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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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Los Angeles Kings, November 9, 2013

If you’ve been wondering what it would take for John Tortorella to refrain from giving the Sedins 20+ minutes a night, we found out the answer in this game. All it took was for the Canucks to be down 4 goals heading into the third period with no hope whatsoever of coming back to win on the first night of back-to-back games against divisional rivals. So, maybe don’t expect it to happen too often.

This was the first time this season that Daniel Sedin has played fewer than 20 minutes and only the second time for Henrik. The Sedins played just two shifts in the third period, with only one of those shifts played together. Essentially, a few minutes into the third period, Tortorella quite understandably gave up on this game and began looking ahead to Sunday’s meeting with the Anaheim Ducks. I wish I could have done the same, but then I wouldn’t be able to truthfully say, “I watched this game.”

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at San Jose Sharks, November 7, 2013

The Vancouver Canucks went into San Jose eager to halt their nine-game losing streak to the Sharks. At the same time, Henrik Sedin was looking to keep his 12-game point streak rolling. With the Canucks loading up their top line, it seemed likely that they wouldn’t be able to break the former streak without continuing the latter.

Surprisingly, that wasn’t the case. The secondary and tertiary scoring came through for the Canucks, with two goals each from the second and third lines, while the primary scoring took a break. Henrik failed to register a point for only the second time this season, but the Canucks still beat the Sharks handily, ending both streaks.

My streak of watching games, however, remains unbroken, mainly because I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Toronto Maple Leafs, November 2, 2013

Pavel Bure scored 27 goals in 35 career games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, so the highlight video played prior to his number getting retired was littered with goals against the Buds. The Canucks were inspired, taking it to the Leafs right from puck drop with one of their most complete efforts of the season. It was a fitting tribute to the Russian Rocket, making for a memorable evening for Canucks fans.

Leafs fans, on the other hand, will be doing their best to forget, particularly the ones that spent hard-earned cash on tickets to see the game in-person. You may know such a fan: they were likely talking a lot of smack heading into the weekend about how the Leafs were first in the Eastern Division and were going to destroy the Canucks. They’re the ones who will be sneaking into work quietly on monday, eating lunch in their cubicle, and waiting until everyone else leaves before heading home.

Make sure you to ask these people pointed questions about their experience at the game and e-mail them YouTube links to every Canucks goal, asking if they can point out where in the crowd they are. I saw some sad Leafs fans when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. Washington Capitals, October 28, 2013

Here’s what some idiot had to say about this game when he was previewing it in last Wednesday’s Vancouver Sun: “If you skip just one game this year, I’d make it this one. Teams tend to be at their absolute worst right after they return from lengthy road trips, and with the Canucks facing the high-flying, Alex Ovechkin-led Washington Capitals, this is probably your most likely candidate for an embarrassing, early-season blowout.”

Well then. That is most definitely not what happened in this one. Instead, we got a dominant performance from the Canucks and one of the most entertaining games of the year. I sincerely hope you didn’t listen to this idiot, and what an idiot he is. Does he even watch the games? The answer is yes, because that idiot was me a week ago, and boy did I feel like an idiot 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 New Jersey Devils, October 24, 2013

You had to know that at some point on this road trip, the Vancouver Canucks were going to hit a serious wall, and the quality of their play would suffer. After all, you can only play so many bad teams before you forget how to be good.

Sure enough, that’s what happened Thursday night versus the New Jersey Devils. For two periods, the Canucks hung in there, clinging to the memory of a decent hockey club. But in the third period, visits to Buffalo, Columbus, Philadelphia, and now New Jersey finally caught up with them, and they just forgot how to do hockey. It was bad. Fortunately, Roberto Luongo was there to bail them out, shutting the door the rest of the way to salvage the two points this type of hockey normally fails to yield. I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at New York Islanders, October 22, 2013

After an incredibly entertaining game in Pittsburgh, Sunday’s game in Columbus was a bit of a snooze fest. Fortunately, the Canucks and Islanders apparently got together before Tuesday’s game in Long Island and decided that sanity is overrated, because this game was crazy in the coconut.

