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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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Anaheim Ducks, January 25, 2013

The Ducks spoiled the Canucks’ home opener and Schneider’s first start as the Canucks’ new number one goaltender, thumping them 7-3. It caused endless bellyaching in Vancouver and reignited the goalie controversy, so it was only fair that the Canucks return the favour, spoiling the Ducks’ home opener.

I pointed out earlier today that it would be foolish to panic this early in the season, particularly because the Canucks had the possibility of moving up to first in the Northwest Division with a win and a Minnesota Wild loss. 10 hours later, the Canucks are first in the Northwest Division and Cory Schneider has a shutout to his credit. Panic over. Goalie controversy over.

At least until Sunday, when the Canucks could conceivably drop to fourth in the division, Schneider could give up a soft goal or two, and we’ll be back where we started. Sigh. I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. Calgary Flames, January 23, 2013

The Canucks really needed this win. It wasn’t just that they were 0-1-1 heading into it. It was much worse than that. As a colleague who will remain nameless because I’m about to make fun of him pointed out to me, they weren’t just winless in their first two. They were 1-4-2 in their last seven, dating back to last postseason. Ah, but I pointed out to him that if we’re just going to trace the Canucks’ record back to arbitrary dates, we should point out that they’re actually 52-26-11 dating back to the beginning of last season. Perhaps, my colleague responded, but they’re a mediocre 1353-1455-391-83 dating back to the beginning of the franchise.

That’s almost 100 games under five hundred. You can see how badly they needed this win. Sure, it’s a big hole to crawl out of, but you’ve got to take these things one game at a time. Tonight was one such game, and I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. Edmonton Oilers, January 20, 2013

On Saturday night, the Hockey Night in Canada crew couldn’t stop debating the debacle in the Canucks’ crease and I repeatedly heard them say that Alain Vigneault should “stick with the gameplan” and start Cory Schneider against the Edmonton Oilers. Vigneault only half-listened. He stuck with the gameplan, which happened to be to start Roberto Luongo on the second night of a back-to-back.

In fact, what if all of this has been the gameplan, a complicated scheme to completely depreciate the trade value of both goaltenders so that Gillis is unable to trade either one this season, thereby giving Vigneault the benefit of two great goaltenders heading into the playoffs. If so, that’s a stupid gameplan and he should stop sticking to it immediately. I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. Anaheim Ducks, January 19, 2013

As if you didn’t already feel sort of dirty about your unqualified excitement for Game 1 of the Canucks’ season following yet another NHL lockout, consider the following factoid from Matt Baker: the last time the Canucks opened their season against the Ducks was in 1997, in Tokyo, with Mark Messier scoring in a 3-2 win.

Disgusting, right? I mean… Tokyo. I’ve heard it’s very overpopulated.

I kid. Anyway, despite the fact that the Canucks iced Mark Messier, the 1997 home opener was a much more successful outing than this one. If you were, as mentioned, a little uncomfortable with your excitement heading into Saturday night’s affair, the Canucks did their best to stomp all of that passion right out for you, serving up one of the worst stinkers in recent memory. This game was so bad, I almost missed the lockout. Almost. As bad as it was, it was still Canucks hockey. The circumstances could be better, but for the first time in nine months, I’m pleased to say I watched this game:

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I Watched This Charity Game: Bieksa’s Buddies vs UBC Thunderbirds, October 17, 2012

The Bieksa’s Buddies charity game was a massive success for two reasons: first, the event raised $200,000 for Canuck Place, the Canucks Autism Network, and the Canucks Family Education Centre — half of that from ticket sales, the other half when Michael Buble chose to match the total just before the cheque presentation and they had to scratch out the amount on the giant novelty cheque and double it.

The second reason the game was a success: it supplied a brief Canucks fix to the other victims — the poor, hapless fans that have long since forgotten how to spend their free time from October through April. Sure, it was fleeting and essentially meaningless. Bieksa’s Buddies only resembled the Canucks at times (like, say, when Cory Schneider was surrendering 3 goals on 9 shots because that’s what the Canucks’ starting goalie does in October), but it was just enough to scratch the itch. Count me among the scratched. I watched this charity game.

