I Watched This Game: Canucks at Boston Bruins, February 4, 2014

Not unlike they did for Game 6 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, the Vancouver Canucks hobbled into the TD Garden Tuesday night with a woefully depleted defence corps. And up front, the Canucks trotted out a collection of forwards that had seemingly forgotten how to score, led by a superstar centre that could barely stand, let alone skate. They needed a win, and moreover, so did I, because I suspect the trauma of enduring a familiar-feeling loss might have caused some sort of delusional, mental episode.

Fortunately, the Canucks did win. And they won big, with the powerplay scoring four times — four! — and Henrik Sedin gliding out onto the ice after the first intermission without so much as a wince. “Guess what, everybody!” he shouted, “I feel better than ever!” And the Boston defence was no match for the Sedinery he concocted with his brother. “We give up!” The city of Boston said when it was all over. “Vancouver truly is the greatest city in the world.

“And Harrison,” they added, “here is the key to the city. From now on, Boston will be known as Harriston.” It was all so wonderful when I watched this game.

Canucks 1 – 3 Bruins

  • Okay, so that’s not what actually happened. I’m just getting a little tired of writing about Canucks losses. It happened again Tuesday night. This team has now gone five games without a win, and seven games without a regulation win. Worse, they have just four wins in 2014. It’s enough to make one wonder if their New Year’s Resolution was to stop being any good at hockey. If so, that’s really frustrating, because I’m never able to keep my resolutions.
  • The Canucks had a nice start to this game, if you discount the early goal they surrendered to Milan Lucic. There’s blame aplenty on this one. Jason Garrison picked a terrible time to pinch, but Ryan Kesler’s backcheck on Lucic once the play turned back, where Kesler somehow lost ground on Lucic, even after the Boston winger started gliding, was tough to watch. Twenty-six seconds into his second shift of the night after four minutes of rest following his first, you expect Kesler to have a little more gas than that. But Kesler didn’t appear to have any gas. Heck, he looked pedal-powered, like this lame washing machine.
  • It’s rare you see Kesler look so ineffective on a backcheck. Either he’s healthy and he quit on the play or he’s not, and I’m not sure which I prefer here. Or maybe this whole play was actually one of his nightmares come to life — that frustrating one where you can’t go as fast as you need to. Everybody hates that dream, and it’s tough to know what to do. The answer, if you’re wondering, is fake an injury.
  • Speaking of injuries, Henrik Sedin still has one. Henrik played this game not as himself, but as metaphor for the entire Canuck team right now: hobbled and somewhat in denial about how ineffective. He staggered through this game from beginning to end, shying away from contact in the neutral zone and in the corners. No one in the corner had stagger like Henrik. I understand that he wants to contribute, but all he can offer the team right now is a hockey player who looks nothing like Henrik Sedin, and pretty much any other player can do that. Except Daniel Sedin.
  • Daniel Sedin is struggling too. After he was handed a gift, with Boston getting crossed up at their own blueline, he threw a weak shot at Tuukka Rask’s stick on the breakaway. Missed opportunity there, and Boston made the team pay immediately by rushing down the other way and doubling the lead. It was the most unbelievable reversal since Face/Off. (Sure, fine, they switched faces, but you expect us to believe they also switched bodies? Nic Cage is a tall, slender man, and John Travolta, well, you can’t take the flour out of that gravy.)
  • Truthfully, the Sedins were actually better tonight than they were their last time out versus Boston. They did a better job of spreading out, so as to keep Zdeno Chara from standing between them and just breaking up their cycle with his long reach, and that led to a positive night in terms of scoring chances. But only chances. They’re still not scoring. There was a time when they were near-automatic for a goal in every game. They haven’t been in awhile, and unsurprisingly, the Canucks have struggled during that stretch. Save the twins, save the season, in my opinion.
  • The Canucks got Boston’s second goal back in short order, with the debuting Raphael Diaz endearing himself to his new city and teammates with a one-timer blast that beat Tuukka Rask on the glove side. Like his namesake, the incredible and inspirational Raphael, Diaz followed up the goal with a quippy comment and a big slice of pizza.
  • Diaz had a great debut, with a game-high 25:26, four shots on goal and a game-high 13 shots attempted, and an impressive corsi percentage of 65%. Obviously his numbers and icetime are somewhat inflated by the fact that the Canucks had little recourse but to use him a lot, but that’s still an impressive debut, and the fact that Vancouver got a guy who can have even one game like that in exchange for Dale Weise is pretty stunning. If I’m Mike Gillis, I call Marc Bergevin again. You could probably get P.K. Subban for Jordan Subban.
  • Did anybody else catch Alex Burrows flip a puck at Brad Marchand as the two players were lining up for a faceoff? Marchand reacted like Burrows had just wiped a boogie on his shirt. Although I guess there could have been a boogie on the puck. Either way, you don’t want to get boogie fever. I think it’s going around.
  • Frank Corrado and Yann “Sovay” Sauve don’t look NHL ready just yet. They struggled to keep up, struggled to make the right play, and struggled to be generally unnoticeable for most of the night. Corrado and Sauve’s corsi percentages of 37.5% and 32.1% were among the worst on the team. In other words, they spent the whole night in their own end and speaking of their own ends, that’s where they looked like they had their heads for most of the night.
  • Fortunately, there is a worse thing than watching the Canucks lose to the Bruins: it’s Don Taylor’s moustache. Get it out of here.

