Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Watched This Game: Canucks at Red Wings, December 22, 2010

Canucks 4 - Red Wings 5 (OT)

The Canucks and Red Wings have met twice this season, and both games have been among the most entertaining of the year. We at PITB often talk about the way Canucks fans view their team's games through a vaccuum; we disregard the play of the other team and blame everything, positive and negative, on Vancouver. But that's impossible to do when the Canucks play the Red Wings because it's so unmistakably clear you're watching an elite team. No hockey club in the NHL moves the puck like the Red Wings and few forecheck like they do. Each moment a red jersey isn't within two feet of the puck, it's a minor miracle. When they play the way they did last night, frankly, it's a wonder they ever lose.

That said, the Canucks had a chance to take this one. They led by a goal going into the third period, but unfortunately, a couple bad goals by Roberto Luongo took victory from their hands. It was frustrating. I watched this game:

  • Roberto Luongo is being ripped apart by the fans and media, especially by his diehard haters, but let's try to remember something else: Detroit had 45 shots. Luongo was actually excellent most of the game; unfortunately, Henrik Zetterberg beat him on two goals that looked like they should never have gone in. And, when one was the game-tying goal and the other the game-winner, it's probably fair to pile on the flack (even if the second doesn't happen if Ehrhoff just gets the freaking puck out). Still, realize that the Red Wings' shots were typically of a higher quality than Vancouver's (including the game-winner, which was, contrary to popular opinion, a great shot), and Luongo should be credited for keeping his team in it. So, while Lou's gaffes may have cost us the two points, his overall play earned us one.
  • The Canucks' power play broke out of its slump in a big way, going 2-for-3 and drastically changing momentum each time it hit the ice. For the first two periods, the Red Wings were controlling the run of the play the majority of the time, but when they took a penalty, Vancouver made them pay, got back into the game, and slowed their dominance for a stretch. The puck movement on the power play was brilliant, as was the down low-work by Ryan Kesler, who got two power play assists on nearly identical plays. Kesler also had a game-high 6 hits to go with his 3 assists.
  • Jeff Tambellini's goal came on a seeing-eye wrist shot (above) that, upon review, defies physical laws. What a laser. Tamby had a game-high six shots to go with three hits and two blocked shots, and his defensive prowess continues to impress. He's become a very complete player in a very short period of time. Not since we discovered my younger brother's prodigous Ikea-building ability have I seen someone put it all together so quickly.
  • I thought Brian Rafalski, Todd Bertuzzi, and Dan Cleary were phenomenal. Unfortunately, they play for the Red Wings.
  • In the faceoff circle, Kesler and Malhotra continued their dominance, with 14-for-21 and 12-for-20 showings, respectively. Henrik Sedin had a rough night, however, going 8-for-21, including a brutal 3-for-10 in the offensive zone. Personally, I thought the Sedins only had an iffy game, and I'll tell you that a couple more offensive zone possessions wouldn't have hurt. Alex Burrows was lifted from their line from Mikael Samuelsson for a handful of shifts in the third period, but he wasn't the problem; it was that the line was consistently starting without the puck on offensive zone starts.
  • It was nice to see Mikael Samuelsson score, if for no other reason that it will remind fans that he can. His seventh goal of the season was a big-time go-ahead goal on one of his patented wrist shots while Raffi Torres streaked to the net as a screen. While it broke a 9-game goalless drought, Samuelsson's stats haven't actually been too bad this season. He's fourth on the team in scoring with 22 points. I keep hearing about Sammy's disappointing season, but the numbers indicate something else. And numbers don't lie.
  • Sometimes, when Samuelsson plays against the Red Wings, you can see how he used to be a part of this remarkable puck moving machine. Like Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Voyager, he retains many traits of the Borg.
  • As frustrated as you are, keep in mind that the Canucks really elevated their level of play to stay in this game. Detroit allows an average of 29 shots per game, and the Canucks put 39 on Jimmy Howard. That's a lot of shots. Add that to the Red Wings' 45 shots and both goaltenders must have known exactly how Sonny Corleone felt in the Godfather.
  • I'm wondering if Aaron Volpatti's quiet play is the result of the game being too fast for him. He's supposedly a big hitter, but we haven't seen it, and while I'm fairly certain the Canucks have asked him to pick his spots, you think he'd have picked one by now.
  • And finally, Dan Hamhuis was the big minute guy tonight, finishing with a game-high 25:23. I thought he played a fabulous game, keeping forwards to the outside, moving the puck out of the zone quickly, and making big hits along the boards. Clearly, Vigneault thought similarly, as Hammy had a whole three minutes more ice time than Alex Edler. The guy who really saw his minutes reduced, however, was Keith Ballard. He's been knocked back down to 14 and a half minutes.


