I Watched This Game: Canucks at Phoenix Coyotes, January 16, 2014

So here’s a sentence I didn’t expect to write today: this was the Canucks’ worst performance this week.

I know, I know. Admittedly, 9-1 is a great deal more devastating than 1-0, but look beyond the final scores for a second and consider: the Canucks weren’t actually all that bad against Anaheim. They got some unfortunate bounces, some poor goaltending, some rough calls, and suddenly the floodgates were opened. That’ll happen. But dammit, at least they were alive. Against the Coyotes, however, on a night when everyone was expecting to see an angry team pushing back, they were as listless as a pre-Buzzfeed Internet. As listless as a perfectly balanced ship. As listless as Europe in the 1890s. Wait, sorry, that’s Liszt-less. My mistake.

Speaking of mistakes, I’d say I made one when I watched this game.

Canucks 0 – 1 Coyotes

  • Looking back, we probably should have expected this. The Canucks always seem to run into the Coyotes immediately after blowouts, and they always, always lose. On February 26th, 2013, the Canucks faced the Coyotes two nights after an 8-3 loss to Detroit. They lost 4-2. On March 14, 2012, in the game after an embarrassing 4-1 loss to Montreal, the Canucks faced the Coyotes, and lost 5-4. In November 2010, the Canucks drew the Coyotes one night after the infamous 7-1 drubbing by the Blackhawks. They lost 3-2. It’s like the Canucks see the Coyotes on the schedule and immediately forget how to play hockey, much like how Phoenicians forget to attend it.
  • This wasn’t a terrible performance from the Canucks. But that’s the problem. I don’t want to describe what this performance wasn’t — I want to describe what it was, and it wasn’t much of anything, really. Vancouver seemed about as tentative and unwilling to act as this cat peeking out over the bed, and they were nowhere near as adorable.
  • The real story of this game: the Canucks powerplay, which was as ineffective as ever, going 0-for 6. It was so bad that, when the Canucks were handed a four-minute powerplay to close out the game, a boon for most teams looking for the equalizer, you pretty much knew they were finished. Four minutes?! I found myself shouting, Why are the refs always trying to screw us?!
  • The powerplay is painful to watch right now. In Glen Gulutzan’s current formation, all five skaters come over the boards sewn end to end like a human centipede. They struggle to make tape-to-tape passes, since the only one that can really see anything is the guy at the front, and their puck movement is nonexistent, since they really can’t spread out at all. They struggle to walk as a single entity and it takes them forever to turn. It really is a baffling formation.
  • Antoine Vermette scored the game’s lone goal on a first-period powerplay, although really it was Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis, who attempted to block Vermette’s centring pass, only to deflect the puck into his own goal for the third time in 2 games. Poor Hamhuis can’t do anything right. He even forgot to bring his ladle to the soup kitchen after the game. He got there and reached into his monogrammed ladle scabbard and… nothing.
  • Zack Kassian earned a brief shift with the Sedins in the third period, and it was pretty much the most Kassian shift ever. With the puck, and the trio generated some promising moments. But then the Coyotes got the puck, and Kassian immediately took a completely unnecessary hooking penalty on Oliver Ekman-Larsson. It’s amazing how quickly Kassian can transform from zero to hero and back. Even Steve Urkel couldn’t change that easily, and he had boss sauce and a transformation chamber.
  • Granted, Ekman-Larsson embellished the crap out of the hook, stopping and dropping like he was one second from shutting ‘em down and opening up shop, but there’s no question he was being hooked. I don’t have a problem with off-setting minors like this. Players often dive to draw attention to actual infractions, and when they do, it seems reasonable to call both the infraction and the performance.
  • The Canucks actually did score a goal in this game, when Henrik Sedin knocked an airborne puck past Mike Smith with his midsection. He celebrated hard, probably because Canuck goals have become as rare a phenomenon as triple-yolked eggs. (Sidenote: I’ve never cracked one into a pan, but if I do, I’m celebrating exactly that hard.) Sadly, Henrik celebrated for nothing, as the goal was called off because Henrik was deemed to have punched the puck in. So it wasn’t a goal. But it was a moral goal.
  • Jason Botchford believes the puck actually went in off Henrik’s hip, and the last angle the Sportsnet crew dug up seems to corroborate him. That might make more sense, especially since Henrik can hardly handle any contact on his hands right now. After the Martin Hanzal slash to his gloves in the third, you’d have thought he was about to retire.
  • Hanzal went slash-happy in the third, probably upon realizing that the worst that could happen was a Canucks powerplay, which is like laying on the puck for two minutes. He hit Henrik on the hand. He got Mike Santorelli in the ribs. And David Booth earned a stiff one to the face that could garner a suspension. Poor Booth. He had another strong game, but if he misses more time because of the shot to the teeth, well, that’s a real shot to the teeth.

