Wednesday, April 06, 2011

I Watched This Game: Canucks at Oilers, April 5, 2011

Canucks 0 - 2 Oilers

After watching the awful game on Saturday between these two teams, I was initially pleased that Harrison was on IWTG duty for that game and I was responsible for this game. Surely the Canucks would put together a better effort. Surely they wouldn't lose to the Oilers two games in a row. Surely they would buckle down, straighten up, put their hand to the plow and nose to the grindstone, swing into action and and take the bull by the horns. Instead, like Buffy Summers (seen above), the Canucks were just going through the motions all game long. However, as our Twitter followers pointed out, when Buffy was going through the motions, she still won. The Canucks did not. And while I wish I had instead watched "Once More, With Feeling" again, I watched this game.

  • Through 10 minutes, the Canucks had 1 shot on goal, putting them on pace for 6. It was an ugly, ugly opening to this game. The rest of the game wasn't much better, as they never sustained any significant offensive and pressure and never truly challenged Dubnyk. Actually, I'm not quite sure who was out there in the Canucks uniforms, but they certainly bore very little resemblance to the Canucks that I have watched all season long. I suspect Mike Gillis sought out 20 fanatical Canuck fans amongst the various adult rec leagues in BC, had them undergo radical plastic surgery to turn them into Canuck doppelgangers, and had them replace the real Canucks as soon as they wrapped up the Presidents' Trophy. The real Canucks are busy training underwater like Team Evil from Shaolin Soccer.
  • Seriously, though, there's no reason to be concerned. The Canucks are, unsurprisingly, playing like a team with nothing to play for. While it would certainly be nice to see them continue to dominate the opposition in these final games before the playoffs, it's not surprising to see them play with such little urgency. The only thing they're concerned about at this point is avoiding injuries. Despite playing shorthanded for over 11 minutes, only one forward--Ryan Kesler--blocked a shot on the penalty kill.
  • Alain Vigneault kept his promise of getting Schneider into enough games to qualify for the Jennings Trophy, if the Canucks can hang onto it. With the game essentially over, we got 28 Seconds of Schneider, which, coincidentally, is also the name of my Electro-Pop side project.
  • On a positive note this picture of Linus Omark with the Sedins is absolutely incredible. The company that made the Sedins' tracksuits is still in business; Bruce Boudreau is their biggest customer.
  • Despite the Canucks best efforts to phone this game in, it was abundantly clear that they were indeed the better, more skilled team. They just weren't the hardest working team. The Oilers' first period goal with just seconds remaining was pure luck, deflecting off Ryan Jones' skate on the powerplay. They needed a 4 minute 5-on-3 to beat Luongo again. They seemed to be pretty excited about barely defeating a barely-there Canucks team, but considering they have very little to be excited about in Edmonton right now, I'll guess we'll let them savor this for a bit.
  • Noticing how the Canucks were phoning in this game, the refs decided to do the same. It was a poorly managed game from start to finish, as they waited too long to call coincidental minors on one of the many post-whistle scrums, one of the many reasons the game got out of hand and ugly. The other reason was that the Oilers somehow didn't end up shorthanded until the start of the third period. Meanwhile, the Sedins got tripped, hooked, and mugged. Daniel and Henrik discovered after the game that their loonies and toonies were stolen.
  • The worst non-call, however, came while the Canucks were killing off the 5-on-3 powerplay: Mason Raymond used his speed to get the puck deep and was attempting to kill time along the boards. His effort was cut short when he was slammed face first into the boards directly from behind. Nothing. No call. Gutless. I couldn't find video of it anywhere: instead, enjoy this blatant tackle of Ryan Kesler by Theo Peckham favorably labeled in the NHL video highlights as a "hit." Anyone notice how the arm and hand that Peckham wrapped around Kesler was nowhere near his own stick? The referees didn't.
  • Vancouver's normal course of action when a team is taking liberties physically is to punish them with goals on the powerplay. With the referees so reticent to put the Canucks on the powerplay, they eventually took matters into their own hands, taking some unnecessary and flagrant penalties. The double crosscheck that, in combination with the Torres major, destroyed any hope of a comeback by the comatose Canucks, was almost as blatant as Derek Smalls' foil-wrapped cucumber.
  • I admit: my frustration with the reffing initially clouded my vision on the Raffi Torres hit on Jordan Eberle. After some time to unwind and watch the replays, it's a clear blindside hit to the head. While Torres definitely had his elbow tucked in and wasn't aiming for the head (in fact making contact with his elbow on Eberle's shoulder first), the principle point of contact was the head. Torres will likely face a suspension, though I don't expect anything more than two games considering his clean history with the league and that Eberle immediately popped to his feet, played on the following powerplay, and is evidently completely uninjured.
  • The ice at Rexall is shamefully bad. The puck bounced all over the place, a severe handicap for a smooth-passing team like the Canucks. Ryan Kesler seemed to struggle the most, frequently losing the handle while carrying the puck, resulting in 3 recorded giveaways, a game high. Considering he now has only 19 recorded giveaways over the entire season, that's significant. He also whiffed actively prevented the puck going in on a wide open net during the Canucks first powerplay. Let's just say that it wasn't his best game, but he did lead the Canucks in shorthanded time on ice, won 11-of-18 faceoffs, and broke the glass behind Devan Dubnyk in the first period...with his wristshot. I've said it before, I'll say it again: the NHL should introduce a hardest wristshot competition at the All Star Game.
  • Aaron Rome appears to be incapable of passing the puck. It has become infuriating: he is very capable of making the simple play - the bank off the glass out of the zone, the dump-in from the blue line, the soft wrist shot from the point into the goalies pads - but seems unable to make higher-level plays than that. While there is certainly a place for a player like Aaron Rome, it's not in the top-four of a Stanley Cup favorite. Fortunately, with Alex Edler and Andrew Alberts practicing with the team and Dan Hamhuis skating again on his own, Rome might not even be on the ice to start the playoffs.
  • I'm honestly trying to think of some positive things to say: I suppose Ehrhoff and Bieksa were okay. Luongo made some nice saves. Unless Raymond received a stealth concussion from bashing his face on the boards, they escaped the game without injuries. Higgins still appears capable of playing hockey in a competent manner. Ugh. I'm praising competence. This was a bad game. Let's just all forget it happened, bite our lips through the final two games of the regular season, and try to survive until the start of the playoffs.


