I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Minnesota Wild, March 18, 2013

I’m not panicking yet. I’m far too level-headed to go off the deep end for a loss in which the Canucks soundly outplayed their opponent for the majority of the game, not even when that loss is their 8th in their last 11 games and puts the Canucks at the edge of the playoff picture in the Western Conference, not when there are still 20 games left to be played in the season. No, I’m not panicking.

But I will admit to being concerned. I’m concerned because I know it’s possible, however unlikely, to flip a coin and have it land on heads 100 times in a row. I know that for all of the underlying possession statistics that indicate the Canucks are better than their record indicates, it’s possible that things never turn around this season.

It’s possible that the next 20 games will be exactly like this one: the Canucks outplaying, out-shooting, and out-chancing their opponent, but not out-scoring them, with the Canucks failing to capitalize on their opponent’s mistakes, and their opponents making the Canucks pay for every mistake they make. In which case, I won’t need to watch those games, because I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Detroit Red Wings, March 16, 2013

The Vancouver Canucks gave their fans a history lesson Saturday night, putting aside their usual blue and green attire to don the duds of their predecessors, the Vancouver Millionaires. The look was downright fantastic.

Unfortunately, the Canucks took their tribute to history a little too far. While it was nice of the club to show us what they would have looked like in Millionaires jerseys, I didn’t think the Canucks needed to show us what it would have looked like if the Millionaires had gone up against the 2013 Detroit Red Wings. It was a lesson I could have done without. While the jerseys looked excellent, the team in them looked decidedly less so when I watched this game.

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Breakdowning Mason Raymond’s first period goal against the Nashville Predators

When the Canucks score 7 goals in a game, it’s tough to know which one to break down. We even had calls on Twitter to break down Henrik Sedin’s gorgeous penalty shot goal or Maxim Lapierre’s slick breakaway marker. As nice as those goals were, it’s more than a little difficult to break down a goal when it’s just one skater and a goalie. It would just be one screen shot with the breathtaking analysis of, “Well, you see, he did something the goalie didn’t expect him to do and the puck…well, it went in.”

It seemed obvious to me which one needed the full Breakdowning treatment: Mason Raymond’s seventh goal of the season, which came on a beautiful passing play that incorporated every single Canucks skater on the ice.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Nashville Predators, March 14, 2013

You could be forgiven if you expected a meeting between the struggling Canucks and the goal-starved Predators to be a boring, defensive affair. After all, the Canucks hadn’t scored more than 2 goals since March 2nd against the Kings and the Predators were missing Colin Wilson, their leading scorer. The last meeting between these two teams ended 1-0 thanks to a lucky bounce that gave Dale “The Flying Dutchman” Weise a wide open net. The two teams are 12th and 29th in goals-per-game. Clearly, this wasn’t going to be a high-scoring game.

Oh how wrong you were, hypothetical cynic. The Canucks and Predators combined for 11 goals in an offensive slug-fest, which is fortunately not a festival for slugs as that would have left the ice a gross, slimy mess. Other than slugs, this game had it all. I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Columbus Blue Jackets, March 12, 2013

After the Canucks put in a disastrous effort against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday, panic gripped the streets of Vancouver. Also, hyperbole gripped the streets of Abbotsford. The Canucks entered Columbus on a four-game losing streak. The Blue Jackets came into the game on a five-game winning streak. They were streaking in opposite directions — if they looked over their shoulders, they would see each other’s naked butts.

Thankfully, the Canucks ended both streaks by winning the game in a shootout, so I didn’t have to see any naked hockey players when I watched this game.

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I Watched this Game: Canucks at Minnesota Wild, March 10, 2013

Prior to this game, the Canucks were first place in the Northwest Division. I wish that hadn’t changed. But they came into Minnesota to play for first place and put in one of their ugliest efforts of the season. It was the kind of disastrous game that leads to player’s only meetings that last longer than five minutes. Now the Wild are first place in the Northwest and they’re terrible. I thought the Canucks were supposed to beat up on the weak Northwest Division, not be a reason why the Northwest is so weak.

Prior to this game, I hadn’t watched this game. That’s another thing that I wish hadn’t changed. Instead, I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Columbus Blue Jackets, March 7, 2013

It’s hard to get into these early-start games. The Eastern timezone throws everything out of whack, and suddenly, with puck drop three hours earlier, it’s nigh impossible to settle into the usual routine. The pregame meal happens at the wrong time. You miss the pregame nap. Everything’s awry, and sometimes, it’s difficult to doff that feeling.

