Friday, February 25, 2011

I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Blues, February 24, 2011

Canucks 3 - 2 Blues

I feel like we've been spouting this statistic a lot lately, but the Canucks still haven't lost two consecutive regulation games since November. I used to be impressed; now I'm just annoyed. I mean, they keep alternating wins and losses, forcing me to point to this statistic every second game. No more, friends. Here's a new stat: the Canucks haven't won two consecutive games in regulation since the beginning of this month. In short, the Canucks are probably sellers.

Okay, maybe not, especially not after a victory (he said, sounding a lot like a shortsighted NHL GM). I'm not a fan of the alternating wins and losses, but I'm a fan of the wins, and I quite enjoyed the effort the team put forth in order to get one last night. The Canucks had another solid response game, bouncing back from the loss to the Montreal Canadiens with a complete team effort versus the St. Louis Blues. Every line was effective, Cory Schneider played great in net, and the Canucks fended off a team in dire need of points to collect two of their own. Additionally (and most importantly), I watched this game:

  • The Canucks' third line has been excellent since being reunited the last time the Canucks played the Blues on February 14. How appropriate that their chemistry would be rekindled on Valentine's Day (for inappropriate ways to build chemistry, see the Lonely Island). The third line has 11 points, combined, in their last six games, and has contributed 6 goals. For the slow-witted: that's a goal a game. If you can count on your third line for a goal each game, you'll probably do all right.
  • I was impressed that John Garrett's Hockey Know How segment (often a strange segment in which Garrett seems oddly unacquainted with the clip he himself has selected), managed to actually inform me for once. He went over the game-winning goal (above), pointing out the way Torres's hit on Colaiacovo not only freed up the puck, but took his man away from the net and out of the play. In fact, Torres didn't even really hit him--he just moved him. There was more, though. Hansen picked up an assist on the goal in the only way he knows how: with a pokecheck. Gosh, Hansen loves to poke. If he ever commits a serious crime, we need to make sure the judge doesn't order him to do trash pickup for community service. He'd have way too much fun.
  • Manny Malhotra scored the game-winner, which was a major windfall for him and his line, but I don't like the way people are talking as though he's finally contributing. Malhotra took 2 faceoffs in the offensive zone and 12 in the defensive zone. Vigneault doesn't put him on the ice to score.
  • Raffi Torres had a game-high 5 hits, a couple impressive backchecks (2 takeaways), and zero baffling passes to nowhere. Kudos.
  • I watched tonight's game with Cam Davie of Canucks Army, who is a quality dude. Just wanted to throw that out there.
  • You want to talk Wizardous Sedinerie? How about Mikael Samuelsson's goal, which comes by way of some remarkable cycling by the Sedins in the corner. Seriously, they make the St. Louis defensemen look like the Washington Generals. The Sedins cycled so spectacularly nobody even noticed they were on motorcycles the whole time. And make no mistake: Tanev may have been sneaking in the backdoor, but that pass really was meant for Samuelsson. Only Henrik Sedin thinks of passing into someone's gut, but that's what he did.
  • You might not have noticed, but Aaron Rome finished the game with less icetime than Keith Ballard. To quote Werner Herzog in Encounters at the End of the World, "Is this a great moment?" Yes it is. Ballard simply brings more to the table than Rome, and it appears that he's finally earning his coach's trust. Of course, Rome's reduced icetime might have to do with his play on the David Backes goal. Word of warning to amateur hockey players: never lazily sweep the puck to David Backes in the high slot. That's like giving a baby a loaded handgun. Worse, a baby with a history of assault with a firearm, like Maggie Simpson.
  • Another reason for a reduction in Rome's icetime might have been the pairings: after Vigneault built himself a top four of Hamhuis with Ehrhoff and Ballard with Salo, Rome defaulted to the bottom pairing with low-minute man Chris Tanev. It definitely didn't take Hammy long to return to form. He played a game-high 23:53, finishing with four shots, two hits, and two blocks. He also acted as a steadying presence for Ehrhoff, from whom we've seen some jittery play lately. Meanwhile, Ballard and Salo were paired together, which made a lot of sense. Once everyone's healthy, this is likely the bottom pairing for the Canucks, so it's wise of Alain Vigneault to put them together right away.
  • It was great to see Sami Salo score, too, especially in the vintage way they he did it. Nobody is better at shading in from the point for that exact one-timer, and it's nice to see this weapon return. Salo's shot remains a laser. Heck, it's not just any laser, either; it's a moonraker. Short of the golden gun, Sami Salo's shot is the best weapon in Goldeneye 64.
  • Tanner Glass only played five minutes in this game, but he was granted third star honours for his play in that time, as he finished a goal short of the Gordie Howe hat trick. He did, however, pick up a Tanner Glass hat-trick, which is a goal, an assist, and bevy of Scrabble jokes from the broadcast team (the best one courtesy of Dan Murphy, postgame). His pass to Salo showed some great vision, and his fight with BJ Crombeen gave the Canucks some life early in the first period. That fight, by the way, came after Crombeen claimed, just prior to the faceoff, that MENSWEAR was two words.
  • The Canucks did a great job of keeping Alex Steen, somehow the Blues' Canuck-killer, off the scoresheet. He finished a minus-1 and had 4 of his shots blocked, more than any other player. Think Vigneault talked to his guys about this? I do. Mind you, the Canucks were blocking shots all over the place. They blocked 17 shots overall, including 11 from their defense alone, and 7 from the Ballard/Salo pairing. It worries me to think of Sami Salo blocking a lot of shots, but now that his bones are mush, how much damage can it really do?
  • Welcome Damien Cox to Sportsnet, everyone. and stop throwing things at your televisions, that's what he wants. And you, get down from there. Don't you dare kick that chair out from underneath you.
  • Rough second period for the Canucks, but that'll happen. Look no further than the Blues' first period. I could have sworn the Blues got a defenseman back when they traded Erik Johnson, but it looked to me like one of their defense pairings was missing a guy for the first twenty minutes. Did anyone notice that the Blues gave up 17 shots and about seventy-six odd-man rushes?
  • And finally, Mason Raymond played a very good game. No goals and he missed some chances, but he generated more, and had six shots on net. I haven't been happy with his play of late (and I suspect, neither has he), but I hope he stays with the team through the deadline. If he can continue to play like he did tonight, it wouldn't be worth the jolt to team chemistry to bring someone else in.