This game was more cray-cray than a pair of Cray supercomputers. If this game had membranes, they would be locked up in an insane asylum. It was more screwball than Hitchcock’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Even Bonkers D. Bobcat thought this game was a little much. I lost 1d4 Sanity Points when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Pittsburgh Penguins, October 19, 2013

The Canucks have looked quite good at times this season. The only problem is those times have generally been at the same time they’ve been facing some of their weakest competition. Their wins have come against weaker teams — the Oilers, Flames, Devils, Flyers, and Sabres — while they’ve lost twice to the powerhouse Sharks and couldn’t stick with the Canadiens after an embarrassing own goal.

The Canucks have faced legitimate questions about whether they can keep up with the stronger teams in the league, but this game against the Penguins, despite the end result, proved that they can. This was, by far, the most entertaining game of the season, even though it was obscenely early in the morning for a Saturday. Yes, 10 am is early for me. I’m a night owl.

Thankfully, the Canucks and Penguins kept me awake and alert when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Philadelphia Flyers, October 15, 2013

The Canucks have come from behind in every single one of their victories this season, which is simultaneously encouraging and frightening. After all, it’s great to see that the Canucks aren’t down and out whenever they go down by a goal or two, but it’s disconcerting to see them down by a goal or two so often.

This game was true to form, as the Canucks only had the lead for two-and-a-half minutes. Fortunately, those two-and-a-half minutes were at the end of the game, which are the most important two-and-a-half minutes. I watched those minutes, along with all the other ones, when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Montreal Canadiens, October 12, 2013

Saturday night’s affair between the Canucks and the Canadiens is all the evidence we needed that Vancouver is superior to Montreal. Not the hockey teams, mind you — not after this debacle. The cities. How else to explain all the Habs fans in Vancouver? How else to explain why the lower-bowl was more red than blue for this one? If the city of Montreal was so great, their fans would have stayed there.

That’s about the only positive I could mine from this game, which was about as painful to watch as the Flaman Fitness commercials that aired during it. Trust me. I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs San Jose Sharks, October 10, 2013

So the Sharks are apparently going to be pretty decent this season. One game removed from destroying Alain Vigneault’s New York Rangers, 9-2, it’s understandable that they would be a little cocky coming into Vancouver. Turns out they had every right to be.

With their 4-1 victory at Rogers Arena, they have now out-scored their opponents 21-5. The Canucks, unfortunately, have been that opponent twice already, leading to some consternation among Canucks fans, particularly since that makes 9 straight losses to the Sharks, 11 if you include the pre-season. In my opinion, though, it’s time to stop worrying about that. Why worry about something inevitable. It’s clear to me that the Sharks are going to go 82-0 this season and will never lose to the Canucks again.

No point fretting about it. Just learn to stop worrying and love the bomb. After all, the Canucks will lose 5 games to the Sharks, but so will the rest of the Pacific Division. No big deal. I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs New Jersey Devils, October 8, 2013

This may come as a surprise, but Tuesday’s game at Rogers Arena was not a actually a battle between Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider. Unexpectedly, the two goaltenders brought teams with them. Given the hype heading into the game, I was expecting Luongo and Schneider to engage in some sort of 1-on-1 competition. Basketball, maybe?

Instead, they played hockey. And I watched them do so when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Calgary Flames, October 6, 2013

With the Canucks playing their first of 17 (!!!) back-to-backs Sunday night in Calgary, John Tortorella turned, as many coaches do in such situations, to his backup netminder. That meant a couple of firsts for Eddie Lack. His start was the first of any rookie netminder this season, and more importantly, it was also his first ever NHL start. Granted, after hearing Calgary’s in-arena announcer introduce the Scotiabank Saddledome to their 2013-14 Calgary Flames (Ben Street! Lance Bouma! Joe Colborne!), you can understand why it might not have felt like an NHL start.

