Tuesday, February 08, 2011

I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Senators, February 07, 2011

Canucks 4 - 2 Senators

You'd have thought, from the tone of the media coverage leading up to this game, that Ottawa was coming in with a bag over their collective heads, while the Canucks had been spotted a guillotine, a French audience, and a death warrant personally signed by Maximilien Robespierre. From the outset, this one looked like a routine execution, the league's best team up against, arguably, the league's worst team. Of course, that's not how it went. Rather than crush the Senators like the Crushinator might have crushed them, the Canucks jumped out to an early lead, indicating a crushing, then nearly lost it with some sloppy play in the second. As a result, this one was a lot closer than anybody had expected, myself included. My official prediction was a Canuck victory by the score of 50 million billion to 1. I wound up being off by one goal. I watched this game:

  • The big story was the play of the Canucks' second line of Raymond, Kesler, and Samuelsson, which appears to be coming to life like the denizens of Stephen King's Pet Sematery. They led the way last night, with 3 goals and 8 points between them. Kesler played the way he usually played, capable of giving straight men pause, and Raymond and Samuelsson finally looked like suitable linemates, using their respective speed and shootiness to great effect. The game-winning goal (above) was an excellent display of their reignited chemistry. Kesler fought the puck through the neutral zone before Raymond gained some room in the offensive zone with his speed. MayRay then fed it back to Kesler, who found Samuelsson in front. It was very cute, like Animaniac sister Dot.
  • Also worth mentioning is that Kesler made that pass with Jannik Hansen's stick, given to him after his own lumber snapped in the neutral zone. I wondered what Hansen was thinking while Kesler was using it to dazzle. I suspect the following: 1) Why doesn't it do that when I'm holding it? and 2) Maybe now they'll finally let me join their study group.
  • Not featured in this clip of the Kesler goal is the post he hit seconds prior. His shot really is something else. Not literally, of course--it remains a shot. Kesler has become a remarkable player. I'm downright salivating at the thought of what he could fetch us in a trade. I'm thinking a top-line, two-way, power forward center and a late draft pick.
  • On the heels of being named one of the NHL's three stars for the week, Mikael Samuelsson potted another two goals. His empty-netter to seal the win was a reassertion that yes, he will shoot from anywhere (joke credit: @MFitz24). Thanks for reminding us, buddy, but next time, gain the red line. Samuelsson is like that member of the sniper team that picks off the bank robber right at the moment the cop on the inside is beginning to get through to the guy, and the audience is beginning to sympathize with him. Then bam! He's dead. Not in Mikael's bank!
  • If you're not sure whether or not you're the squeamish sort, have a look at Keith Ballard's knee. Are you vomiting? You're squeamish. I've eaten licorice that wouldn't bend like that. Anyway, Ballard left the game with an undisclosed injury (early bet: knee) early in the first. The good news: this hardly disrupted Alain Vigneault's perma-gameplan of giving all Ballard's minutes to Aaron Rome.
  • Rome then exacerbated the Canucks' lack of playable defencemen when he took 1140 seconds in penalties for fighting with Chris Neil, and I have to give a ton of credit to Neil on this one. When the Senators went down by two, Neil tried to start something with Rome, and Rome smartly declined. But here's the thing: the Canucks have been playing with the lead so much this season, they almost always decline, and Neil was the first one to force the issue. The first chance he got, he took a run at Henrik Sedin. For those complaining it was in any way dirty (I'm looking at you, Garry "I only own paisley ties" Valk), it looked nearly identical to every Raffi Torres hit. It was fine. And, it necessitated a response, which was the point. Then, Neil smartly looked off Daniel Sedin, who was first on the scene for some reason (and took a Burrows-esque stab at Neil's genitals) before pummeling Aaron Rome. That is how you get what you want. The fact that it put the Canucks down to 4 defenseman for much of the entire second period (during which Ottawa scored twice) was a bonus. You may hate Chris Neil, but his was an absolutely perfect piece of agitation.
  • It's a small beef, but let's talk about Aaron Rome's delay of game penalty: really? Rome was lying on his belly when he swept the puck away. Can he really be blamed for the fact that it took off like a hornuss? I say no. If the Bible's creation story has taught us anything, it's that, once on its belly, a creature goes from treacherous to harmless pretty quickly. How can the referees not read this situation? In the third period, Roberto Luongo briefly lost his stick. Had it met the puck in the corner, would he have received a delay of game penalty too? The order to call this penalty by the letter of the law has only made the referees look like fools. In a parallel universe, they're the guys ticketing motorists for turning right at a red light.
  • Andrew Alberts probably wasn't expecting to play 17:10 (that's Aaron Rome icetime) last night, but he was pretty great in his first game back in the lineup. Alberts used his body to great effect (like Willa Ford), finishing with a game-high seven hits, two blocked shots, and a plus-2.
  • When Alex Burrows is playing with confidence, he becomes more than a Sedin linemate--he's his own weapon. On his goal, he looks off Daniel Sedin to take the puck to the net himself. The power move completely surprises Chris Phillips, who cuts behind the goal, thinking he's going to shrewdly take the puck away. Instead, Burrows finds himself alone in front, and shows a great bit of patience to put it past Elliott. There was an article in the Province only yesterday about Burrows working with Glenn Carnegie to take that extra second with the puck after missing four open chances versus Chicago. The extra work appears to have paid off instantly.
  • How about that 3-on-0 rush the Senators got? Granted, it doesn't happen if the puck doesn't jump over Daniel Sedin's stick, but the rest of the team picked a poor time to have a tea party at the bench. I was surprised Luongo was even in the net.
  • Dan "Community Man" Hamhuis was the big-minute guy, logging over 30 minutes in the absence of Ballard and Rome. He's such a good guy he didn't mind the extra work. He had plenty of energy left over, too. During the intermission, he freed Tibet.
  • I always wonder about the player that serves the bench minors. Is he aware he's in there because he's the least important? Coach says I'm the best at breakaways, that's why I'm in here.
  • And finally, you had to feel bad for the snake-bitten Senators, who hit three posts in about a two-minute span when a goal would have tied the game. Not since the cast of Canada's Worst Driver has a group hit so many consecutive posts.


