I Watched This Game: Canucks 2, Coyotes 3 (SO)

The Canucks have a frustrating tendency to play to the level of their opponents. Against top tier teams, the Canucks have pulled out some remarkable performances this season. They’re undefeated against the Blackhawks, Blues, Islanders, Penguins, and Capitals, for example.

And yet, the Canucks have had some of their worst games of the season against some of the worst teams in the league. They lost to the Devils and Sabres on their recent road trip, lost their only meeting with the Maple Leafs, and have lost twice to the Stars.

So, when the Coyotes entered this game on a 10-game losing streak, with Mikkel Boedker and Martin Hanzal on the Injured Reserve list, and Antoine Vermette, Zbynek Michalek, and Keith Yandle plying their trade in other cities after the trade deadline, I was concerned.

My concerns were borne out when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Phoenix Coyotes, January 26, 2014

The big story of the game wasn’t the surprising number of goals or the still-struggling power play. It wasn’t Martin Hanzal, who injured three different Canucks with cross-checks in the last game between these two teams, with all three missing this game — Henrik Sedin and Mike Santorelli due to the injuries caused by Hanzal, with David Booth a healthy scratch. The big story wasn’t even the sub-par goaltending from two players heading to Sochi for Team Canada.

Nope, the big story was a smudge on the main camera on Sportsnet Pacific’s broadcast that, although it did not obscure view of the play, was impossible to ignore once you noticed it on your own or it was pointed out by someone else. This small annoyance became a big bother as the game progressed, to the point that Sportsnet Pacific felt the need to tweet out during the first intermission that the smudge had been cleaned.

One problem: it hadn’t. The smudge was still there during the second period and wasn’t cleaned until the second intermission. I spent two-thirds of the time dighting the urge to obsessive-compulsively clean my TV as 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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The Week Ahead: Red Wings, Leafs come to town; Canucks start California road trip

Every Wednesday we take a look at The Week Ahead to see what storylines we’ll be following, because Wednesday is a day meant for looking ahead to the future. Around here we call Wednesday “Future Day” and we all wear silver jumpsuits and big bubble space helmets. Doesn’t everybody do that?

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I Watched This (Pre-season) Game: Canucks vs Phoenix Coyotes, September 23, 2013

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I was really looking forward to Monday night’s preseason game. I know, I know. Exhibition games aren’t something one generally looks forward to (unless you have tickets and they were cheap), what with their absence of things like meaning, effort, or good hockey players. But after the shenanigans that spilled out of Saturday’s game versus the Oilers and filled the last two days with bickering and suspensions — after 48 hours of hearing from Edmonton fans with nauseating regularity — I was glad to see the puck drop on a new game.

As it turns out, my optimism was warranted. For the first time this preseason, the Canucks showed up, scoring six goals, and looking like a team that, at the very least, can beat up on a mixed roster of Phoenix Coyotes and non-NHLers wearing Phoenix Coyotes uniforms. And 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 Phoenix Coyotes, April 8, 2013

The Canucks have been in a lot of low-scoring games lately, but this one felt different. Prior games have been snoozefests — actually, scratch that. A snoozefest sounds amazing. Think about it: an entire festival dedicated to sleeping? That’s a yes. Sleep is fantastic. Snoozefest is the wrong word. But the prior games have been mundane.

This one wasn’t. The Canucks dominated the Coyotes for the majority of the night, peppering Mike Smith like he was a Caesar salad and they were the waiter at an Olive Garden. With a lesser goaltender in the opposition end, this might have been a blowout. But Smith kept the Coyotes close. By the end of the night, Phoenix had come to rely on him so thoroughly that, when he left the goal for the extra attacker, they got confused and scared and scored on themselves. Related: I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Phoenix Coyotes, March 21, 2013

By all accounts, this game should have been a gong show. David Booth joined Ryan Kesler on the Injured Reserve list, Zack Kassian and Steve Pinizzotto didn’t even fly to Phoenix, and Chris Higgins tweaked his back at the morning skate, turning the Canucks’ lineup into the hockey equivalent of Aziz Ansari’s boombox mixtape.

