Saturday, January 08, 2011

I Watched This Game: Canucks vs. Red Wings, January 08, 2011

Canucks 1 - 2 Red Wings (Shootout)

You hate to see a game like this go to a shootout. I did. After 60 minutes of the top two teams in the NHL strutting their excellent puck movement, remarkable defense, and fabulous systems play, suddenly everything that made the game so stellar is taken away and a coin is flipped. Because that's what the shootout is, really: a coin toss,--a crapshoot. So before you go blaming anybody for the loss (i.e. Tambellini, for missing on that breakaway, or Luongo, for getting beat by Hudler), take a deep breath and recognize that this game, like all games decided in a shootout, was a tie with an extra point pulled out of a hat.

Then recognize that, in their sixth games in nine nights, the Canucks still skated away with a point, just as they did in the other five, and just as they did in this season's other two intense games versus these Red Wings. I tell you, if we're lucky enough to see these two teams in the playoffs, I'd cancel Christmas to watch every second of it. I'm serious. I'd watch so freaking hard, much like how I watched this game:

  • Jimmy Howard was the game's deserving first star. He made 32 saves, many of the incredible variety. He flatly robbed Henrik and Daniel once each, controlled rebounds, and swallowed up shots like they were merchant ships floating above the nest of the Krakken. Then he stoned all three shooters in the shootout. He stoned them just like Jelly Roll. Howard was out of this world tonight, not unlike another famous Howard in red.
  • Were it not for Howard's play, you'd be hearing a lot of talk about the Sedins (or, the Wizards of the Coast, as per @victoriado, brilliantly). They were consistently dangerous tonight, especially on that lob play that they seem to have perfected. I counted about three times that Burrows or Henrik vaulted the puck into the air, only to have Daniel glove it down and start an odd-man rush. There should be a law against lobs that sweet. That's right. A Lob Law.
  • By the way, we've seen that play a lot this year. We take for granted the way the Sedins innovate ways to create offense. They're always scheming, from their set faceoff plays to the slap-pass to these lobs. I guess that's what happens when you share a duplex with a perma-linemate.
  • Chris Osgood is nearing forty, but you'd never know it. Not because he plays like a younger man, but because he looks like a younger man. Osgood didn't play tonight, but the HNIC producer couldn't stay away from shots of him sulking in the hallway, and he looks about sixteen. He also looks a lot like Ian Walker. Think Bif Naked is the victim of a brilliant switcheroo? Probably. Foxy celebrities marry athletes, not writers. Who does Walker think he is? Arthur Miller?
  • Keith Ballard had a fantastic game tonight. He was named the game's second star, which was enough to earn him about a whole two extra minutes of icetime. Not too shabby. Though he was only credited with 3 hits, one of the hits looked like this. That's good for an extra minute right there. Ballard had a solid overall game. He rushed the puck out of his own zone well, played physical, and rang a shot off the post that might have put Vancouver over the top. If we get this kind of play regularly from our fifth defenseman, we'll probably do all right.
  • Ballard didn't actually deserve the second star, though--Kevin Bieksa did. Juice played 24 minutes, seemingly all of them engaged in a cross-check fight with Tomas Holmstrom. Despite battling the big jackass all night, Bieksa managed to get off five shots, attempt another five, block three, and collect three takeaways. Apparently, like the marriage of Stanley and Stella Kowalski, Kevin Bieksa is better when he's fighting.
  • Both teams were clearly exhausted tonight, but I really recognized it in the Canucks. Mason Raymond and Jeff Tambellini, who normally fly, instead did whatever it is turkeys do to get around. The rest of the Canucks, too, seemed to lack jump, especially in the third. After limiting the Red Wings to less than ten shots in both the first and second, they Canucks looked like they just ran out of the steam. This is a team known for their ability to #WinDaTurd, but they couldn't keep pace with Detroit in the third period tonight. Detroit rattled off seventeen shots and had the Canucks scrambling in the defensive zone for most of the final frame. Were it not for the stellar play of Roberto Luongo, I don't think this one would have gotten to overtime. Like Kanye West, the Canucks were all over the place, but like Mike Myers, Luongo seemed desperate to salvage the point.
  • Jim Hughson with the Lord of the Rings reference of the night: "Helm couldn't smeagol by him along the boards." How does one smeagol, exactly? I've never heard this term before in my life. I take this to mean Helm tried to bite Alberts's finger off.
  • Though the Canucks' powerplay only scored one time (above) in five opportunities, they looked absolutely awe-inspiring at times. At times the Sedins threw the puck around. At times Kesler tried to muscle the puck through. At times, Christian Ehrhoff showed why he's the motor of the back end, zipping around the zone like Ben Stiller only wished he could have. It was fun to watch.
  • @GutsMcTavish24 observed that Todd Bertuzzi still has moments of soft perimeter play. Almost immediately upon tweeting that Bertuzzi wasn't "willing to sacrifice," DJ Dave threw on Foreigner's "Cold as Ice." How he knew to do that is beyond me.
  • I'm interested in Ryan Kesler only taking 12 faceoffs. He won 6, but for a guy who's top ten in the circle, you'd think he'd take more. Any theories? Here's mine: Kesler is the best skater on the team, and Vigneault wanted to start him on the fly.
  • Speaking of faceoffs, after narrowly gaining his coach's trust in the faceoff circle, Alex Bolduc is clearly back to square one. A few games ago, he was taking eight faceoffs. Problem was, he lost all eight. Tonight he took two, and he won them both, but do you know who else took two? Mason Raymond. Bolduc's got his work cut out for him; it'll take some time to regain that trust.
  • Manny Malhotra, on the other hand, was a faceoff machine, and in a playoff-atmosphere game like this, it was impossible not to notice. He went 18-for-28, but it seemed like he never lost, especially in the defensive zone, where he was 13-for-18. Red Wing centermen tried everything to combat his technique; they seemed highly irritated with how low he was getting. Nothing worked. Like a guy who wants to be startin' something, Malhotra was too low to get under.