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I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings, April 22, 2012

Though it was a tough way to lose the game, the Canucks can take solace in getting the game to overtime and earning the single point. Wait, what? That’s not how it works in the playoffs? The Canucks have been eliminated? That’s it? It’s over? Oh. I watched this game. Canucks 1 – 2 Kings [...]

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I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks at Los Angeles Kings, April 18, 2012

It would be tough to overstate the impact that Daniel Sedin had in his return to the lineup Wednesday night, but I’m going to try: Daniel’s impact was the essence of impact itself; by the game’s end, Quebec’s MLS club had changed their name to the Montreal Daniel Sedin.

The guy made a difference, is what I’m saying. In his first game back from a concussion, Daniel had a game-high 11 shots attempted, over 20% of the Canucks’ shot creation. He and Henrik were on the ice for all 3 Vancouver goals, and although they only picked up points on the third, their presence on the ice opened up space for everyone else and gave the entire team a spark. And not just any spark — the Allspark, which gives life to Autobots, Decepticons, and other cold, lifeless mechanisms, such as the Canucks’ powerplay, which came suddenly to life, going 2-for-3 in this game. And I watched this game.

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I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks at Los Angeles Kings, April 15, 2012

If you want to quibble with definitions, this game wasn’t technically a must-win game. Since the Canucks didn’t win, however, that makes Wednesday’s game an actual must-win game. In order to prevent that from happening, the Canucks needed to win this game, making it a proverbial, but not technical, must-win game. But, as mentioned, they didn’t muster a win.

Now I’m depressed and I think Harrison’s drunk (and he never drinks). On the plus side, all of Vancouver is now too despondent to leave the house, meaning The Bay won’t have to replace all their windows this year. Oh hell, now I’m making riot jokes: this is definitely the lowest of the low. I watched this game.

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I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings, April 13, 2012

After Thursday, many wondered if there was anything on this planet more offensive than the Los Angeles Kings’ official Twitter account. It would appear there is: the Vancouver Canucks’ powerplay, which generated little else but goals against Friday, and cost the team a game 2 in which they otherwise played well.

Now, let’s not panic. Sure, prior to Friday night, the Canucks had never opened a playoff series by losing the first two games at home. But, on the bright side, the Canucks have also never lost a playoff series after losing the first two games at home. So you can understand why I’m so optimistic; I watched this game!

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I Watched This Playoff Game: Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings, April 11, 2012

I was promised prior to tonight’s game that playoff hockey is the best hockey. I don’t know about you, but I thought this particular game was pretty lousy. Now I can never trust again.

It’s difficult for a game to be entertaining when it’s bogged down by constant penalty calls. Approximately half of the first two periods of this game were spent with one of the two teams on the powerplay. It made for an extremely disjointed game that significantly lacked any sense of flow. So, essentially, me when I try to rap.

I watched this game.

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Stanley Cup Playoffs Round One Preview: IWTG Review

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, not Christmas; the Stanley Cup Playoffs. On Wednesday night, the Canucks will begin their potential road to the possibility of hopeful victory. As you might be able to tell, I’m hedging my bets. After last season ended in such bitter disappointment, I’m downgrading my raging-over-the-top optimism to cautious optimism.

The Canucks’ first round opponents are the Los Angeles Kings – who are bad – by virtue (or vice) of losing to the San Jose Sharks on the final day of the season. Considering the Canucks went 3-0-1 against the Sharks and 2-1-1 against the Kings, the Sharks likely would have been a better matchup.

But what were those regular season games really like? We can look back at the boxscore and statistics in order to remember, but that only gives us a partial picture. If only someone watched those games and recorded what they thought about them in an easy to digest, quippy, point-form manner.

Oh wait! We watched those games!

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Edmonton Oilers, April 7, 2012

It wasn’t that long ago that we considered the Canucks to have no chance whatsoever at first place in the Western Conference, let alone the Presidents’ Trophy. On March 20th, for instance, the Canucks were a full 6 points back of the Blues with just 10 games remaining and were coming off their 7th loss [...]

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Calgary Flames, April 5, 2012

With the New York Rangers’ loss in Pittsburgh, the Canucks found themselves in a position to take a stranglehold on the Presidents’ Trophy race with a single point. And, after the second period ended with the boys in blue up one, it looked like they had it in the bag. The last time this team failed to collect at least one point when leading after two periods was in October of 2009.