  1. Hooray for the Shaolin Soccer reference! One of my favoritest movies ever! (other than that, yes, let us not speak of this game again)

  2. Your coverage of the game was certainly more entertaining than the game itself. That you could generate so much from such a pathetic performance is a testament of something positive. Certainly Vancouver was everything but. I do hope you are right to suggest the Canucks will play when they've something to play for. This assumes they will remember how to play. As the Spanish proverb observes, “Habits are at first cobwebs, then cables.”


  3. Man, the Sedins look like such Ivy League dopes in that photo. I want to steal Facebook from them.

  4. Plausibilities

    Edmonton could run the table
    And finish second last
    Vancouver could prove unable
    And leave their fans aghast

    And Dallas too could win three more
    While Chicago loses two
    A dream Vancouver's praying for
    Thus avoiding deja vu

    And then of course there's Anaheim
    Who play the Sharks and Kings
    They could lose three in overtime
    Even more confusing things

    So here we are three games to go
    And who plays whom we do not know

    Whisky Jack

  5. I know the Canucks have nothing to play for in these games, but I'd give some credit to the young Oilers squad in this one. It didn't look to me like Vancouver was "indeed the better, more skilled team" -- Edmonton seemed to be winning puck battles, finding more open ice and connecting with their passes...and they looked a lot faster. These guys are already a pain to play against, never mind the next couple of years...

  6. I should have never paid money to go that game.

  7. ^ What Chris said! And I paid face. :(

    I was shocked at the ice surface. Rexall usually has good ice. Due to our northern-ness I suppose. And elevation. This time I guess the downside to spring reared it's ugly unfrozen head.

  8. I'm sorry you two had to see that game live. It was excruciating to watch televised, I can't imagine having to see it in person.


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