  1. Shoot out so frustrating! Uh! I kept expecting exhaustion to catch up to the Canucks over January, and it seemed to finally happen in the third period. ...the sharks win was a huge surprise, but this is not the game I wanted them to tucker out on.

    You may be able to Happily sit through a play off series with these two teams, but such a thing would kill surely kill me. I need coaches gum.

    Lol, Wizards of the Coast. Nerdsl get it.

    Thanks for getting this IWTG tonight, Harrison. I know I wouldnt be able to get to asleep tonight without much needed PITB perspective.

  2. I didn't watch this game,so it's good that you guys did, thanks!

    "Jim Hughson with the Lord of the Rings reference of the night: "Helm couldn't smeagol by him along the boards." How does one smeagol, exactly? I've never heard this term before in my life. I take this to mean Helm tried to bite Alberts's finger off."

    I distinctly remember Hughson saying that Wellwood smeagoled by someone last year. If this means he bit the guy's finger off, he sure managed to evade the cameras!

  3. @ireene, Obligatory 'Wellwood will eat anything' joke.

  4. Meanwhile Iain Macintyre has jumped on the silly "3 stars" bandwagon. Does anyone honestly care whether players skate out after being named a star? Anyone at all?

  5. Debra cares. This all started with this lady named Debra who called in on the Team 1040 after the Calgary game to bitch about Luongo not coming out. Something about the kids, and the fans, and blah blah blah.

    I don't want to rag on the Vancouver media, but this is the stupidest thing ever and they're making the entire fanbase look stupid by propagating this nonsense.

    Any fan that attended tonight, watched 65+ minutes of fabulous Red Wings/Canucks hockey, and yet is still dissatisfied because Keith Ballard didn't do a three-second twirl can go suck a lemon.

  6. I am disappointed, but only for Ballard, who probably would have enjoyed taking a bow...

  7. That said, im watching a WW2 documentary, and Its makinf me feel a little sick that people would have so much passion regarding such a nonissue. Sometimees reflecting on terrible things puts our silly sports toils into perspective.

