I Watched This Game: Canucks at Colorado Avalanche, March 27, 2014

Heading into this game, Jannik Hansen had 3 goals in his last 33 games. Nicklas Jensen had 3 goals in his last 6 games. One played on a line with Daniel Sedin, the other on a line with Tom Sestito. One played more than 6 minutes in a tied third period. The other was stapled to the bench after the second intermission.

Does John Tortorella hate the happiness of Canucks fans? Jensen’s success since his call-up has been the one thing that all fans can enjoy, the one real ray of sunshine and light in the dreary darkness, but then he got shunted down the lineup. Meanwhile, Hansen, who is having the worst offensive season of his career in terms of points-per-minute, kept getting sent out, despite not registering a single shot attempt and the Canucks getting out-shot 9-4 at even-strength with him on the ice.

Did John Tortorella confuse Hansen for Jensen? Does he think all Danes look alike? If so, that’s pretty racist. He’s lucky there aren’t more Danes in the NHL so this didn’t come up earlier.

Like Jensen, who quietly sat back and let Tortorella call him Jannik all night, I watched this game.

Canucks 2 – 3 Avalanche

***

  • Jensen did make a couple key mistakes, which were clearly the reason he got benched. Early in the second period, he coughed up the puck at the blue line to Nathan MacKinnon and took a tripping penalty to prevent a breakaway. Jensen should know better than to try to carry the puck into the offensive zone. Tortorella loves dump-ins like a 12-year-old girl loves Frozen, insisting on it again and again and repeatedly singing the same song until everyone is sick of it.
  • Jensen’s second error came on Colorado’s second goal, when he made the dire mistake of being the closest person to Gabriel Landeskog when he scored, making him appear guilty of missing his check. I mean, he actually did miss his check, meaning appearances weren’t deceiving, but what he really should have done is point at Landeskog repeatedly before failing to check him, so everyone would think he was directing Brad Richardson or Yannick Weber to take Landeskog, absolving himself of guilt. I’m worried that Jensen just doesn’t have a good enough hockey IQ to shift blame at an NHL-level.
  • Frankly, it was nonsense that Jensen started the game on the fourth line in the first place, as it meant the Canucks didn’t have a first line for this game. Daniel Sedin played with Hansen and Shawn Matthias, because he’s a third-liner now, apparently. Kesler, Higgins, and Burrows is a typical second line for the Canucks and Richardson, Booth, and Kassian have been the third line of late, giving the Canucks a second line, two third lines, and a fourth line. It was like reading Moby Dick without knowing that you should call the narrator Ishmael.
  • Daniel Sedin was the only Canuck other than Hansen to finish without a shot on goal, but it’s hard to criticize him for not playing like a first-line forward when he’s on a line with checkers. Daniel is clearly a chess player.
  • Infuriatingly, the Canucks opened the scoring on the powerplay thanks to a nifty passing play by Daniel and Jensen. It’s almost like they’re two skilled players who should, I don’t know, maybe play on a line together or something. Daniel fed Jensen down low at the side of the net and, depending on how charitable you’re feeling, Jensen either lost the puck trying to drag it in front to score or made a ridiculous blind, backhand pass. Either way, Yannick Weber had an empty net and filled it like he had been instructed by Jesus to cast it on the other side of the boat.
  • Jordan Schroeder came in for Zac Dalpe after he was a healthy scratch on Wednesday and had a rough outing. At even-strength, the Avalanche out-shot-attempted the Canucks 14-3 when he was on the ice, easily the worst on the Canucks. Five of those shot attempts for the Avalanche came on just one shift, with the fifth becoming a shot success, finding its way past Eddie Lack after Schroeder failed to clear the puck along the boards. That shot went on to write a book — The 9 Habits of Quality Shots – that failed to mention in the acknowledgements all the other shot attempts that helped it become who it is today.
  • There was a scary moment in the second period when Landeskog hit Kevin Bieksa and Bieksa couldn’t put any weight on his right leg as he pulled himself along the boards to the bench. It looked like a season-ending kind of injury, but instead he returned in the third period, though his ice time was limited. Hopefully he just had a charley horse or a Charlie unicorn.
  • David Booth and Zack Kassian both played very well and combined with Dan Hamhuis to tie the game late in the second. Booth curled around the net and fired a shot that deflected out to Hamhuis, who swung the puck back towards the net where Kassian was waiting. Kassian engaged his inner power forward, pushing off Cory Sarich to create space, kicking Hamhuis’s shot towards the net, then poking it in with his stick to make sure it counted. He also made sure there were no hanging chads, just in case.
  • Topical political humour!
  • The third period was as boring as a lathe. The most exciting moment was when the Avalanche’s Nick Holden missed the puck with a wide open net. That’s how boring it was: a play where nothing happened was as thrilling as it got.
  • Eddie Lack made some nice saves in this game, but my favourite Lack moment came at the end of regulation. With just a couple seconds left, the refs consulted with the timekeepers for a lengthy period of time to make sure they had the exact right amount of time remaining. The camera cut to Lack, who had his head slightly cocked to the side with a hilariously quizzical expression on his face, wondering why it was taking longer than the final minute of a basketball game to decide to add one second to the clock. He was basically a living “wat” meme.
  • Weber is going to get some flak for his coverage on the game-winning goal, but Shawn Matthias is the one at fault, as he directed Weber to take Ryan O’Reilly a moment before leaving his man, Tyson Barrie, to pursue the puck. The reason Barrie was all alone in front is because Weber simply did what Matthias asked him to do, assuming Matthias would stick with Barrie as he went to the net. Instead, like Billy Pilgrim, Matthias came unstuck.
  • Some might still blame Weber as the defenceman, but in a 4-on-4 situation, that communication is key as standard 5-on-5 coverage schemes don’t work. If Matthias didn’t want to be blamed, he shouldn’t have pointed, which is the opposite of the advice I gave to Jensen. I never said blame-shifting was easy. Just because you can do it in the AHL doesn’t mean you’ll have any success with it in the big leagues.
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17 comments

  1. Snepsts
    March 28, 2014

    This is going to sound whiny, but I have had it with Tortorella. What is even happening with those line combinations last night? Why not play Jensen with Burrows and Sedin…? And Burrows with Higgins and Kesler doesn’t make any sense at all, either. It’s like mixing pirate Lego with Star Wars Lego.

