Friday, March 11, 2011

I Watched This Game: Canucks at Sharks, March 10, 2011

Canucks 5 - 4 Sharks (SO)

With this game, the Pass it to Bulis California (and Glendale) road trip draws to a close with a 4-0 record. Clearly, fans should be clamoring to send Skeeter and Harrison out of Vancouver more often. The trip ended in an exciting and dramatic fashion, but I can't help but feel like the Canucks were the villains in this story. The Sharks showed energy and focus, and battled hard to come back three times. Logan "Bumblebee" Couture was constantly buzzing around and creating chances. Torrey "Jazz" Mitchell scored on an amazing individual effort that got the heart racing. Ryan "Hot Rod" Clowe managed two goals and nearly completed the hat trick to win the game, but all of them fell short, defeated almost single-handedly by Cory "Megatron" Schneider. Schneider won a game the Canucks probably deserved to lose -- and I would know, because I watched this game:

  • Give the Canucks credit for being solid in the offensive zone when they could manage to stay there. They played a solid game except for their inability to get out of their own zone, and their inability to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Normally, their transition game is their greatest strength, but in this game, they fell victim to the Sharks' puck moving tonight. The Sharks must have stocked up on iron, zinc, palladium and osmium, as they showed a lot of transition mettle.
  • The Canucks dominated much of the first period, before falling flat in the second. It's sort of a recurring theme. The Canucks are +28 in the first, and only +3 in the second. The thing that didn't go as usual is that the Canucks didn't Win Da Turd, where they're +34. Once the first period was over, the Canucks were outshot 16-42. That's insane.
  • The Canucks' first goal (above) came on some truly wizardous sedinerie. What was most wizardous about it was that the Sharks were checking them hard, had active sticks, and the Sedins managed to keep puck control. I've said it before -- the Canucks are best when they create chances, rather than wait for them. On this play, the Sedins, like Harvey Dent, made their own luck.
  • Still, no one's above capitalizing on chances when they're given. It seems every time the Sharks failed on coverage, Niemi was bailing them out with ridiculous saves. A couple even went in. On Raymond's goal (here), Niclas Wallin lost track of Raymond while Niemi lost track of the puck. It was a window of only a second, and Raymond deserves a lot of credit for capitalizing on the chance. Daniel Sedin's power play goal (here) was a clear demonstration of why the opposition should never ever give him time and space.
  • The Canucks started the second by allowing two goals and then taking a penalty. On that penalty, the Sharks announcers said, "Vigneault looking very calm on the bench." "I don't think I've ever seen him really lose it." I've seen him lose it. Tell him Wellwood's playing like a man possessed.
  • Man, the Canucks' power play generated a lot of scoring chances tonight, didn't it? It even generated some for the Canucks.
  • Seriously, though, the Canucks' power play was dangerous -- for both teams -- and bailed them out of a game they would otherwise have lost. The Canucks generated 12 shots on the PP, but 3 of them were on Schneider, so it was back and forth for a while. Still, can't argue with two goals.
  • The Canucks' penalty kill did well statistically, in terms of allowing only one goal, but they allowed 16 shots on 7 penalties, and couldn't seem to leave the zone. Cory "Megatron" Schneider was the only reason the Sharks' third-ranked PP in the league didn't bury the Canucks tonight.
  • The referees were calling everything they saw and a lot they didn't tonight. Recently, the Canucks have had referees content to put the whistles away, and they didn't adapt very well to the new standard. As a result, they took 7 penalties, including one in overtime. The Canucks should be glad when the referees start calling everything. It lets them take advantage of their superior special teams.
  • Besides Schneider, another bright spot on the night was Chris Higgins. The dude didn't log much statistically, but he provided a good screen for the Sami Salo goal (here), and adds another weapon to the second PP unit. Higgins is a three-time 20-goal scorer and those are typically nice power-play assets. In fact, Higgins is a lot like Wellwood -- a depth center in a checking role who can play a role on the power-play and jump into the top six should there be injury. Also, like Wellwood, he has something to prove. Unlike Welly, though, Higgins has the grit necessary to fit in the bottom six, so the Canucks give up nothing for his versatility.
  • On the subject of the 4th line, Lapierre had a good game, too. He lost both faceoffs he took after the first, but still finished 3 for 5, and logged three hits and a blocked shot to go along with his three shots on goal. Glass wasn't bad either. In such a close game, Vigneault still confidently rolled his fourth line. Love to see that. Love it.
  • Sami Salo has found his step again, hasn't he? He was victimized on the Setoguchi goal, but his missile from the point is back in force. More like Sami Silo, am I right?
  • Only two Canucks finished plus one -- Sami Salo and Aaron Rome. Dan Hamhuis was a -2, but he wasn't all bad, with four blocked shots and over 26 minutes of ice time, including 7:36 on the penalty kill. The Sharks were constantly pressuring, and sometimes Hammy just couldn't get off the ice. It'd be wrong to say he was out of gas, though, because he drives an electric car. It's much better for the environment.
  • Including the shootout, Schneider made 47 saves tonight. That's insanely good. Still, the Canucks weren't as bad defensively as the shot totals make them look. They were good clearing away rebounds and limiting shots to the perimeter... mostly. They got tired on a lot of shifts because they couldn't get the puck out, and that's when things got hairy. The culprit isn't their defense itself, but their puck possession and ability to get out of their zone. While at times it looked like a lot of things were wrong for the Canucks, it all came down to their trouble moving the puck up. Ask Gillis if he foresaw that the Canucks would have so much trouble moving forward.
  • Megatron (yes, I'm going to call him that) was good in the shootout, stopping all three shooters, including Kyle Wellwood, who seemed destined to score. Also impressive was Alex Burrows, with a nifty move in the shootout we've all seen before. He's got two "go-to" moves for the shootout or a breakaway -- one on the forehand, and one on the backhand. They usually work for him, though, so one has to wonder why he's 0-3 on penalty shots. What's the difference?