33 comments

  1. ikillchicken
    January 17, 2014

    How soon is too soon to think about canning Gulutzan? I mean, he inherited a PP that was pretty awful and I don’t want to blame him to quickly. But they’ve actually looked, I think, worse under him than last year under the old coaching team. And his decisions baffle me just as much as some from last year. Weber over Edler or Garrison. Bieksa in front of the net. Then Higgins despite him being atrocious lately. No Kassian ever no matter what on the first unit. I don’t think this is just a knee jerk reaction here either. The PP hasn’t just been bad during this recent losing streak. It has been bad all year and shows no signs of improvement.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +25 (from 25 votes)
  2. PB
    January 17, 2014

    I agree, the PP is horrendous. I turned the game off with a minute left because I couldn’t stand to see another moment of an inability to enter the zone, set up, and come even close to mounting pressure. This is one of the worst stretches I’ve seen the Canucks play in years, with the core players looking hurt or tired and the supporting cast being injured or absent. Relatively reliable players like Hamhuis and Bieksa are making too many unforced errors and Kesler, Tanev and Higgins look like the only players trying. And I agree with the above comment, the coaching staff has to take some heat for this atrocious PP. Now running completely different groups every time out can’t help either.

    You’re right Harrison, this was a game I didn’t need to watch, especially sick and with the time diff. Also ew for the human centipede reference.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +10 (from 10 votes)
  3. whisky jack
    January 17, 2014

    Once again we’re back to backing
    after last night’s sad shellacking.
    One hopes tonight for better things
    than falling to the Ducks and Kings.

    Ten minutes in when five on four
    Phoenix is the first to score,
    and I’m not watching anymore….

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +7 (from 9 votes)
  4. Andre
    January 17, 2014

    I watched the first period only, then turned on my computer and watched The Hunt for Red October.

    According to my wife, who went along Harrison’s choice, I got the better deal.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
  5. mac 'n cheese
    January 17, 2014

    Watching lately is beginning to cause… dischord in my household. Our powerplay is becoming a thing of agonizing horror to watch! I shall remain calm on the surface but inside… I am beginning to look for a pool to flip.
    I shall remain committed to the idea that Burr will come back and save us.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +5 (from 7 votes)
  6. Chinstrap Joe
    January 17, 2014

    I’m sure Eddie Lack is trying to figure out the math on how he can win three games on the road with the team collectively scoring one goal. We do math differently on this side of the Atlantic, Eddie.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +10 (from 10 votes)
  7. cathylu
    January 17, 2014

    I’m doing a lot of praying to the hockey gods right now…

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +7 (from 7 votes)
  8. Brent
    January 17, 2014

    On a positive note, Alberta beckons.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
  9. arjay
    January 17, 2014

    Chinstrap Joe…that was what i was going to post…imagine pulling 3 losses out of 3 games and only giving up 5 goals…2 of them own goals, a puck that was going out of the rink hits the top of the stanchion and bounces straight into a 2 on 1, and a screened slapper.

