I Watched This Game: Canucks at Edmonton Oilers, April 12, 2014

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.

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The Week Ahead: A Northwest Division farewell tour

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?

This week, it’s the end of the season and the Canucks face a trio of former Northwest Division opponents.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Edmonton Oilers, January 27, 2014

David Perron was drafted 26th overall in 2007, a fact that you probably already knew, since the Canucks had the pick right before that, and chose… poorly. This has a tendency to come up.

It definitely came up on Monday night, when the Canucks lost to the Edmonton Oilers, Perron’s current team (who also had two opportunities to draft him, instead picking Alex Plante and Riley Nash, but that doesn’t fit the narrative, so let us digress). Perron was the difference in this one, registering a hat trick, henceforth known as a Perron cocktail. (HEYO!)

So if you think about it, the Canucks really lost this game in 2007. Why did they even bother showing up for this game? It’s been decided for seven years! And why did I even bother watching this game? We will never know. But I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Edmonton Oilers, January 21, 2014

It’s been nearly a decade since the Canucks played a game without Henrik Sedin in the lineup. Henrik’s ironman streak, the 6th longest in NHL history, was broken on Tuesday against the Oilers and Canucks fans were curious to see how the team would perform without their Art Ross and Hart trophy winning first line centre. Thankfully, they were eased into Henrik’s absence with a game against the Edmonton Oilers, the worst team in the Western Conference.

While the Canucks lack of finish kept things close, for the first time in a long while, the Canucks looked like they were fully in control of the direction of a game. Meanwhile, I was fully in control of the direction of my gaze 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 Beyoncé 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 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 (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 Game: Canucks at Edmonton Oilers, April 27, 2013

The Canucks closed out the 48-game 2013 regular season the same way it began: by surrendering seven goals in a humiliating loss. Now, granted, this one isn’t quite as concerning as the season-opener against the Anaheim Ducks, which featured the full Canucks lineup, save Ryan Kesler. This time around, the Canucks flipped the script, icing a lineup that featured Ryan Kesler and little else. Jason Garrison, Dan Hamhuis, Alex Edler, Alex Burrows, and Daniel Sedin all sat this one out.

So did Henrik Sedin, although not officially. The Canucks’ captain started this game between Steve Pinizzotto and Dale Weise, and we were excited to watch him spend the whole game there before demanding a trade to Buffalo, as one does after such deployment. But instead, Henrik just left the game. As it turned out, he was only dressed so as to protect his iron man streak, and once he had done what he needed with one shift, he promptly suited up and called it a night. Like Henrik Sedin, I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Edmonton Oilers, April 4, 2013

Don’t let the 4-0 score fool you — this was a very different game than the last time the Canucks faced the Oilers. For one thing, the team that scored four goals was the Canucks, which was nice. For another, Cory Schneider made one save. He didn’t do that last time. He followed it up with several more, too.

But if there’s one stat that really demonstrates how different this one was from last time, consider the following: On Friday night, when the Canucks faced the Oilers, the game was effectively over by 7:15. This time around, the game hadn’t even begun by 7:30. Just think about that. That’s some improvement right there. I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Edmonton Oilers, March 30, 2013

This game must have been a massive relief to Canucks fans who were tired of the low-scoring, defensive snoozefests that the Canucks have been known for recently. For once, the Canucks didn’t sit on a one-goal lead and bore fans to tears. This game was wide open right from puck drop, with goals galore. Heck, even one of Wayne Gretzky’s seemingly unbreakable records was broken, tonight! What more could you ask for?

Wait, you wanted the Canucks to score? Oh.

Well, crud. That sure didn’t happen. 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 Didn’t Watch This Game: Canucks vs Edmonton Oilers, October 13, 2012

The start of the NHL season is a magical time: hope springs eternal, as even the worst teams in the NHL can put together a couple early victories and leave their fans convinced that this is the year the turn-around begins. Speaking of the worst teams in the NHL, the Canucks were scheduled to play the Oilers on Saturday night.

It was also set to be the first Hockey Night in Canada of the year, with eager fans tuning in to see Don Cherry not mention the Canucks at all. It would also be the first Don Cherry suit of the season and, perhaps more importantly, the first Kevin Weekes suit of the season. I suspect it would have been baby blue, with a smidge of dark brown.

Fans were deprived of such glorious sights by the NHL lockout. Instead of watching the Canucks take on the Oilers, I played road hockey for hours in the pouring rain and now I have a cold. Thanks a lot, lockout. I didn’t watch this game.

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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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The Canucks need a strong Northwest Division

Technically, the Colorado Avalanche are still in playoff contention, but their chances are slimmer than a Slim Jim. They currently sit in 10th place, 2 points out of the playoffs, with only two games remaining on their schedule. All four teams ahead of them that they could conceivably catch have three games left. It doesn’t help that all three games the San Jose Sharks have remaining are against other teams battling for those same playoff spots, guaranteeing that the Avalanche will have even more ground to make up.

If the Avalanche fail to make the playoffs, the Vancouver Canucks will be the only team from the Northwest Division in the postseason for the second straight year. The competitive imbalance in the Northwest isn’t good for the team or the fans.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Edmonton Oilers, February 19, 2012

Sunday afternoon, it was announced that the Canucks had topped a poll asking NHLers to name the most overrated team in the league. This was just after Vancouver had pulverized Toronto 6-2 and just prior to making short work of Edmonton, 5-2. One wonders: if the Canucks are truly overrated, then how much worse are these teams than they seemed?

