Thursday, December 09, 2010

I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. Ducks, December 08, 2010

Canucks 5 - 4 - Ducks (Shootout)

My favourite thing about come-from-behind victories is the following day's media coverage. Despite a Canucks' victory, articles are still overwhelmingly negative, because the journalists have pre-written pieces about a Canucks loss. When it becomes a win, they hold their tone. They'll claim it's because the Canucks shouldn't be in a position to need a desperate comeback, but I suspect it's because their workload just doubled with all the late revisions, and they're pissed. Late comebacks of this sort force them into a corner where they have to majorly overhaul their story and still meet their deadlines. As Iain MacIntyre tweeted, last night's outcome forced him to hammer out 800 words in about 35 minutes. Good thing he's a pro.

I'd like to take this moment to welcome our new readers from Canucks Hockey Blog, where PITB's popular I Watched This Game is now being cross-posted. Here's how we do it:

  • Putting aside my massive Canuck bias, I do think the universe screwed Curtis McElhinney out of what would have been only his 11th career win in 5 NHL seasons. He played well enough to get it, and I'm pretty sure the rule in the NHL is that the play is blown dead when a goaltender gets hit in the mask, especially when he's bleeding all over the place. I felt like Daniel Sedin's goal, which came after Christian Ehrhoff's high slapshot broke the McElhinney's face, shouldn't have counted. That said, and this is in poor taste, it can now be safely said that Daniel Sedin is literally out for blood.
  • Ryan Kesler was the night's first star, and for the second game in a row, he was clearly the best Canuck forward. His powerplay goal supports my controversial theory that he's the engine of the Canucks' top unit. His game-tying goal (above) was ugly, but it exhibited the high level of effort Kesler puts out every night. No wonder he made a baby.
  • Let's talk about Jeff Tambellini, the plucky, manic, little Port Moody forward. Tamby scored his 5th goal of the season last night, along with the shootout winner on a beautiful, sudden snapshot. It goes without saying that Tamby is a goal-scorer; his goals per game average is .42, which puts him third on the Canucks behind Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin. Tambellini contributes defensively, too. He had five hits to lead all Canucks forwards, the fourth game in a row that he's done that. One of those hits was a brilliant backcheck, an Anaheim rush where Tambellini came all the way from behind the goal line to knock the Duck forward off the puck before he even reached the Canucks' blue line. I'm with Iain MacIntyre; Tamby's an NHLer.
  • The Ducks had about six or seven just crazy, blatant offsides, most courtesy of an overeager Bobby Ryan. Seriously, it was like he built a crappy time machine, and was living about three seconds in the future. Not since Bob Saget's NSFW rendition of the Aristocrats has a man been so consistently offside.
  • The penalties in this game wreaked brief havoc on Canucks units and my fragile psyche in the third, as Tanner Glass took shifts on both the first and second lines. I broke a lamp. I nearly called 911. But, thankfully, he never got on the third line, so it all worked out.
  • I think the Canucks really miss Andrew Alberts. He averages 15:30 of physical, hitty hockey, and without him, the Canucks just aren't as big. Consider that, after he missed the game against the Blues--the first game he'd missed all year--we suddenly started hearing about the Canucks lack of grit. It might have been an issue last night as well, but thankfully, Anaheim/Vancouver games are always bloodthirsty, physical affairs. These teams hate each other like cats hate dogs. Or other cats. Or humans. You know what? Cats are jerks.
  • Daniel and I often argue about Kevin Bieksa, but there's no dispute over Bieksa's fighting ability. He can chuck 'em. He is the last Canuck I would ever fight. I suspect Aaron Voros now feels similarly.
  • The best Shorty & Garrett banter moment follows. Garrett, dubious of a Christian Ehrhoff penalty call: "Ehrhoff's saying, 'who's holding whom?'" Shorty: "You really think Ehrhoff is saying that?" That'll teach you to put words in Ehrhoff's mouth. Whom? English is his second language!
  • Keith Ballard's minutes finally went up, as he played 17:19, including a tasty 1:45 of powerplay time. Let us congratulate Alain Vigneault for having both Kevin Bieksa and Aaron Rome in the lineup and resisting the temptation to give them a single second of powerplay time. You've turned a corner, AV.
  • Correction: Aaron Rome got 15 seconds. I trusted you, AV.
  • Anyway, I thought Keith Ballard had a great game. I especially liked the way he was skating the puck out of his own end. Remembering how sluggish his legs were in the preseason, it was great to see him beating forecheckers with his speed.
  • This one should have been a laugher (the Canucks outshot the Ducks by 40 to 20), but there were two factors that kept this close. First, Anaheim blocking shots (they blocked 21), and second, Luongo not blocking shots. Both trends were unfortunate. But after you rag on Luongo for a few softies, remember to give him credit for his shootout performance. Before last night, he hadn't stopped a shootout attempt all season, leading to two skills competition losses. Last night, he stopped them all, and we won. Coincidence? No. It's a causal element.
  • Ryan Getzlaf played just under thirty minutes last night. That's a ton of ice time, considering he's a forward. I'll tell you why Ducks coach Randy Carlyle has to do this: his defense-corps are not very good at starting the rush, and only the Ducks' star forwards can create offense from their pitiful zone starts. The Canucks did a good job of exploiting this, too. They were turning the puck up ice faster than I've ever seen them, even gleefully dumping it in because the Anaheim d-corps was just going to turn the puck over anyway.
  • How do I know the puck spent an inordinate amount of time in Anaheim's zone? Offensive zone starts. The Canucks took 21 offensive zone faceoffs, and only 13 in the defensive zone. Kesler and Malhotra won 8 of 11 in their own zone, but Henrik Sedin won the night, breaking his brief faceoff funk with a 15-for-24 showing.
  • And finally, a word about Henrik Sedin. His inclination towards passing the puck in traffic has made him fairly predictable, don't you think? He needs to be a little more surprising. Here's what you do, Henrik. Next time you're in a fight along the end boards, lick the defender's cheek. No one will expect that.


