I Watched This Game: Canucks at Washington Capitals, March 14, 2014

I don’t really know how to describe this game, only to say that I haven’t seen anything like it for some time. In fact it’s been so long that my vocabulary that I might used to describe it has atrophied. It was…expediting? No, that’s not right. Exfoliating? Nope, that’s not it. Excited? Is that the word?

Exciting! That’s the one. It’s been a long time since I used that word in relation to the Canucks, but it fits this game. The Canucks buzzed around the offensive zone, created scoring chances, and actually capitalized on a few of them. It was bizarre. I mean, they didn’t win, of course. It wasn’t that bizarre. But it was still fun to watch.

I was — what’s the word? — entertained when I watched this game.

Canucks 3 – 4 Capitals

***

  • Let’s get this out of the way first: yes, Eddie Lack struggled in this game, making just 17 saves on 21 shots. No, he didn’t look particularly good, depending too much on staying deep in his net and not challenging the shooter when the situation called for it. But this doesn’t mean that Lack is suddenly terrible or that his stretch of play since the Roberto Luongo trade is an indication that Lack can’t handle being a number one goaltender. Remember, correlation does not imply causation, otherwise we’d say that larger populations of storks cause higher birthrates. No comments from the Tumblr crowd about Eddie “The Stork” Lack causing higher birthrates by virtue of his existence.
  • Jason Garrison had a rough game, finishing with his lowest time on ice of the season, apart from his 2 second appearance in the infamous Flames linebrawl. He failed to tie up Joel Ward on the Capitals’ first goal after Lack slid out of the net trying to stop Eric Fehr off the rush. It appears that Garrison’s play is tied to his beard length. Neatly and tidy beard: neat and tidy play. Wild, bushy beard: wild, bushy play. Now, imagine how well a clean-shaven Garrison would play: guaranteed Norris trophies.
  • With this season a bust, it’s nice that at least the Canucks youth are contributing, with two of them combining to tie the game. Zack “Passin’” Kassian threaded a backhand through to Jordan “Shootin’” Schroeder, who roofed it like he had been contracted to reshingle a house.
  • The key to that goal was Dan “Community Man” Hamhuis, who made like a wrecking ball to keep the puck in the offensive zone, running over both Jay Beagle and Alex Ovechkin, kicking the puck free to Kassian in the process. Somehow, he didn’t get an assist, but Hamhuis has never craved credit for helping others, like when he later manned the wrecking ball to knock down a condemned tenement so a homeless shelter could be built in its place.
  • For the most part, the Canucks did well against Ovechkin, out-shooting the Capitals 12-3 when he was on the ice at even-strength. They did a good job penalty killing as well, assigning one penalty killer to play high on him to take away his one-timer, limiting him to just one shot on goal on the power play. I was briefly nervous when Ovechkin came in one-on-one on Yannick Weber, but even he did well, forcing a shot from the outside, then taking the body to prevent him from getting to the rebound. It seemed like the Canucks had figured out the trick to shutting down Ovechkin, which I believe is holding down the power button.
  • I said “for the most part” above because the one shot on goal they allowed from Ovechkin on the power play was a one-timer that went top corner where college students put the thumbtacks in their Bob Marley posters. A moment earlier, Chris Higgins blocked one of his shots from a similar location, but shaded back to the middle of the ice towards a player already being checked, leaving Ovechkin free for the shot. It’s like Ovechkin was Higgins’ buddy on a field trip to the museum and he left him alone to go check out the Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton and Ovechkin stole a chocolate bar from the gift shop: you’re partly to blame, Higgins.
  • Tom Sestito had a rough game. He was sitting in the penalty box when Ovechkin scored after somehow simultaneously hooking and boarding Tom Wilson. Then, four minutes later, he didn’t check Wilson hard enough on the backcheck as Evgeny Kuznetzov set him up with a gorgeous pass and Wilson put the Capitals up 3-1. Sestito wasn’t even half-assing it on the backcheck, he was quarter-assing it. His whole ass was justifiably stapled to the bench for the rest of the game.
  • The Canucks didn’t give up in the third period, particularly Chris Higgins, who had a superb game. The Canucks out-shot the Capitals 13-3 while Higgins was on the ice at even-strength, and one of those shots was Shawn Matthias’s first goal as a Canuck. Higgins found Matthias with a cross-ice, backhand pass and Matthias made no mistake, except when he skated away from Higgins to celebrate the goal. Kiss Huggins needs his hugs!
  • Speaking of firsts, Higgins set up Nicklas Jensen for his first career NHL goal. It was a sweet shot from Jensen in the high slot, beating Jaroslav Halak under the right arm. Even sweeter than the goal was the celebration, a down-on-one-knee, double-fist-pump, aka. the Punching Two Kids in the Gut.
  • Once again, the key to the goal was a great hold by Hamhuis, who kicked the puck away from Ward and dove out to make the pass to Chris Tanev. Tanev fed Higgins, who set up Jensen, meaning Hamhuis was once again robbed of an assist. He immediately turned to Tanev and offered him his coat as well.
  • The Canucks absolutely dominated the third period, out-shooting the Capitals 17-3 in the final frame, but the Capitals scored on their first shot of the period despite the play being entirely in their own end up until that point. The Canucks couldn’t contain the cycle and, when Mike Green teed up the shot, Lack stayed too deep in his net and Green sent the puck over his shoulder like it was salt and Lack had just knocked over the saltshaker.
  • What was nice to see about the third was that they created legitimate scoring chances rather than just desperately throwing the puck on net. Jensen ripped a slap shot from the hashmarks, Alex Burrows clanked a shot off the post, and Jannik Hansen forced two great saves from Halak on a 2-on-1. But close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and hugs. Higgins insisted on that last one.
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7 comments