    Even if they had scored 2 goals against LA and Phx (each game) Eddie would have had a very good GAA and wins in both games.

    hafta say he is the only ‘Nuck worth his salary these days.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +3 (from 7 votes)
    • Chinstrap Joe
      January 17, 2014

      Yup. I keep telling my dog, “you’re going to lose pretty much every game where you score zero goals”. He’s a dog so he’s still working through the math on that one.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +17 (from 17 votes)
  10. GeezMoney
    January 17, 2014

    When everyone was feeling good about this team’s play in December, no one wanted to admit that maybe — just maybe — they were playing some relatively weak competition. And the big three wins they had were all tainted in some way.
    The win vs. Boston, Tuuka Rask was sick and played like it.
    The win at home vs. Avs, we always beat the Avs at home.
    And finally the Chicago game, they were dominated in the first and then responded and were able to win a shootout.
    The team won seven other games against a real hodge-podge of doo-doo.
    Everyone knew that the real proof of what this team is would be show during this past two week stretch.
    The Canucks won a single game — ONE GAME — in a two week stretch. In the last three games, they have scored one goal — ONE GOAL!
    This team is a pretty awful team right now. Yes, the misery in Alberta is far worse, but the Canucks can’t score.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +5 (from 9 votes)
    • Phileo99
      January 18, 2014

      Misery loves company ….?

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  11. mb13
    January 17, 2014

    w.r.t. Hamhuis not doing anything right. He might not deflected the puck into his own had he cleared the puck without any pressure moments earlier. Something is wrong here…. Hamhuis not making the clear was so unlike him and unlike this team.

    So when does GMMG start officially taking heat? He created this mess. Does anybody believe a word that comes out of that used car salesman’s mouth anymore?

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: -2 (from 8 votes)
    • shoes
      January 17, 2014

      As bad as it looks MB13…..I still prefer Gillis to an internet troll from Alberta. Oh sure your mullets were called “hockey hair” for those fabulous 3 weeks in August 1987, but still I prefer Gillis. You gotta understand that.

      And please stop picking out individual Canucks and coming up with solutions that only a ‘Bertan would think of…..the entire team with the exception of Lack is terrible right now.

      Would you please wear a pink carnation in your Lee shirt when we visit ‘Berta next week…..just so’s we can tell you from the other mullets and offer a hearty ……Howdo?????

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 6 votes)
      • mb13
        January 17, 2014

        Try looking under the couch for your soother….someone is cranky this morning :) or maybe need a diaper change?

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: -3 (from 7 votes)
  12. arjay
    January 17, 2014

    anyone else noticing how the Nux went staright from 10-1-2 in december to January’s record?

    Anything of note in that time?

    How about Ryan Stanton injured and Alex Edler returns?

    I don’t have all the “Corsi’s and fenways” to my cred but I will make an “arjay” that if/when MG can get a move that fits into the zero/little cap space the Nux have left, Edler goes for a 3rd line centre and m b the obligatory 3rd rounder?

    he is signed to a manageable 5mm contract for several years and I feel it is time for him to re-blossom into the elite Dman he was somewhere else……….

    What say you Wag-Harr ?

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: -1 (from 3 votes)
    • Pavo
      January 17, 2014

      I’m pretty sure the Canucks were losing without Edler too.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
    • Daniel Wagner
      January 17, 2014

      I have zero interest in seeing Edler traded. None.

      Now would be a particularly poor time to trade him as his value is likely lower than its ever been because of his low point totals this season, largely because his PDO is 958, lowest of anyone on the team other than Burrows, and he hasn’t been getting as much power play time as he perhaps should be.

      VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)
      • Chris the Curmudgeon
        January 17, 2014

        I never thought I’d hear myself saying this, but please please put Edler back on the power play. I don’t want him carrying the puck up the ice, but as a puck mover at the point he’s a much better choice than anyone else. The Sedins, Kesler, Edler and Garrison. What in the hell is so hard about that? Second unit of Burrows, Kassian, Santorelli, Bieksa and Weber. Why am I, a shmoe on the internet, able to come up with these things but people making a living on them can’t figure it out.

