Saturday, November 27, 2010

I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. Sharks, November 27, 2010

Canucks 6 - 1 Sharks

Often times, we react to a Canucks game as though Vancouver was the only team on the ice. By this, I mean that, for Canucks fans, the final score of the game only reflects how the Canucks played. If they win, it's because they played well. If they lose, it's because they played poorly. We tend to ignore factors like, for instance, the play of the other team. I bring this up because while the Canucks played well enough to win last night, it was the piss-poor effort of the San Jose Sharks that turned this one into an exercise in heinousness.

Yes, last night's game was heinous, but since the Canucks won it, I can't complain. It was a beautiful atrocity, like when you hit the seagull that stole your sandwich with a rock, mid-flight, and you see both plummet into the ocean. The part of me that appreciates fine things (hockey, sandwiches) groans a little, but the part of me that enjoys seeing the enemy drown in a sea of fail cackles with glee. Oh my, yes, I watched this beautiful atrocity:

  • Let's talk about good coaching. In the third period, Alain Vigneault switched up his lines. He wasn't line-juggling for fun, or just to get something started; he was shrewdly reacting to the desperation of the opposing coach. When Todd McLellan starting whole-hogging it and put Thornton, Marleau, and Heatley together, Vigneault reacted by creating a checking line of Samuelsson, Malhotra, and Glass. It was a smart move. The Canucks' new trio scored the next two goals and negated any offensive pushback from the Sharks. The insurance goal (above) came after a blocked shot by Tanner Glass and some brilliant individual work by Mikael Samuelsson.

  • That said, how many times do I have to say Tanner Glass should not be on the frakkin' third line? Seriously, do I have to write a song about it? Do I have to write a sonnet in perfect iambic pentameter (apart from occasional "feminine endings") with an ABBA structure right up to the concluding couplet? Because that's what I'll do.

Tanner Glass should not be on the third line,
For his offensive skills, at best, do want,
And thus, it leaves Vancouver's forwards gaunt
Of scoring punch among their topmost nine.
That Tanner Glass has value, yes, is true,
At checking, and supplying grittiness.
The fourth line profits from his hittiness,
But third-line shifts are shifty through and through.
Defensively, he's sound, and that's a plus,
But both teams will find scoring threats abated.
His fourth-lineness is greatly underrated,
So why, Vigneault, wouldst thou promote him thus?
A third-line shift doth crown a list of wrongs.
Let's keep him on the fourth, where he belongs.

  • Here's hoping that was Samuelsson's breakout game. Two goals, and both of them a candidate for what we like to call Sam's Surprises. It's incredible what a multi-goal game can do for a guy, especially just in terms of projected stats. Samuelsson is now on pace for 22 goals. It's less goals than last year, but he's also on pace for 59 points, which would be a new career-high. Bet you didn't know that. Samuelsson's first goal was absolutely brilliant, as he totally bamboozled Niclas Wallin with the shot fake, and timed it perfectly so that Wallin stepped aside right when Niemi was being screened. That was a highly intelligent play from a highly intelligent player.

  • And before we move on, poor Dan Boyle. I'm not sure what happened there, but here's my theory: Seven years ago, Boyle entreated Satan for his excellent hockey skills, and the dark lord sent Samuelsson, one of his secret minions (which is why he looks kinda goatlike), to grant the wish. Samuelsson arrived in a plume of wickedness and fulfilled the request. "But one day," he said, fiendishly, "I will call on you for a favour, and you must perform it, no matter the cost." Then in a wisp of devilfire, he returned to the lap of the damned. Anyway, he totally just wasted that favour.

  • I thought Alex Burrows was excellent, even before he scored. He's been one of the Canucks best forwards the last two games, and it he appears to be rounding back into form. Also rounding into form? A potter's wheel.

  • How terrified are opposing teams of Henrik Sedin when he's camped behind the net? Watch the Burrows goal and check out how much time Henrik has back there. Furthermore, check out how oblivious they are to Burrows smartly sliding into a scoring area. Everybody in the world knows Henrik is looking for him (I was watching Burrows from the moment Henrik got turned around). But the Sharks are so concerned with what he's going to do that they forget to take anybody else.

  • A word about Keith Ballard. He was solid, playing 17:52, scoring a goal (bit of a fluke, that), and leading the team with 4 hits. He played on a pairing with Dan Hamhuis that I quite liked, and finished the night a plus-2. Here's hoping he's beginning to turn a corner and getting comfortable here. Leave the discomfort for people that buy mattresses on Craigslist.

