Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I Watched This Game: Canucks at Islanders, January 11, 2011

Canucks 4 - 3 Islanders (Shootout)

The Canucks had a season-high 51 shots tonight, the Islanders had 41; that's 92 shots total. How odd, then, that I found this game, with its scoring chances hither and thither, exceedingly dull. Heck, the shootout nearly matched the entire game for entertainment value. Why so mundane? I suspect some of it has to do with the act the Islanders were forced to follow. They're a pabulum team at the best of times, but in direct contrast with last Saturday's Red Wings, they're duller than airplane cutlery.

The Canucks didn't help, though. Despite keeping rookie goalie Kevin Poulin plenty busy, they played a sloppy, uninspired game. After a strong first period, they slowed down for the last forty, and their defensive coverage was suspect all night long. They looked tired, and I suspect they still are. That's not good. They've still got four more games on this road trip, and I'd like them to win most of them. I'd also like them to be more entertaining than this one, which I watched:

  • Just as was predicted, Ryan Kesler played despite his injured thumb. Word was that he might let his wingers take a few draws, and considering Jeff Tambellini and Mason Raymond took four between them, it's probably safe to say Kesler gave them one extra faceoff apiece. He really knows how to cut back. The injury didn't seem to hamper his ability to shoot the puck, either, as he still put a game-high eight shots on net. One of them went in (above). Then he scored the shootout winner. This guy's ability to play through pain is mind-boggling, which, consequently, is what I call the mental exercise I perform when nobody will play Boggle with me.
  • Former Canuck Michael Grabner seemed determined to make the Canucks regret letting him go, breaking in past the defense on multiple occasions and putting a team-high 7 shots to Roberto Luongo. While none of those shots made it past the goal line, Grabner definitely looked like a threat to score all night. But, before you start navelgazing, take a look at the rest of his stat line. It's blank. Grabner didn't register a single hit, takeaway, or blocked shot, which is kind of remarkable considering everybody else did. Grabs is a uniquely pure goalscorer, so pure he neglects all other facets of the game, including even elementary things like passing. Consider that both he and Henrik Sedin are fourth in goals scored among their respective teams with 9 goals each. Henrik simply has 42 more assists. It's unfair to be compared to Henrik Sedin, but it's just an example of how scorers can be overvalued in some cases. Grabner may be an NHL-quality scorer, but to my mind he'll never be a complete player.
  • I love Tanner Glass. Part of it is that he agreed to play Scrabble with me. The other part of it is because he does stuff like this. Glass's fight may have salvaged this game, giving his team an energy boost when they began to skate on sand. Look at Kesler's excited face on the bench after the tilt--he's amped. Glass isn't the best fighter in the world, but you can see in this bout that he's a smart fighter. He patiently waits for Matt Martin to open up a bit, then he just slides in and pushes his off button. Hard. With his fist.
  • A word on Luongo's all -star snub. He doesn't care. At all. He's been before, and he fought to avoid the game two years ago when his wife had a baby. Hey, guess what, she had a baby this year too! I suspect we'll eventually find out that Luongo had a chance to go to Raleigh, but asked to be excluded in order to spend time with his family. [Edit: Ben Kuzma says this isn't the case.] He doesn't want to be in North Carolina. Few people do. Half the state didn't, which is why there's a South Carolina. I would much rather spend a weekend with my newborn son than go to North Carolina. Heck, that's just one on a long, long list of things I'd rather do than go to North Carolina.
  • Luongo was solid tonight, by the way. Ignore the fact he let in three goals and remember that he made 38 saves. Furthermore, nobody is stopping that John Tavares shot. That was like a summer's day, it was so beautiful.
  • It may not have been perfectly executed, but it was nice to see the Sedins and Burrows pull off that faceoff play. They used it to perfection so many times last year that everybody's wise to it, which is why we've yet to see it work this season. But my favourite thing about the Wizards of the Coast is that, while they know full well that every defense in the NHL knows what they're trying, they still try it. Unlike Wile E. Coyote, they don't try a plan once, then scrap it forever. Then keep everything in their bag of tricks and just hammer away at the defense's scouting reports. Did you watch video on this? Did your coach tell you to watch out for this?
  • Jeremy Colliton seems a bit rough around the edges, doesn't he? He took two silly penalties tonight--one on a hook and one on a hold--and both of them seemed as avoidable as a banana peel on Koopa Troopa Beach. The hold on Henrik Sedin was particularly egregious. If he thinks it's okay to hold a person like that, I'd advise against letting him have a kitten or a bunny rabbit. He'd be like Lenny from Of Mice and Men.
  • Today I realized we talk about Kevin Bieksa a lot here at PITB, but man, looking at his stat lines these days, you'd think he was Adam Banks. Apart from scoring Vancouver's game-tying goal (on a lucky deflection, but still), he also put up 5 shots, 6 hits, 2 takeaways and a block. Michael Grabner, take notes: this is how you do other things.
  • I fell asleep during this game. More interestingly, I fell asleep while fast forwarding the PVR through the second intermission, and when I woke up, Don Taylor was telling me the final score. Not cool, Don Taylor.
  • The Canucks outhit the Islanders 38 to 24, but didn't it seem worse than that? The Islanders, as currently assembled, are a team of semi-skilled young'uns, severely lacking in hittiness or old man strength. Meanwhile, the Canucks have more old man strength than The Crimson Permanent Assurance.
  • The Canucks now sit atop the NHL standings with 62 points, three more than Philadelphia and Detroit, and still with a game in hand on the Red Wings. It excites me, as a fan, to be checking the scores of the other top teams in the NHL rather than simply the teams in our division. I'm not used to being so inclusive. If the Canucks win the Presidents' Trophy, all those Northwest Division titles will seem a bit trite, no?