  1. Alan
    March 15, 2014

    That’s the exact word that I used. “Entertained”.

    Tom Sestito should not be on the Canucks next season.

    Do you know what ails our blue line right now? By all rights, they should be better than our forwards considering we don’t have Dank, Kesler or Santo. But they aren’t. This game was lost on the defense and goaltending.

    Tanev played like he was hung over tonight, Bieksa had some pretty bad give ways, Edler really didn’t do too much of anything, Garrison had some blown coverages and Lack was pretty ordinary.

    Tonight’s game was one of the few games where you could say they wasted a good night by the forwards.

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  2. gretchen grouse
    March 15, 2014

    SAD LIKE

    an olde hank williams song
    pocket aces gone all wrong
    a called third strike outside the plate
    or all in on a gut shot straight

    but one’s to keep on keeping on
    despite the facts luongo’s gone
    the beast ryan kesler’s hurt
    and christian jokes one can’t insert

    without causing someone pain
    as near as i can ascertain
    although misplaced apostrophes
    are me more likely to displease

    sad like another needless loss
    or steak without tabasco sauce

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  3. whisky jack
    March 15, 2014

    There was a time one would have heard,
    “Oh, my word,
    Vancouver won it in the third!”

    There’s no denying that they tried,
    But the Caps scored when it was tied,
    And so we lost another game.
    With Tom Sestito most to blame,
    Or mayhap Torts our coach so-called
    For his not playing Archibald.

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  4. Steeeve
    March 15, 2014

    Bravo. Well done. Excellent write-up.

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  5. cathylu
    March 15, 2014

    Even though I’ve drastically lowered my expectations in regards to Canuck games I was thinking maybe we could pull out a win. In any case I’m glad we didn’t give up in the third. Congrats to new guy and Jensen on their goals. On to Florida!

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  6. madwag
    March 15, 2014

    “ Sestito wasn’t even half-assing it on the backcheck, he was quarter-assing it. His whole ass was justifiably stapled to the bench for the rest of the game.” And for the rest of the season and beyond one can only hope.

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  7. madwag
    March 15, 2014

    danielson

    you should advise your readers that their comments will not appear until they have been “approved” and that could take anywhere from five minutes to five hours to five days. cheers!

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