The best goalscorers are not always the guys with the best shots, though that certainly helps. Instead, the best goalscorers are the players who can consistently find soft areas on the ice, getting just enough separation from defenders to get a clean shot off. Having a quick release makes it just a little bit easier, as you need less separation.
Brett Hull was a master at this. He was never the best skater or puckhandler, but he could find soft areas, disappearing from a defender’s notice, then suddenly showing up again just in time to one-time a pass into the back of the net.
Those soft areas on the ice tend to be in the slot, between the hashmarks, or at one of the faceoff dots. In this game, Daniel Sedin found an entirely new one: in the corner, along the goal line. It’s the perfect spot. No defender is going to think you’re a scoring threat from there, so you’ll have all kinds of space to get your shot off. The only issue is the razor thin area of the net available for you to shoot at.
No big deal. A wizard did it. I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
As 16th games of the season go, this was a pretty big one. After a brutal performance in San Jose that somehow resulted in a win, the Canucks headed into Los Angeles apparently thinking they’d stumbled onto a low-key, low-effort recipe for victory. But it was the Kings who made a meal of the Canucks’ recipe, giving Vancouver their just desserts. (Man, am I hungry.)
That pumped a fresh angle into the bus to Anaheim. Not only was this a reunion with ex-flame Ryan Kesler (not to be confused with ex-Flame Tim Jackman), but now the result of this game would characterize the whole trip. A third poor outing would suggest the Canucks still can’t hang with The Californians, and likely rattle loose the sky. But a win? Well, it’d be tough to argue with a 3-1 road trip, so I definitely won’t, because I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
Canucks fans looked at this road trip through California with some trepidation. After all, California was an unrelenting nightmare last season and the three Californian teams looked once again poised to rule the Pacific Division at the start of the season.
The Canucks’ 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday did little to assuage fans’ concerns. That win just wasn’t winny enough: the Sharks generally outplayed the Canucks, though they didn’t specifically outplay them — Ryan Miller was massively better than Antti Niemi — and the Sharks came a coulomb away from tying the game and sending it to overtime.
The team’s lacklustre performance in San Jose could be easily forgotten if they had put in a better performance against the Los Angeles Kings. Instead they collapsed like a punctured lung, while putting up less resistance than a copper wire. I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
The Canucks had this one circled on the calendar. After having about as much success in California last season as the Joad family, the club was hellbent on preventing this season from becoming The Grapes of Wrath II: The Wrathening. And that mission began Thursday night in San Jose, as the Canucks looked to prove they could hang with their Pacific Division rivals. Did they succeed? Well. Sort of.
The Canucks were thoroughly outplayed in San Jose. Outshot 37-19, and out-attempted a whopping 80-23. They blocked more shots than they attempted. In terms of possession, it wasn’t close. And yet they won. It’s the most undeserved W since the word “wrong”, as in, “the Canucks leaving San Jose with two points tonight just seems wrong.” But it happened. I saw it. I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
Last Saturday, I called this game against the Canadiens on All Hallows Eve Eve the game of the week, but it very easily could have been a horror show. After all, the Canadiens have been monstrous to start the season, with a frightening 8-2-0 record heading into this ghoulish game. The beasts of the East have owned October and looked eager to drain the lifeblood from the Canucks and their fans.
The Canucks, meanwhile, had yet to prove their early success wasn’t just a masquerade that would turn into a pumpkin at midnight. Would the Canadiens supernatural speed send them screaming? Would the Dale Weise trade come back to haunt them? How quickly would this game turn macabre? Would it be a monster mash or, worse, a graveyard smash? How much more forced can these Halloween references get?
It turned out that those fears, like the fear of poisoned candy, were completely overblown. The Canucks managed to prove their early season record was no trick and it was a real treat when I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
The Carolina Hurricanes came into Vancouver for Tuesday night’s game versus the Canucks with zero wins and seven losses, which meant one of two things: they were definitely going to win, since they were totally due, or they were definitely going to lose, since that’s what they totally do. (That’s right. Filtering the Hurricanes’ record through the lens of my hockey expertise, I determined that the Hurricanes were either going to leave Vancouver with one win or zero. Sometimes they invite me on the radio!)
