I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Chicago Blackhawks, January 29, 2014

The Chicago Blackhawks came into town riding a four-game losing streak. (Well, actually, they flew in on a jet. But you know what I mean.) They were struggling, having recently dropped a 5-4 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames, and through the first period and change of this one, it looked like their struggles were going to continue. They appeared to be exactly what the Canucks needed.

Until they weren’t. Shortly after the Canucks went up 2-0, they turned into exactly what the Blackhawks needed. It was an unfortunate inversion, like when that kid swung over the bar and became Inside-Out Boy. Actually, come to think of it, that kid got special abilities. The Canucks appeared to lose whatever abilities they had. And, unlike Inside-Out Boy, they showed very little guts when I watched this game.

Canucks 2 – 5 Blackhawks

  • The Canucks got off to a hot start in this game, showing more jump off the first puck drop than S Club 7 in the desert. The trio of Chris Higgins, Ryan Kesler, and Jannik Hansen won the opening draw and gained the zone immediately, then proceeded to score the opening goal 16 seconds after the contest began. Chris Higgins got the tally, backhanding a puck after Ryan Kesler backhanded a pass to him in front. The goal was more backhanded than the compliment, “black is so your colour,” which translates to “you’re fat”.
  • Speaking of S Club 7, they once claimed there ain’t no party like an S Club party, but I watched this game from The Pint in Vancouver, where our friends from Canucks Army were hosting an event, and it was definitely up there with S Club’s allegedly legendary events. It was no Event Horizon, a criminally underrated film in the haunted spaceship genre, but it was still a pretty good event.
  • The Canucks scored early in the second as well, thanks to — wait for it — Tom “Hands” Sestito. It was a punchy shift for the fourth liner, and not in the usual sense. Sestito got the play started by poking the puck away from Kris Versteeg. Then, Zack Kassian jumped on it and went around the outside like two Buffalo gals, before leaving for Ryan Stanton in the corner. Stanton fed Sestito in the slot, and Sestito stepped into the one-timer like a Tardis.
  • Unfortunately, this made it 2-0, a two-goal lead, and as you know, a two-goal lead is the worst thing you can have. It’s like necrotizing fasciitis, but for hockey. In fact, shortly after Sestito ruined everything by doubling the lead, the Canucks’ defence pretty much immediately began to deteriorate like they had a flesh-eating disease. And then Blackhawks feasted on them like they had a flesh-eating disease.
  • Jordan Schroeder scored two goals his last time out, but apparently, Mike Sullivan was displeased with his play. The Canucks’ acting head coach demoted Schroeder to a line with Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows for this game. Unfair, in my opinion.
  • The Canucks had a chance to cut the Blackhawks’ lead in half in the third, with Chris Higgins getting a shot at an empty net during a powerplay. Unfortunately, Jonathan Toews stacked his pads and kept it out. They should call him Jonathan Soews.
  • That was pretty much it for Canuck chances. They spent most of the final period — and come to mention it, the period before — trapped in their own zone. There are worse zones to be trapped in, I guess, but even still, it was bad. And their exit strategy, which involved giving the puck to the Blackhawks and hoping they skated it backwards out of pity, was terrible. As exit strategies go, it was up there with Vietnam.
  • The Canucks may have lost the game, but they won the faceoff battle handily, taking 40 of 63 draws. Ryan Kesler went 16-for-20, and Brad Richardson went 14-for-20. Sadly, you don’t get a bonus point for that, although considering teams sometimes get one for losing, I think you totally should.
  • We have run out of things to say about the powerplay. Honestly, we’re as out of ideas as the Canucks are. They’re desperate right now. Dangerously desperate. If this were a Disney movie, a sea witch would be showing up any minute now to make an unfair deal.
  • Finally, to add insult to injury, a fan threw a Canucks jersey on the ice. Granted, it was a Blackhawks fan being a dink. Joke’s on him! Now he has to walk home cold! Oh wait. It’s Vancouver. I’m wearing a light jacket. Man. Even our weather failed us tonight.
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  1. Mallick
    January 29, 2014

    I’m snapping my fingers at Jonathan Soews.

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  2. jenny wren
    January 29, 2014

    The Olde Coot saw Chicago score,
    And went upstairs to read a book.
    I stayed to watch ten minutes more,
    And then I too the game forsook.

    But when I heard old Whisky say
    “You get in here and have a look,
    At this great goal by Zac Dalpe
    As he a pass from Burrows took!”