  • Many people attributed the lopsided victory to the absence of Kevin Bieksa. I hate to be the voice of reason (not true, I love it), but Bieksa was the best defender in the last game. The Canucks may have won without him, but they didn't win because they were without him. Give your head a shake, person who thought otherwise.

  • Dan Hamhuis should have been a waiter, because boy oh boy can he deliver a check. I'm especially impressed with the heavy shrug he gave to ensure Douglas Murray got maximum airtime.

  • While we're talking about checks, it should be pointed out that we saw the Canucks' new defensive additions pay off in spades last night. Typically, San Jose pushes the smaller Canucks around. This game was a different story. Hamhuis destroyed Douglas Murray, Alberts crushed Logan Couture, and Keith Ballard led the hit parade with a game-high 4. The stat counters claim both teams delivered 20 hits. To that I say, bah. The Canucks won the physical game handily, largely on the strength of the newfound hittiness of their top-six, as well as the total slumber party from a typically strong San Jose team.

  • I owe Jannik Hansen an apology. Last IWTG, I said his hands were like the hands of the Swedish Chef, a classic Muppet show character, but on the pretty pass that led to this goal, they were more like Rowlf's.

  • The Canucks have talked about being able to roll all four line. How's this? No Canuck played under ten minutes last night.

  • And finally, let's talk, as we often do, about faceoffs. In a battle of the two best faceoff teams in the league, the Canucks won 57% of the draws, led by a 10-for-14 showing by Henrik Sedin. This is awesome, in that Henrik is the third-best of the Canucks three faceoff guys. When he's going, the team is going to win in the circle. Henrik won all 5 of his draws in the offensive zone, too. That'll help. Manny Malhotra had a rare sub-50% night, winning only 9 of 20 draws. Of note: the Sharks were without their best faceoff guy in Scott Nichol, and you can bet he would have helped.


  1. fun game to watch(unless ur a sharks fan). i tohught hansen was great and burrows couldve had a hatty. nice to see the sedins cycling game is on

  2. Yeah, it's good to see Hansen can be just as excellent skating on the fourth line. Truth is, because he's usually the last winger to change, he still skates on the third unit quite a bit.

  3. Excellent use of iambic pentameter. Also excellent: Hamhuis pulling a Ballard better than Ballard has done this season.

  4. Iambic what? As far as it being perfect, I'll take your word for it.
    What was perfect though, was Hammer's hip check on Murray. And lets not forget about the perfect setup passes from Glass, Hansen, and Mr. Setup Man himself Henrik, that resulted in goals.
    All in all it was a perfect outcome to a perfectly executed game by the Canucks.

  5. PSH. Everyone knows Spenserian sonnets are the way to go. The rhyme continuation is awesome.

    I love Hansen. I said in the Blackhawks game, he was the Canucks' best player, and he was. I felt bad for him because Torres and Malhotra were having difficulty converting Hansen's setups. This time, both demoted to the fourth line, Torres made no mistake. I'm glad.

    The name of the game for the Canucks is character, but if the game had a second name that it went by only amongst close friends, it'd be versatility. Kesler and Burrows are leaders in that department, but Hansen isn't far off. I remember very well before Sundin came to the team that Canucks were very excited for the Burrows-Kesler-Hansen line. They called it the HBK line and somehow got "heartbreak" from that, which reminds me how little I like some traits of CDC, but that line could do pretty much anything. I love it.

    I feel like a traitor because in my heart, I'm giving Glass a chance at the third line again. I'll reserve my thoughts until I see how the experiment goes next game.


    Glass is an excellent player, but if we move him to the third, his weaknesses will be exposed. He's not a puck-carrier and he's not even the best puck-retriever. What how often he dumps a puck in and fails to touch it again before it leaves the zone. I don't want that out of my third line. I'd like to see them create some offense.

    Also, the Spenserian sonnet is lovely, but I prefer a little more rigidity in my sonnets.

  7. We'll see.

    If this blog were made around 2006, it may very well have insisted that Burrows shouldn't play on the third line. With good reason -- Burrows's first reaction to large minutes was a slew of large screwups. I'm certainly not going to call Glass another Burrows, but I will accept that 1) the current 3rd line situation is very different than it was and 2) Glass has put up as many goals as Henrik Sedin in much more limited ice time. Given his age, and that he's played more games for the Canucks than he had his entire NHL career, I'm willing to accept the idea that he's still learning and growing as a hockey player.

