work.) After Mike Santorelli poked the puck out to Higgins in the neutral zone, he raced into the Dallas end and threw it over Kari Lehtonen’s shoulder like a continental soldier.
  • Sidenote: Don’t lie to me, children’s musicians. “Do Your Ears Hang Low” is a rude folk song repurposed for the kids. I know the original lyric wasn’t “ears” and so do you.
  • I think it’s clear to everybody that Jannik Hansen shouldn’t be skating alongside the Sedins, but this game also served to remind us why Zack Kassian shouldn’t be there either. The Canucks like to stick one of their wingers just inside their own blue line, then move the puck from down low to that guy and have him start out. Kassian struggles here, and he turned the puck over a handful of times after receiving that breakout pass. He’s great in the offensive end and he has some decent vision, but if you’re a liability from your own blue line through the neutral zone, a.k.a. the land of opportunity for the league’s best and most opportunistic defenders, you can’t be on the ice with the Sedins, who tend to share it with those guys.
  • Dan Hamhuis probably would have finished well over 30 minutes had this thing not been decided early in the third. (He played just 4:12 at even-strength in the final period.) He was playing some great hockey, and he was at his Community Man best on the Stars’ disallowed goal, happily accepting a little interference from Ryan Garbutt — whose name, I remind you, is a portmanteau of garbage and butt — so the goal would be called back. I feel like this would be a great place for me to make a joke about callbacks, but I don’t think I Ken.
  • Nailed it.
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  1. toulouse toucan
    December 19, 2013

    About this loss two things are true
    Their goalie outplayed Bobby Lu
    And Friday night you start anew

    Though this third thing I wish to say
    You would have won this game today
    If only pucks had bounced your way

    But when the Stars two goals had got
    Before you’ve even had a shot
    ‘Twas as likely you would lose as not

    So while you once were on a roll
    And one knows travel takes its toll
    It’s Lady Luck you can’t control

    Tomorrow night I hope you’ll see
    That she can also smile on thee

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    • chicken hawk
      December 19, 2013

      I’m Chicken Hawk the local troll
      Wondering if you watched this game
      For while your zeal I could extol
      Dame Fortune does deserve no blame

      Please take the time to read his post
      Seeing what Harrison had to say
      It’s to your thoughts a fine riposte
      It was not Chance that cost the day

      For Bobby Lu was far from there
      Sestito’s AHL at best
      Too many played without a care
      When they should be like men possessed

      The lack of Luck that you lament
      To this loss does not apply
      Absence of skill and no intent
      Explain this loss or so say I

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  2. BP
    December 19, 2013

    Waiting for the other shoe to drop…

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  3. Amor de Cosmos
    December 19, 2013

    That was like the last month never happened.

    Some patterns are clear. At the moment unless the Nux come flying out of the blocks in the first couple of shifts, and pepper the opposition goal there’s a very good chance they’ll lose the game. Their new-found proclivity for giving up goals in rapid succession is probably not just bad luck. Both trends show they’re nervy, and thinking too much about the game. The system isn’t quite second nature yet. Fortunately both these tendencies will pass, we just have to grit our teeth until they do.

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  4. Brent
    December 19, 2013

    Very depressing, have to admit I didn’t watch the whole game, and flipped through parts of it. IN fact it took me a while to realize it was 2-0, as I missed that goal on a 30 sec flip! I really, really don’t get the Sestio thing. Thought he would get benched after the second goal, but no, he was still out there doing what ever he does. I have not checked the stats but are not Welsh or Archibald an upgrade on him?

    Should have started Lack right at the beginning if the third. After the third goal, and the disallowed goal it was obvious he was off. Another strange coaching decision. He kind of looked like he had the flu, Lu that is not Tort, although Torts would have been likely venting off steam after that game.

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  5. tom selleck's moustache
    December 19, 2013

    “Seriously, watch Sestito on this play again and explain to me how he got 3 more shifts in the period.”

    I still can’t explain how he gets in the line up at all. I’ve generally been really impressed with Tortorella’s decisions and approach as a coach thus far; but his consistent inclusion of Sestito in the line up continues to leave me puzzled. He just looks so slow and clumsy out there; it’s like watching a giraffe on the run.

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    • Phileo99
      December 20, 2013

      After extolling the hockey intelligence of how JT managed the Sedin Twin’s minutes to help win the Boston game, one would think that JT was smart enough to realize that Sestito is NOT a good 4th line player. That 2nd goal was conclusive evidence – instead of draping himself all over Sceviour, Sestito non-chalantly skated into no-man’s land – neither here nor there. Before you know it, it’s 2-0 Stars. I agree with the consensus, Welsh, Archibald, heck any Chi-Wolves player at this point would be an upgrade on Sestito.
      I wonder if JT sees something in Sestito from back when the both of them were in the Eastern Conference. There’s really no other logical explanation for this anti-strategic brain-fart

      Also, playing Bobby Lu right after the loss to Minnesota is not the best choice in my opinion. Lack is showing that he can help you win, and Bobby Lu had already played 3 straight at that time. You know that Luongo would be pumped up for the Hawks, so why waste that on playing the Stars?

