I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Calgary Flames, January 18, 2014

Like the Arcade Fire without their lead vocalist, the Vancouver Canucks came into this game in desperate need of a win. Fortunately, through 48 games, the Calgary Flames are practically a dispensary of wins. You don’t even need a prescription. Their wins are over the counter, like weak codeine products.

The Canucks got what they came for too, although it wasn’t quite as easy as all that. This game was tense. Heck, it was, like the verb “was” itself, past tense. And speaking of proper tense usage, I did not watch this game — I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Los Angeles Kings, January 13, 2014

The big story heading into this game is how the Canucks would respond in their first game against the Los Angeles Kings since Dustin Brown injured Roberto Luongo. I wondered, personally, if the fans were out for more blood than the Canucks themselves, that, perhaps, the Canucks would be more focussed on winning the game (and passing the Kings in the Pacific Division standings), than exacting retribution.

Not so much.

It was clear right from puck drop that this game was about sending a message and establishing an identity as a team that stands up for their teammates, won’t be bullied by physical play, and is difficult to play against. Not a single guff was taken in this game; all guffs remained the possession of their original owners.

Really, it was hardly a hockey game at all. It was an absurd spectacle and a thoroughly entertaining one. I thoroughly enjoyed it when I watched this “game”.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, January 7, 2014

Vancouver led this game 4-2 with only a few minutes to play. They looked on their way to a comfortable victory. And then Daniel Sedin was hit in the genitals with a slapshot.

Let it be henceforth known that hitting Daniel Sedin in the genitals is painfully unlucky — and not just for Daniel Sedin, and his genitals. The entire team looked shell-shocked by the junk shot, and while Daniel would recover, the team never did. Shortly thereafter, the game was tied.

It was impossible not to feel this one. Never has the phrase “We are all Canucks” seemed more apt. We all took one in the beanbags tonight, Vancouver. I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Anaheim Ducks, January 5, 2013

Like Bilbo Baggins in the Fellowship of the Ring, the Canucks looked like butter scraped over too much bread. The Canucks appeared to spend all their available energy in the first period and spent the rest of the game making like the Seawall in a windstorm, just sitting there, withstanding wave after wave.

Considering I just compared the Canucks to a tiny hobbit who spent a lot of time being completely invisible and an inanimate object that massive numbers of people walk all over every day, you can probably guess that this game didn’t go too well for Vancouver. It would have gone a lot worse, however, if not for the efforts of Eddie “Electric Sex” Lack, so named because his legs are sexier than a leg lamp with a fishnet stocking on it.

Lack made save after save, but must have forgotten to put in the Konami code at the beginning of the game, as he ran out of saves at the last second. I wish I had played Contra, but instead I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Los Angeles Kings, January 4, 2014

Roberto Luongo wasn’t overly concerned about being rusty in his return versus the Los Angeles Kings, and now we know why: the Canucks had a plan — a plan to put the proverbial white vinegar to Funny Bob right away: get outplayed. Simply put, be awful. By being ineffective with the puck and sloppy enough defensively for the Kings to register a season-high 49 shots, they allowed Luongo to see enough action that, by the second period, he was basically playing his second game back. Clever, clever.

Of course, once it became clear that Luongo was back in form, the Canucks probably should have joined him. But by then they may have just been enjoying the show. Is it their fault that Luongo was the best Canuck tonight? Wait. Actually, it is. My mistake. Like all the guys wearing white sweaters in the Staples Center this evening, I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Tampa Bay Lightning, January 1, 2014

If your New Year’s Resolution was to try to be more optimistic about the Canucks, well, their first game of 2014 probably didn’t help at all. The Canucks were, to put it gently, a crap factory versus the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night, outplayed in every facet of the game.

John Tortorella called it the club’s worst game of the year. Was it? Yes, because the year is less than a full day old, so they haven’t had time to play any other games. Technically, it was also their best game of the year, and I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. Philadelphia Flyers, December 30, 2013

The Canucks finished 2013 the exact same way they started it: locked in. Wait. That’s not right.

