I Watched This Game: Canucks at Phoenix Coyotes, March 4, 2014

Let’s be honest: nothing the Canucks did tonight was going to overshadow the events of this afternoon. John Tortorella could have charged into the visiting team’s dressing room, the press box, and two concession booths during this game and it still wouldn’t have done a damn thing to change the front page of tomorrow’s papers. Tuesday was all about the Roberto Luongo trade.

Knowing this, the Canucks didn’t even try to compete with the main story. They played this game like they knew it was going to be a sidebar. Like Frank MacKey waiting out an interview, they sat patiently, counting down the minutes. Occasionally, someone had to hop on the ice, of course, but for the most part, this was as perfunctory as an Adam Sandler movie script. Like the Canucks who played in it, I watched this game.

Canucks 0 – 1 Coyotes

  • I could say this game was as boring as watching paint dry, but let’s be fair: when you watch paint dry, you’re at least watching a process. The Canucks don’t seem to have one of those anymore. Furthermore, drying paint eventually achieves its desired result: it dries. And sometimes it even slightly changes colour!
  • On the bright side, this really was an appropriate beginning to the Eddie Lack era. How do I know? Because it was eerily reminiscent of the first days of Luongo, with a goaltender doing his best to keep his offensively inept team in the game. On the one hand, you could say it bodes well for Lack, since he looked good, but if history is really repeating itself, Lack’s going to have one Hell of an eight years. Although his surprise appearance on the weather network should be fun.
  • Lack really was good in this game, stopping 31 of the 32 shots he faced. One of the major questions heading down the stretch and into next season is whether Lack’s ready for number one duty, but honestly, watching this game, Lack is maybe the only one on this team that isn’t a question mark. Come to think of it, maybe that was the plan all along? Make Lack look good, make the trade look good. I wondered why the players kept shouting, “Boy, if it wasn’t for Lack this game would be over already!” and “Eddie Lack? More like Ready Lack! Ready for this big responsibility, that is!”
  • The lone shot that got past Lack was scored by Antoine Vermette, his sixth goal in five games this season versus the Canucks. But you have to feel bad for the guy. The Canucks were obviously a team he thought the Coyotes would have to go through in the playoffs, which is why he paid the witch to make him so good against them. This is why you never ask a witch for her Cup picks.
  • The Canucks had one good chance in this game, and it came off the stick of Ryan Kesler. Unfortunately, he hit the crossbar. What a loser. Trade him, I say. We can’t have crossbar-hitters here in Vancouver. Get. Him. Out of here.
  • The most talked-about moment of this game may have come at the intermission, when Mike Gillis appeared for a brief interview with Dan Murphy sporting a combination goatee and neckbeard. It was fitting, mind you. We have clearly entered the darkest timeline. What we know so far: Evil Mike Gillis has a weird beard. Evil John Tortorella wears glasses. And Evil John Garrett doesn’t eat Kraft Dinner. He eats people.
  • The Coyotes actually scored a second goal midway through the third, and unsurprisingly, Antoine Vermette was in the middle of it. The goal was waved off because Vermette was interfering with Lack in the crease, flailing strategically in a vain attempt to get up. You can’t do that. Strategic flailing only works when you’re fighting your little sister.
  • Mike Smith gets a lot of grief from Canucks fans for flopping whenever he’s touched, so we should probably give him plaudits for not flopping when Zac Dalpe whacked him in the head with his stick while trying to knock a puck off the top of the net. But Smith may have just been happy to be involved in the game. He’s an attention-seeker, and with the Canucks barely testing him, he was ignored most of the night. He was this close to writing emo songs about how no one understands him.
  • Smith was involved in my favourite moment of the evening, however. At the game’s end, he made a last-second pitch for the empty net, lobbing one across both blue lines. Time had run out by the time it reached the Vancouver end, but an angry Kevin Bieksa still knocked the high floater over the left-field fence. He’s got a future in baseball, and I think he and the rest of the Canucks should go for it. Hockey’s not working for them these days.
  • Chris Higgins had 6 shots in this game. The rest of the Canucks’ forwards combined had 7, two of which came off the stick of Tom Sestito. Say, remember when we were complaining about the Canucks’ stubborn refusal to scratch Tom Sestito? Only a few months later, we’re asking the rest of the team, Why can’t you be more like Sestito? It’s suspicious. Has anybody thought that maybe Tom Sestito is a sinister alien turning everyone into — OH MY GOD HE’S HERE

17 comments

  1. peanutflower
    March 4, 2014

    Sigh. It was a good few years while it lasted. What a steaming pile of poop. I hope I am proven wrong. I really hope so.