  1. Unfortunately, the Optimus Prime doesn't play for the Sharks anymore. Anti "Rodimus" Niemi is pretty good, but he's Nabokov.

    Many will say the Canucks deserved to lose this one, and I say nay. The sharks deserved to lose in regulation. Despite the refs best efforts, the game went to a shoot out and the Shark lost.

    The last two penalties drove me especially nuts.

  2. also good job filling in on the IWTG, Qris.

  3. Despite the refs' best efforts? The Canucks had six penalties to the Sharks' seven. JUST SAYING.

  4. high coo souffle'

    perhaps dismay

    the olde sports cliche
    snooze you lose to san jose
    and your fans betray

    or hooray

    six on four pk
    sharks tie with minutes to play
    in the shootout eh

    'nucks beat san jose
    post another win away
    they're the best today

    pigeon, clay

  5. Chemistry puns are acceptable periodically providing they remove instability and inertia and restore the firepower of the team heavies while preventing decay

  6. I was at this game! Really exciting atmosphere. I was sitting next to a really obnoxious trash-talking fan in section 228, and the look on his face after the shootout was PRICELESS!!

  7. Atta boy, Qris!
    Good IWtG!

    That wa a riveting game of hockey. I'm going to die of haert attack if we have to sustain 7 games like that!

  8. "The Sharks must have stocked up on iron, zinc, palladium and osmium, as they showed a lot of transition mettle." A line truly worthy of PitB & IWTG. Nice work, Qris!

    I watched the US channel coverage also. Their colour commentators were unusually fair for this game. Plus, I never tire of hearing other team's commentators wax poetic about the Canucks :)

  9. " Despite the refs' best efforts? The Canucks had six penalties to the Sharks' seven. JUST SAYING."

    Oh certainly, but I'm still not sure about those last two. Those last two penalties, soft ones as they were, gave the sharks the keys to the game.

