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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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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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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