    I came and saw the game was tied.
    Then Hamhuis give the puck away,
    But Bobby Lu the chance denied!
    And Booth scored on a power play.

    At which time I woke up to see
    The game was starting on T V…

    Chris Higgins is the first to score,
    The game but sixteen seconds old.
    So now it’s down to either or:
    The Blackhawks tie, the Canucks hold.

    The Hawks a crossbar and a post,
    And of course there’s Bobby Lu.
    Chicago scores Vancouver’s toast:
    Sestito does we’re up by two

    Vancouver bends and then they break:
    Three quick goals the Blackhawks score.
    Much more of this I cannot take,
    So I’m not watching anymore.

    I’m tiring of this team in blue:
    When’s said and done all’s deja vu.

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  3. Scott
    January 29, 2014

    There really are worse zones to be trapped in. For example, this one:

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  4. Naturalmystic
    January 29, 2014

    So disappointed. Your link should have led to Spacehunter Adventure in the Forbidden Zone. Trapped in a movie theatre watching Molly Ringwald as a space punk qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment.

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  5. Chinstrap Joe
    January 29, 2014

    Noticeable in the 3rd period: Kassian, Richardson, Bieksa, Kassian, Kassian

    Inisible in the 3rd period: Sedin, Burrows, Edler, Burrows, Burrows

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  6. ikillchicken
    January 30, 2014

    Okay. Without a doubt, things are looking bad right now. Really bad. Here are three positives to keep in mind though:

    #1) We are still missing Henrik Sedin, our top line center (not to mention Santorelli and now Tanev). And while Daniel may never look the same following his concussion, Henrik is still an excellent player. What’s more, we’ve been missing him at 100% since December. And, as you’ll recall in December, with a healthy Henrik, we went on a massive winning streak going 10-1-2. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not by any means writing all our troubles off to injury. But it has been an obvious factor. We are a much better team with a healthy Henrik Sedin back in the lineup.

    #2) In the last EIGHTEEN games, do you know h0w many times we’ve lost by more than 1 goal (not counting empty netters)? THREE. Two before tonight. That’s not to say that makes everything okay. Obviously our struggles to score are a major concern. But the margin between us being on a wretched losing streak and a big winning streak has been razor thin. Even a moderate boost to our offense (or some marginally better defense on other nights) would tip the scales in the vast majority of games.

    #3) Kassian has looked great. He may have been our best guy tonight and more often than not in recent days. And so has Schroeder albeit across a very small sample. He has been pretty respectable, even playing against top caliber competition like Chicago. And he hasn’t shied away from physical contact or tough areas which will be vital for his success as a small player. I don’t know what his ceiling is in terms of pure talent but he looks on track to develop, in time, into at least a respectable NHLer. With them, plus Tanev and of course Corrado, Horvat and Shinkaruk (among others) all in the system, the future doesn’t look so bad. Obviously future success is far from guaranteed for these guys. But we at least have the potential to retool on the fly. Even if we’re not a competitor right now, within a couple years, if young guys step up, I could see us being in a place a lot like San Jose is now with two great scoring lines with a mix of the old veterans (Thorton & Marleau are older than the Sedins incidentally) and young talent like Couture and Pavelski and Hertl.

    Again, I’m not trying to say everything is okay. At best it is tough to see us as any kind of contender and if this losing streak keeps up we could even struggle to hold a playoff spot. But, chances are, it won’t keep up. Even if you think we’re not a very good team, we’re probably not this BAD of a team. And it’s finally looking like we have the potential to get better in subsequent years.

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    • Alan
      January 30, 2014

      Logically speaking you are correct of course. But your logic can only be proven right with time and every single of one of these losses is a quick dagger stab to the heart of a Canuck fan.

      Oh well. Better this than having a 18 and 32 record…

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      • Coolerheads
        January 30, 2014

        Agreed. You gotta think that Gillis is going to trade for some assets at the deadline? Love them but Hansen, Burrows and Higgins are redundant.

        Summer wish list: If Gillis can bulk up (size and scoring) their last two lines (with youth, new pieces, injured pieces, etc), add a top three forward and a puck moving defenseman, things look positive.

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        • SomeAnon
          January 30, 2014

          On what planet is Higgins redundant? He’s our second highest goal scorer this season behind only Kesler, and has often looked like the best player on the ice. He’s an invaluable top six forward if you ask me. And I don’t think it’s fair to discount Burrows based on this season alone. He’s suffered from injury and a truly bizarre number of unlucky bounces.