        Also, I’m sick of this pseudo-meritocracy when it comes to ice time and PP time that applies to some players but not all of them. NHL games are not about rewarding players for hard work. Put the guys on the ice who are known to play well together, and especially the ones who can score or set up goals. Maybe if Booth and Kassian etc knew they weren’t one boo-boo from the press box they’d be able to worry about playing hockey instead.

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +7 (from 7 votes)
      • MB13
        January 17, 2014

        Daniel – how would you improve this team?

        Do you really think this team is capable of winning as currently constructed?

        I find a lot of Canucks fans wanting to improve the team but are unwilling to see a “core” player leave.

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  13. Noodle
    January 17, 2014

    The Canucks look like a team with very little confidence right now. Hopefully they can get back a bit of mojo playing in Alberta coming up, because a prolonged tailspin in the West would be deadly to our playoff chances.

    I don’t even know what to say about that powerplay. Remember in 2011 when it was on fire and other teams were afraid to take a penalty? I miss those days. :(

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +10 (from 10 votes)
  14. RG
    January 17, 2014

    The only good thing related to the Canucks this week was the above DMX reference. Fantastic work.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  15. Wagman
    January 17, 2014

    Anyone else suspect the ‘Nucks might be fighting the cold/flu that has been going around? If so, it has been kept pretty quiet, but might explain the last couple weeks. Regardless, hoping they can turn this thing around soon.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 3 votes)
  16. Chris the Curmudgeon
    January 17, 2014

    I’m usually very hesitant to pile on the Sedin twins, but their combined 2 points over the last 5 games are pretty unsightly for 2/3 of an NHL top line, not to mention 1/3 of the entire salary cap commitment to forwards. Even since the beginning of December, ostensibly a good month for the team, they have combined for 27 points in 21 games. That is, quite simply, not acceptable production for guys of that calibre, regardless of the absence of Alex Burrows. I don’t subscribe to this internet troll nonsense that the “twins are in decline”, but making the only two natural offensive players in your lineup focus so much on defence even as the team struggles mightily to score seems pretty backwards to me.

    Frankly, I think a lot of the people who were calling for AV’s head last year might want to rethink it a little. Despite clear flaws in the team’s construction (on Gillis’ head), AV was able to maximize the abilities of his various players, in no small part thanks to his focus on zone starts, etc. While he was often criticized for his power play, never once did he preside over one this inept, and given adequate personnel (ahem…Ehrhoff), his teams were often lethal with the man advantage in past years. I like some things about Torts, but I also think we’re seeing pretty clearly that coaching was not the problem with this team, as a major change in style has done nothing to alter the team’s overall inertia. Sure, we’re going to pull out of this slump eventually, but the problem is quite obviously Gillis and until that problem is fixed the team is going to keep spinning its wheels with first round exit written all over it.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +4 (from 8 votes)
  17. naturalmystic
    January 17, 2014

    Last night was supposed to be a game where Vancouver slapped around the Coyotes and showed they were better than the 9-1 annihilation they received at the hands of the Ducks. What we saw was a Vancouver team with no compete, no grit, no heart. Highlight of the night was the disallowed goal. Smith deserved a shut-out and Vancouver and Toronto obliged. What’s next for Vancouver? They face a battered Flames team that is short on talent but comes to the rink every night ready to fight for every point. Don’t be surprised if they lose to the Flames.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +6 (from 8 votes)
  18. Kyle Good
    January 17, 2014

    This is slightly off topic but I am starting to wonder how much the Canucks play has been affected by their player deployment strategy. In the past several years (At least 3) the Sedins used to start their shifts in the offensive zone at a very high rate. After years of playing like this I am sure it is a bit of a shock when when you start 10 – 20% more shifts in the defensive zone. The Sedins also don’t seem to be that great at driving play forward. Get the puck out of the defensive zone with a simple puck moving forward such as Booth, Higgins & Kesler and then setup camp with the Sedins. Basically, I think using players in a more balanced approach may be diluting the whole team.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
    • Kyle Good
      January 17, 2014

      I would delete my comment if I could:) I just read Chris the Curmudgeon’s comment and feel like a copyright lawsuit might be coming my way.

