Monday, December 20, 2010

I Watched This Game: Canucks at Blues, December 20, 2010

Canucks 3 - 1 Blues

This was one of those games the Canucks had to win. No, it wasn't a must-win (I hardly believe in them), but it was a road game against a beleaguered and bruised Blues team, for whom three of their top three offensive weapons weren't playing. And, sadly for St. Louis fans, the injuries to David Perron, TJ Oshie, and Andy Macdonald have made the St. Louis offense about as threatening as the Disney Channel. It was apparent early in tonight's game that the only Blues to watch out for were Alex Steen and Blu Cantrell (who is totally due for a comeback).
    Even motivation wasn't a factor, as the same basic Blues team had come to GM Place two weeks ago and handed the Canucks their only regulation loss in December--a game Vancouver probably had no business losing. These are the games you should win, and thankfully, the Canucks did win. And, just like the time my friend was getting picked on by bullies, and I probably should have stepped in except that I'm a coward, I watched:

    • Congratulations to Aaron Volpatti on his first NHL goal (above). You know he's stoked about it, primarily because of the high-pitched squeal he emits after potting it. Listen for it at the 0:07 mark--Whitney Houston wishes she could still hit that note.
    • The Canucks are now 6-1-1 since the blessing of Head Poke Kid. This is an unprecedented display of supernatural power. Despite being blessed by a superior deity, even Adam and Eve couldn't stay good for this long.
    • I thought the fourth line played a solid game tonight. Tanner Glass is always solid (except in Scrabble, where he will soon be soundly trounced), but Alex Bolduc and Aaron Volpatti were on their game as well. The line generated a goal, a couple other scoring chances, and played defensively solid enough that Alain Vigneault was comfortable giving them icetime while protecting a one-goal lead in the third period. In fact, no member of the trio had less than eight minutes. I've been especially impressed with Volpatti's restraint in his two games. You know he's licking his chops for his first big NHL hit and/or fight, but the Canucks have been playing with leads since he got here. Good on him for knowing when isn't the right time. I have a theory that it's a constant message from the bench, but you still need mature players to buy into a message of composure, and the Canucks appear to have a roomful of such players.
    • While you would be correct for attributing much of the opening goal to the thunderous hit of Tanner Glass, let's be sure to give full credit to Alex Pietrangelo for confusing himself with the Venus De Milo. Had he remembered that, unlike the Venus De Milo, he is neither protected by a velvet rope, nor without arms, I imagine he would have moved the puck a little faster. Unfortunately for him he didn't, and like the Gummi Venus De Milo, he was an irresistible target.
    • Blues fans might be forgiven for being a bit upset with the referees. The fans were on the zebras all night for missed calls, especially after St. Louis was hit with a steady stream of penalties in the first. Then, on two separate occasions, referees ran beautiful pick plays for Vancouver--one leading to a scoring chance for the Canucks, and other negating one for the Blues. I predict lingering animosity towards anybody in refereeing stripes. If I lived in Missouri and worked at a Foot Locker, I'd call in sick tomorrow.
    • Ryan Kesler, whose wife gave birth to a baby boy just the other night, claimed he'd be playing on adrenaline and Red Bull. Well, nuts to any theory of exhaustion: he scored the game-winner on a wrist shot so quick Jaro Halak didn't even have time to fan on it, and he had a game-high seven shots on net. Kes, how many Red Bulls did you drink? Don't be surprise if his post-game interview is reminiscent of a Corky Romano press conference.
    • I love Jannik Hansen. He can play on any line, and his forechecking is more Crazy/Beautiful than the Kirsten Dunst movie of the same name. I'm always amazed at the way he fools opposing puckhandlers into thinking he's coming on the wrong side. He's constantly knocking pucks off sticks. On one penalty-kill, he ate up valuable time poking the puck away from multiple Blues, then when they finally got away from him, he turned on the jets and was there to break up their entry into the offensive zone. Hansen is so hot right now.
    • If you're wondering why Henrik and Daniel Sedin went pointless tonight, I'd take a look at the faceoff numbers. Henrik had a mediocre 6-for-13 night, but he went 2-for-8 in the offensive zone. On the plus side, Manny Malhotra had another strong night, winning 13-of-20. Alternate Captain Mal is now the NHL's top faceoff guy, one-tenth of a percentage point better than Washington's David Steckel. By the by, Alexandre Bolduc went 3-for-3 in the faceoff circle for the second game in a row. Well, there you go. He may have found a way to earn more icetime.
    • It's time we gave some credit to the second power play unit. The Canucks have scored 10 power play goals in the month of December, and four of them have come from the second five. Considering how heavily the Canucks lean on the first unit, those are pretty decent numbers. Their goal tonight was a nice piece of insurance, as Jeff Tambellini broke his minor slump on a nice feed from Mikael Samuelsson. Also a nice piece of insurance? J-Lo's 27 million dollar policy on her own butt.
    • Speaking of the second power play unit, Keith Ballard is no longer on it. In fact, the return of Christian Ehrhoff has spelled a major reduction in minutes for Hips. He played only 14:47 tonight, but don't feel bad for him: considering what he gets paid for under fifteen minutes of work, his hourly salary should make you feel bad about yourself.
    • Shifting our focus to the enemy, let's give some credit to Eric Brewer, who had seven blocked shots tonight. Those are Manute Bol numbers. The way he was amassing blocks, you'd have thought he was going for a Tetris.
    • And finally, did anyone else catch the furious lasagna eater right behind Alain Vigneault at the beginning of the second? Obviously, nobody looks particularly classy when they're eating, especially as captured by Sportsnet's HD camera, but this guy was going to town on his stadium meal. Clearly, he was confused about which Italian staple food he was eating, because he was devouring his lasagna like a slice of deep-dish pizza. I've seen less voracious eating from the extras in zombie movies.

