Wednesday, February 09, 2011

I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Ducks, February 09, 2011

Canucks 3 - 4 Ducks

It feels like it's been forever since we've watched the Canucks suffer a home regulation loss, and I'm a little uncertain of how to feel about it. At this point in the season, it's not unlike like being gored by a unicorn: sure, it's undesired, but it's so rare that you're kind of impressed. Only the fourth time this season the Canucks have skated away from a home game without a point, it's pretty hard to muster up the usual fan despair. Heck, the Red Wings lost too, so the only thing on which the Canucks missed out was stretching their nine-point Western Conference lead into an eleven-point lead. They were going to lose eventually, and despite the brush with inevitability, they remain in pretty good standing. I watched this game:

  • Of course, for reasonable, like-minded people that are finding it difficult to freak out at this loss, we have the terrifying problem of Dan Hamhuis's addition to the list of broken Canucks. Hamhuis is the backbone of the Canucks' defense corps; without him, the Canucks defense is an invertebrate. Hit from behind by Ryan Getzlaf, Hamhuis briefly went unconscious, which is not ideal, because he wasn't getting his wisdom teeth removed. Of course, while he was in the dreamworld, because he's such a community-oriented guy, he helped a young girl rescue her brother from Jareth, King of the Goblins, but that's another story for another time.
  • The hit wasn't dirty. For people looking to cast blame: there is none. In a high-speed sport, accidents happen. Ryan Getzlaf was finishing a check, a move for which all coaches would applaud him. Yes, he was briefly off his feet, but it looks to me like it was the contact with Hamhuis--not his innate wickedness--that caused him to catch air. Some say Hamhuis shouldn't have turned away, but let's get serious. Do these same people curse out their kneecap when it jumps at the tap of a doctor's tendon hammer? Bracing oneself for impact is a natural reflex of the body. I'm sure Dan Hamhuis, a professional hockey player, would be the first one to tell you not to turn like that, but in a split second, the body doesn't always cooperate with the mind. Let's just hope he's okay and move on. Getzlaf isn't a dirty player.
  • What he is, however, is a remarkable player. His pass on the Ducks' third goal was dangerously close to Wizardous Sedinerie, as he cribbed a page from Henrik's book of spells (otherwise known as the Nyturan Demonta), perfectly executing a swiveling backpass to Bobby Ryan. Ryan impressed also, receiving and burying that pass entirely on the backhand. I've heard rumblings that the Canucks can't handle the Perry-Getzlaf-Ryan line and that this is some sort of fatal flaw, but who can? They're one of the best lines in hockey, and there's no shame when they burn you. Let's try to give credit when due. Getzlaf is a superstar, and in his first game back from injury, he made sure we knew it. That said, when you steal Henrik's book of spells, you free some pretty malevolent spirits, so Getzlaf should expect some Evil Dead-style demonic high jinks.
  • Speaking of malevolent spirits, a theory about these sudden injury troubles: for years, Sami Salo has been possessed by an injury demon. It's decades-old; it once lived in Bobby Orr's knees. Anyway, while rehabbing the Achilles injury, Salo finally rid it from his body, but the demon remains in the bowels of Rogers Arena, jumping from defenceman to defenceman, looking for a suitable host. Someone call Max Von Sydow.
  • Christian Ehrhoff had an ugly game, on the ice for three of Anaheim's four goals on the evening and, in each case, the guy caught behind the play. He wasn't always the one to blame, but not once was he the last man back, and that's concerning. His rush-jumpy tendencies may fly when burgeoning superstar Alex Edler is the watchman, but when it's Chris Tanev or Aaron Rome, you might want to stay a little closer to home. With the blueline decimated by injuries, now is not the time for Ehrhoffian defensive offensivity. It's the time for sound defensive play.
  • Speaking of Chris Tanev, he continues to look wise beyond his years. Is he in sync with the Sedins already? In this game, he pulled off Kevin Bieksa's jump through the middle and a slap-pass from the point to Daniel. Neither resulted in a goal, but still, these are specialized set plays. Not since Neo learned kung-fu have I seen someone learn something so complicated so quickly. I think Tanev might be The One. He doesn't even see the game; he's sees phosphorescent lines of code.
  • Alarming thought which is no longer as alarming as it once was: Kevin Bieksa is now the rock of our defense corps. #JuiceWillSaveUs
  • Jannik Hansen's high-pitched monotone gets me every time. During an intermission interview with Kristin Reid, he coughed, and his pitch didn't change a bit. That is commitment.
  • Lost in the loss was the fact that last night was a three-point night for Daniel Sedin. He had a goal and two assists, and his line looked great all night. He narrowly missed tying the game in the final seconds, too, if not for the puck making a Barry Sanders-level juke. Yes, Sedin was excellent. For folks complaining that the Ducks' top line was too much for the Canucks, need I remind you that this street goes both ways? The Sedins were on for exactly as many goals as Getzlaf's line. By the by, on Daniels's power play goal, Henrik might not have gotten an assist, but did you notice his sneaky trip on Todd Marchant? It wasn't a slewfoot; Henrik simply shades in behind him and plants his skate, and Marchant, skating backwards, trips over it. As a result, Daniel has a buttload (a Byfuglienian buttload, at that) of room.
  • Alex Burrows now has 6 goals in his last 7 games, and I loved the way he scored this one. Henrik and Burr do this all the time, and it works surprisingly often. Henrik gets set up behind the net and he just waits there for something to open up. Eventually, one of the checkers gets impatient and lunges at Henrik, and Alex Burrows cuts to the crease, and Henrik gets him the puck. The way Corey Perry played is is the wrong way to play it. The correct defensive play is to wait for Henrik to fall asleep.
  • Did you know the Canucks had 38 shots and attempted 73? It felt like they had about 20. I don't recall McElhinney making many incredible saves, either.
  • Mason Raymond's act is wearing thin. I know he's been picking up points lately, but that seems more a result of his linemates than his individual play. Somebody remind him that skating quickly around the outside is for Clara Hughes. Is he aware that a team's defensive strategy against any offensive threat is to keep him doing exactly what he does willingly?
  • Ryan Kesler had a good game, scoring a crucial goal late in the game, and winning 15-of-21 draws, but he had too many rushes end for him when he gave the puck to Raymond and wound up not getting it back. Kesler and Raymond had chemistry last season, but this year, they've gone in completely different directions. Often, Kesler's best stuff comes when he doesn't pass to Raymond, or when he's on with the Sedins. This doesn't bode well for Raymond. It makes him an expendable, tradeable asset. If he doesn't prove himself untouchable in a hurry, he's in danger of being sent to a worse team. He'd better pick it up in a hurry, or he'll find himself playing for a seller.
  • Speaking of acts wearing thin, nobody breaks up a promising rush faster than Raffi Torres. Far too often, he's a baffling, downright bungling presence. Watching him skate on a line with Jannik Hansen is like watching inspectors Holmes and Clouseau try to solve a mystery together. One does all the right things, the other breaks vases and falls down staircases.
  • And finally, I have never, ever in my life, seen two men chew gum with more ferocity than Mike Gillis and Alain Vigneault as they waited for Dan Hamhuis to get up.