Fortunately, the Canucks are a tight-knit group. Sensing Lack’s skepticism over the NHL-ness of the Flames’ roster, Henrik, Daniel and the gang committed themselves to making the Flames seem like a truly formidable foe, even placing the outcome of the game entirely in Lack’s hands, and all for his benefit. After two periods of well-meaning listlessness, once they certain Lack would cherish his first start forever, they stormed back and won it for him. It was sweet to see, and I did see, because I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Edmonton Oilers, October 5, 2013

We saw some changes this offseason, but one thing remains the same as it ever was: if the Canucks are the late game and the Leafs are the early game, the Leafs game is going to go to a shootout. Sure enough, we missed the Kypreos intro, the debut of the weird lightsaber stanchions, and the anthem as the Leafs and the Senators went to penalty shots to decide the second point. It never fails. Infuriating.

Finally, Hockey Night in Canada turned things over to Vancouver. Three minutes later, Ladislav Smid had bowled over both Sedins with one check, Jeff Petry had burned by Alex Edler then beaten Roberto Luongo with a bad angle shot, and Kevin Bieksa had lost an edge, inadvertently tripped David Perron as he was falling, and put the Oilers a powerplay goal from a two-goal lead. Go back, I screamed. Go back right now. Fortunately, the Canucks recovered from that rough start in a hurry, putting together a pretty decent first home game. And I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at San Jose Sharks, October 3, 2013

When the first game of the regular season is a loss, it’s tempting to keep talking about the process, individual performances, and positive signs like it’s still the pre-season. After all, it’s a long season with plenty of time for the Canucks to adjust to a new system and for the roster to evolve into its final form. Like a Pokemon, it takes a lot of battles, a trade, or…uh, an elemental stone. Okay, the metaphor breaks down a little.

In any case, I say forget being level-headed. This is the first game in months where the result actually matters. I say we revel in this loss. Let it hurt. Get upset. Allow the loss to get under your skin and piss you off. You can wait until tomorrow to realize that it’s just one game out of 82. For now, let this game matter, because games that matter are way more fun than games that don’t matter.

This game? The one that mattered? I watched this game.

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I Watched This (Pre-Season) Game: Canucks vs New York Rangers, September 26, 2013

When an old flame comes back to town, you want to make them miss you. You want to show them how much worse off they are without you. You want to make them regret that break-up.

That’s what the Canucks did Thursday. With Alain Vigneault back in Rogers Arena for the first time since his dismissal, with his new flame, the New York Rangers, in tow, the Canucks got all done up and they flaunted their goods. They made the Rangers, that hussy, look silly. They strutted their stuff. They flexed their game. And I watched this game.

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I Watched This (Pre-Season) Game: Canucks at San Jose Sharks, September 24, 2013

In many ways, the pre-season is about finding out what doesn’t work. You find out which prospects aren’t ready for the NHL just yet, you find out which line combinations are unlikely to gel, and you find out which defencemen should never, ever, ever be paired together.

In this game, we got the latter. Andrew Alberts and Yannick Weber are, individually, reasonable depth options on defence: not NHL regulars, but players that can cycle in and out of the bottom pairing as needed. Together, they are an endless void of despair and suffering. I was provoked to hyperbole when I watched this game.

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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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I Watched This (Pre-season) Game: Canucks at Edmonton Oilers, September 21, 2013

When we here at PITB first exhorted Canucks fans to avoid “flipping the pool,” as it were, it was on the eve of the 2011 playoffs. We encouraged fans to keep from panicking in case of a post-season loss that could not be explained in light of the Canucks’ dominant regular season. Don’t panic! Don’t freak out! Don’t flip the pool!

An early round exit from the playoffs after a Presidents’ Trophy-winning season? That might be a reason to flip a pool. And yet, just a couple years later, we’re saying the exact same thing just a few games into the pre-season. It seems like Canucks’ fans threshold for panic has been significantly lowered as the Canucks’ perceived Stanley Cup window has begun to close. The Canucks are 0-3 in the pre-season and there are actually people worried about it.