I’m not excusing Vancouver’s performance tonight. I’m referring to myself. The 4pm puck drop ruins my whole routine. With my dinner early and my nap straight-up cancelled, I found myself fighting the post-meal snooze blues all night. It was terrible, and the fact that the Canucks and Blue Jackets combined for a game that had all the waking magic of Goodnight Moon didn’t help at all. But because I am a professional, I didn’t fall asleep. Instead, I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Calgary Flames, March 3, 2013

Unbeknownst to most, Jannik Hansen is actually a wicked sorcerer, one of the oldest and most powerful in Denmark. He’s kept his magic hidden for seven centuries, quietly escaping the Warlock Hunters of the Jutland Peninsula by assuming the form of a hockey player and coming to North America, but Saturday night, he had occasion to dust off the ol’ witchcraft. Sensing that his wife was about to go into labour, Hansen conjured a powerful storm that would ground the Canucks for 15 hours, giving him enough time to be present for the birth of his twin sons before heading over to Calgary.

But Hansen knew that the team would be thrown awry by the odd travel schedule, so he used a second spell to give himself an in-game boost and propel his team to a victory.

He registered two points through the magic, but then, unfortunately, his magic ran out early. You see, playing a full hockey game, becoming a first-time father, and manipulating the dark arts to summon inclement weather a province away tends to wear a sorcerer out, and by the time the third period of this one rolled around, Hansen’s tank was on empty. Sadly, he could do little but watch as the rest of his team ran out of gas as well, and the Flames pulled ahead for good. Same goes for me — not because I’m a weary sorcerer, but because I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings, March 2, 2013

The moment I knew Henrik Sedin was going to have a great night came just 10 seconds into the game. Anze Kopitar was ahead of him in the offensive zone, looking to create a scoring chance, and Henrik reached out with his stick, got it in Kopitar’s hands, and gave a little tug. With that, Henrik was off to the penalty box for hooking and also off to a great start to the game.

Captain Hook is back, I thought to myself, and sure enough, Henrik dominated the rest of the game, stickhandling around opponents with impunity and creating numerous scoring chances for his linemates. It was like the two minutes in the box spent just observing the game were exactly what he needed, as he discerned the pattern of the game and decoded it. Similarly, I did exactly what I needed to do when I watched this game.

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Canucks unveil Millionaires jersey; did lockout ‘maroon’ original plans?

As had been rumoured for some time, the Vancouver Canucks officially announced that they will be wearing throwback Vancouver Millionaires jerseys on March 16th against the Detroit Red Wings. It’s a great move for the team, as they further connect with the history of hockey in Vancouver.

The Millionaires were founded back in 1912, so the Canucks will be wearing the retro jerseys as part of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the team. The Canucks have already been wearing a Millionaires patch on their regular jerseys and have begun selling merchandise in the Canucks store with the logo, albeit in Canucks colours.

Since the actual 100th anniversary of the Millionaires would have come in 2012, I wonder if the Canucks had actually intended to debut the jerseys and wear them earlier in the season, but were prevented from doing so by the lockout. Taking a look at the Canucks’ original schedule, the perfect date to wear the jerseys would have been December 8th, when the Ottawa Senators were going to be in town.

Wearing the Millionaires jerseys on December 8th would have been the perfect opportunity to honour the history of hockey in Vancouver and simultaneously celebrate the city’s only Stanley Cup victory.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. Phoenix Coyotes, February 26, 2013

Don’t despair just because the Canucks didn’t win this game. In fact, it’s good that they didn’t. Hear me out: In 2010, the Canucks were blown out by a Central Division team — the Chicago Blackhawks, in a 7-1 debacle — then went on to face the Phoenix Coyotes in their next game. They played much better, but still lost. But then they got their act together and immediately went on a run that culminated in a Stanley Cup Final appearance!

Wouldn’t you know it, just two nights ago the Canucks were blown out by another Central Division team — the Detroit Red Wings, 8-3. And here they are in their next game, versus the Phoenix Coyotes. Again, they lost. But this can only mean that history is repeating itself and they’re definitely going on another Cup run this spring. There’s no other conclusion to reach. Rejoice, friends, just as I did when I watched this game!

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Detroit Red Wings, February 24, 2013

Perhaps you watched the last Vancouver Canucks game, a 1-0 victory over the Nashville Predators, and you said to yourself, “Well, they got the win, but goodness gracious, that was boring.” Perhaps you lamented a game where the Canucks kept their mistakes to a minimum, shelved the shenanigans, and nursed home a tidy little shutout victory for Roberto Luongo because it was bland.

If so, you are to blame for the karmic blowback that was this game. You wanted action? You got it. You wanted shenanigans? Have at you. You were saying something about the blandness of low-scoring games? This bad boy had 11 goals, and some of them were so, so stupid. The universe gave us this game for complaining about the last game. I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Nashville Predators, February 22, 2013

During the broadcast of this game, Dan Murphy pointed out that it’s been over a year since the Canucks last played the Predators, which is crazy. It had been 366 days since they last met, but there’s more alarming news. The Canucks haven’t beaten the Predators in regulation since 2011. That almost makes it seem like it’s been two years! We should definitely be concerned.

