I Watched This Game: Canucks 4, Blues 1

The NHL schedule-makers could not have anticipated this, but their scheduling for today’s games was fantastic. With the Canucks, Flames, and Kings battling for playoff position and all within three points of each other, all three were in action at the same time.

Any combination of results would have been interesting, but only one would truly make Canucks fans happy: wins by the Canucks and Flames and a loss to the Blackhawks by the Kings. That left them in the odd position of rooting for the Flames and Blackhawks.

As of right now, it looks like that ideal is exactly what’s going to happen. Like listening to the Lion King soundtrack, the Canucks got rid of the Blues. Meanwhile, the Flames are currently leading the Stars and the Blackhawks have a two-goal lead on the Kings. Barring a pair of third-period comebacks, the Canucks will have opened up a 5-point gap on the Kings and will still be two points up on the Flames.

These are the thoughts that occur to me now, but I was entirely focussed on the Canucks when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks 6, Blues 5 (SO)

This weekend, when it came time to select one of this week’s three Canucks games as the Game of the Week, I eschewed this game against the St. Louis Blues in favour of Tuesday’s matchup against the San Jose Sharks. I reasoned that the combination of a tough Central Division opponent and the first home game after a road trip would lead to an ugly result for the Canucks, without much in the way of entertainment.

I was completely, totally wrong.

Here are the things that would have to happen in the Sharks game to make it more entertaining than this one:

* Left wing on the Sharks’ top line: Left Shark from Katy Perry’s Super Bowl half-time show.

* An all-out, no-holds-barred brawl between Jean-Claude Van Damme and Fin.

* Finally, a winner on Safeway’s Score-and-Win thanks to a five-goal night from Yannick Weber.

* Kanye West bursting on the ice just before the game-deciding shootout attempt, declaring, “Yo, Bonino, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish, but Marek Malik had one of the best shootout goals of all time!”

None of those things happened, but all sorts of other entertaining things did, when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at St. Louis Blues, October 25, 2013

Even before this game started, the Canucks had already had the most successful 7-game road trip in franchise history, with a 4-1-1 record. Sure, two of those games came after regulation, but it’s still an impressive record, considering the 7 games of the trip came in the space of just 11 days.

As a result, a loss against the Blues wouldn’t just be unsurprising, it would be borderline acceptable. This was the second game of a back-to-back, with significant travel in-between those two games, while facing several injuries, with the backup goaltender in net, and multiple AHL-level players in the lineup. To top it off, the Blues are a very good team, off to a 5-1-1 start, and were well-rested to boot, as it had been a week since their last game.

Even getting a point out of this game would have been an accomplishment. Somehow, the Canucks managed to extract two. I was pleasantly surprised when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at St. Louis Blues, April 16, 2013

It took 65 minutes, but the Canucks finally got some good, clean looks on Brian Elliott. Granted, these looks came in the shootout, where you have to trade good clean looks with the opposition, but still. Let’s call this a moral victory. Considering the difficulty the Canucks had mustering shots on goal, let alone shots from areas where Elliott might have been remotely challenged, we can call breakaways the Blues were forced to allow them after overtime a win.

Granted, it’s a lot harder to call the result of the shootout a win, since the Canucks failed to score on the Blues as many times as the Blues scored on Schneider. Looking at it this way, it’s harder to call the shootout a victory. I’d be tempted to call it a loss, even.

I watched this game.

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Who would the Canucks rather face in the playoffs?

With 8 games remaining in the regular season, it seems fairly certain that the Canucks will once again win the Northwest division. The Canucks are trending in the right direction with the addition of Derek Roy and the return of Ryan Kesler and are now six points up on the second place Minnesota Wild, who have lost four of their last five games.

Since the Canucks aren’t likely to catch the Anaheim Ducks, who are seven points ahead, in the standings, the Canucks will finish as the third seed in the Western Conference and face the sixth seed in the first round of the playoffs. At this point, any one of six teams could finish sixth in the West: the Kings, Sharks, Blues, Wild, Red Wings, and Coyotes, with the outside possibility of the Stars or Blue Jackets.