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    • Wagman
      March 28, 2014

      I’m confused – are you saying that is good or bad? Because Pirate Star Wars Lego rocks…

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  2. Walker
    March 28, 2014

    Please put Torts out of our misery.

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  3. whisky jack
    March 28, 2014

    Sweet Jenny finds she’s naught to say
    About the point they lost today
    Except she thought each came to play
    And bottom line that in their quest
    To capture eighth place in the West
    They’ll need all fourteen of the rest

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    • jenny wren
      March 28, 2014

      to this i’ll add that whisky jack
      is really glad that daniel’s back
      and loved his well deserved attack
      with wit and common sense conveyed
      on choices tortorella made
      about with whom his players played

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      Rating: +4 (from 10 votes)
  4. Fitz
    March 28, 2014

    Torts is the most counter-intuitive coach I have ever seen.

    Kassian and Booth have been dominating lately, so he limits their ice time in the 3rd when the team needs a goal?
    Jensen and Burrows find offensive chemistry so Torts splits them up?

    Jensen has more goals in the last 7 days than Hansen has in his previous 33 games, so Hansen gets more ice time?

    Kassian has 4 assists and 2 goals in the past 3 games better not put him on the power play, they might score.

    Edler is -30 but is still on the Penalty Kill and plays in OT?

    The Power play carries the puck in the zone, sets up and scores, then proceeds to constantly dump it in and get minimal shots every PP after………huh?

    I don’t think I’m alone in saying WTF?

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  5. akidd
    March 28, 2014

    ya, torts is losing it for sure. i think he needs a break from hockey for a while. it seemed like the team was just winging it there for awhile and it seemed to work. i thought tortorella was just going to let them go because there was nothing to lose. but then when there appeared a glimmer of something to lose, he was right back at it, interfering in a detrimental way again, manipulating the lineup and making poor t.o.i decisions. i wish they would just let him go now and be done with it.

    and what happened to the honey badger? i always thought there was another level for him. i just thought it would be up. i hope he finds his mojo over the summer.

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    • Alan
      March 29, 2014

      This is exactly my conclusion as well. It felt like Torts had tossed it in for the season a few games ago and when he did, players started playing much better with Jensen leading the charge.

      Then when we rolled out a few wins, he got serious and we see here the results.

      And what happened to Burr was a Shea Weber karate chop.

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  6. shoes
    March 28, 2014

    I concurr with the “get rid of Torts” crowd. I am not sure that he even remembers how to coach, everything seems to be a bizarro world around him. A line combo plays exceptionally well for 3 games and then has a bad shift and immediately they get broken up. Makes no sense.

    He has to go. The sooner the better

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  7. Lance Uppercut
    March 28, 2014

    Hey Sestito, you lost yet another fight. So you are now 0-all. So we have determined that fighting and skating and hockey are your weak spots. Maybe you can help carry Torts’ bags to the curb along with your own, hopefully you can do that.

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  8. DanD
    March 28, 2014

    Daniel I love reading your IWTG’s because your frustration becomes more thinly veiled with every one you do. And I do not blame you at all. Who can understand the mind of Torts? It’s almost like he is more interested in proving a point than getting goals sometimes.

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  9. Wetcoaster
    March 28, 2014

    It’s like we traded an old brandname AV-model line mixer for a new discounted Torts-model only to find out that there’s a nasty nick in the blade and our frapped lines are kinda watery…

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  10. Darren I know nothing Dreger
    March 28, 2014

    Sigh! Here’s the thing, for a few weeks when the Nucks were a bunch of lost souls, Torts seemed somewhat calm and almost defeated – he rolled lines and not fussed over mistakes..etc. The Canucks actually looked better…Now that we won a few games, and all of a sudden, Tort thinks he got his mojo back…and now he is back to his old self – line mixing, benching guys, making needless points to his players, etc.

    Enough of this nonsense – young guys will make mistakes but let them play. We are not going to make it to the playoffs without them anyway…and if we don’t make it, we at least gave them quality ice time to develop.

    Also – stop playing the top guys 23+mins a game and be surprised that they are hurt! You can’t win the Stanley Cup with 3-4 guys!! This is not shinny!

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  11. Naturalmystic
    March 29, 2014

    I believe tonight will go down as the beginning of the greatest comeback in Vancouver history.

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  12. Brent
    March 29, 2014

    Wow, PITB has totally turned on Torts. This could be the most negative piece yet (well except for maybe Harrison’s piece just before the tirade deadline, demanding some sort of action). Not that I disagree (I think Torts was the wrong choice), but you guys have always looked at the bright side of Canucks life: talking about the process, looking at silver linings of trades, player deployment decisions etc. I like your new found edginess!
    It goes with the general malaise and bitterness Canucks fans are feeling. Is it time for a moment of Pure Bulis?

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    • Daniel Wagner
      March 29, 2014

      Definitely time for a moment of pure Bulis. Good call. We’ll get one up pretty soon.

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  13. Vincent
    March 29, 2014

    Clearly, the only theory that makes sense is that torts has been ordered by the gods above to ensure a loss so as to get a better draft position. Torts thought this could be accomplished by not doing anything; upon realizing he was the cause of defeat he continued to coach.

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