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          • Coolerheads
            January 31, 2014

            Agreed, that is what I was trying to say. In a different year Burrows or Hansen could potentially be this year’s Higgins. I have no problem with any of them being on the Canucks but the current teams needs different elements. Too many similar players, not enough real wins.

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  7. akidd
    January 30, 2014

    anyone else looking forward to some olympic hockey?

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  8. GeezMoney
    January 30, 2014

    I don’t think the narrative should be “Daniel hasn’t been the same since the concussion” because we don’t know that to be true (and I for one hate Duncan Keith so very much for that cheap shot). A lot of players lose their game during their age 33 season. If you look at even the very best in league history, 32 seems to be — on average — the last great season for most pros. I think Daniel is just old(er) now. He just doesn’t have what it takes to be a 1st line guy.

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  9. whisky jack
    January 30, 2014

    I guess it is no longer news
    that fans expect this team to lose.
    It seems perhaps the coaches too
    accept there’s nothing they can do
    to motivate the green and blue
    who only win when they so choose.

    (Though with the Coot I must agree,
    one other thing I’d like to see:
    if without Hank they do not win
    then quickly bench the younger twin,
    who’s just half there seems like to me.)

    Mayhap it isn’t really fair
    that I suggest that they don’t care,
    although sometimes it seems that way
    whene’er I choose to watch them play.
    So only this I’ve left to say,
    I ‘ve never been a millionaire.

    (At bottom line they’re overpaid.
    There’s only three I wouldn’t trade.
    And not the one who just got back,
    Bieksa, Kass and Eddie Lack.)
    And here I end this brief tirade.

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  10. Naturalmystic
    January 30, 2014

    When do no trade clauses kick in for the new Sedin contracts? If they are tradeable for young talented players from a team looking to win now, they should be dealt. I remember how the Islanders core got old and the team sunk into the mud never to return. Vancouver will suffer the same fate holding onto the Sedins until they retire.

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    • Chinstrap Joe
      January 30, 2014

      7 mil for the next four years at their current production – not much of a market for that right now.

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  11. Zach Morris
    January 30, 2014

    Luongo got hammered more than Thomas Drance at the Canucks Army party.

    I find it ridiculous to say “Well, he should make more impossible saves, and steal the game!” Yeah, or the defence could stop puck watching.

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  12. DanD
    January 30, 2014

    Hooray for the party at the Pint! That was a blast.

    I’d like to think that this is the kind of Disney movie where an angel that only a lonely child can see comes and helps the hapless but lovable Canucks transform into a magical Stanley Cup winner by occasionally making bounces go their way, or pushing them along so that they go super fast.

    It could happen!

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  13. Sean
    January 30, 2014

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s madness to believe the Sedins can maintain their first line status, but that doesn’t mean their careers are over. They will simply regress into great 2nd and 3rd liners before they retire, just as they progressed from the bottom six to the top during the upward swing of their careers. And that’s okay, provided the Canucks can develop or trade for younger, fresher players who are on the upswing. I think our chances of winning a Cup are better with the Sedins in a shutdown role if we can replace them on the top line.

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  14. Iceman
    January 30, 2014

    * Sedin, I can’t find him — and it’s not because there used to be two of them.

    * Luongo is tired (both mentally and physically) of keeping his team afloat until, of course, his team quits playing defence and lets the other team’s forwards waltzing into the crease and putting the puck past him while also occasionally accidentally running him over for extra fun.

    * Speaking of defence, I can’t find him either. It’s so sad that almost comical when 1/3 of the team’s salary is tied to the blueliners and collectively they do squat. Physical? Not a chance. Moving the puck? Only to the other team. Quarterbacking PP? Ha ha ha…

    * Offence – dump and chase, dump and chase, dump and chase… and about 8 out of 10 times it’s just less humiliating way of handing the puck over. And in the rare occasions when we do get the puck back, the possesion usually lasts only for few seconds as we lose 90% of the puck battles along the board and someone always falls down for no reason.

    Sigh… What used to be my favorite pastime (watching Canucks games on TV) during winter has now turned into such an unbearable pain.

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    • DanD
      January 30, 2014

      I agree with your offence point. I see too little of the possession game that used to mark the Canucks’ offensive style.

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