So, which of those teams would the Canucks rather play in the first round? Who would they rather avoid?

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs St. Louis Blues, March 19, 2013

For the fourth straight game, the Canucks struggled with their defensive play in the third period, surrendering two goals. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that, for the first time since Nashville, it didn’t affect the final score. Vancouver’s issues closing out games were relatively inconsequential by the time the third rolled around, thanks in large part to strong individual performances in the first and second.

In the first, it was Cory Schneider and only Cory Schneider, who was unbeatable, despite seeing more rubber than Tate Langdon in American Horror Story. In the second, it was Dale mother-flipping Weise. The Flying Dutchman stepped on the clutch and shifted into high gear Tuesday, scoring a highlight-reel goal that turned out to be the game-winner. That’s right: thanks to Weise, the Canucks won this game. And thanks to the innovations of Philo Farnsworth, I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. St. Louis Blues, February 17, 2013

There was a centenarian in the crowd Sunday night, and before you picture a Roman or a man with a horse for a butt, I remind you that a centenarian is someone that’s been alive for a century. Yes, 101-year-old Herb Dawe was in attendance at Rogers Arena, taking in his first ever Canucks game.

At first this made me smile. But I kept thinking about it as the game continued. I thought about it as the Canucks jumped out to an early lead, squandered it on two separate occasions, pressed beautifully in the third then gave up a goal against the run of the play, wasted two powerplay opportunities, scored the game-tying goal, then lost the game in a shootout. It was all very stressful and in the end, disappointing.

Dawe has lived a Canuck-free life for a century, and after a game like this one, I hypothesize that this is probably why Dawe has lived for a century. I’m pretty sure I lost years off my life when I watched this game.

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Five dates on the Canucks’ 2012-13 schedule that will probably be really lame

The Vancouver Canucks’ 2012-13 schedule was released Thursday, and you know what? It’s not half-bad. Mike Gillis even went so far as to call the entire thing “travel-friendly” on the radio Wednesday, and he’s right, at least compared to previous years. The longest road trips are only five games and they’re both out of the way by the end of November. The Canucks only makes 3 trips out East the entire year, they don’t visit Florida, and the trips don’t have them darting all over the globe, willy-nilly, like they’re tracking Carmen Sandiego.

As for the games of note, well, there’s a Saturday night tilt with Boston on the 29th of December that will probably be a lot of fun, although the Canucks conspicuously omitted this one on their list of dates to remember. (This is easy to explain. When Mike Gillis blamed some of the Canucks’ struggles in the back half of the season on emotional exhaustion from last season’s Boston game, the marketing department effectively forfeited the right to make a big deal of this year’s at all. They’d be defenestrated for that.) We’ll probably all enjoy the visit from the Maple Leafs two Saturdays prior, especially if acquire Roberto Luongo some time between them and now, and tilts with the Blackhawks and Red Wings will be as enjoyable as ever.

But let’s not talk about the games we know will be good. Someone else will do that. Instead, let’s take a look at the games I’m pretty sure are going to suck. Here are five that project to be exceedingly lame.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs St. Louis Blues, March 1, 2012

The Canucks were in playoff form Thursday. How do I know? Because this game bore an eerie resemblance to a playoff game from last June. Let me break it down for you:

After two tough losses on the road, the Canucks came home looking to bounce back. The game was tight, with very little room for error, and the NHL’s top two teams entered the third period locked in a 0-0 tie. The contest appeared headed for overtime until, midway through the third, one of the Canucks’ point men put a shot just wide of the net. It popped off the boards and right onto the stick of a French winger that nobody likes, and he was able to jam the puck inside the post just before the goaltender could get across. Immediately after doing so, he scrambled to the boards to celebrate the game-winner with his linemates while Rogers Arena went nuts.

Yeah. Tonight’s game was effectively a shot-for-shot remake of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. I remember it clear as day, because I, like many of you, watched that game. And then I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at St. Louis Blues, January 12, 2012

Last season, the Blues finished 11th in the Western Conference, well outside the playoff picture. Meanwhile, Brian Elliott was arguably the worst single player in the NHL.