  1. Your Labyrinth reference has secured me as a permanent fixture here.

  2. You weren't already? We rep your team 24/7!

    You're so demanding it's sickening, Captain Morgan.

  3. in all my annoyance last night I didn't even realize that Burrows goal was his 100th, was more interested in the fact he's scoring nearly every game.

  4. Mason Raymond + Raffi Torres = Chance Burglars.
    Same concept as a time burglar

  5. high coo too

    canucklehead’s bane
    hearing now the old refrain
    next year once again

    poming pigeon

    the poming pigeon’s twenty-five
    in full moult and half alive
    but still his bird brain can surmise
    “no stanley cup before he dies”

    his grandson clay is six today
    and wise beyond his age some say
    “canucks’ cup in o‘eleven
    before grandad ascends to heaven”

    and time will tell who’s wrong and right
    there’s twenty teams still in the fight


  6. Completely agree about Mayray. he's skateskateskateskatearoundthenetskateskateskate. no finish. ever. trade him. Kesler needs someone better than this. Mayray's just a raffi who can skate. At least Torres can hit and be generally annoying.

  7. @ 10:41 Annymous: MayRay is better than Torres because he backchecks properly and keeps the puck in the offensive zone. Torres passes the puck back out of the zone regularly.

  8. @ Harrison both could miss the broad side of a barn at point blank range

  9. The lack of production from the third and fourth lines can no longer be ignored. We have all been drinking the Kool-Aid and hoping that if the lads keep working and making chances they must eventually start to get the bounces and start scoring again. We have waited long enough. It isn't going to happen. Management needs to really evaluate Tambellini, Torres, and Glass. They have given us little, if anything since they stopped scoring a third of a season ago. Hogdson gets a pass due to insufficient experience on which to base an evaluation. Malhotra's success in the face-off circle needs to be evaluated in terms of whether it is enough in the absence of any other contributory factor. Does Hansen get a pass for the occasional goal and hit? Will Oreskevitch add grit to a fourth line which was supposed to be gritty but has been anything but? Is the energetic inefficiency of Glass and Torres enough to keep them on the roster? Do we expand the questions to include Mason Raymond's largely ineffective presence on the second line?