  1. A little bit of repetition in this IWTG. A little bit of repetition in this IWTG. :P

  2. Speaking of All-Star snubs. Did anyone notice how Mikael Samuelsson was left off the team? Seriously, Mr. Samuelsson... Did YOU notice how you were left off the team? I'd say it's time to be Out For Blood.

  3. Fixed, J21. I decided to break one of my points up and use the first half as the intro... and then didn't delete the point. I guess that's what happens when you write an IWTG while straddling the line between asleep and awake.

  4. Why should I say anything, the media already having criticized the Canucks
    for their poor outing against the Islanders even though they won the game? Why would I mention that the Hawks beat the Islanders 5 - 0 while Vancouver needed a shootout when the ten forty analysts already did a hatchet job on a team which had just travelled 2425.05 miles, that’s 3902.64 kilometers for your metric minds, to play the game? Consider: Burrows scored the first goal, virtually guaranteeing a win; they had 51 shots on goal, that’s “on goal”, on a rookie goaltender determined to make his mark, which he did, admirably; Tanner Glass demolished Matt Martin; Bolduc and Ballard delivered devastating body checks to Rackhshani and Hillen; Bieksa scored the tying goal 34 seconds after the Islanders took the lead, their only lead; Jeff Tambellini blew everyone, myself included, away with his “spinnerama” move; and Kessler scored the shootout goal that was needed for the two points. There’s an old song my dad sings, “You gotta eliminate the negative, accentuate the positive....” The ten forty types should have a listen! So what Luongo looked a little weak on Taveras’ goal ( It’s entirely possible he’d have needed a theodolite to make the save.)? He stopped 38 other shots, one of them on an early breakaway by Grabner which,had he scored, could have changed the entire complexion of the game.The team is 14 - 0 - 3 in their last seventeen games. It seems I am more impressed with the Canuck’s play than the team (sic, sick) ten forty commentators. Where’s that at? Does the team have to go into a slump to satisfy the local media’s need for blood? Of course I’m young and it’s hard for me to understand the things that big people do. Help me Harrison. Expose me to the voice of reason Skeeter Dan. I’m curious Qris.

    Chicken Chick

  5. Apparently Lu wanted to go?


    Nonetheless, good IWTG. I'm surprised Grabner did nothing else but shoot! How is that even possible?

  6. Shame on you too, Mr. Mooney. "Eliminate the negative, Accentuate the positive!" Let us rip the 'nuckleheads.


  7. I think the Islanders Aren't as bad a team as people want to make out. Recently they have beaten Detroit, Colorado and Pittsburgh. For a team that has a huge list of injuries and is paying several players not to play they still compete.
    I was curious if anyone else thought the play that led to the go ahead goal for the Islanders in the third was offside? It wasn't like the play was a rush and the Islanders did a good job keeping the puck in our zone and probably deserved the goal, It just made me think back to a few years ago when we lost a game to them in shootout because of an offside rush that lead to a goal.