    Skeeter's thoughts:

    • Kesler didn't just have 7 shots tonight; he had an additional 5 shots blocked and 1 missed shot. That's a whopping 13 attempted shots, dwarfing the next closest Canuck, Mikael Samuelsson, who had 9 attempted shots, 4 of which missed the net. Additionally, Kesler has now tied Daniel Sedin for the team lead in goals with 16 and he has more goals this season than Dany Heatley, Jarome Iginla, Ryan Getzlaf, and, of course, Ilya Kovalchuk. That $5 million dollar contract doesn't look so bad right now.
    • The Blues had over twice as many hits as the Canucks, but it never seemed like the Canucks were losing the physical battle. It helps when the hits the Canucks did make were super-effective, like Tanner's emasculation of Pietrangelo that led to Peppermint Volpatti's first ever NHL goal.
    • Speaking of, Volpatti needs some lotion immediately to soften up those hands. He had the entire right half of the net to shoot at and was extremely lucky to slide his shot under Halak's pads. He had another golden opportunity in the third period off a slick pass from Alexandre Bolduc, but the puck clanked off his stick like it belonged to Curt Blefary.
    • Raffi Torres continues his slide. He may have logged a point on Kesler's goal, but let's face it, that goal was all Kesler. He played a mere 10:55, barely more than the fourth line, and didn't see any time on the powerplay. It appears that Burrows has taken his spot on the second powerplay unit while continuing to kill penalties. If it wasn't for Raymond being out with a broken thumb, Torres would be on his way to the press-box.
    • I love Jannik Hansen. If I had lady-parts, I would want to have his babies.


    1. I only counted 9 power play goals this month, but I could be wrong.

      Also speaking of the power play, it dipped to 4th in the NHL. This isn't surprising, it's gone 18.8 percent in December, and only 11.1 percent in the last 4 games. At home, it's dropped below 20% on the season. It's still a fine power play, but it's a far cry from a month ago.

