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.