  8. One of the classic definitions of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." For the last half a dozen games now at least one of the Canucks has said "well, we didn't play our best. It wasn't our best effort but we found a way to win." True, they have found a way to win which, as a long time Canuck watcher is, for me, a huge step in the right direction. But tell me that the game against the Islanders or the one against Edmonton or, indeed several of their recent efforts, didn't remind us of years gone by when the team just wasn't quite good enough. If you are good enough to have a better game to bring, if you have matured enough to be able to see what the problems are, well, get good enough to fix it. Call me a Negative Nellie if you will but don't just pay lip service to the game's cliches. If you aren't playing well and you know it, if you know what you need to do to fix it and, if you have demonstrated that you possess the skill and talent to be a top flight club on a nightly basis, then bloody well do it. Otherwise you will soon regress to the level of the Canucks I have been watching for the last forty years...not quite good enough. And, having been given a taste of how heady success can be, I don't want that to happen. Do the players?

  9. @cc or Chicken Chick or who ever, What were you doing listening to Team1040?
    I think you're right some of Chicago's kryptonite rubbed off on the Islanders in that 5-0 game and gave Vancouver some problems with those pesky cellar dwellers

  10. Chicken Chick (what is with this trend?), I hear what you're saying, but there's a positive in all the negativity surrounding last night's win.

    The Canucks have been unbeaten so long that close wins are the news losses.

  11. @ chicken chick
    I feel compelled to answer you because you called me out by name.

    I'm reminded of a couple years ago, where a very different Bruins team beat a VERY different Tampa Bay Lightning team 5-4, and they acted like it was a loss. The players all said something to the effect of, "We should be beating teams like this convincingly." I thought it was a huge slight to a team that, while it had lost its depth, still had offensive stars good enough to make hay on any given night -- just not every given night. Still, the response around the league was, "How in tune are the Bruins, that they're willing to look to improve even on a win they know was closer than it should have been?" I know the Vancouver media ate that up, because they've been working the same angle ever since.

    The truth is, behaving like that is sorta dumb. The best team in the league will have bad nights (hey that's the Canucks right now!), just like any other team. What separates the great team from the good team is the great ones find ways to get points and wins out of their bad nights. When you're at the top of the league, every bad team is looking to play a "statement game" and show that they really are an NHL team, even though their playoff hopes are already over. The Canucks will have bad nights, but this game, they still found a way to beat a team that gave it all they could possibly give. That's a positive, in itself.

    Also, Harrison: You mean Lenny. George was perfectly fine with rabbits, although he had a tendency to kill his developmentally delayed friends (spoiler alert).

  12. Qris, you're supposed to give the alerts prior to the spoilers.

    I love how everyone is conveniently ignoring that just over a week ago the Islanders took both the Red Wings and the Penguins to overtime and the shootout respectively. And won.

    Relax everyone, relax.

  13. Oh yeah, I forgot that in my comment. The Isles are a good team.

    As a guy playing in a fantasy keeper league, I've identified the Islanders as a team to pick up players for. I've got Tavares, DiPietro, and Wisniewski (although they traded him and foiled my plan). DiPietro conveniently got injured a while back so I've had him stashed on my IR even when healthy so he can suck a lot without costing me anything.

    Truth is, the Islanders this season remind me of the Hawks in 07-08. That seems like a retarded comparison but it's true. They've loaded up on some top picks, and are now a team of young players developing and adapting together. They'll have a better second half than the first and probably won't be in the playoff race but they might manage to just come short, like the Hawks did. Either way, they're one or two seasons removed from being a good strong team. Right now, they'll just be streaky, and they're more than capable of the occasional great game.

  14. And I know, Skeeter, but anyone who's reading our comments has either read Of Mice and Men, or never will. If you're going to see the movie, see the one with Sinise and Malkovich, it was awesome. I love the way Malkovich called him "Dord" all the time.

  15. @ skeeter

    I did mention it and everyone managed to ignore it, perhaps because i mentioned Islanders and Aren't bad in the same sentence.
    But more importantly did anyone else think that the 3rd goal for NYI was offside? I watched the NY feed and I could hear people (Canuck fans, Probably because there were more of them than Islander fans) react as they crossed the line.