  1. Yeah! That second period was just garbage but we have to give credit to the Blues, too, they didn't want to die without fighting. Burr a bit under the weather, but with D. Sedin being a pest (one of yesterday tweet that made me cry from laughing) he had to kill and kill and lend his place on the 1st line to Samulesson... who ran with it!

  2. "I feel like we've been spouting this statistic a lot lately, but the Canucks still haven't lost two consecutive regulation games since November. I used to be impressed; now I'm just annoyed. I mean, they keep alternating wins and losses, forcing me to point to this statistic every second game."

    And for two days, they had lost four of seven, which means they'd have 'lost' a playoff series. I don't like that.

  3. Yeah, it's not ideal. Granted, the Canucks didn't have a single complete D-pairing from their win streak. For a team powered by the D, that's a pretty big thing to overcome.

  4. An Open Poem To The Canucks

    teaching grammar to the flock,
    clay pigeon and chicken hawk,
    and reminding of your fall
    to motivated montreal:

    (winning's the present participle;
    it almost rhymes with principle.
    the main reason one plays the game:
    when winning one avoids the blame.)

    losing is a gerund noun
    for letting your defences down

    when being over confident
    you'll park your porsche in wet cement

    of course that's just a metaphor
    for apathy you shan't ignore

    or else you'll come to realize
    you're left with only alibis

    (because begins adverb clauses
    one uses to explain the causes:
    usually some reasons why,
    excuses that the facts deny.

    when some one else has won the cup,
    it's best for one to just shut up.)

    although it's only relative
    and second's but an adjective
    to finish first would be a feat
    to give your fans a needed treat

    chicken chick


    if not chicago, i'll instead
    be cheering for each knucklehead,
    which won't endear me to my man,
    who's forever a blackhawk fan!

  5. A Werner Herzog reference? On a 'hockey blog'? I'm so super swooning over PITB I don't know how I'm going to name my first-born: 'PITB' is a mouthful, and any variation of it is likely to get the kid clobbered on the playground. But then, it'll only build character... Which is what PITB has in bucketfulls.

    Thanks for the recap. The second sucked, though, anyway one looks at it. But it was character-building...

  6. @Anonymous Hooray for somebody who appreciates Herzog! Hold on, are you Roger Ebert?

  7. I've been legitimately impressed by the latest round of poems from chicken chick. Solid.

  8. I have to agree with Raymond's play... I like how he moved from the perimeter, taking higher percentage shots and passes. I also like the contact... He did not try to go through anybody but at least let people know he was there.

    My man crush on Schneider has grown yet again and I immediately wiped a tear when he received his second consecutive First Star as he is going to be sorely missed... He is such a solid goalie and has great character. If anything he is the prototypical player that Gillis has outlined. I heard Pratt & Taylor talk about AV's viable option to pull Luongo and run with Schneider if Lui has a meltdown. I really have a hard time believing that. The only chance Schneider will see any playoff ice time is if Lui is injured. He may not wear the 'C' anymore but he will be the one to go down with the ship if it does sink. Sad but unfortunately true.

    Hopefully no one watches what the Blues do to the Sedins because once they got their one point each they sure spent a lot of time in their own zone. The twins are long overdue for a stinker which some of the weak passes for turnovers can be described as. I love that their 'weak' game still includes points and a win. Basically shutting down the Sedins can now actually be used as a strength to open up other lines... Maybe I do hope other teams watch tape!

    One last thought... Any chance the Blues would flip Backes now that they have Stewart... I really love that whole line... Let's hope they continue to lose and make some rash decisions in the final hours before the deadline and that we get a chance to capitalize.

  9. "It worries me to think of Sami Salo blocking a lot of shots, but now that his bones are mush, how much damage can it really do?"

    I used to be scared whenever Salo was on the ice, but I've adopted a new perspective: Whenever he makes it through a shift, a period, a game, whatever, I take it like a little gift to the team and the fans. Since anytime he steps off the ice it could be the last time we ever see him, I just think "thanks buddy" and feel good about those 45 seconds or so that he helped us out.

  10. @ Harrison: No, funnily, I'm not Roger Ebert... I'll admit my esteem for Ebert increased 100-fold when I learned he was a fan and friend of Herzog. Fittingly, it took Herzog to uncover the value of Ebert's insight, much as he did for for the Wodaabe in Herdsmen of the Sun. (But now I am officially OT.)

  11. @Rhad: I think you may have won the Bulie version of Quotes Taken Out of Context with: "My man crush on Schneider has grown yet again..."

  12. Nice... I live for out of context!

  13. men swear. two words

  14. The American Heritage Dictionary defines "menswear" as "clothing for men". And while "men swear" to demonstrate their manliness no doubt, it could also be "men's wear" , two words which would necessitate a wooden block for an apostrophe. Maybe one for a hyphen should also be added to the black bag. The point is any suggestion that Mr. Glass got away with one is incorrect; however "more doughy", rings more truly than "doughier". Again, "blessings on the both of you" and let's leave it at that.

  15. THe tenth edition of the concise oxford dictionary indicates "doughier" is the comparative form.


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