Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Watched This Game: Canucks at Senators, November 11, 2010

Canucks 6 - 2 Senators

Thank goodness. After the Canucks' win streak was halted at six the other night in Montreal, cracks in the sky began to form and it seemed a foregone conclusion that it would fall. I mean, seriously, you guys, they lost. They lost a game. The hockey media began to panic, trying to decide which press box banishment was the magical formula for stopping the Canucks' losing skid before it got any worse. Alberts out, Ballard in, they said. Rome out! Ballard in! Alberts out, then Rome out, then Ballard back in, then Alberts back in! One guy suggested the Canucks call up Lee Sweatt and Patrick Coulombe, put one on the other's shoulders, then have them wear a big trench coat and pretend they're one guy. The panic button was quite nearly pushed, I say.

And then the Canucks won tonight, and now they've won seven of eight. All is right with the world, and not just because victory is Vancouver's--also, because I watched this game.

  • Tonight's game was a welcome change from the Montreal game, as wide open as a pervert's bathrobe. Still, I think we all would have liked to see the Canucks do the tighten up. Their turnover rate was nearly as high as the food service industry.
  • Ryan Kesler's two-goal night is exactly what we need out of him. The 2nd line's numbers on the road have been bad. Really bad. But they were the best line on the ice tonight. After a game in which the percentage of shots from the point was too high, it was nice to see the second line lead the way, combining for 12 shots: Samuelsson had 5, Kesler 4, and Raymond 3. More importantly, though, they had the run of play, and did an excellent job keeping the pressure on when the Sedins weren't on the ice.
  • That's the big thing. When you have a line like the Sedins, you want to make sure teams can't simply target them and breathe easy once they hit the bench. That didn't happen tonight. Even the fourth line created offense, with Mario Bliznak and Tanner Glass scoring. A two-goal night from the fourth line is a little decaffeinated coffee: it is the opposite of regular.
  • Congratulations, by the way, to Mario Bliznak for recording his first NHL goal. What I would have given to see Peter Schaefer's reaction. He scored? Eff. I'm never getting back in. It must have been even more frustrating because Chris Kelly let it happen by standing off to the side like a men's room attendant. I assumed Bliznak was brought up for his faceoff ability, but he was just 5-10 on faceoffs. That said, he was 2-for-2 against Chris Kelly, so maybe Bliznak was brought up because he's got Kelly's number? Anyway, Bliznak was decent tonight, and I hope he sticks with the team, at least for a little while. Long enough for me to get my Bliznak is the Shiznit t-shirts made up.
  • Speaking of faceoffs, the Canucks' top three drawmen were all over 50%, which seems to be the case in almost every one of their wins, but here's the big number. Ryan Kesler was 17-20, good for 82% in the faceoff circle. If there was any doubt about who was the best player on the ice tonight, well, it was Kes.
  • With his two 2nd period scraps, Rick Rypien quite nearly broke a record for most fights in twenty minutes. However, he was two fights short of the the mark set by my wife and I last month. Sidenote: My wife would like to suggest I sweeten this joke up by changing fights to hugs, but come on, that's impossible. Hasn't she ever heard of the male refractory period? Second sidenote: my wife just explained what hugging is. Then showed me. It was nice.
  • I really liked Luongo's response after letting in that softie in injury time. He was choked. When the game is firmly in hand, and your goalie is that upset about letting one past him, you know he's locked in. He was fantastic tonight, stopping 33 of 35, a surprisingly high number of those shots being quality chances.
  • Congratulations to Alain Vigneault for recording his 300th coaching win tonight. With so many NHL victories, I think it's safe to say he might know better than fans when it comes to personnel moves. This excludes me, of course. Use Schneider in the shootout!... as a shooter.
  • I liked the flashback of Bowness and Vigneault dressed as Don Johnson from back when they worked in Ottawa. Amusing. But you'd think, upon discovering they were wearing the same Halloween costume, one of them would have gone home and changed.
  • Super congratulations to my favourite player, Alex Burrows, getting his first two points of the season: a goal and an assist. I know the goal just looks like a tap-in, but watch how quickly he stops and turns back to the front of the net when he sees Henrik ring the puck around for Daniel. That is a man that knows exactly where to go with those two guys.
  • The first line was excellent tonight, especially in the timeliness of their goals. Their first goal was 22 seconds into the first period. Their second was 33 seconds into the third. If I were a coach, my coaching strategy would be to score in the first minute of periods to really sap the opponent's momentum. Failing this, I would tell my players to give up, as I have no other strategies.
  • In case you think injuries are no excuse: did you notice Dan Hamhuis looks a little shaky yet? He was back on the top pairing tonight with over twenty-three minutes of icetime, but he didn't look even close to the guy who looked almost all-star calibre to start the season. It'll take him a little time to get back up to speed. Think about that the next time you start ripping Keith Ballard while ignoring his concussion and hip surgery.