    There are so many questions that I can only conclude that the redesigning of the bottom end of the roster has failed and that, unless something is done, the Canucks are going to go into the playoffs with one and a half scoring lines, good goaltending and a defense that may or may not be healthy. The grit and scoring from the bottom half which we were looking for to make the team better than it was in last year's playoffs just hasn't materialized. I know this looks like panic after one loss but did Raymond, Malhotra, Torres and the others just stop producing yesterdy? This situation needs to be looked at before the wheels fall off the bandwagon completely and we end up with another early exit in the spring.

  10. Thank you for the Raymond stuff so I can focus on other things. I loved watching 2 really good teams go at it last night. I was especially fond of Schneider's play. He really had no chance on any of the goals and one might say he kept the score respectable. I really am going to hate to see him leave.

    Hansen looked great last night and I'd really like to see him take Raymond's place on the second line. Who knows maybe Raymond can actually get Manny and Raffi going somehow. I just hope he is the one Burke "really likes" in order to get Versteeg for Kes.

    Cody looked strong and determined as well last night. Shades of Stan Smyl. He will be loved here once his career is over. I see a lunch bucket with his mug on it in the very near future. As for the defence, I really am not worried about them... The depth is amazing and Hillis seems to have a crystal ball so welcome back Sami!

    I'm not sure I have ever enjoyed a loss that much in my life... If Bobby Ryan continues to be a part of rumouts may he make his way to our fair city please. Getz is awesome and who wouldn't kill for that second line. The road to a Stanley Cup is never easy but it should be truly exciting this year... April can't come fast enough!

  11. @ anon 12:14. Careful. Lets not get all CDC up in herr.

    Mayray's a talented dude going through a horrendous dryspell. He'll pick up his game, just not certain whether it'll be with the Canucks or not..

  12. i agree that the Getzlaf hit wasn't "dirty" in the sense that we throw that word around these days, but it should have still been a boarding penalty. he left his feet before he made contact with hamhuis (in my estimation anyways).

    in regards to mayray, i was never all that impressed with his shooting or passing -- i dont think anyone is, to be honest. his value is rooted in his speed, obviously, and his ability to create space and opportunity for his linemates. it's not terribly different from a really quick receiver being able to spread the defense in football -- he'll create opportunities for the offense without actually directly contributing.

    that being said, i think he's getting overpaid, to be honest. I mean, look at most of his goals from last season -- they're generally not products of a great shot or some sort of excellent raw skill/talent. I'd say a lot of them are garbage goals or products of using his speed to be in the right place at the right time -- which, yes, is a skill, but he appears to not be using that this year. Harrison has suggested he's a responsible backchecker, which for argument's sake I'll agree with, but that's not with 2+ million a year.

    I understand there is some sort of odd "let's keep up with the positive comments" vibe on this blog, but come on -- we're allowed to criticize players without turning into CDC.

  13. The thing is guys, you can't just say, "it was not dirty", period, because that is wrong.

    Ryan Getzlaf has every right to make the hit. I don't have a problem with that. I have a problem with the disrespect of using his arm to drive the head into the glass.

    Its a great example of the disrespect indicative of the current NHL. The puck is gone, the hit does not have to be made like that. Sorry. You are wrong if you are trying to argue that was a clean hit. Jamieson's current story in the Province, both Ehrhoff and Bieksa say basically the same thing I have been saying about it.

    Not as cut and dried as you try to make it. Sorry guys. Its dirty in the sense that he does not have to hit to hurt there. Most times in the league, the hit is made without the extra...especially after the puck is gone.

    What can you do but move on. But check the reaction of two defensemen in the article mentioned. Their take on it is important.

  14. vancitydan

    you have to consider that ehrhoff and bieksa might also be biased. they are teammates, after all. you're entitled to your...rather strong opinion, obviously, but hits like the one getzlaf put on hamhuis happen on a regular basis --- just not always with such poor results.

  15. Ha ha, "rather strong opinion".

    Take that, Vancitydan. Your opinions are strong. How do you feel about this? Adversely? Strongly adversely?

  16. Haaaaahaaa...can't...stop...laughing...ahahaha!

    Harrison, I love you...


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