Truthfully, the Canucks were locked in for this one. Focused. Formidable. They looked pretty good out there, registering 44 shots, the most the Flyers have surrendered all season. But it wasn’t enough, because outshooting your opponent by a ratio of nearly 2 to 1 is meaningless when you outscore them by a ratio of 1 to 1. That’s a one-way ticket to the shootout, which, in Vancouver’s case, usually means a one-way ticket to just one point. That held true in this game. And I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Calgary Flames, December 29, 2013

Like Johnny Galecki, the Canucks were a little rusty. The week-long break between games didn’t do the Canucks any favours, as they struggled to dispatch the lowly Flames. Don’t get me wrong, they were never in danger of losing this game, generally dominated puck possession, and were clearly the better team, but they couldn’t get the puck past the mediocre Reto Berra more than twice.

Frankly, this game had no business being as close as it was: the Canucks out-shot the Flames 30-to-18 and were about as smothering as a helicopter parent in the defensive zone, while Lack was perfect in his first game as the number one goaltender with Roberto Luongo injured. Aside from a strong push at the beginning of the third period, the Flames never looked competitive with the Canucks, which is why a 2-0 win is so underwhelming.

That said, the Canucks didn’t get sucked into playing down to the level of an inferior opponent and came away with a win, so it was still relatively satisfying when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Winnipeg Jets, December 22, 2013

‘Twas three nights before Christmas, in Rogers Arena;
Not a creature was stirring, not even Serena,
Assuming there was a Canucks fan, of course
Whose name is Serena asleep on the concourse.

Actually, though I might be delusional,
Rogers Arena was louder than usual.
Jeering the Jets as they came out a’shufflin’,
Including that portly defenceman named Byfuglien.

He isn’t much cared for out here in Vancouver:
When he was a forward hard to outmaneuver,
Too big and too strong to remove from the crease,
He helped give the Canucks two straight playoff defeats

But now Dustin Byfuglien and pal Andrew Ladd
Are skating for Winnipeg’s Jets (who are bad),
So playing against him just isn’t the same
And neither was watching when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Chicago Blackhawks, December 20, 2013

If you only watched the first period of this game, well, that was stupid of you, wasn’t it? That’s like watching Home Alone and shutting it off right around the time Kevin leaves the church after his heart-to-heat with Old Man Marley. I mean, granted, you’ll see the clip from Angels With Filthy Souls, which I guess could be analogous to Chris Higgins’ breakaway chance, but that’s pretty much it for early entertainment in this slow-building holiday classic.

Now, I can see why you might have wanted to turn it off after the first, since the Canucks didn’t turn it on until around then anyway. They were outshot 10-3 by Chicago in the opening twenty, and two of those shots were by Andrew Alberts and Tom Sestito, who are about as threatening a duo as Harry and Marv in Home Alone. But after that, this thing really picked up, with the Canucks turning the tables on the Blackhawks like Kevin turns the table on Harry and Marv in… okay, I’ll stop.

I decided I would be watching Home Alone tonight while I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Dallas Stars, December 19, 2013

Hey, remember when the Canucks were dynamite on the road but they couldn’t seem to win at home? That was a frustrating time. Fortunately, their recent successful homestand suggests that they’ve gotten that sorted out, and I’m happy to report that they aren’t suddenly and inexplicably plagued by an inversion of the same issue.

That’s what someone who didn’t watch this game might say. So I won’t say it, because I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Minnesota Wild, December 17, 2013

You might have expected a letdown after the Canucks’ big victory over the Boston Bruins in their last game, but the Canucks played very well. While it lacked the emotion of the Bruins game, the Canucks still dominated this game at times and it took some outstanding saves from Josh Harding to keep them from also dominating on the scoreboard.

Don’t get me wrong, the game itself was still a massive letdown. It was an exercise in tedium, built on a foundation of silence in the ironically named Xcel Energy Center. Apparently the “State of Hockey” is a state of quiet introspection, as this was one of the most muted hockey arenas I have ever seen and heard.

It was also a letdown in the sense that it wasn’t decided in regulation or overtime and the Canucks are less deadly in a shootout than Marty McFly. I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Boston Bruins, December 14, 2013

Like Jenny Shepard and Agent Gibbs, the Canucks and Bruins have history together, so it’s really odd that no one made any mention of it leading up to or during the game. There wasn’t a single reference to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final from CBC’s broadcast, fans on Twitter, or players in the game.