Turns out it’s zero, as the Hurricanes played the same brand of hapless hockey that got them to Vancouver without a single victory. Just no hap at all. If only they could apply some hapstick. I came up with that terrible, terrible pun while I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
There are certain things that Canucks fans firmly believe about their team, even though they have no real proof of those beliefs being true. Two of those beliefs are as follows: the Canucks always make mediocre goaltenders look like Vezina-calibre all-stars and the Canucks are on the receiving end of an above-average number of first career goals, if not the most in the NHL. If you’re a struggling goaltender or a rookie skater, you want to visit Vancouver, where you’re sure to make multiple miraculous saves or pot your first NHL goal and pose for a picture with the puck after the game.
Are these beliefs true? Do the Canucks make bad goaltenders look good more than other NHL teams? Do they give up more first career NHL goals than other teams? I suspect not. But it sure feels true.
So, when the Canucks peppered Capitals keeper Justin Peters in the first period but couldn’t put the puck past him, it just seemed like confirmation of what we already knew to be true. Even after the Canucks took the lead, they gave up a goal to 20-year-old rookie Liam O’Brien: his first NHL goal. It seemed inevitable: the Canucks would surely lose because of another firmly held belief about this season’s Canucks, that they can’t beat good teams.
My beliefs crumbled to pieces when I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
The Canucks had some trouble with the speed of the Dallas Stars at the beginning of this road trip, so you had to know they were going to struggle to defend against a team that employs both Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene. Those dudes have more speed than Sandra Bullock’s 1990s filmography and, much like diehard fans of Sandra Bullock’s 1990s filmography (such as myself), it’s tough to keep them from The Net.
And so, while the Sedins contributed their usual Practical Magic, the Avalanche’s stars were Forces of Nature that saw a tired Canucks team and decided Friday night was A Time to Kill. Duchene, in particular was a Demolition Man, hopping the boards with a “Who do I Gotta Kill?” look in his eyes, going end to end like a Fire on the Amazon. With his third period goal, he guzzled the Hope Floats of Canuck Nation. Perhaps you, like the Canuck defenders, napped through this one. Well. While You Were Sleeping, I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
Last time Willie Desjardins was in Texas, he was lifting the Calder Cup as head coach of the AHL champion Texas Stars. His return did not end nearly as well. I would say it was the exact opposite of winning the Calder Cup, but that would be losing a bent, dirty spoon. As poorly as things went, at least the Canucks didn’t lose a spoon.
The best thing that could be said about this game is that at least it was short. This game effectively ended just over a minute into the second period, when the Stars went up 5-0 and Ryan Miller finally, mercifully, was pulled. That’s it, game over.
That also means the Canucks and Stars played a second game that they dominated and won 3-1. I wish I had only watched that game. Instead, I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
This was a lose/lose situation for the Canucks. They came into Edmonton to face a team that had yet to record a win this season, was averaging more than 5 goals against per game, and was essentially falling apart at the seams. Failing to defeat this sad-sack Oilers team would be disastrous, but beating them would prove nothing.
At the same time, losing was a very real possibility. The Canucks were stale after a six-day break, while the Oilers were like a hungry dog that would devour anything, no matter how stale. The Oilers are already desperate and desperate teams are dangerous. Some fans were upset that the Canucks needed overtime to beat the Oilers on Saturday; imagine if the Canucks actually lost.
Fortunately, in this lose/lose situation, the Canucks lost, but didn’t literally lose. Instead, they won. I watched them win/lose when I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
This game alone was more exciting than the entire 2013-14 season. It was high-flying, defence-be-damned, entertaining hockey. There were fights — non-staged fights! — hits, goals, saves, controversy, an entirely-too-intense overtime period, and even a shootout for you heathens out there that enjoy that kind of thing.
But the real highlight of this game — the thing that made watching it completely worthwhile — was the Dry Scrape. For the first time this season, we got to see the zambonis come on the ice before overtime, rather than before the shootout, and scrape the ice clean without flooding it so that it didn’t need time to freeze. Truly a momentous occasion.
It was a privilege to witness such an historic event when I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
It’s tradition in Vancouver to complain about the NHL schedule. Doesn’t matter that our beef is actually with the Atlantic Ocean, whose East Coast Bias runs deeper than any NHL schedulemaker. The transatlantic-migration-and-its-effect-on-population-density argument doesn’t really fly over here. It’s clear the NHL is out to screw us.