  1. "You know what? Cats are jerks."

    Good -- someone had to say it.

    "That'll teach you to put words in Ehrhoff's mouth. Whom? English is his second language!"

    All the more reason he probably *does* talk gooder and formaller than the other Canucks.

    "Keith Ballard's minutes finally went up, as he played 17:19, ... You've turned a corner, AV."

    That and Tambellini in the shootout. Someone is finally reaping the collective wisdom of the entirely of the Canuck fanbase. It's the Wikipedia effect -- thousands of minds probably do come up with some semblance of truth.

    "Last night, he stopped them all, and we won. Coincidence? No. It's a causal element."

    Heh, brilliantly phrased. Though this was obviously for laughs, I love when fans *do* pass over the obviousness of some causal connections, like how the Canucks have a particularly good record when a given player scores. Narrowing your sample size to one where the Canucks already have a one-goal lead, and they do well? Ya don't say!

  2. Heh. Yeah. "Canucks are undefeated when they score six goals." Oh wow, so all we need to do is score a half-dozen times and we'll more than likely win!

  3. Great as always guys!

    I was wondering about what you thought of Kesler smiling in amusement after his failed shootout attempt. Some people think "it's unprofessional he should be upset about not getting the goal" etc like with the Caps loss-Ovie laughing with Kovalchuk thing

    You guys think it's dumb right?

  4. Lol please tell me nobody thought Kesler chuckling at his shootout fail was worthy of criticism. First of all, we won, so whatever. Second, here's what happened: In the split-second where he was deciding what deke to try, he crossed a couple synapses, his brain had a tiny fire, and he lost the puck. Realizing this, he did all you can do in that situation: laugh. That's all there is to it.

  5. I think the Russians like Malkin and Kovalchuk are protesting the uncertainty of the 2014 Olympics by not producing, and that's what Ovie and Kovalchuk were laughing about.

    You may disagree but your criticism won't get through my +2 tinfoil hat of deflection.

  6. Always awesome, I love your commentary and it always makes me realize how wrong I was about at least one thing (I tend to get caught up in the frustration/excitement of the game at times haha)

    One thing I take issue with, was harping on Luongo for this game. I think he really let in one softie, the second goal.
    First goal - Aaron Rome stuck his stick out (say that a little faster and you might get a high school chuckle) and it deflected it enough to make it unpredictable. This sort of play maddens me beyond belief and is why I miss Willie Mitchell (aside from his amazing character) - On simple plays, let your goalie make the save. If Rome doesn't tip it, the puck hits Luongos pads and reflects to the corner. Instead it changes direction and goes where Luongo doesn't expect it. Yeah, he should have had his stick down too so I can't fault Rome 100%, but at the same time, let your goalie make the play.
    Second goal - Lu should have had that one for sure. Even though Hamhuis kinda dropped the ball, Lu saw it, he just flat out missed it.
    Third goal - Selanne shot = Laser beam. Great shot on an odd man rush - hard to stop.
    Fourth goal - flukey goal, though I felt like the Canucks were lacking in defensive zone pressure to protect the front of the net.
    Yeah, Luongo was not amazing and for his salary he should be. But he wasn't awful either. I thought he looked fairly solid. I would like to see him back to 06-09 regular season form, mind you, and I honestly have no explanation as to what happened.

    Regarding Kesler laughing - if the Canucks enjoy playing more and laugh over things together, I say they are better for it. Its team building which brings together a core of guys to play for each other.

  7. I agree about Luongo's game, Canuckles. I didn't think he was that bad. But considering we expect him to be perfect, imperfection is unacceptable.

  8. I think that's my rub. The fact that we expect perfection.
    Would I like him to be all-world every night? Sure.
    But if we get the win, am I worried? not so much.

    I personally have never liked jumping on the goalie. I think its probably the hardest position in the game and at the same time its the one where success most depends on the team in front of you. Invariable the "best" goalies in the league have a great defensive team in front of them. What irks me is if Luongo allows more than 1 goal in a game, 35% of Vancouver automatically demands he be traded. One bad game and that number rockets to 65%. If we judged everyone else on the Canucks by that standard, relative to their cap hit, we'd be left with maybe Ryan Kesler & the Sedins. /rant

    Your guys' writing is always awesome Harrison, I <3 PITB. May you defeat Tanner Glass in the Epic Scrabble Off for the Ages!

  9. anyone have aaron voros' email? id like to send his face a "get well" card

  10. Today's post by Botchford on the White Towel sums up the frustration with AV/Lui that I think a lot of fans have. The reasons for not playing Schneider seem not to make a lot of sense.

  11. I think we are witnessing a special transformation with Kesler, as he becomes something more awesome....

  12. It was nice to see The Scrable Champ's evil twin get punched in the face so many times... Seriously, did anyone else notice how freaking much Voros looks like Tanner Glass?



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...