  1. Well, it's nice to know we can keep pace with Detroit and get the best of them. In two games with a win and a loss each, we still made it out with a point on them. We'll see what happens when next we meet...

    Still a tight conference, and we'll see more tonight, but it seems as though Colorado blinked first...

  2. nice post. I feel like Detroit played the way they normally do and feel as though Canucks can still take it up a few notches.
    disappointed that Datsyuk went off injured because it felt like the measuring stick shrunk.

    Bertuzzi looked lethal out there and burrows knocking the puck away from a game delay penalty shows how many little things he does that change the game.

  3. Oh man, I totally forgot about the Burrows high-stick! What an absolutely brilliant desperation play. Thanks for the reminder, Anonymous.

  4. I have to say, this match-up would be the one I most want in the playoffs. It would be quite a series.

  5. Agreed, By-Tor. Typically, I hope the Canucks can avoid teams this good, but the Red Wings are just beautiful to watch, and when they're up against another elite team, it's hockey poetry.

  6. speaking of poetry how long until you get a few lines from a chicken about a Hawks team?

  7. I'm sure it will come. Maybe he's busy learning about meter.

  8. Did Hamhuis get all those minutes, though, because he was playing with Bieksa? I'm not a hater, and am actually very pro-Vigneault, but I'm among the legions wondering where the Ballard treatment, particularly in light of the Bieksa treatment, is coming from.

  9. I'm more concerned about Aaron Rome getting more minutes than Ballard. Bieksa is playing fine.

  10. I agree with the above comment, Aaron Rome has turned back into the 7th man and I see him doing either half baked passing plays of just being TOO safe and boring. I'd rather see Ballard play more since his wrist shot actually usually hits the net or at least the right shooting lane.

    that and I really like Ballards skating, the way he carries the puck out of his zone is excellent and he can stick to a man (unlike christian erhoff, we need someone who moves the puck like him but at least does his job in the defensive zone)

  11. eye watched this game

    burrows botched this game,
    along with bobby lou:

    a penalty when minutes remain,
    you’ve seen it before;
    it’s still the same.
    they score!
    four to four,
    you lose in OT.
    you do see?
    how it will be
    come playoff time.

    two easy goals he should have had:
    one can’t ignore
    bobby was bad.
    big game on the line,
    you see it again,
    and again.
    you feel the pain.
    ‘cause he lets up,
    you lost the cup!

    so alex and bobby to blame
    for this lost game
    which begins the decline
    from all which was fine.
    you’ll see that it’s true.
    deja vu!

    chicken hawk

  12. They have 4 on 4 in playoffs now? i think you're right time to call the whole season off and engrave Chicago names on the cup again.

  13. so much for coming to passittobullis because I don't have to read comments from trolls "reminding" me we're going to fail in the playoffs.

  14. @ wisp

    I know right? what a fucking loser..

  15. squawk squawk chickenhawk

    desist with your insipid shit
    sans insight sans rhythm sans wit
    the hawks first cup since sixty-one
    hardly warrants your puerile fun

    accept “Iacti alea est”
    you low life chicken-hearted pest
    it’s latin for the die is cast
    you’re down in ninth and fading fast

    who won the cup in twenty ten
    will never not win it again
    in fifty years or so perhaps
    decades beyond your putrid raps

    desist with your insipid shit
    sans insight sans rhythm sans wit


  16. I only caught the last few minutes and the OT, but it was certainly exciting.

    What intrigued me was that Tim Horton's and Molson Canadian both had adverts on the boards at Joe Louis Arena. Either Detroitonians(?) want to become more like Canadians, or the invasion plans proceeding apace.

  17. Kesler is great, but he's kind of responsible for the last goal. He had the puck on his stick and took his sweet time getting it out and then got checked. Kesler needed to dump more than I do after eating dairy.

  18. Okay, true story, last IWTG I saw chickenhawk's post and started writing a critique, but then decided it wasn't worth it.

    The first thing I said, though, was that his lack of punctuation makes his meaning unclear sometimes. As if he read my mind, he punctuates. Doing so makes things make LESS sense. There are sentences like, "how it will be come playoff time." Shame.


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