But if we’re going to complain about the negatives of the schedule, we should also praise the positives, like how the Canucks got to close their preseason with two games versus the defensively hapless Edmonton Oilers. There’s really no better way to go into the regular season, especially for a team that lost their offensive mojo last season, than by playing the Oilers, who make every NHL team feel like, well, the 1980s Edmonton Oilers. Honestly, playing these Oilers fills you with such a confidence, one wonders if they’re even a real team. Is it possible the Oilers have been inside you all along?
Maybe. But I’m pretty confident they’re real, since they played in this game and I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
I am so, so sorry.
It’s all my fault. When I wrote an article on Wednesday about how the Canucks could use an injury in the pre-season, I only meant that an injury to a veteran depth forward who already had a roster spot sewn up would make it a lot easier for the Canucks to keep one or two of their promising prospects — Nicklas Jensen, Hunter Shinkaruk, and Bo Horvat — in Vancouver.
Clearly, the hockey gods thought I was mocking them and ensured that just one forward left the Canucks game against the Edmonton Oilers: aforementioned promising prospect Bo Horvat.
I did it. Me. I take all the blame. It was incredibly selfish of me to tempt fate like that just to make what I still think is a completely fair point about how difficult the Canucks’ roster decisions are going to be. But it wasn’t worth it. It…wasn’t worth it…
I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
The Arizona Coyotes of Phoenix in Glendale may have a new team name, but they look an awful lot like the Phoenix Coyotes of old: defensively sound, difficult to break down in the neutral zone, and not particularly exciting to watch. As pre-season games go, this was one of them.
That’s not to say there weren’t moments of excitement. For instance, apparently a couple got engaged during a break in the action. That’s exciting, right? I mean, a meaningless pre-season game against the Coyotes isn’t really the most romantic of occasions to pop the question, even for the most die-hard Canucks fan, but love is worth celebrating.
Not worth celebrating: this game. I did not pop open any bottles of champagne when I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
For the first time ever (at least on TV), Canucks fans got to see Willie Desjardins behind the Canucks bench. Sort of. We didn’t really see him at all, because he didn’t yell and scream, get in his player’s faces, or charge down the halls of the Saddledome to confront Bob Hartley.
I mean, I know this is his first NHL head coaching gig, but it’s like he doesn’t even understand how a head coach is supposed to act. Instead, he got his team to go out on the ice and play hockey, as if this was some sort of game where the objective is to score more goals than the other team.
I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
There’s no denying that the Sharks were the better team in this game. They out-shot the Canucks like crazy, particularly in the ugly second period, when they tallied 18 shots on goal to the Canucks’ 5. But really, in a pre-season game, you’re not necessarily looking at how the team performed as a whole, but instead at how individual players performed in a given role and how they fit with their teammates.
The result itself doesn’t actually matter…oh, who am I kidding. It was satisfying as hell to see the Canucks beat the Sharks, even if it was just in pre-season and even if the Sharks out-shot the Canucks 34-to-20. The Canucks got better as the game went on and they actually scored goals.
Look, I love preseason hockey, because it’s not no hockey. No hockey is dull and boring. No hockey is lame. No hockey is the worst. Give me preseason hockey over no hockey any day of the week, especially this day of the week, because on this day, I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
As is appropriate for this season, the Canucks earned a moral victory in their final road game. Not only did they lose, thereby giving themselves the opportunity to clinch the 6th overall pick in the upcoming draft with a loss to the Calgary Flames on Sunday (and simultaneously worsening Edmonton’s draft position), but they also managed to get a rival team’s fans to call them classy.
As CBC constantly reminded us all game, this was Ryan Smyth’s final NHL game and, like Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames did for Trevor Linden, the Canucks came back out on the ice after the game ended and, led by Henrik Sedin, shook Smyth’s hand and wished him the best.
The reaction was immediate and universal. Even the most ardent Canucks haters could only muster a weak joke about it being the first instance of class ever shown by the Canucks. For one brief moment, Oilers fans were forced to like and respect the Vancouver Canucks. If that’s not a moral victory, what is?
Also, they played something resembling hockey before all of that. I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
As famed sportswriter Thomas Stearns Eliot wrote about this Canucks season, “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.” A little flowery for my tastes, but his words proved prophetic, as the Canucks looked lame against the Ducks, officially becoming a lame duck for the remainder of the season.