      It's true that the power play has scored more than one goal three times in December, but even that's sort of misleading, as twice the Canucks have had 7 or more power plays this month.

      The Canucks are averaging over five power plays per game this month... and averaging one goal on those power plays.

    2. Qris, I counted again, and there are indeed ten. That said, your point remains: The Canucks' power play has really cooled off. I blamed some of it on the loss of Christian Ehrhoff, but he's back and it's still struggling.

    3. I think the 1st unit is getting to cute, attempting impossible cross ice passes. They have moved away from what has worked and thats setting up an Ehrhoff shot that he usually gets through traffic, followed by Kesler or Daniel burying it.

      2 or 3 too many passes in my opinion.

    4. By the way great blog once again, IWTG is required reading now following every game.

    5. And I grabbed that sweet can! I wish you had that video of homers Hard Copy interview

    6. fyi venus de milo isnt protected by a velvet rope. stupid louvre

    7. @ 10:04 Anonymous: Me too. SImpsons clips are notoriously hard to come by on Youtube. I guess we'll have to live with the satisfaction that every male on the planet know every episode from seasons 2-9 off by heart.

      @10:05 Anonymous: Seriously? Then what the crap are we sitting here for? LETS LIFT IT

    8. hulu dot com has simpson clips but i couldn't come up with the venus.

    9. Dudes. Kesler's 5 mil never looked so bad to me. Ever!

      The hitting stats were obviously homerish...thats why it looked like the Canucks were always in the physical battle...

      And lastly...please...PLEASE do not use that ridiculous nickname for Volpatti. The Province is trying to pimp it, and its stupid.

      Plus, I know from living there many years ago that Revelstoke is a tough town, and you do not want to saddle the guy with such a silly moniker.

      Please...anything else but that.

      Thx ...Vancitydan

    10. I guess a lot people consider this a bit inconsequential seeing how long ago he cemented his place in the lineup, but we are now 14-1-2 when Jeff Tambellini plays.

    11. The Volpatti Wagon is gonna get cha!!

    12. "Shifting our focus to the enemy, let's give some credit to Eric Brewer, who had seven blocked shots tonight. Those are Dennis Rodman numbers."

      Whoa whoa whoa, Rodman was the rebound king. He blocked less than a shot per game. You want a guy like Hakeem Olajuwon or Mark Eaton for this pun-alogy.

    13. I have to agree with Mugatu on this one, "Hansel, so hot right now" errr Hansen? yeah he's pretty good too.

    14. chicago rules
      myopic fools
      those who can’t see
      that destiny
      is with toews keith and pisani
      shall cheer on fruitlessly
      profoundly stupidly
      short sightedly

      hossa can you see
      by the dawn’s early light
      how uptight
      and melancholee
      canuck fans will be
      their heroes
      winning no more
      than three
      while we win four
      once more
      sending them to the first tee

      bury their broken hearts
      and other parts
      at wounded knee

      chicken hawk

    15. PitB seems to be inspiring random outbursts of "poetry." But it seems pretty obvious that Pisani, he of the 9 points in 27 games, is just shoehorned in to fit the rhyme scheme, such as it is. Disappointing. Of course, it doesn't help that the 'Hawks are currently sitting in 8th place in the Western Conference, just 2 points up on the Kings despite having played 4 more games.

      That said, we're attracting trolls! PitB has made it!

    16. J21, I can't believe I did that! That's a silly mistake for a big basketball fan like me to make.

      I fixed the reference. Now it's more obscure than ever.

    17. Manute Bol obscure? Don't forget he was a celebrated hockey player too!

    18. Not sure why you took my Tambellini post/comment, reworded and tweeted it, without even replying to it.

    19. @Anonymous Hmm. You know, I thought I HAD replied, but it turns out I let that important step out. I meant to say something like, "That's gold, I'm tweeting it," but apparently, I never did.

      My apologies. I just tweeted an apology as well.

    20. Anonymous accepts your apology. Also now likes you Facebook.


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