  8. You may be right, Qris, but I'm gonna keep beating this drum until it breaks, dammit.

  9. but sonnets are for
    dusty traditionalists

    comments, in free verse,
    summarize the problem by simply omitting
    [the third line]
    and carrying on to the fourth


    So Tanner Glass has come to play,
    And brought with him his chippy game -
    but on the fourth line he must stay.

    "But oh," I hear you coaches say
    "He's rough and tough and has no shame;
    for Tanner Glass has come to play -"

    Put your damn whiteboard pens away.
    I know he has a kickass name,
    but on the fourth line he must stay.

    His fights have sometimes saved the day;
    His hits may one day find him fame;
    and Tanner Glass has come to play -

    Sure, he can score, and find his way
    When the whole team is pulling lame -
    but on the fourth line he must stay.

    For on the third line, he's astray,
    Misplaced and oft left should'ring blame.
    Yes, Tanner Glass has come to play,
    but on the fourth line he must stay.

    i am actually okay with glass on the third line (sorry) but i never miss an opportunity for a villanelle

  10. Qris, would you say that Burrows had a SLOOOOO of large screwups?

    PS - Sorry.

  11. Annie, you never fail to amaze me.

    But you missed an excellent opportunity to adapt the villanelle AND pay tribute to the greatest villanelle of all time:

    Do not go gentle onto that third line...
    Rage, rage against a place in the top nine.

    And Zukuss... apology accepted.

  12. Who's saying the sonnet was Petrarchan? Couldn't be more wrong. Petrarchan sonnets are two quatrains and a sestet, not three quatrains and a couplet.

  13. @Harrison - you are correct, sir. Though on the other hand: people I am not: Kyle Wellwood; Dylan Thomas. Doing that any justice would be quite out of my reach.

    @Qris - I imagine the confusion arises from the selection of an a/b/b/a rhyme scheme rather than the more traditional Spenserian a/b/a/b. Or maybe it's because Glass's affair with the third line is ill-fated and star-crossed, idk

  14. Fair enough. In that light, it was an exaggeration to say "couldn't be more wrong," as they very much could. They could have said it about a haiku, for instance. Or a Kesha song.

    Mostly I commented cause I like the word sestet. It rolls off the tongue. Say it out loud. Using it in a sentence is sublime.

    Anyway, the sonnet's a disappearing art. Today a blow was struck for classiness. Today, classiness's champion was Harrison Mooney.

  15. On a non-English Lit note, the reason Tanner Glass is not equivalent to Alexandre Burrows, is that Burrows immediately showed flashes of skill and touch upon entering the NHL despite being in the bottom six. Tanner Glass has shown flashes of grittiness and hittiness, but doesn't show anywhere near the hands or hockey IQ that Burrows did. I love the guy, but he's no Burrows and he doesn't belong on the third line.

  16. On an English Lit note, I love villanelles. Damn tricky to pull off and I'm quite impressed, Annie. Well done.

  17. Again, the comparison wasn't to illustrate Tanner Glass is some sort of secret offensive weapon. That said, this season he's had few chances and he's put them home. He doesn't have the offensive talents that Burrows does, but he has more than none. Look at the heads up play he made springing Samuelsson. A shot block in a one-goal game is important on its own, but he was back up quickly and got a hold of the puck before any of the two Sharks who were there. True, he was the closest, but he was on his stomach, and showed real hustle. His quick decision to pass it to Samuelsson showed some hockey IQ as well.

    Again, he's not Burrows. Still, I give him another game on the 3rd line before I make my decision.

  18. Don't get me wrong, I'm more willing than Harrison to have Tanner Glass on the third line from time-to-time, but he shouldn't be a permanent third-liner and I don't think a team that's going to win a Stanley Cup can have Glass as a third-liner. I love the guy on the penalty kill and I love his work on the fourth line, but I don't want him as a permanent fixture of the third.

  19. Just thought I should clear up that the HBK line was called "Heartbreak" as a reference to early/mid-nineties WWF wrestling superstar and Degenereation-X co-founder Shawn Michaels: the Heartbreak Kid. Or his truncated title: HBK.

  20. "Do I have to write a sonnet in perfect iambic pentameter (apart from occasional "feminine endings") with an ABBA structure right up to the concluding couplet? "

    I read this and asked myself, "How the hell does a sonnet have the structure of a Swedish pop band?"



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...