  16. If Grabner was trying to make us regret the trade, he sure ended up proving the case for us by being unable to finish.

    Is it wrong I felt no fear whenever he was on a break away? "Oh it's Grabner, he won't be able to burry this..."

  17. @kenny

    You're right, you did mention it, but a lot of other people aren't, which was more my point. But you're right, people are underrating the Islanders.

  18. Man, I love Of Mice and Men. I can't believe I made that mistake.

    Also, yes, the John Malkovich/Gary Sinise version is hecka best.

  19. What, no comment on the spinorama?

  20. Harrison, the old black and white one had ONE great line.

    "He made like he was gonna bite me, so I made like I was gonna hit him, and I did, and he was dead."

    I love that George doesn't seem to recognize any sort of causal relationship between the events he describes. But, contrary to what Stephen Lynch would argue, I find dead puppies to be lots of fun.

  21. What does "Luongo was solid" mean? To qualify, I jumped on the Lou bandwagon when he came over despite knowing much about him (Hell I even own 2 Luongo jerseys!)

    Does solid mean made enough saves for the team to win despite the ones he should have had? Seriously, how does he go down on that floater from the point that goes over his shoulder on the short side for the Islanders 3rd goal???

    I was watching the MSG feed and the colour man brilliantly made the observation that it appeared that the Isles were trying to go high on Lou. It doesn't take a genius to figure this out. Luongo is a big man and does get a lot of the high shots... when he is set. The league knows that as long as you shoot as he goes down he is one gaping hole upstairs and has no idea how to use his stick to cover the 5-hole rendering the butterfly and t-pushes useless under the slightest lateral movement.

    I look forward to the energy the Canucks consistently show when Schneider is in net. He is the better student and if we could get someone to take Luongo off our hands it may be the ballsiest move a GM has ever made. Of course it won't happen as Lou is "one of the best goalies in the world" just not an all-star.

    Oh, I have to go... The Kool-Aid is ready...

  22. RhadLife, going high on goaltenders is a little like jumping on a Goombas heads--it's how you beat them. Luongo is no more susceptible to picking the top corner than any other goalie.

  23. I guess energy means nothing without finish... But enough about Mason Raymond... Great energy in Manhattan & St. Paul but Luongo gets the last laugh with the only 2 wins on the road trip. To clarify, I just would like him to stay big AS he goes down. The way he compresses into a puddle before popping back up is what makes him more susceptible to beating beat up top. Maybe he could lean on his stick while it blocks the five-hole and it will kill two birds with one stone.

    Schneider will hopefully get traded to a good team, preferably to one back east who we play once or twice a year and not one that we meet in the Stanley Cup Finals... The irony would be way too easy for every writer in this city.

    Getting back to Raymond... Why is he not being dangled as trade bait... I'll give my wife credit as she saw the end of this movie way closer to the beginning. Ya he has speed but this is hockey, not speed skating. He has no idea how to utilize his speed. Or should I say that he has forgotten what worked for him last year: speed down the wing drawing both the defenseman and winger to overpursue, then pull up, protect the puck and make a high percentage pass laterally across the ice to the late man that could not keep up to his speed. Instead he is back to low percentage shots from the goal line and shits from the wing that miss the net - both ending up in breakout passes for the opposition. When those two options fail, the weak, wobbling passes back to the blueline end up causing unnecessary havoc. I guess it's not his fault as protecting the puck is pretty difficult when you get bumped off the puck like a figure skater while forever losing the edge that appears to be grinder right off when asking for his skates to be sharpened. I'd get into his defensive zone play but chasing the puck and not actually covering anyone is the best a guy can do until the puck somehow gets out of our zone.

    Tambellini may not be the answer longterm but the guy is more economical, makes smart plays, hits as much as a small guy can and can hit the net. Once Vigneaut remembers that Jannick, Kes and Tamby is the second line that worked or even Tamby with the twins and Burr with Hansen & Kesler, Gillis can send Raymond to Calgary for Morrison and correct 2 mistakes at once while solidifying all 4 lines.

    The moral of this story... Losses are good now when wins are most important in April, May & June.


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