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  6. Shade of Blue
    December 19, 2013

    * Well, that sucked.

    * Can someone please get Kesler some actual armor? When he’s not throwing himself in front of pucks (did you see him step in front of that shot when he was still hobbling from blocking the last one!?), his teammates are hitting him with them. He took a Garrison blast in the first, and it look like he caught another late in the second. Plate mail might slow him down too much but some Mad Max-esque get up cobbled together from Kevlar and bubble wrap isn’t too much to ask, is it?

    * or maybe they could just wrap him in a bunch of those ugly Christmas sweaters…

    * It is sure looking like the Bruins are going to be regretting the Seguin trade for a long time to come. Full credit to the Stars’ GM for taking that deal…

    * Can we please get an IT-savvy fan to access Sestito’s computer and delete those incriminating photos of Torts? He’s been back in the lineup for two games and the Canucks have lost them both! You don’t need advanced stats – just read the tag on his jersey: “Caution, may contain hockey-like substance.”

    * All I want for Christmas is the team that showed up last Saturday against Boston to pay a visit to Chicago tomorrow. Please? I’ll leave the rum out with the cookies…

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  7. Fruzenius
    December 19, 2013

    I lost it at “portmanteau of garbage and butt”

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  8. PB
    December 20, 2013

    At least we didn’t lose to *cough*cough* Buffalo tonight…

    Oh you crazy Bruins and your wacky ways.

    Tom Sestito’s signing by Gillis and constant playing by Tortorella is truly one of the great modern day mysteries. He has done almost nothing (good) in his entire time here. He is too slow to really hit, his facepunching skills are mediocre at best, he is an irrelevant Cold War era deterrent (maybe Bulgarian?) in the modern world, and his inability to figure out “COVER MAN SLIDING INTO POSITION BEHIND ME” has happened on many other occasions that have not led to goals. Because apparently Sestito also has incriminating evidence on god or maybe the NHL. Who knows?

    I know one thing. Welsh is miles better than him. Archibald is kilometers better than him. At this point I think even Libor Polasek would be an upgrade.

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    • Brent
      December 20, 2013

      Libor Polasek, wow, I mean that is bad, really bad. Sestito actually has more NHL goals this year than he got.

      As I said above, it is a complete mystery. Maybe it is part of the sealed divorce settlement of Francesco Aquilini? Have no idea what services he would provide to anyone involved, but there has to be some sort of leverage he has, cause it ain’t hockey skills. I generally don’t wish ill on anyone, but I actually hope he gets injured again.

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  9. Baldrick
    December 20, 2013

    Well that was another splash of cold water. And like everyone else, I was gobsmacked to see Sestito out on the ice after that second goal. Speaking of that, it has been my firm conviction lo these many years that no team in the past decade has given up goals in bunches more than the Canucks – I mean, not only the classic two goal lead collapse in a matter of minutes, but the two in twenty, or ten, or thirty seconds.

    When it happens these days and I start off singing this refrain, my wife chimes in with “yes, yes, I know, I know” and I realize that I really hate this song! It would be an interesting statistical analysis for all those folk out there who love stats…just sayin’.

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    • edmund
      December 20, 2013

      they played like a bunch of turnips.

      but luckily, torts and gillis have a cunning plan.

      unfortunately it seems to involve keeping tom sestito in the lineup night after night.

      perhaps george has a better idea.

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      • PB
        December 20, 2013

        What we need is a real Lord Flashheart to save the day. Higgins gave it his best shot but didn’t have enough whumph…

        It’s too bad Raymond left. He was a real Percy.

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        • Baldrick
          December 20, 2013

          Absolutely! Lord Flashheart wouldn’t ever run out of juice!

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  10. Chinook
    December 20, 2013

    Lack should have started this game, not Lu. Luongo had been playing great but don’t run him into the ground. The back-to-back starts at home was a great call but there were signs of fatigue in Minnesota. Lu should have had the night off, since Lack was sure to start one of the Dallas / Chicago back-to-backs. As cool as Lack is, Luongo is the veteran and better able to focus in the hype and din at the Chicago arena.

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  11. cathylu
    December 20, 2013

    Blech, that game was depressing. I gave up and spent the 3rd period in the kitchen making Chex mix. How can we take care of the Bruins and then have a game like this? Hockey really is a crazy sport.

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  12. J Stella
    December 23, 2013

    After reading the article and comments, I think I’m glad I missed this game.

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