  1. I HATE 3-0 anything. 3-0 goal leads, 3-0 rushes, hell I never want to turn the big 3-0. Unless it is 3-0 with like 10 seconds left in the game I will always be nervous. I am Canadian.

  2. 3-0 is only one goal removed from a two-goal lead, too, which, as everyone knows, is a guaranteed loss. It's too close for comfort, IMO

  3. so good one-liners thats for sure. i'm kinda worried bout ballards knee tho. hopefully he can come back befor ethe playoffs

  4. My favorite part of the game was when Jason Spezza was on a 3-on-0 and decided to take it himself. Honestly. I just thought it was hilarious. Here he is with two teammates, including Daniel Alfredsson, and Spezza decides to go in alone. It was almost a costly decision, as Luongo made the first save.

    It would have been less funny, of course, if I wasn't so confident in the Canucks ability to win despite not being at the top of their game.

  5. The difference between Henrik Sedin and Jason Spezza: for Henrik, it means three passes minimum; for Spezza, it's a breakaway.

  6. double-bubble gum

    a high coo for you:
    another day at the rink,
    canucks win four two.
    three two from three none
    home team hanging on by one
    empty net, it's done.

    ho hum,
    clay pigeon

  7. Was at that the game, was not fun seeing what happened to Ballard. :(

    Otherwise I enjoyed myself. The third goal was something else, because I had a good vantage of Kesler's stick breaking, the kick, grabbing a new stick, and then assisting Sammy. It's really good to see that line get their chemistry going again, rather then Kesler putting his wing mates on his back and carrying the line. I get Mayray is having trouble, but he's doing all the right things to help his line be successful, and that's all I can ask for.

    I get the 2 goals against bothered people, but I don't mind. Anways - that 3-0 breakaway happened because the Canucks were insisting on trying to take short shifts to shield their remaining defensemen. They didn't have the luxury of staying out and risking the exhaustion

    That second goal was just a nice goal scorers goal. I give full credit.

    Sedins were overpassing, which is unfortunate because they had some great opportunities.

  8. Two words I hear all the time "Amazing" and "Literally". When ever I hear people use literally it's out of context and makes me want to puke, nice to see somebody use it correctly. you do however have an extra 's on it right after.
    I also Concur with you about the Neil hit, he needed to get his team back in the game, it was the first time i really missed Rypien. I wanted blood!
    Excellent IWTG

  9. @Ken Yeah, he wanted Rome because Rome's crap at fighting. It couldn't have worked out better for him. I was kind of hoping he'd draw Bieksa instead.

