Decked out in their Millionaires gear, the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday were supposed to be evocative of the last team to bring the Stanley Cup to the city a little over 99 years ago. It didn’t happen. With a completely avoidable goaltending controversy overshadowing everything (including, amazingly, their own marquee event), the Canucks had less in common with their century-old forerunners than they did last year’s team.
Honestly, it was incredible. This was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d seen this all before. There was a glitch in the Matrix when I watched this game.
Canucks 2 – 4 Senators
- As you may have heard, Eddie Lack got the start in this game, a decision that kicked off a completely avoidable goaltending controversy and wound up overshadowing the whole event. You could tell the fans weren’t impressed with the decision when Lack led the team down the tunnel to a chorus of Luus and boos. Although they may have been saying “Loo-ack, Loo-ack”. At least one guy was.
- Seriously, you know you’ve screwed things up royally when the fans are booing the ridiculously likeable Eddie Lack. He’s so likeable! He’s the Greg Kinnear of goaltenders.
- The Canucks struck first in this one, like Han Solo in the original, and true, version of George Lucas’s Star Wars. The goal came courtesy of Jason Garrison, who beat Craig Anderson with a high slapshot on an early first-period powerplay. In Anderson’s defence, he didn’t see it, and as an atheistic goaltender, that made it difficult for him to stop it, since he didn’t believe in it.
- Zack Kassian made it 2-0 not long after, getting loose in the slot and sliding one fivehole on Craig Anderson. At this point, you had to wonder if Rogers Arena was to blame for all the Canucks’ scoring troubles. Had fans decided to go burn it down, I would have been fully supportive. After all, that’s what happened to Denman Arena, where the Millionaires won the Cup. Torching Rogers Arena would have been a fittingly Vancouvery tribute to several local histories.
- Unfortunately, any talk of gleeful arson was shelved when the wheels fell off the Canucks’ wagon. That began at the 15:15 mark when Lack was beaten on a knuckler from Clarke MacArthur that deflected in off Kevin Bieksa’s glove. Tough to blame Lack for that one — unless giving him the start was the most controversial decision all season. Then it’s easy to blame him.
- That was the moment the Canucks lost control of this game, and that observation is supported by this shot chart. As soon as the Senators cut the lead in half, things changed. Why? My theory is that it’s been so long since the Canucks have had a two-goal lead, they didn’t know what to do with it. It’s been as elusive as true love for this club. That in mind, you can understand why they decided to treat it like love and took Reba McEntire’s advice. After all, love isn’t love until you give it away.
- In this, they were efficient. Less than two minutes later, Erik Karlsson tied it up, throwing a wrister towards the goal that somehow managed to slide between Lack and the far post. With that, the murmurs began to turn into jeers, and when the Senators went up 3-2 in the second, the fans launched into a full-throated chant of “We want Lu!” It’s possible they wanted Luongo in net so they could blame him for the loss. This whole “blame the backup” thing is foreign to all of us.
- Although it’s possible they were actually chanting “We want Lou!” and didn’t agree that Tegan & Sara were the right intermission choice, especially when that sparkplug Lou Bega is so, so available. #FreeLouBega
- Amazingly, only seconds after the crowd erupted into this chant, the Canucks announced that Pat Quinn would be the next inductee to the Ring of Honour. I’m sure it was just a coincidence, but it reeked of a distraction tactic. “The fans are irate! We have to do something!” “We’ve been sitting on this Pat Quinn announcement for just such a time as this! Initiate sequence!”
- The Canucks didn’t just lose this game. To add injury to insult, they lost Daniel Sedin in the second period when he went awkwardly into the boards in the Ottawa end. After laying on the ice for several seconds, he struggled to the bench, then left the game for good. He could be out awhile. I’d say the Canucks are really going to miss his scoring, but this season, that’s not even true. This is the worst season ever. Worse than Season of the Witch, which was just terrible.
- It rained in Vancouver, which nobody could have foreseen. You sort of assume when you schedule a March outdoor game in the dust bowl that is the Pacific Northwest, the rain’s going to stay away.
- Positives: Chris Tanev and Alex Edler had a really great game together. They made smart plays, they moved the puck well, and when they were on the ice, the puck was in the Ottawa end almost exclusively. They were the lone Canuck defence pairing to finish with a positive Corsi rating. Unfortunately, they couldn’t play all 60 minutes, and when they came off the ice, the Canucks were hemmed in their end like a pair of pants salvaged after an ill-conceived drop to center splits.
- Asked if it would have been nicer to have the roof open, Jason Garrison responded, “It would have been nicer if we won the game.” He has a point. But still, there’s nothing quite like losing with the top down. For one thing, all our prayers for the Canucks to get the game-tying goal kept bouncing off the ceiling. Lots of people were injured by falling prayers. It was a grisly scene.