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.