24 comments

  1. chocoball
    February 5, 2014

    Frank Corrado isn’t ready for the Show yet… So why the hell did Gillis burn a year of his ELC for a measly handful of games!? Urghhh… It’s so frustrating for fans to watch this team be mismanaged year after year…

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    • Brosef Stalin
      February 5, 2014

      Corrado is ready for limited minute bottom pairing role… similar to Tanev in his first year. When you pair him with Yann ‘The Trash Can’ Sauve almost anybody would look awful. Don’t read into it too much.

      In a healthy lineup with Corrado as a #6 you see him quietly put up good possession stats and a point here or there

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      Rating: +19 (from 19 votes)
  2. Shade of Blue
    February 5, 2014

    Did you notice the helpful Boston crowd serenading Luongo during the Canucks’ third period powerplay? I was indignant until I realized they were suggesting we should use Lu on the powerplay, because Lord knows, it could hardly be worse than some of the futility we seen in he past month or so.

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  3. Naturalmystic
    February 5, 2014

    I only had time to watch the first period and Vancouver showed great improvement over the last game against Detroit. I don’t think anyone other than the most optimistic Vancouver fans thought the team had a chance against the Bruins.

    I was surprised to see Burrows have his ice time slashed, is this Tortorella’s way of sending the core a message or is Burrows injured?

    Henrik needs to go back to Vancouver and stay there. He needs to think about the team, his employers who are paying him millions and get healthy which means forgetting about Sochi. The rest of the team heading to Russia should do the same. They are hurt, exhausted and need to take a rest. Tortorella’s strategy of riding his core with huge minutes has been a disaster. I recall everyone complaining about coach AV not playing the Sedins enough, well, we see the result of increasing their ice time.

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    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      February 5, 2014

      Totally agree, if Henrik goes to Sochi I’m going to be supremely annoyed at him. I know you want to play for your country but you can barely play at all right now, and two weeks of intense action is going to do little to improve that.

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  4. biznow
    February 5, 2014

    I agree with the above poster, Henrik needs to take more time off. If him playing was going to make a difference to the outcome of the game, I would be fine with him playing through the pain, but it just seems such a waste right now.

    Quick question, just out of curiosity, how does this downswing affect PITB? Do you guys notice a difference in traffic? It’s hard to feel too bad for millionaire hockey players during this, but for the plebs that rely on interest in the Canucks for their jobs/businesses it sucks.

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  5. jenny wren
    February 5, 2014

    i only watched this game because
    it needn’t be just how it was
    although of late there’s mostly pain
    there’s soon a time they’ll win again

    in montreal mayhap they might
    as well they could have done tonight
    and even if once more they lose
    it’s still to be a fan i choose

    and anyone who writes them off
    has all the charm of whooping cough
    so in these times i hope that you
    will hang in with the green and blue

    but thumb me down or thumb me up
    i still have faith this year’s the cup

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    Rating: +8 (from 14 votes)
    • whisky jack
      February 5, 2014

      sweet jenny wren you are too nice
      to see what is will not suffice
      it’s clear the ‘nucks without delay
      should replace torts like right away

      the system he would implement
      has only led to discontent
      and that a boss one can’t abide
      affects one’s work can’t be denied

      it’s clear that they expect to lose
      and that they do’s no longer news
      so now the coach has lost his team
      lord stanley’s cup is but a dream

      yes, “ Let’s ‘FREE TORTS’ ” is what i say,
      “ If not at once, then yesterday!”