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  2. RG
    March 4, 2014

    DON’T TRADE HIGGINS.

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  3. PD
    March 4, 2014

    That you guys have remained funny through this malformed cartoon monster-baby of a season is a credit to you both. Hats off to PITB, quickly becoming the one and only reason to follow the Canucks.

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    • Cathylu
      March 5, 2014

      I agree. Without PITB all would be lost.

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  4. akidd
    March 4, 2014

    lack seemed a little bothered by the loss. it’s like no one has let him in on the plan. some kind of prank. take it easy eddie. we don’t care any more. you still gotta play good but don’t sweat the losses.

    just tuned in for the final eight minutes which took about half and hour to play. the team needs to focus more on keeping the clock running. otherwise, everything’s fine. kesler didn’t get hurt. let’s just keep working on that number 6 pick.

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  5. BBoone
    March 5, 2014

    Two years ago the Red Sox went through a ludicrous season with a cartoon egomaniac as a manager , traded away a lot of money for prospects , put the manager out of his misery , hired a young experienced progressive to lead the team , invested the saved money in shrewd mid market short term players to complement their remaining superstar core , won the World Series and are now integrating their top prospects into their lineup . The blueprint is there if Canuck ownership is willing to look . Of course they will have to eat gazillions of dollars of Laforgarellas contract , and then hire whoever they should have hired in the first place , but that is a very small price to pay . There is no reason that the “new” Canucks post Luongo Kesler and whomever else they move out can’t be a very competitive team with an excellent blue chip prospect pool waiting to come on line. Go Red Sox err Canucks !

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    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      March 5, 2014

      Yeah, everyone talks like a professional sports team needs to suck for years after coming down from the top of the league and are flipping the pool that the Canucks are now the Flames. Fact is, there are plenty of examples of the contrary. Right now could be the low point rather than partway down the hill, if managed correctly. The Flyers are one example: leading up to the first lockout, they were a powerhouse team, but then had an unremarkable season the following year and were bounced by the Sabres in the 1st round, then completely fell flat getting only 56 points in 06-07. Everyone thought the team was on a major downward slide and going to be a laughing stock for a while, but then the next year they came right back and made it to the conference finals. Even this year, they started slow and their braindead fans were clamoring for change, and instead they’ve rebounded and will be a very tough out in the playoffs.

      Hell, the Ducks missed the playoffs and finished last in the Pacific two years ago, with a lot of the same core (amid calls to trade Getzlaf and his 11 goals on the season), and now they’re arguably the best team in the NHL. The other possible best team in the league missed the playoffs as recently as 2011 (St Louis). So while I bemoan this awful season and all the silly sideshows, I also think there’s reason for optimism that the team can rebound quickly. A lot will depend on the Sedins and Burrows though. They’re still the engine that needs to drive this team, and if this is just a down year due to injury, things are ok, whereas if they have all collectively forgotten how to generate offence permanently, then we’re in more trouble.

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  6. jenny wren
    March 5, 2014

    And so another loss tonight!
    Some would observe, “Well that’s alright.
    That all our games we now must lose,
    So we’re among the first to choose
    A top prospect from this year’s draft.”
    Observing such is simply daft.

    All I ask is they remember
    How we played just last December.
    Next game begins a winning streak,
    The perfect time to start to peak,
    And lay a claim to Stanley’s cup!
    From all bad dreams there’s waking up.

