In honour of Alain Vigneault returning to Vancouver for the first time in the regular season since getting the boot last May, I will be using the word “real” throughout this intro, both correctly and incorrectly.
The Canucks were real good in this game, playing with a real intensity as they tried to keep their playoff hopes real alive. They got in on the forecheck real quick and created real scoring chances. They looked like a real hockey team with a real first line and for a real short time it was real exciting.
Unfortunately, it all came crashing down to earth in a real hurry. Even as they looked real good, they still couldn’t put pucks into the net, with the woeful power play giving the Canucks meagre playoff hopes one final kick in teeth, giving up a shorthanded goal to seal the loss. It may seem like this whole season has been a bad dream, but it’s real real. Also real real? The fact I watched this game.
Canucks 1 – 3 Rangers
- The number of empty seats in the lower bowl was extremely noticeable, but the official figures still say the attendance was 18,910 people, 100% of capacity, so the Canucks sellout streak continues unabated, apparently. Come on, Aquilinis, at least hire some out-of-work Academy Awards seat fillers to at least make it look vaguely like a sellout.
- Remember when we wanted to rename the Fred J. Hume award for the Canucks’ unsung hero to the Jannik Hansen award? It seemed like the Honninggrævling was always the favourite to win the award, but this season has undone his unsungness by constantly placing him in the limelight on the second line or the power play. It just doesn’t seem to suit him at all. He got relegated to the fourth line for this game, finishing with his lowest ice time of the season, and still managed to be on the ice for two of New York’s three goals. I insist that no one sing any songs about Hansen this off-season so he can get back to normal.
- Things got off to a really rough start when the puck took a weird hop off the boards in front of Eddie Lack, causing a mad scramble. Lack actually managed to cover the puck at one point, but didn’t get the benefit of a quick whistle, allowing the Rangers to make like they were canning preservatives: Brian Boyle jarred the puck loose for Daniel Carcillo to jam into the net. I’d say you know you’re terrible when you give up a goal to Daniel Carcillo, but we’ve known the Canucks are terrible for a good three months now.
- We’re used to seeing Alex Edler’s stick break taking shots in the offensive zone, so it was nice to get a change of pace and have him break it blocking a shot in the defensive zone. And by “nice” I mean “awful” because it led directly to the Rangers’ second goal as he borrowed Kesler’s stick but was too out-of-sorts to react in time to tie up Benoit Pouliot in front of the net, allowing him to tip the puck past Lack. At this point, I just want Edler to just use a big piece of lumber as a stick. Just a big old oak 2×4. It may adversely affect his slap shot, but it’ll make him a more effective crease-clearer.
- The first line of Ryan Kesler between Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows was incredible in this game; the Canucks out-shot the Rangers 14-1 with Daniel on the ice and Kesler and Burrows managed similar rates. Kesler boasted the best Corsi, as the Canucks out-attempted the Rangers 25-2 with him on the ice, which is just pure silliness. They were in the Rangers’ end more than a Darth Vader action figure.
- The Canucks’ top trio could only manage one goal despite the territorial dominance, with Kesler snapping a quick one-timer off a nice feed from Daniel. It was a great pass, but you can tell Daniel still isn’t quite at the height of his wizardry, as it was mostly impressive because of how he recovered to make the pass from mishandling the puck. Maybe it’s just perspective: in the past I would have given him the benefit of the doubt and said he intentionally mishandled the puck to lure the defence into a false sense of security.
- Zack “Frank Ricard” Kassian’s four-game point streak was broken in this game, but at least he remains intact. For a moment it looked like his season might be over after he drove hard to the net at the end at the end of the first period and got dumped heavily into the boards. He had to be helped off the ice by his teammates while putting no weight on his right leg, similar to how Kevin Bieksa left last week’s game against Colorado, but, like Bieksa, Kassian returned for the following period. At this point Mike Burnstein has to be running out of replacement right legs.
- I have in my notes the following phrase: “Kassian passing the puck well tonight.” That was before he made a terrible back pass to Yannick Weber on the power play, leading to a shorthanded 2-on-1 the other way. Weber then exacerbated the bad pass by inexplicably diving out in an attempt to hold the puck in at the blue line, completely missing it. Even worse, the two forwards on the penalty kill were Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis, who combined on the odd-man rush to give St. Louis his first goal as a Ranger. Weber has to make a better decision there.
- Finally, there’s the matter of Alex Burrows hit on Ryan McDonagh that earned him a 5-minute major and a game misconduct for elbowing. Rangers fans are calling for a suspension, but I thought it was a pretty clean hit with, at most, Burrows’ hands coming up on McDonagh. It didn’t appear to be elbowing, at the very least. McDonagh suffered a shoulder injury from the combination of Kassian putting him in a tough position and Burrows hitting him against the boards, so analyzing the video for a headshot like it was the Zapruder film is bizarre.
- A common theme in comments about the hit is that Burrows had no intent to play the puck, as his stick is held straight up in the air. I agree: he intended to hit McDonagh, because this is hockey. You’re allowed to hit people in hockey, from what I recall. From reports on Twitter, McDonagh is apparently going to be okay, which is good to hear, and I don’t expect Burrows to receive a fine or suspension.
Tags: Alain Vigneault
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, I Watched This Game
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