Instead, it was treated like a normal, ordinary game. While it may have lacked drama, emotion, and anything resembling entertainment value, the Canucks were just happy to get the two points with the modest victory.

I became a horrible liar after I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Edmonton Oilers, December 13, 2013

It would have been really easy for the Canucks to overlook this game. They’ve got the Boston Bruins in town gearing up for Saturday night’s big showdown, for one thing, and that’s a pretty big circle on the calendar — the sort of circle that strikes through the dates on either side of it. Plus Beyonc√© released an album last night completely out of the blue. How can you think about anything else?

Fortunately, the Canucks didn’t overlook this one at all. Heck, if anyone did, it was the Oilers. At first I thought they, like many of the Rogers Arena faithful, had just been a little confused by the 6pm start. But they never showed up. Like Patrick Bateman, they were simply not there. They were far less menacing and murdery, however. Honestly, I think I posed a greater threat to the Canucks than the Oilers did tonight, and I watched this game.

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Canucks in ugly Christmas sweaters: our ten favourites

The Canucks’ annual Dice and Ice event is always a source of mirth and blog fodder, and this year’s event, held Wednesday night, was no exception. If you haven’t seen the video of the team’s quartet of rookies providing backing vocals for Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You”, for instance, you should probably go ahead and do that.

But the highlight of the evening, in this guy’s opinion, were the ugly Christmas sweaters the Canucks donned for the occasion. A few of the photos made the rounds late last night, thanks to Roberto Luongo and underrated Smylosophere contributor Bure’s Triple Deke.

There were many ugly Christmas sweaters, however — not to mention ugly Christmas vests. The Canucks debuted the whole winter collection in a fashion show and, because there is a God, many photos were taken. On Thursday, the team shared a gallery of promenade. Here are our 10 favourites.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Carolina Hurricanes, December 9, 2013

Mike Gillis has been somewhat justifiably criticized for his drafting record as the Canucks’ GM, with not a single one of his draft picks currently in the lineup. Sure Jordan Schroeder is on the Injured Reserve list, Zack Kassian was acquired for a Gillis pick, and there are numerous promising prospects or more recent mintage on the way, but the fact remains: there are no Gillis draft picks in the current lineup.

Where Gillis has done well, however, is filling in gaps in the prospect pool with free agent signings and two of them made Gillis look good in this game, as Chris Tanev scored early in the first period and Eddie Lack made it stand up as the gamewinner by pitching his first career shutout. I saw a youth movement, of sorts, when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Colorado Avalanche, December 8, 2013

The Canucks haven’t had much luck this season holding on to 1-0 leads in the third period. They’ve been in that situation twice, and they’ve lost both times, surrendering two quick goals to the San Jose Sharks, then surrendering two quicker goals to the Chicago Blackhawks a week later. “I wonder who’s going to score for Colorado”, I found myself thinking when the third period began, “And I wonder who’s going to score for Colorado 10 seconds after that.”

Sure enough, there were two goals scored in the first 10 minutes of the third. But here’s the wacky part: the Canucks scored them both. With the trauma of the worst homestand ever still fresh in my mind, I was pleasantly surprised when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Phoenix Coyotes, December 6, 2013

The Canucks and the NHL spent most of this week making a big promotional push for the upcoming Heritage Classic. That in mind, we probably should have expected the first game after tickets became available to continue the promotional push. Back at Rogers Arena after a successful road trip, the Canucks did everything short of giving away the win to make fans rue their homecoming. They played a snoozefest of a game in the building, then reminded fans of the last brutal homestand by squandering a two-goal lead late before gutting out the win in overtime.

It was yet another reminder that, for whatever reason, this team isn’t very good at Rogers Arena. If only there was another building… Say! There is! And on March 3, the Canucks will be there. It’ll be like an away game, but at home! Tickets are still available. I watched this [Heritage Classic commercial] game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Nashville Predators, December 3, 2013

It’s amazing how first impressions work. The first period of this game was as dull as a pencil at a poorly maintained mini-golf course. It was just plain unexciting hockey, with little energy, few scoring chances, and just 13 shots on goal between the two teams. That lacklustre start coloured the rest of the game in my eyes, perhaps unfairly.