    Anyways, not to say I think the sharks didn't have a chance without them. What I'm saying is despite this edge, the Canucks came out on top, and they deserve more credit for that then "a game the sharks the deserved to win," as many are saying. Teams that deserve to win usually win.

    so yeah.

  10. Transition mettle made me giggle.

    Solid IWtG

  11. The Burrows call was a makeup for Kesler high sticking himself which put the Canucks in the lead, so that's a bad call to balance out a bad call.

    The Kesler high sticking in overtime was high sticking. Not much you can do about it.

    There were bad calls both ways, and the teams rose above the reffing and had a great game.

  12. I can say this honestly, as a guy who has to listen to other team's commentators all the time: The Sharks have the best non-Shorthouse commentators I've heard of the 30 teams. HNIC has some that compare, but when it comes to specific teams, the Sharks weren't homeristic and they sounded like they understood the game.

  13. Barbara A. AucoinMarch 11, 2011 at 6:47 PM


    what is your reaction to kyle wellwood directly stating that the canucks are an immature team and hes happier on san jose. disregarding any truth to his statements, the very fact that he would say such things given the context and circumstances...what's your take? Is this guy just a passive aggressive weirdo?

  14. Wellwood may have a had a point... with last years team. I'm not sure his thoughts are relevant anymore.

    As for, San Jose, he may also have a point, but they're not the same team they were last year, either. They have lost key guys... One of which we've gone and made one of our key guys.

  15. Barbara

    It's hard to say. Seeing the Canucks' record last season in home playoff games contributes well to the idea that they were under too much pressure -- the confirmation from both Kesler and Sedin makes it pretty much obvious. There's no question that the Canucks lost the series when they dropped Games 3 and 4 against Chicago, and that was mostly because they lost focus and stopped playing their game.

    Gillis identified the rough stuff after the whistle as a distraction and banned it. He identified Luongo's having to deal with the media as a distraction and made Henrik captain, instead.

    After being on the team last season, it's easy to say Wellwood was speaking from experience, so I'll grant his comments regarding last year.

    However, he's got no business saying that San Jose's in better shape. San Jose brought in Dan Boyle and Rob Blake because they'd won the Cup. They brought Jeremy Roenick in because he had a lot of experience as well. They then lost in the first round. The amount of tweaking that's been done to the team, and the amount of pampering that the core of the team has received, is unbelievable. Bringing in veterans, changing coaches, changing goaltenders... the team has done everything it can to give Thornton and Marleau the chance to succeed in the postseason, and it's only because of the likes of Pavelski that they've seen the second round.

    As for saying the Canucks still have "lessons to learn," of course they do, but that doesn't preclude them from winning. Do the Canucks play like they're scared to lose? I wrote an article a while back about clinging to a lead and letting up, and how the team can't win like that. That's playing scared to lose. I never finished the article, because the Canucks just haven't played like that this season. They clung to a lead once against the Avs. Peter Schaefer scored the goal. Remember him?

    The point is, the Canucks haven't played scared. Maybe that changes in the playoffs, I'm not sure. But Wellwood certainly has no idea, unless he was watching a lot of Canucks hockey in Russia.

    The key guys in San Jose -- Thornton and Marleau, and a few others -- have always been easy-going guys. They're known for their composure on the ice, and rarely get emotional. Wellwood's the same way, and that makes him a good fit there. It's true that Thornton and Marleau aren't afraid to lose, and neither is Wellwood. Problem is, none of them seem passionate to win, either. I'm not convinced the "meh" approach to playoffs is the way to win, either.

  16. @Barbara A. Aucoin

    I should have a post on this in the next couple days. Short version: Wellwood's 100% correct--a year ago. He doesn't know this year's room as well as he thinks he does. They've changed. In fact, Vancouver's entire hockey culture has changed this year. It's been amazing.

  17. I was sitting with some ridiculously knowledgeable Canucks fans for this one. *ahem*

    All I can really say about this game is that Schneider was ludicrous, especially in OT. He would not let Vancouver lose.


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