Like that mixtape, the Canucks’ third line seemed to be thrown together at random, with Andrew Ebbett centring Dale Weise and Keith Ballard. Andrew Gordon drew into the lineup for his first game as a Canuck on a fourth line with Maxim Lapierre and Tom Sestito. The haphazardly arranged lineup looked like a disaster on paper, but the Canucks knuckled down and played a simple, hard-working road game.

That isn’t to say it didn’t have its bizarre moments, as it certainly did. At times, this game resembled the Coyotes’ original, seemingly peyote-inspired, jerseys. I reached a higher plane of existence when I watched this game.

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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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Three former Canucks still in the playoffs

It can be tough watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Canucks having already been eliminated. While the games are still entertaining, it’s just not the same without a proverbial horse in the race. Cheering against the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings only gets you so far.

Fortunately for the dedicated Canucks fan, there are three significant former Canucks still in the playoff picture. At the very least, Canucks fans can cheer for the individual success of Willie Mitchell, Taylor Pyatt, and Steve Bernier. I thought it would be worthwhile to look at these three players and see how they got to where they are and how they have found a place with their respective teams where, perhaps, they were not able to on the Canucks.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Phoenix Coyotes, March 14, 2012

Lovers of high-tempo, offensive hockey were dreading this game, considering the two previous meetings between these teams were 1-1 affairs that both went to the shootout. Those who were not anticipating offence may have forgotten that Phoenix and Vancouver combined for 75 shots in their last matchup and a combination of stellar goaltending and bad bounces were the only reason 9 goals weren’t scored.

But 9 goals were scored in this game, meaning that the goaltending wasn’t stellar and the bounces weren’t bad. Unless you recently travelled forward through time from the 80′s, in which case I mean the bounces were bad. They were the baddest. Totally tubular, in fact. I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Phoenix Coyotes, February 28, 2012

For the second time in as many weeks, the Canucks faced a fellow Western Conference division leader, though this meeting was a little less hyped than the previous one. Last week, the Canucks visited the leaders of the Central Division, the Detroit Red Wings, in a game that was everything a fan could ask for in terms of entertainment. This week, they faced the Pacific Division leading Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes are like a magic trick with just a pledge and a turn: no prestige.

That said, the Coyotes entered the game as the hottest team in the league, with a 10-0-1 record in their last 11, making them a tough test for the road-weary Canucks. There was also the intrigue of seeing the newly acquired Sami Pahlsson and Zack Kassian wear the Scowling Orca for the first time. I watched this game.

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After rediscovering even-strength scoring like Josiah, the boy king, stumbling across the Talmud in the treasure room of the temple, the Canucks stormed into Phoenix intent on proving that they had truly dispensed with their wicked powerplay-idolizing ways, and returned to the righteous 5-on-5 domination for which they once lived. Five even-strength goals later, it was clear they had indeed repented, and thank God. Suffice it to say, the Canuck team that dominates at even-strength is a much more entertaining watch, and I should know, because I watched this game.

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With the Canucks having sewn up their spot in the playoffs via a clever combination of playing in the terrible Northwest division and being the best team in the NHL, the time has come to consider who the Canucks will face in the playoffs. With a comfortable 10 point lead on the Red Wings for [...]

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Have you seen the Canucks’ schedule in March? They’re away quite a bit. They play 15 times in 31 days, with 9 of those contests in other people’s buildings, as part of two lengthy road trips. The first will be five games, and the second will be four. That first road trip is the annual [...]

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Pictured: Paul Bissonnette, the classy half of the hockey’s best potential duo. Before we go any further, let me express my deep regret if this post misled you into thinking that two of hockey’s finest personalities had teamed up to form some sort of self-aware, hilarious, analytical, hard-partying NHL supercombo. That really is too good [...]

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Canucks 6 – 0 Coyotes As a Canucks fan, it is thoroughly disorienting to cheer for the best team in the league. Cheering for the Canucks and cheering for the #1 team in the NHL is like serving both God and Mammon. It creates a kind of cognitive dissonance. Take tonight for example: the Western [...]

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