Of course, when it comes to polls of this nature, “overrated” is little more than a synonym for “disliked”, which makes sense: the Canucks are, as we know, loathed throughout Canada, and when you consider that they’re 11-2-1 and just spent the weekend batting Toronto and Edmonton around like a ball of yarn, it’s not difficult to understand why. Canada has one good team right now, a fact of which I would bristle at being reminded, were I not a fan of that team. But I am, so I was as bristle-free as a knitted moustache when I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Edmonton Oilers, January 24, 2012

Last game before the All-Star break. Opponent from the basement of the conference. A busy schedule of community outreach. There were a number of reasons why the Canucks could have been distracted from playing hockey on Tuesday night, but the team seemed entirely focussed on taking care of business.

Far more focussed than I, at least. Through the haze of a nagging cold, I watched this game.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Edmonton Oilers, December 26, 2011

After a pre-Christmas performance so stingy and humbugged it would make Ebenezer Scrooge proud (insomuch as that old coot can be proud of anything), the Canucks returned from the break as though they had been visited Christmas night by a trio of ghosts portending doom if they continued to be a team that loses to the Flames.

Here’s how it probably went down: the Ghost of Christmas Past took them to Christmas, 1987, when they were in the midst of a horrible stretch in which they won only once in 10 games. The Ghost of Christmas Present made them watch game tape from Friday night versus Calgary. And the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come showed them a horrifying future in which there is actual debate over whether or not the Sedins’ numbers should be retired.

Needless to say, the Canucks were forever changed by this harrowing experience, and they were thus far more generous versus the Edmonton Oilers, giving fans five goals to cheer about, and even anonymously sending a prize turkey to the Cratchit home. I watched this game.

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Tonight was a tale of two games. In the one game, which took place in the first period, the back half of the second period, and the entirety of the third period, the Canucks defeated the Oilers by a score of 2-0. In the other game, which took place in the first ten minutes of the second period, the Oilers defeated the Canucks by a score of 3-0. Unfortunately for Vancouver, there was also a third, larger game, which was decided by combining scores of the other two games. Hence, the Oilers won this game as well. I watched this game.

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In last night’s game against the Edmonton Oilers, the Vancouver Canucks were down by one goal nearing the end of the second period, when Marco Sturm earned a small portion of his $2.25 million contract by forcing an offensive zone faceoff with 24 seconds left. Unsurprisingly, Alain Vigneault sent out his top line of Burrows and the Sedins in hopes of getting a late goal.

Since the Oilers were at home, they had the last change and Tom Renney could send out whoever he wanted. He smartly chose his veteran second line of Ryan Smyth, Shawn Horcoff, and Ryan Jones. Horcoff was the Oilers’ best man in the faceoff circle and took the majority of the defensive zone draws: so far, so good. He then made a baffling decision. For his defensive pair, he sent out his bottom pair of Andy Sutton and Corey Potter. This was not a good idea. Let’s explore why in pictures.

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This was an odd game. At times it was thrilling, at other times, excruciatingly slow. It was the I Am Legend of hockey games.
While Edmonton relied on their high-flying Kid Line to create offense, the Sedins and Burrows provided the bulk of the offensive push for the Canucks. In the end, however, the hero came from neither trio: it was the secondary scoring from senior citizen Sami Salo that pushed the Canucks’ veterans over the Oilers’ youth. I watched this game.

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The Canucks dressed their complete roster for the final game of the preseason, setting up a terrifying possibility: considering that a shoddy Vancouver group full of fourth liners, AHLers, and since-cut veterans on tryouts was able to beat this same Edmonton Oilers team only a week ago, a loss tonight by the opening night lineup would have been irrefutable proof that the Canucks made all the wrong choices coming out of training camp. Dan Hamhuis is a flop; Ryan Parent’s where it’s at. Chris Higgins sucks; Antoine Roussel rocks. Mark Mancari and Todd Fedoruk should still be here; the Sedins should have been cut instead. Thankfully, the Canucks justified the decisions of the coaching staff by winning this game. And I watched this game.

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In the third game of their preseason schedule, the Canucks iced a lineup with little to no resemblance to their actual NHL team. How bad was it? Consider that Victor Oreskovich registered more points in a Canucks’ uniform last season than anyone else Vancouver dressed; he had three assists in 2010-11.

And then consider that the Canucks were still the best team on the ice tonight, which says something about the entertainment value of this game, and should also say something about the Edmonton Oilers, who dressed something akin to their opening night lineup. Still, Edmonton shouldn’t be worried — they’ll never have to face this team again, unless they’re relegated to the AHL (which they might be, because they’re terrible). I watched this game:

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Over the last two days, we’ve counted down the finest Canuck games of the past season, and it’s been clear that being a Canucks fan yields some absolutely riveting hockey. Some of last year’s games were veritable classics. The season series with Detroit, for instance, yielded nothing but magic. The season series with Dallas was immensely satisfying, too. Even the season series with San Jose had some great games.

Of course, they can’t all be beautiful. The Canucks played some absolute stinkers, too — games that, had we known they would be the athletic equivalent of being maced in the face (by an actual, medieval mace, no less), we would never have watched. Unfortunately, we didn’t know and, therefore, we did watch. From the blowout in Chicago to a divisional season series that never failed to disappoint, here are the five worst games of the 2010-11 regular season.

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After watching the awful game on Saturday between these two teams, I was initially pleased that Harrison was on IWTG duty for that game and I was responsible for this game. Surely the Canucks would put together a better effort. Surely they wouldn’t lose to the Oilers two games in a row. Surely they would buckle down, straighten up, put their hand to the plow and nose to the grindstone, swing into action and and take the bull by the horns. Instead, like Buffy Summers (seen above), the Canucks were just going through the motions all game long. However, as our Twitter followers pointed out, when Buffy was going through the motions, she still won. The Canucks did not. And while I wish I had instead watched “Once More, With Feeling” again, I watched this game.

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