  10. The cause of the 3-on-0 was the Sedins not recognizing the situation and trying to pass at the opposition blueline instead of dumping it in. You could hear the frustration in AV's voice at the post-game presser. He clearly implied that the blame for that goal was on Henrik. At that time in the game, having only 4 defensemen available, you have to give them a chance to make the change.

  11. @Harrison That would have been a good match up. You're right Neil didn't want that, nobody needs a superman punch to the face. It doesn't get the desired effect on your team

  12. A Senor Chang reference? It makes me so Chang-ry.

    I haven't watched Animaniacs in forever. Do they still show it?

    Great IWTG.

  13. i have no idea how you guys managed to fit a French Revolution reference and a Hornuss reference in a blog about a hockey game but dammit i'm impressed.

  14. If all I do is bitch about Lui and Mase now what am I supposed to do? Oh yeah I know... The reason Sammy fired a bullet into the centre of the empty net from his own blueline is because he is a pro... Now he can sit down with Raymond and have an in-depth conversation about hitting the net - especially when the guy playing goalie has no pads on... Seriously how did he hit the post from 5 feet with an empty net? It's like he spent too much time playing 3-on-3 with no goalie as a kid! Best game for Raymond in a long time.

    Lou looked very calm... Turns out he is just sick so he didn't have the energy to overplay the puck. He did still have enough energy though to continue his adventures with the puck behind the net. I guess you have to admire his perseverance but c'mon Luongo we don't care of you can't make the breakout pass. Please just stop the puck as our breakouts have never been so smooth for us in my lifetime. Thank you. No weak goal tonight... That was my favorite part. That backhand for the first goal was just sweet and a 3-0 should really just be whistled down at the blueline and a goal given as there is no reason someone should get hurt on a sure thing.

    Burr, Sammy & Kes just look like giants right now... They are really dominating every puck battle and their passing is yummy as the kids say.

    Did CoHo play last night? Hate that nickname... Hope his fate is not the same as a salmon as it would be a shame to go all the way upstream only to score and die.

    Manny will score again... As soon as Torres figures out wher to put it with #27 streaking to the net all alone. Is it possible that Raffi is jealous that Manny got a big payday and has less goals and that he has no interest to help him justify the 2.5? It's petty but it is clearly a behavior I have a hard time with.

    Great writing HarMoo... Takes a lot to get this grump laughing and you managed to do it more than once. Thanks.

  15. A chuckle here, a chuckle there. Then a guffaw here: "He's such a good guy he didn't mind the extra work. He had plenty of energy left over, too. During the intermission, he freed Tibet." Nice.

    I watched the Ottawa coverage. Interesting how different perspectives are from team to team. You know what I've noticed: the same language commentators used to appease Canucks fans back in the day--you know, like how they downplayed every error, and over-hyped every success--is what I heard from those two commentators. And I felt sorry for them: at one point, one said he was actually unimpressed by the Canucks' play last night. That, not long after he nearly peed himself watching Kesler's Hansen-stick pickup on the third goal. Totally unimpressive... Yawn.

  16. Oh, and can I just say this exchange (http://www.calgaryherald.com/story_print.html?id=4240289&sponsor=) suggests that while Hansen's play isn't sharp, his instincts and wit are:

    "Jannik was on his toes there and noticed I needed a right-handed stick," Kesler said. "It was a good job by him to get me the stick. He should get half an assist on that one."

    "I just got him a stick that actually worked," Hansen said. "See, it's not the player, it's the stick that matters."

  17. Hansen's play is plenty sharp. Sharpness isn't the problem for him; softness is. His sharp, pointiness is fantastic for pokechecks, not so great for shooting.

    That's a great quote from Hansen. I just wish it was recorded rather than written down so I could hear his wonderful high-pitched monotone deliver it.

  18. Okay, you're right. Admittedly, I am using a looser meaning of the term 'sharp', but for the sake of pointedness! Maybe a sharp post about sharpiness and pointiness is in order, including a reference to the sharpiness of Hansen's voice. Poor dear. (Medieval Danish axes were pointy too...)

  19. Hansen's voice couldn't stab a fly. Actually, come to think of it, it's awfully difficult to stab a fly...

  20. ohhhhhh Skeeter, that just put me over the edge.. Hansen's voice could stab a fly, that is one of the funniest things i've read in a long long time.
    thank you

  21. I've eaten licorice that wouldn't bend like that - That just killed me! But don't worry, I came back to life!


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