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  6. peanutflower
    February 5, 2014

    Yah, I never watched this game.

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    • TubaNat
      February 5, 2014

      Probably a wise choice in retrospect

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  7. Noodle
    February 5, 2014

    Right now the Canucks are clinging to the last Wild Card spot in the West at 63 points. Phoenix is at 62 points and has played 2 less games. Dallas is at 61 points and has played 2 less games. And our playoff chances are now at 44%: http://www.sportsclubstats.com/NHL.html

    Yuck.

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    • chocoball
      February 5, 2014

      I wouldn’t mind if they missed the playoffs this year to restock the team…. Get a lottery pick and trade someone else for second 1st round pick like they did last year….

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  8. iain
    February 5, 2014

    eastern time zones games – yaaagghh. it’s all over by the time i get in from work. these days this is not all bad tho, since i don’t give in to the temptation to switch on and watch the canucks give yet another demonstration of why 2014 is not going to be their year.

    bring on 2014-15, say i.

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  9. Pavo
    February 5, 2014

    At least they didn’t give up an empty net goal – I call that a partial victory!

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  10. steveB
    February 5, 2014

    Did anyone notice the female Boston Bruins fan sitting behind Torts with the Sedin Sisters -
    2 Girls, No Cups
    T-shirt? Way to represent your gender, Ma’am.

    There wasn’t much to cheer for in this game. It was nice to see Raphael Diaz contribute in his first game, but as soon as Daniel failed to score on his break-away and the Bruins’ counter-attack didn’t fail to score, I knew it was over.

    I did like how they defended the empty net, but it’s getting so that I’m no longer looking at upcoming games with anything but grim acceptance that they will probably lose again.

    I think that Don Taylor is auditioning for Anchorman III

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  11. Chris the Curmudgeon
    February 5, 2014

    If there’s any silver lining to a garbage season like this one, it’s that maybe the GM will FINALLY realize that 2011 was 3 years ago and he’s done nothing to improve the team. I mean seriously, look at that roster and compare it to this one. Not a single guy who wasn’t on the Cup Finals team has scored more than 28 points for this year’s team (Garrison and the now injured Santorelli both have 28). I doubt if Samuelsson, Raymond and Malhotra would be doing much for this team right now, but we sure do miss Ehrhoff, and I’d probably take any of those guys over Booth or Richardson or Sestito or Lain. Seriously, that’s what passes for roster maintenance these days?

    Our best points per game guy right now, Henrik Sedin, is at 0.77. I know there are a lot of injuries, but the healthy guys aren’t playing well either. We have one possible 30 goal man (Kesler, on pace for 27), Higgins should hit 20, and Daniel might too if he ever remembers how to score. That’s supposed to be enough offence to make the playoffs, let alone advance? Doesn’t help that 2 of our nominal top 6 are on pace for a combined 10 goals (Booth plus Burrows’ big fat 0). I know I’ve been harping on about this for months now, but surely it was obvious to others that acquiring people for every role on the team EXCEPT scoring goals was going to eventually culminate in offensive problems. I suppose Edler’s -19, 3rd worst amongst NHL defencemen, in only 39 games to boot, isn’t exactly helping matters either, sure glad we’ve got him locked up for the rest of eternity with a no trade clause. Remember when Tony Gallagher was lamenting on a regular basis that he was going to walk if we weren’t careful and that the Canucks should dig deep to keep him? I wonder if we’ll ever see a retraction.

    You’d have thought that two unceremonious exits in the first round would light a fire under our moron of a GM. Since that obviously didn’t work, maybe missing the playoffs will do the job. If not, maybe it’s Aquilini who needs a fire lit under his ass to bring in someone who can actually build a contender again.