But the Canucks let the cat out of the bag, allowing three third-period goals and watching their stranglehold evaporate. On the bright side, what were the Canucks doing trying to strangle a cat in a bag? How incredibly inhumane. Gosh, thank goodness the Canucks blew this lead. I’d hate for them to be responsible for the death of a cat. I love cats. I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Anaheim Ducks, April 3, 2012

Tonight, the Canucks hosted the Orange County team formerly known as the Mighty Ducks in a game stuffed with hyperbole. The greatest one of all time and space was in attendance (Mooney was there too), there was a first period penalty shot (only the most exciting play in hockey), eight pucks heroically rippled the mesh, Jonas Hiller made several acrobatic glove saves, and Henrik Sedin and the puck played a masterful sixty minute game of Cat’s Cradle.

Oh. And somewhere along the way, the Rogers Arena’ faithful chose to serenade Roberto Luongo with a loud chorus of Luu’s. After all, it’s his birthday! But he’s been so good for so long that the birthday boy deserved the appreciative support of the fans, who gave it to him even though he had a rocky outing. At least I think it was a compassionate, grateful crowd that was Luuu-ing, because anything else wouldn’t make much sense!

As a staunch proponent of hockey math, I usually miss out on this sort of drama. I trust the numbers, so there’s no real need to tune into the contests. Tonight, for Wagner and Mooney, I made a rare exception: I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Calgary Flames, March 31, 2012

If the Canucks had been struggling to find motivation late in this season, there was plenty to be had in Saturday night’s date with the Calgary Flames. First, a victory would allow them to leapfrog the St. Louis Blues and take over sole possession of 1st place in the Western Conference. Second, a victory would officially eliminate the Flames — who objectively suck — from postseason contention. Third, Andrew Ebbett was back. Andrew Ebbett! That dude looks like Chris Martin from Coldplay. How can you not be motivated by that?

Sure enough, the Canucks rode the wave of motivation to a victory, jumping into 1st in the West, banishing the Flames to the irrelevance from whence they came, and letting Andrew Ebbett lead them to victory, like Moses (if Moses looked like Chris Martin from Coldplay). Also, a fourth important thing happened: I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Dallas Stars, March 30, 2012

After two-straight 1-0 shutouts, Canucks fans and media were starting to wonder if the team had completely forgotten how to score. Not me. I was worried that they had forgotten how to allow goals. Fact: no team has won the Stanley Cup without allowing a single goal.

Fortunately, the Canucks eased my concerns by giving up 2 goals to the visiting Dallas Stars. I was relieved when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Colorado Avalanche, March 28, 2012

Something about this game seemed vaguely familiar, like I had watched a carbon copy of it just a couple nights ago… For the second game in a row, the Canucks faced a desperate team on the edge of the playoff bubble, and for the second game in a row, the Canucks shut that team out 1-0.

The biggest difference between the two games, of course, was the goaltender doing the shutting out. On Monday, against the Kings, Roberto Luongo made an early goal by Manny Malhotra stand as the game-winner with 38 saves, including 17 in the third period. In this game, versus the Avalanche, Cory Schneider made an early goal by Chris Higgins stand as the game-winner with 43 saves, including 16 in the third period.

Meanwhile, I looked for changes in the Matrix when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings, March 26, 2012

Hey, remember when I said the Canucks would be sashaying into the postseason at half-speed? Yeah, they’re not doing that anymore. With the playoffs now 6 games away and 1st place in the Conference somehow well within reach, the boys in blue have dispensed with the body break and ratcheted up the intensity for the final two weeks, setting their sights on the boys in darker blue.

Suddenly, the Canucks are testing their playoff wheels, embracing activities they’ve spurned over the past month and doing the little things you need to do to win playoff games, such as throwing hits and blocking shots to protect one-goal leads. And what better way to test a team’s ability to protect a one-goal lead than scoring 3 minutes in and spending the next 57 holding on like Wilson Phillips? It may not have been pretty, but if it’s pretty you want, watch that Wilson Phillips music video. As for me, I watched this game.

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