Fortunately, the Canucks finally broke the streak, by beating the Predators at their own game, namely hockey. Defensive and boring hockey, to be specific. I nearly fell asleep when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Dallas Stars, February 21, 2013

The last time the Canucks saw the Dallas Stars was seven days ago, on the night Henrik Sedin passed Markus Naslund to become the Canucks’ all-time leading scorer. The Stars ruined everything that night, however, storming back from down 3-1 to ensure that Henrik’s big moment came in a big, embarrassing loss.

Safe to say the Canucks didn’t forget. They had revenge on the mind, and they weren’t satisfied simply to stick Dallas with a loss. They were staging a full on do-over. Thus, they gave the Stars an early goal to ensure the victory would come from behind. Then, after they were safely in the lead, they gave Dallas a late one to ensure the game finished 4-3, just as last time (but this time around, in their favour). This game was an elaborate revenge plot. I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Chicago Blackhawks, February 19, 2013

The Canucks first meeting with the Blackhawks this season was a massive disappointment. It lacked the emotion, excitement, and intensity of a typical game between these two teams. There was no rancor on either side, making for a dull affair. When Roberto Luongo stopped Patrick Kane in the shootout, they smiled at each other and laughed, like it was a game of shinny. It was enough to make one wonder if the air had been completely let out of the rivalry.

Turned out they were just saving all their hate for their second matchup of the season. This game had all the best and worst elements of a fantastic playoff game: controversy, terrible reffing, emotion, back-and-forth scoring chances, and stupendous goaltending. It was a complete gong show. It was a hot mess. It was an incredibly stupid game. And it was entertaining beyond belief.

I enjoyed every minute that 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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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Dallas Stars, February 15, 2013

If it was a Hollywood movie, this game would have gone very differently. First of all, Henrik’s franchise record-setting point would have come in the dying seconds of overtime, with his record-tying point tying the game with 0.1 seconds left in regulation. Also, the Sedins would look like the guy who played the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network. The Canucks would have won this game against all odds and an important lesson about perseverance would have been learned. Henrik would have been carried off the ice on the shoulders of his teammates, while he was simultaneously carrying the Stanley Cup, because it would have been game seven of the Finals.

Alas, Hollywood doesn’t make movies about freakishly consistent Swedish twins who break franchise records for Canadian hockey teams, particularly ones that are not underdogs. No marketability. Since I couldn’t watch a movie with a tear-jerking, inspirational ending, I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Minnesota Wild, February 12, 2013

Games against the Minnesota Wild used to be an interminable bore. They still are, but they used to be too.

It was hoped by many that this would be the game that Henrik Sedin tied and then surpassed Markus Naslund’s franchise record in points. It was not to be, as the Wild were intent on making this game a slog with minimal scoring chances and little end-to-end play. While the Sedins dominated the offensive zone, they just couldn’t get the puck past Darcy Kuemper, who was starting his first ever NHL game. As per usual, however, the Canucks found a way to win thanks to great goaltending, secondary scoring, and offensive contributions from the defence.

Frankly, I have no idea why anyone would want Henrik to break the record against the Wild. I would be okay with him going on a brief cold streak, then breaking the franchise record against the Chicago Blackhawks next Tuesday, which would be much more satisfying. So, honestly, I’m kind of glad that Henrik didn’t get a point when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Calgary Flames, February 9, 2013

The Canucks came into this game riding a 4-game win streak. The Flames came into this game playing, well, the way the Calgary Flames play nowadays. They’re simply not a good team anymore, and they’re especially not a good team when their centre depth is so depleted by injuries that their first-line centre is their first-line winger.

Of course, the worst injury the Flames are dealing with is in goal. Miikka Kiprusoff is out with a lower-body issue, so Leland Irving was in with a full body issue, the issue being that his body doesn’t get hit by pucks as often as Kiprusoff’s. The Canucks were able to use that to their advantage, putting 5 unanswered goals past Irving in the final two periods. Not unanswered, however, is the question of whether or not I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Minnesota Wild, February 7, 2013

Somehow, Cory Schneider getting the start in this game became just as controversial as him not getting the start in the previous three games, which is pretty silly. It also overshadowed some of the other storylines heading into this game, such as Jordan Schroeder playing in his home-state for the first time as a Canuck, Daniel Sedin not scoring a goal in 5 games straight, or Alex Burrows returning to the top line.