    OK, I’ve got my complaining done for the day, I’ll probably be back after consecutive loss number 6 for some more if I’m not too hungover.

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    • mb13
      February 5, 2014

      I can’t see how this team can become a contender anytime soon.

      No stud d-man. Aging offensive players that might have maxed out their output. Goalie with history of meltdowns in playoffs. Tight to cap. Very little high end talent in prospect pool (Kassian maybe… Horvat sure… Tanev is exciting but I felt that way about Edler 6 years ago… let’s not get too ahead of ourselves on the other kid they drafted). GMMG has repeatedly stated he won’t ask players to waive NTC’s so another corner he’s backed himself into – although, like any used car salesman, he’ll forget what he said 10 mins ago and do the opposite.

      This guy has been riding the coattails of the previous regime and done virtually nothing to supplement the core he inherited. Other than what is now looking like a lucky run to the finals. Yes – he was GM when the team won a President’s Trophy. A trophy won on the backs of the Sedins (Hart – Art Ross), Kesler (Selke), Schneider, Luongo and AV.

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      • Chris the Curmudgeon
        February 5, 2014

        There was nothing lucky about that run to the Finals. The team was the highest scoring and lowest goals against in the league. Best powerplay, 0.6% behind best PK, lots of individual accolades. Losing record against no western opponent, won the President’s Trophy, and lest anyone point to their weak division, posted a non-divisional winning percentage still good enough to win the President’s Trophy. If anything, they were unlucky not to have won, as injuries to top players, incurred during a grueling western conference playoff run, finally caught up to them. They were also a bit unlucky the following year, missing their top scorer to start the playoffs and running into a team that got hot at just the right time. Their regular season was again above reproach, and again they didn’t lose a single season series against a Western opponent, though it was clear that they weren’t quite as good as the year before. The main gripe I had with the team management that season was the Hodgson trade.

        However, the team also clearly sagged a bit from mid January that year (coincided with the Bruins game), and despite looking competitive against LA, they fell way short of expectations. That should have been the cue that some refreshing was needed, the way all teams that expect to have prolonged runs do. The Red Wings were always bolstering from within, keeping their most important top guys while keeping the middle roster legs fresh. Same thing with the Blackhawks more recently, even the Bruins now. Instead, for two years Gillis allowed the team to stagnate, and rewarded veteran players with long term deals instead of pushing a youth movement. So now, instead of having young guys that are pushing the Sedin line for top minutes, you have a roster full of mostly decent but unspectacular players and continue to require the Sedins to carry the load for the foreseeable future. That Henrik Sedin is playing while he’s plainly still hurt quite badly is a symbol of the failure of that type of vision.

        They could theoretically contend next year or the year after. People seem to want to write off the twins but I think they still have good years left, guys of their calibre and who play their style don’t really decline that fast and I think their level of play now reflects injury and fatigue. Same with Burrows. Tortorella is going to have to learn to play a balanced lineup (no guarantee that he will), but that could help. Horvat, Gaunce, Shinkaruk and hopefully a couple other guys might be ready to try to push for some ice time by 2015-16, and a few bad contracts (eg Booth) come off the books that year too. Hopefully there’s a new GM in place that won’t screw it up.

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        • mb13
          February 5, 2014

          I agree with everything you say. I say lucky run because I think, unless the Canucks won the 7th game by 5 goals, they would have been the only Stanley Cup winner to get outscored the entire playoffs. All funny stats aside – that means they won close games (which requires some luck – bounce here or there and you’re losing that game) but lost handily when losing their games (luck be damned – they just lost).

          They were a good side yes that was a Patrick Sharp shot to the chest of Luongo in OT from becoming a team that has won 2 playoff series in 5 years.

          We’ll agree that Gillis should go – I’ve been he is overrated for years now. He’s made his bed, let’s see him get out of it without someone giftwrapping him Art Ross winning twins, Selke forward, two very good goalies, an excellent coach and some very good complimentary players.