Look: the Canucks need to play better. A good start would be better players, such as a veteran top-six forward or six. The Canucks didn’t bring the Sedins, Kesler, Burrows, Hamhuis, Bieksa, Garrison, or Luongo. The Oilers had Hemsky, Hall, Eberle, Gagner, Smyth, and Yakupov. Don’t flip the pool.

I watched this game.

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I Watched This (Pre-season) Game: Canucks vs Edmonton Oilers, September 18, 2013

I hate to say it, you guys, but it’s over. It’s done.

I’m not talking about Wednesday night’s hockey game. It’s over and done too, of course, but that’s a good thing. I celebrate it’s completion, as this was preseason hockey at its finest, which is to say that it was particularly not fine. What I am talking about is the Canucks’ 2013-14 season. It’s done. Finished. I’m calling it right now.

The Canucks are now 0-2 in the preseason, leaving them in serious danger of not making the regular season, and I think it’s safe to say that the John Tortorella experiment is a wash, the kids aren’t all right, the Sedins have lost a step, and it’s time to blow it up. All of these things were evident when I watched this game.

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I Watched This (Pre-season) Game: Canucks vs San Jose Sharks, September 16, 2013

Canucks hockey is back! Sort of!

Preseason hockey gets a lot of flack, but I’m actually a big fan. When the lockout last year cancelled the preseason, I was legitimately upset. It’s a chance to get excited about the potential of young prospect or a fringe NHL player work his tail off to earn a spot on a fourth line. It’s scrappy, awkward, messy hockey, but it’s better than prospect games and scrimmages and it’s worlds better than no hockey whatsoever. I mean, not big worlds. Let’s say Pluto and Mercury. The preseason is Pluto and Mercury better than no hockey.

I thoroughly enjoyed it when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks at San Jose Sharks, May 7, 2013

Trailing by a goal and facing elimination heading into the third period, Ryan Kesler made it very clear what the Vancouver Canucks needed to do to keep their scant playoff hopes alive. “We just got to go out,” he told Farhan Lalji, all fiery determination and temerity, “and compete like bastards.”

Now, admittedly, I’m not entirely sure how a bastard competes. Did he mean the Jon Snow type of bastard? Or the Inglourious, Nazi-killing type of basterd? Personally, I would have appreciated Kesler spelling it out loud instead of just saying it.

Either way, the Canucks did indeed come out in the third period like a group of lovechildren and, by the eleven-minute mark, they had turned a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead. Unfortunately, Kesler’s speech had also inspired the officials to officiate like bastards. Two illegitimate powerplay goals against later, the Vancouver Canucks were eliminated. For the last time in 2013, I watched this game.

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I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks at San Jose Sharks, May 5, 2013

While Roberto Luongo played very well through the first two games of the series and wasn’t to blame for either loss, you had to know he wasn’t happy about giving up three goals in each game and particularly one in the final minute in game two to send it to overtime. You had to know that he would go into game three hungry to improve upon his performance.

He absolutely succeeded, shutting out the Sharks, looking as confident and collected as ever. He finished with 10 saves and…wait. 10 saves? That can’t be right. Surely the Sharks weren’t held to just 10 shots in a playoff game. And what’s this about the Sharks being up 3-0 in the series? Something’s not right here.

Oh. Luongo didn’t start. I swear, I was paying attention when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks vs San Jose Sharks, May 3, 2013

One day while growing up on my parents’ farm, I was playing outside with a couple friends. It was summer and were having a water fight, running through the fields. The sun was shining, birds were singing, and I was laughing. Life could not have been better.

Then I ran full-speed, directly into an electric fence along the cattle run. It hit me directly in the gut, simultaneously taking my feet out from under me and shocking me. Normally when you get shocked by an electric fence, you pull away immediately. Since I was running, I couldn’t pull away from the wire. Also, I was wet from the water fight. I went from joyful laughing to dry heaving in an instant. It felt like I had been punched in the gut and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get enough oxygen in my lungs.

The end of this game was like an electric wire to the gut of the Canucks, except it wasn’t a fence built for cows — it was one of the fences from Jurassic Park. I needed Dr. Alan Grant to perform CPR after I watched this game.

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