The storyline that most interested me is whether the Minnesota Wild are still as terrible as they were last year. How much of a difference would the addition of Zach “RZA” Parise and Ryan “Roto-Rooter” Suter make? Turns out, not much. The Canucks came out and dominated the first period, setting the stage for a fairly easy road victory. While there were bumps along that road, the Canucks ran over the Wild like they were talking on a cell phone. And, like a rubber-necker driving past a car accident, I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Edmonton Oilers, February 4, 2013

There’s nothing worse than leading a hockey game by two goals (save perhaps trailing by seven, and even then, it’s a toss-up). As we know by now, opening up a two-goal lead is like reciting a passage from the Book of the Dead. It basically summons ill fortune. The Canucks have demonstrated this principle several times already this season, and they did so again on Monday night. The difference? This time, they were the team clawing their way back.

But there was another difference between this game and the recent two-goal collapses we’ve seen recently: this one ended in overtime, rather than the shootout. And speaking of things we’d never seen before, the game-winning goal was scored by none other than Chris Tanev, who will now haunt the Oilers like something out of Edgar Allan Poe. (Quoth the raven: Tanevermore.) I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Chicago Blackhawks, February 1, 2013

There were plenty of reasons to get excited for this game. The storylines! The drama! The controversy! It was Duncan Keith’s first game against the Canucks since he concussed Daniel Sedin with a dirty cheap shot last season. It was Roberto Luongo’s third straight start despite Cory Schneider supposedly being the number one guy heading into the season. It was the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks against the water-treading Vancouver Canucks, in the first game of the season between these two rivals.

Yes, there was a lot of hype heading into this game, and none of it paid off.

It seemed pretty clear that both coaches wanted their players to avoid the emotional rollercoaster like we saw when Buffalo played Boston the game after Milan Lucic took out Ryan Miller. Both teams played a controlled, defensive style and there were minimal post-whistle scrums and such that we’d see in even a normal game between these two teams. Luongo played well, easily justifying Vigneault’s decision. It was disappointing.

Well, it was disappointing to anyone who actually believed the hype. While it wasn’t the prettiest game, it’s always nice to watch a win, which I managed to do when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. Colorado Avalanche, January 30, 2013

Alain Vigneault shocked the city of Vancouver Wednesday morning when he announced that Roberto Luongo would get the start versus the Colorado Avalanche. The controversial decision led to a boatload of speculation on what it meant. Was Vigneault simply riding the hot hand? Had Luongo reclaimed the starter’s job? Or maybe the Canucks were playing him against an inferior opponents in the Avalanche in order to showcase him to potential trade partners?

Nevermind that the showcase theory makes no sense whatsoever. Roberto Luongo has been in the NHL for more than a decade. He’s played 730 NHL games — 789 if you count the playoffs. Speaking of the playoffs, he’s gone to the Stanley Cup Final. He’s played in the Olympics. If you’re in charge of making roster moves for an NHL team and you aren’t sure who Roberto Luongo is and what he’s about in 2013, then you shouldn’t be in charge of making roster moves for an NHL team.

But if there really is a General Manager out there so braindead and incompetent that he needs to be reminded Roberto Luongo plays goal and does so fairly effectively, I’m sure he was pleased with what he saw when he, just as I, watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Los Angeles Kings, January 28, 2013

I always enjoy the atmosphere the Staples Centre brings to a telecast. It’s a boisterous enemy area. But if there’s one thing I still can’t handle about the Canucks’ visits to LA, it’s that execrable, heinous bumper video in which South Park sociopath Eric Cartman screams “Go Kings go!” over and over and over. It’s the worst. “Chelsea Dagger” is “Strawberry Fields Forever” compared to that thing. If you’ve ever read Hamlet, and wondered how, exactly, one perpetrates an ear poisoning, wonder no more. Seriously. You could commit regicide with this video.

Speaking of regicide, the Canucks did their best to off the Kings on Monday night, if by “did their best” you mean played badly, but were fortunate to have Roberto Luongo in goal. However, while they were fortunate in this sense, they were unfortunate in the sense that Luongo’s incredible play wasn’t quite enough to overcome their mediocre play — which, if you watched Luongo’s performance, should make clear how truly mediocre their play was. It was clear to me, because I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at San Jose Sharks, January 27, 2013

The Canucks beat the Ducks on Friday, despite getting outplayed at even-strength, by essentially being jerks: they earned powerplays and cashed in with the man-advantage. You could tell right off the opening puck drop, or rather, before the opening puck drop, that they were going to try to do the same thing against the Sharks.

It half-worked: the Canucks did get outplayed at even-strength. Unfortunately, the powerplay floundered, fizzled, sputtered, and misfired, getting only 7 shots on 7 opportunities and Cory Schneider couldn’t bail the team out fast enough when the defence shot holes in the boat. I watched their gameplan fall apart when I watched this game.

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