Facing a rookie goaltender in his first NHL game, the Canucks mustered just 18 shots on net. In the second period, they had just 3 shots. In their five power plays, they got the puck on net just 3 times. They were credited with 10 turnovers and it felt like more, giving up multiple breakaways, including the first shot of the game. Not with a bang, but a whimper.
Know who else whimpered? Me, when I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
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.Continue Reading —›
Heading into this game, Jannik Hansen had 3 goals in his last 33 games. Nicklas Jensen had 3 goals in his last 6 games. One played on a line with Daniel Sedin, the other on a line with Tom Sestito. One played more than 6 minutes in a tied third period. The other was stapled to the bench after the second intermission.
Does John Tortorella hate the happiness of Canucks fans? Jensen’s success since his call-up has been the one thing that all fans can enjoy, the one real ray of sunshine and light in the dreary darkness, but then he got shunted down the lineup. Meanwhile, Hansen, who is having the worst offensive season of his career in terms of points-per-minute, kept getting sent out, despite not registering a single shot attempt and the Canucks getting out-shot 9-4 at even-strength with him on the ice.
Did John Tortorella confuse Hansen for Jensen? Does he think all Danes look alike? If so, that’s pretty racist. He’s lucky there aren’t more Danes in the NHL so this didn’t come up earlier.
Like Jensen, who quietly sat back and let Tortorella call him Jannik all night, I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
I don’t really know how to describe this game, only to say that I haven’t seen anything like it for some time. In fact it’s been so long that my vocabulary that I might used to describe it has atrophied. It was…expediting? No, that’s not right. Exfoliating? Nope, that’s not it. Excited? Is that the word?
Exciting! That’s the one. It’s been a long time since I used that word in relation to the Canucks, but it fits this game. The Canucks buzzed around the offensive zone, created scoring chances, and actually capitalized on a few of them. It was bizarre. I mean, they didn’t win, of course. It wasn’t that bizarre. But it was still fun to watch.
I was — what’s the word? — entertained when I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
Alex Burrows is such a terrible teammate. Having gone 35 games without scoring a single goal this season, Burrows chose to break his drought during Henrik Sedin’s 1000th career game, stealing the spotlight and making the game all about him. Selfish.
To make it even worse, Burrows scored two goals without allowing Henrik to tally an assist, despite playing on the top line with the Canucks captain. And you’ll notice that he scored two goals; why no assists, Burrows? Share the puck, Alex, this is a team game.
In fact, Burrows had a game-high 6 shots, while his other linemate, Nicklas Jensen, had just one, clearly because Burrows is such a puck-hog. Way to provide a toxic environment for the rookie, Burrows. Oh wait, I’m being sarcastic. Creating a toxic environment is a bad thing, Burr.
The final piece of evidence that Burrows was playing for the name on the back of his jersey rather than the logo on the front? He had the opportunity to score in the shootout and didn’t do it, obviously because it wouldn’t have counted for his points this season. He clearly just wanted to boost his personal statistics and didn’t care about getting his team the win. He was just out for number one, who was, in this case, number 14.
Alex Burrows is just the worst. I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
The last time the Canucks played the Flames, the game was marred by a linebrawl off the opening faceoff, a crazed John Tortorella attempting to bull rush his way into the Flames locker room during the first intermission, and a total of 188 penalty minutes.
For a moment, it looked like this game might start the same way, as Tom Sestito and Brian McGrattan lined up opposite each other for the opening faceoff and had words. Fortunately, those words appeared to be, “Good day to you, sir” and “God be with ye,” because the two players separated and did a novel thing: they played hockey. Imagine that.
I watched hockey players playing hockey when I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
John Tortorella has a 5-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks.
I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
If you need proof that judging a goaltender by their wins and losses is incredibly stupid, you just have to look at Eddie Lack this season. He has a mediocre 9-8-4 record after this shootout loss to the Wild, but has a .925 save percentage and 2.05 goals against average. Over his last eight starts, he’s allowed more than one goal just twice, but has just two wins.
The Canucks have given Lack less support than the parents of an Art major. By my calculations, Lack should have about 734 wins by now. I think there might be something wrong with my calculator, actually. There’s also something wrong with me, because I watched this game.Continue Reading —›