  8. solongo

    a further phantom fantasy
    (or a saturday night reality)
    a harbinger of things to be shown
    by forefinger screen and microphone:

    an end to ecstasy,
    assignments missed and leads blown,
    sami salo for shane doan,
    instant insanity,
    mr. scrooge describes an arc called joan,
    a fitting tribute to al capone,
    etc ( eee tee cee
    just so the rhyme can be).

    lui comes up shoit
    against detroit
    so so adequately maladroit!

    ch pans
    of the annual alsorans:

    as delightfully droit
    especially when
    hosting the wings
    ( hawks, penguins, bruins or flyers );

    as groaning groups of gargoyle choirs,
    or gyrating green
    much better unseen
    goofy goblin things,
    the offspring spawn of hulking sires.

    zen again
    to quote a koan:
    one ear listens
    while the other hears
    for all that glistens
    to some of all fears

    the answer is known:
    a cellular phone

    leave a number
    cucumber saint
    vancouver is
    just where it aint


  9. I admire chickenhawk's dedication...although it creeps me out a bit.

    Great IWTG!

  10. Great game. You have to think that as things stand, as both teams were last night, I would happily take the Canucks in a seven game series. Their depth would overwhelm the Red Wings over the long run. Unfortunately, we will have to wait and see what things look like in May and June. In reality, though, last night's result in one game is somewhat irrelevant. The real test for the Canucks will be to maintain their work ethic, will to win and committment over the coming stretch of games, all of which should be winnable but come at a time when the Canucks will be pressed both physically and mentally by playing so many games in such a short period of time, fourteen games in the month of January alone. This is the time when the Canucks' metal will really be tested. And when tired minds and bodies are most susceptible to injury. Let's hope that the world looks as rosy to we Canuck fans in February as they do today.

  11. Not only my name is an opposite to the previous Anonymous comment - but this comment as well... The Canucks depth can overwhelm the Wings? The Wings depth wasn't even on display last night - it was in sick bay getting it's jaw wired, it's hand plastered, it's wrist stitched, it's ankle fixed, and it's groins - well, let's not go into details there.

    I'd love to see the teams meet up in the playoffs, it will prove for a very entertaining series - but as with the shootout - You'd have to flip a coin to guess who would take the best of seven. And if the Wings are as healthy then as the 'Nucks are now... I'd be worried that that coin might belong to Harvey Dent.

  12. @Onymous, You make a very valid point. It's also silly to try and pick a team to win a playoff series after only 41 games have been played. Wings have yet to beat the Canucks in Regulation and the Canucks didn't put away an injured Wings team.
    We have an immensely competitive team and I'm enjoying that for what it is

  13. I'll tell you who wins if the Red Wings and Canucks meet in the playoffs: the NHL and the fans. Also, eventually one of the two teams.

  14. @Onymous. I understand your comments in response to my post at 12:09PM January 9 however as a Canucks fan I do not feel obliged to be unbiased in my thinking about the team. I still believe that the Canucks squad as it stood on Saturday night would beat a healthy but aging Red Wings team over a seven games series. But then, that's why they play the games, isn't it?

  15. I certainly don't want the Canucks to face the Wings in the playoffs... I'd like anything that maximizes their chance to win, and that's not it.

  16. Gotta beat the best to be the best.

    In truth, from a cynical fan standpoint, I guess I'd love it if the Canucks were able to avoid the Wings. But it would be a very entertaining series, and if they want to win a Stanley Cup, you do have to be the best team, anyway. That means it shouldn't matter too much who you face. So I'll pull for the matchup.

  17. @Anonymous I think that's fair. Fans who don't give their team a chance to win aren't really fans at all - and I'll agree with you that I don't think Jimmy Howard could turn in that kind of performance 4 games out of 7 - either way, it would be a stellar series - and in regards to J21 - I want to beat all of the absolute best teams - I want a cup for this franchise more than anything... but I want it to be battled for, bled for - and well deserved. I don't want it the easy way.


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