After all, both teams mustered 30+ shots, there were some fine saves, and the Canucks put together some offence and earned the win, so the game couldn’t have been all bad. But that first period convinced me that I was in for a tedious time and confirmation bias set in: I expected tedium and I received it.

As Harvey Danger reminded us in the late 90′s, if you’re bored, then you’re boring. Well then, I was really, really boring when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Carolina Hurricanes, December 1, 2013

From how the season has gone so far, it would seem that the Canucks have angered the hockey gods, who appear to be an ill-tempered and vengeful pantheon. They also appear to be old-school gods, who require sacrifice in order to be appeased.

Fortunately, the Canucks seemed to finally figure this out against the Hurricanes. They sacrificed their bodies on the altars of the hockey gods and were rewarded with three goals and a win. Even more fortunately, the hockey gods didn’t require anyone actually die and every injured Canuck returned to and finished the game. I also finished the game, when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at New York Rangers, November 30, 2013

In the classic Simpsons episode, “Cape Feare”, there is a sequence wherein Sideshow Bob steps on a series of rakes that repeatedly whack him in the face. Just rake after rake after rake, met with shuddering and a despairing groan.

I think you can see where I’m going with this. Against the Rangers, the Canucks just kept stepping on rakes, long after it had stopped being funny. Some gags get funnier with repetition, but the Canucks’ tendency to give up the first goal and inability to score goals of their own is getting old and tired. Time for some new material, guys. I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Chicago Blackhawks, November 23, 2013

This game featured 5 fewer goals than the previous night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets and was simultaneously 5 times more exciting to watch. The game had an insane tempo, like John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”, with both teams flying, particularly in the first period. It was fast-paced fun, like Contra, but with an even less satisfying ending.

Once again, the Canucks played well, out-shooting the Blackhawks 36-29, but just couldn’t score more than one goal. That said, the “played well, didn’t win” narrative isn’t a particularly fun one to reiterate again and again. I could go for a few “played terribly, got lucky” games any day now. I was entertained, but disappointed, when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Florida Panthers, November 19, 2013

Well, that game was lousier than a kid with pediculosis capitis. The Canucks started poorly, were mediocre in the middle, then just plain awful at the end. They were bad and they should feel bad. They sucked harder than someone trying to drink a Slurpee through an 11 kilometre long straw.

The Canucks came out flatter than Wayne Knight’s character in Space Jam. Or Michael Jordan’s acting in Space Jam, for that matter. Regrettably, unlike in Space Jam, Bill Murray didn’t show up out of nowhere to save the day. I wish I had watched Space Jam, but, instead, I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs San Jose Sharks, November 14, 2013

Some losses hurt just a little: a tiny pinch that lasts a split second, then is gone. Other losses, the blowouts, are more of a dull ache that can be pushed aside with a little effort. But then there are the truly painful losses: the ones that never should have happened. That was this one, as the Canucks were the better team for the vast majority of the game, but uncaring fate snatched the game out of their hands.

This game was more painful than a window factory. It was more painful than that pun. Trips to the dentist hurt less, because they at least give you a sticker, a toothbrush, and your pick from the treasure chest at the end of your visit. Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” hurt more — because, dude, it’s the man in black — but this game came close. I put on “Someone Like You” by Adele and cried after I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Anaheim Ducks, November 10, 2013

The Canucks’ California road trip started out strong, not unlike Kevin McAllister’s trip to New York in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Like Kevin, who made quick work of the bumbling staff of that upscale hotel using his handy-dandy recorder and visited a pretty sweet toy store, they had some fun early on. But then, just like Kevin, they ran into two familiar foes halfway through the trip and suddenly the whole thing went to crap.

But unlike Kevin McAllister in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, the Canucks’ foes were not bumbling, and they weren’t played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern; the Canucks were unable to bait these foes into a house of horrors, where they were free to pelt them with bricks and make them fall several stories through unexplained holes in the floor; and neither were they able to get any help from the creepy pigeon lady in the park. As you can tell, I have watched that movie several times. I also watched this game.

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