    It’s clear that Burrows soon must score,
    And David Booth is due some more.
    Higgins and Hansen can be clutch;
    Of Kesler one can’t say too much.
    With Eddie Lack now number one,
    Return to form has just begun!

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    • Chinook
      March 5, 2014

      Shucks, I love you. Does your optimism come from the heart or is it make-up? Thumbs up!

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  7. starfish
    March 5, 2014

    nice one jenny wren

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  8. mac 'n cheese
    March 5, 2014

    For me, seeing Bieksa angrily swatting that puck at the end was the highlight of the game.
    Uh, oh. That shouldn’t be a highlight AT ALL.

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  9. arjay
    March 5, 2014

    Gillis words…..“In the clear light of day, this is a wakeup call that we’re not performing at the level we expect.” sound very much like an ultimatum to the coaches……..miss the playoffs and yer done here.

    I actually hope so….I have posting since Sept. that the honeymoon with Torts would end quickly because his system and the players on this roster were misaligned.

    His system is for a talent challenged situation; it didn’t work with the NYR and it won’t work here. Proof of that is that every forward is having their worst statistical year and, despite an above average back-end….they can’t score or generate offense suddenly.

    So unless you believe that every player simultaneously lost their talents the obvious answer is that the system isn’t working here.

    Blame the owner….Torts was his call over MG’s choice of Stephens in LA. MG has finally cleared out the RL eternal contract that FA awarded….any one else find it “Kharmaic” that FA still has to eat 15% of his contract? And, if Torts gets fired, maybe FA will learn to leave the hockey decisions to the people he is paying to make them?

    Clearly, this season is gone and FA will get another year w/out playoff revenues. The money angle should be enough to say “adios” to Torts and his “system.”

    MG now has about $10MM more to use now with RL gone (-15%) and the increased cap….that should bring in some new and skilled blood and the upcoming draft and the insertion of one or two recent drafts and/or assets from trades should start the transition.

    The good news is the transition should not be like Cal, Edm, Phi, NJ, NYI etc etc….ie years in the making.

    We have been “spoiled” with an elite team for about 6 years now……time waits for no man so time to transition……thinking it will be a one-two year process…and life will go on….especially once the talent and the system are aligned properly.

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    • DanD
      March 5, 2014

      I also wonder if his system is built for the pre-lockout NHL. How else do you explain his cup win with Tampa Bay? They certainly had some talent, but they were playing in the heyday of clutch and grab.

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    • akidd
      March 5, 2014

      nice post, arjay. i think it’s pretty clear as well that tortorella isn’t working out. it’s not all his fault perhaps but a lot of it is. it’s fair to expect this team to have taken a step back this year but to the extent that it has is nuts. it’s completely broken, and boring to boot.

      there is optimism for the future. but it needs a new coaching staff. i hope mg can see that patience isn’t the right call for the coaches.

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    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      March 5, 2014

      Good take, but I’m not sure how you can be so quick to attribute mistakes to Aquilini. I am always skeptical about the various whispers and rumours that the internet dredges up. I personally don’t believe anything I hear about backroom dealings until Bob MacKenzie says it.

      I’m not sure Tortorella’s successful runs have necessarily corresponded to talent-poor groups: the Lightning has Richards, Lecavalier and St Louis all in their primes and those guys really shone under Torts. However, it’s also possible that his system is a little different now, or that it was better suited for the clutch-and-grab era, as Dan has suggested.

      Tortorella still has 4 years left on his contract. That’s a lot of money to flush down the drain. I think it might be necessary to can him, but it won’t be a decision arrived at quickly.

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  10. steveB
    March 5, 2014

    I knew it was over when that pesky Vermette scored, but held on until Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. came on at the start of the Third Period. I flipped back to the paint-drying during commercials, but it seems like I missed nothing. :-\

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    • whisky jack
      March 5, 2014

      before the game i was inclined
      to think we’d fall a goal behind
      probably we would never score,
      and to our losses add one more.

      therefore because i had the choice
      throughout the third i watched the voice
      i don’t feel bad for doing so
      but somewhat sad lu had to go

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