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          • Chris the Curmudgeon
            February 5, 2014

            That’s an oversimplification. Tim Thomas played incredibly and was the difference in the series, and in the Canucks’ wins they played almost perfectly and were only able to squeeze one or two goals past him while generating tons of chances. They didn’t win any games they deserved to lose in the Final, in fact I’d argue they may have deserved to lose game 5 vs the Sharks but otherwise the results reflected the efforts. Same thing for the Sharp comment, if not for an excellent game by Crawford the Canucks aren’t even in OT there, as they carried the play almost from whistle to horn in that one. Luongo had a few bad games along the way, which accounts for a lot of the goal differential, because when he didn’t let in softies, the team won.

            Gillis has made a few decent signings, Garrison and Hamhuis have both been good for this team. Christian Ehrhoff was good too, though I’m pissed that they let him walk. Stanton and Tanev were also good pickups. Perhaps a trend is emerging here: Gillis does not understand how to craft a team that can score. Higgins has been decent as a complementary piece, but the bottom line is that Gillis has failed to sign or trade for a single bona fide top 6 forward in 6 FREAKING YEARS as a GM. The only one he drafted, he traded. I think he thinks that if he sends out 4 lines of defensively responsible grinders the team would win. Newsflash: Jeff Carter may be defensively questionable at times, but the Kings win because he scores goals.

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      • akidd
        February 5, 2014

        not looking good, eh boys? i try to imagine that this is as low as they can go but then imagine the team without solid goaltending…and the limbo stick descends.

        gillis, eh? it’s a hard call, really. a bit slow on the switch, i’m thinking. can’t t blame him really for letting the same team try another kick at the can. i think he figured out they weren’t up to it at the end of last season. and since then he’s done pretty good to try and sign some guys who are supposed to be able to score goals. it’s just they won’t be ready, if all goes well of course, really well, to compete until at least probably ’16-17. so in the meantime…that’s where it might be good to find a new hobby for the next couple of years.

        so what to should gillis do? i’m kinda thinking that maybe it’s time. hopefully lou wins a gold medal and kesler is tournament mvp. and hamhuis scores the gmgwg, on a backdoor play of course, since he’s so very due. and hopefully everyone stays healthy( or gets healthy.) and then you sell as high as you possibly can(or in lou’s case just sell.). all young top talent in return pu-leeeze. and when guys like burrows, edler and hansen find their stride you sell them too. brutal, eh?:) and in a few years it’s next gen time.

        just brutal. feels like giving up but…i just don’t think this team has the horses.

        but “11 wasn’t lucky. unless you count other teams not being that good.

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  12. mb13
    February 5, 2014

    Haven’t posted a in a while. No comments on the game other than had a half eye on the game for a few minutes here and there and thought the Canucks were actually playing well – especially considering all the injuries that had to deal with.

    So – Daniel/Harrison – how would you guys fix this team? It sure doesn’t look easy. I’d put that not easy fix right on the shoulders of GMMG. Too many NTCs. Not enough turnover of “core” roster players. Not close to enough organizational depth – you can say Corrado, Stanton, Weber, Archibald, etc provide depth… but c’mon, those guys play and the Canucks lose. That’s not depth in my book – maybe potential at best.

    At the beginning of the season, Daniel and I had a good back and forth about the Canucks odds vs. the Leafs odds to win the Cup. I still stand by my comment that the Leafs are a better wager – Daniel, you still like the Canucks?

    Finally – what’s everyone’s take on Tortorella? Was he a Gillis hire or a FA hire? I sense some dysfunction at the higher levels of management.

    PS – where’s shoes?

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    • Pavo
      February 5, 2014

      Based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever, I’d guess that Tortorella is a FA hire. Thought at the time that a hard-assed yeller didn’t seem like a Gillis type coach.

      And I can’t imagine Gillis being too happy at all that investment in sleep science, fatigue etc being cast aside so that the top tier can be played to the point of injury / exhaustion, while the lower tiers rust due to lack of ice time and practice.

      Torts wants the team to play more like LA. Well, the Kings can’t score – or win – much at the moment either.

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  13. Rob Robertson
    February 5, 2014

    I find myself cheering for outright losses so VAN can keep plummeting in the standings and improve their draft position. Unless Luongo carries them through a round or two, I don’t see them doing any damage in the playoffs.

    Now’s not the time to think short term. They should load up on youth even if it means trading a veteran.

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