      Only thing I disagree with is that this is Gillis. I like some pieces he has added. The only two things I have issue with is Ehrhoff and Maholtra. Ehrhoff seemed too pricey at the time but now you can clearly see the value he had.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
      • Chris the Curmudgeon
        January 18, 2014

        I’ll let you off with a warning this time ;)

        I think Gillis made some smart moves at the beginning, but since the loss in the Final I’ve hated almost everything he’s done. It’s like he got shellshocked or something.

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Pavo
      January 17, 2014

      Kyle – sadly I have to agree.

      Didn’t think the PP could possibly get any worse than last year, but now I can’t even bear to watch it.

      Had to leave the room 2 minutes before the game’s end last night as I knew with absolute certainty that the Canucks were going to do sod-all with the advantage.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  19. wes
    January 17, 2014

    ” It’s like the Canucks see the Coyotes on the schedule and immediately forget how to play hockey, much like how Phoenicians forget to attend it.” oh my god! zing! “So it wasn’t a goal. But it was a moral goal.” lol! wow! thanks for all the laughs. you guys have serious talent!

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  20. Colby
    January 17, 2014

    I loved the documentary on the extremely successfull Glen Gulutzan. The highlights were him being fired, and Torts best praise being “Glen knows the west”. Well if Torts is up to speed lets get rid of this guy, he doesn’t seem suited to be a powerplay specialist.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  21. BBoone
    January 18, 2014

    A tired, emotionally drained, confused and injured team . Early season predictions from some that the new ” style ” of play , high and unbalanced minutes for a select few and the constant drama surrounding, and coming from, the coach would lead to the current state of affairs are proving to have been accurate.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  22. akidd
    January 18, 2014

    man, after that game where they played la so tough i was pretty excited. but back to the reality of goals and goal-scoring. that’s what ultimately wins the games of course.

    toughness can grab you a few garbage goals. possession and grit can mean the other team doesn’t have as much puck to score with but at the end of the day it’s skill that puts the puck top corner and not centre logo. you get lucky sometimes but so does everybody. it doesn’t set you apart.

    there is a skill deficit on this team. if you try to objectively go through the lineup you could easily make a case hansen is a career checker( and for awhile was the canucks ‘best practise player’,ah heck of a euphemism,) that higgins was signed to fill out the 4th lline, that burrows wasn’t drafted, that kesler was projected as a 3rd line centre, no need to explain booth and santorelli had to accept a minimum contract last summer for his last chance to stick in the nhl.

    I’m not saying that a lot of these guys haven’t played amazing hockey, i’m just saying where is the scoring pedigree? where are the guys who were drafted to score goals? there’s the sedins, and to some extent kassian but that’s it really. everyone else is technically overachieving if they score more than 20 a season.. so where do we expect those goals to come from? a couple a hundred points from the sedins and career years from others and sure, you lead the league one season but over a larger sample how much corner and how much logo are you going to hit?

    maybe mix in a system that’s either unfamiliar or perhaps flawed,as far as generating offence goes, and maybe we fans shouldn’t be expecting a lot of goals. i think gillis is aware of all this. he’s signed three young goalscorers this past year.

    there’s just a skill deficit. my view is that even when the canucks dominate possession they tend to get out-chanced. 4 even-strength chances vs the kings i heard. great game but…it’s kinda 1-0 for a reason.

    they need at least two more true goal-scorers mixed in with the core group of great guys we’ve all been pulling for and it could get competitive..

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 4 votes)