Somehow, combining the two has led to tremendous success, as the Blues came into this game second in the West, just behind the Canucks, while Elliott is second in the league in save percentage, goals against average, and shutouts. He went from the worst goaltender in the league to being named to the All-Star Game.

Who would have thought the all-star goaltender in this game wouldn’t be Luongo? On the plus side, the Canucks had four all-stars of their own, three of whom pitched in to put 3 goals past the Blues’ all-star. I watched this game.

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Just as we predicted, the Canucks followed up an ugly game in Minnesota with a slightly less ugly game in St. Louis. It’s amazing, however, how a one-goal game can seem so lopsided. When the Blues were in the offensive zone, it constantly seemed like they were on the verge of a gorgeous scoring chance, while the Canucks seemed to have trouble getting the puck towards the net with any regularity. In their post-game comments, however, the Canucks seemed positive, saying that they played a more complete game and stuck with their process, which brings to mind a game from last season.

On November 21, 2010, the Canucks lost 3-2 to the Phoenix Coyotes. It was the second game of a back-to-back following their worst performance of the year, the infamous Voldemort Game. In the IWTG for that loss to the Coyotes, we bemoaned the absence of Sami Salo, the shoddiness of the defence, and the lack of cycle to the Sedins game. The players, however, felt like they had performed well and stuck with their system. This should sound familiar for anyone who watched this game, and it therefore sounded familiar to me, because I watched this game.

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Last night’s game against the Minnesota Wild was absolutely miserable, a nearly unwatchable mess that saw the Canucks give up 45 shots on net, with a large number of them being golden scoring opportunities. After two big wins against the Capitals and Flames, it looked like the Canucks had put their early season struggles behind them, but last night demonstrated that this might not have been the case.

Kevin Bieksa described the game as “one of the worst performances I have been part of in this jersey” and it’s hard to argue with him. Fortunately, that game is over. Seriously. It ended last night. It’s over forever. Stop thinking about it. Tonight is a brand new game against a brand new team. It cannot possibly be as bad at that game.

Want to know why we’re so certain tonight’s game will be better? We have compiled 20 reasons.

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For the second game in a row, Roberto Luongo was the problem, letting in three goals on 31 shots, including two goals on 6 shots in the third period, when the Canucks desperately needed him to shut the door in order to have a chance at clawing their way back into the game. Clearly, it’s time for Cory Schneider to take the reins and – hmm? What’s that? You say that Schneider started this game, not Luongo? Oh.

Cory Schneider was outstanding against the Blues tonight, keeping the Canucks in the game through two periods, giving up only one goal on 25 shots. Unfortunately, the skaters in front of him were unable to provide him with any goal support and, while desperately pushing for a goal in the third, gave up some prime scoring chances at the other end that Schneider couldn’t possibly be expected to stop.

Ugh. I watched this game.

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Canucks 3 – 2 Blues I feel like we’ve been spouting this statistic a lot lately, but the Canucks still haven’t lost two consecutive regulation games since November. I used to be impressed; now I’m just annoyed. I mean, they keep alternating wins and losses, forcing me to point to this statistic every second game. [...]

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Canucks 2 – 3 Blues There are many possible explanations for the wave of mutilation that has befallen our defense corps, and they all involve the unspeakable. This ain’t no worldly happening, y’all. This is a straight up X-file. Here are some theories: Sami Salo’s lifelong injury demon is the most powerful Hellspawn since Dakota [...]

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Update: apparently this isn’t officially confirmed and GM Doug Armstrong is denying it. But that’s just shame. He’ll get over it. It was only last Tuesday that we delivered the bundle of nonjoy that was the end of Kyle Wellwood’s contract with Atlant Moscow Oblant. Two days later, things got a little brighter, as we [...]

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Canucks 3 – 1 Blues This was one of those games the Canucks had to win. No, it wasn’t a must-win (I hardly believe in them), but it was a road game against a beleaguered and bruised Blues team, for whom three of their top three offensive weapons weren’t playing. And, sadly for St. Louis [...]

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