  1. "If I were a coach, my coaching strategy would be to score in the first minute of periods"

    and in the second and in the third and in the fourth and so ad infinitum.

    /classic strategy - never lose

  2. Ah yes, Cam, you are referring to the "score all the goals" strategy. A wise approach.

  3. While I enjoy reading the entries on this blog I will point out you guys might need to start paying a little closer attention to your editing/stat research. The Canucks went into Montreal on a six game winning streak, not seven and have now won seven of eight.

    Again, the whole site is very clever and written by some people who have a pretty good hockey knowledge. I'm not sure if anybody on here is looking to turn this into something more of a career but if you are, just a suggestion.

  4. I was in attendance at last night's game; good times.

    - Yes, the win streak figure is a little off. And also, I believe any vintage '90s picture of Vigneault and Bowness together also would have been with Ottawa, not Montreal. But enough for corrections.

    - Doesn't anyone else think it eerie that the two early-period goals the Sedin line scored were 22 and 33 seconds in? I sure do. Kind of like when Anson Carter put up 33 goals and 22 assists playing with them. It's like "The Numbers" from Lost!

    - The faceoff stat was a lesson for me in the foibles of human observation. While in attendance and no access to stats or commentary, I could have sworn that the Canucks were getting killed in the faceoff circle, because every time I noticed, they weer losing a draw. And the stats clearly speak otherwise. You recently did a piece on confirmation bias, I think that falls somewhere along those lines.

    - Mario Bliznak clearly had a two-point night stripped down by the stat-keepers to a one-point night, and I'm not quite sure why. Worse yet, when announcing the change in scoring, they didn't bother with player names -- they simply noted that 15's goal came from 41 and 37, not 62 and 41. I kid you not -- it's like they were playing NHL '92 for Sega Genesis, back when the NHLPA wasn't on board yet.

    - I feel so petty that I came away with a sense of disappointment that Kesler's would-be hat trick clanged off the cross-bar, because it was such a perfect set up and such a perfect shot. We were tons of Canuck fans in the stands -- I wanted to see some road hats, dang it!

  5. I corrected the win totals. I tend to be the editor/stathead around PitB and I just couldn't get on a computer last night or you might have never seen the errors...

    @J21 If you watch Tanner Glass's goal, it's pretty clear that Bliznak didn't touch the puck as it rebounded off the end-boards to Glass in front of the net. Instead, Alberts gets the first assist with Rypien getting the second assist, which happens to be his first point of the season.

    I was choked that Kesler couldn't get the hattrick as well, since he doesn't have one yet in his career.

  6. To the anonymous who pointed out my massive mistake:

    Whoops. In my defense, I wrote this fairly late at night while trying to adjust to my shingles medication. It made me dizzy and a little loopy. That's the sort of thing that, on a simpler day, I would have checked, just to be sure.

    I'm definitely looking to turn this into a career. Are you hiring? I can start yesterday.

    And yes, typically, Skeeter corrects all my mistakes. Except lifestyle mistakes. Those I have to live with.

  7. Also Harrison, you constantly spell Cory Schneider's name wrong. You're killing me, Smalls!

  8. Sorry. I often confuse him with my other favourite Cories--Hart, Haim, and Feldman.


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