Canucks 5 - 0 Wild
After consecutive losses to the Edmonton Oilers pushed the city of Vancouver to the brink of martial law, you had to think a loss to the Minnesota Wild would be the tipping point. Fans, it seemed, were one poor effort away from killing one another for the contents of their refrigerators. Thankfully, the Canucks staved off a full-scale societal collapse by coming out in this one a little more interested in winning, and they were fortunate to meet a Wild team only to happy to help. The result was a shellacking that will likely quell civil unrest until the team loses again, at which point all the ammo and applesauce I bought will prove quite useful. In the meantime, I watched this game:
- The pregame awards ceremony went pretty much as expected, with Daniel Sedin taking home the MVP, Christian Ehrhoff retaining his best defenseman title, Ryan Kesler winning most exciting player, and Jannik Hansen being named the most unsung. The Presidents Trophy presentation was understated, except for that part where Manny Malhotra showed up, and people went nuts. Talk about crowd pop. It was great to see him. In case you were wondering, Henrik Sedin did not touch the President's Trophy, but I get that whole superstition now. Once you realize that it looks like a crystal bidet, I'm sure any motivation to touch it disappears.
- I especially liked Malhotra's Versace protection sunglasses. It was either that, or a diamond-studded eyepatch.
- Marc Donnelly is starting to mix things up. The other night he turned the anthem into a duet. Tonight, he did a different run. If he's trying to reinvent himself, he should call Timbaland.
- After facing criticism for a mild scoring lull to close out the season, Ryan Kesler used tonight as an opportunity to answer back with a hat trick. First, he redeemed himself for his near-infamous powerplay whiff in last Oilers game, where he double-clutched on a tap-in at the goal line and wound up blocking his own shot. He and the Sedins tried the exact same play again, this time with a different result. After successfully making amends on that one, Kesler spent the night bringing his wrist shot back to lethality. He scored two beauties on the rush with perfectly placed snapshots, going high glove side on the first and high stick side on the second (above). Kesler claims he was extra motivated because Farhan Lalji pissed him off earlier in the day. If that's the case, I suggest Farhan Lalji conduct all Ryan Kesler interviews for the duration of the playoffs, with every intent of incensing him: some feel you can't carry this team to a cup. Also, that you're a big dummy. How would you respond to this?
- Frankly, if there was any disappointing aspect to tonight's game, it's that Kesler's hat trick was met with alarmingly few tossed hats. Shocking stat: in terms of personal items thrown on the ice, the ratio of hats to salmon was about even. Not cool, you guys.
- Kesler's hat trick goal was his 40th of the season. Quoth John Garrett: 40 is an excellent number. I'm assuming he meant in regards to scoring totals, but he might just like the number 40. Maybe he likes how it looks? He's seen it everywhere this anniversary season, maybe this was a subtle plea for help from a man that's been driven mad by the number's constant presence in his life? He could be completely obsessed with it, like Jim Carrey and 23.
- Early adopters to PITB will recall that, before he and I became Scrabble buddies, Tanner Glass's presence on the third line offended me, especially throughout last year's playoffs. It seems the universe has a wicked sense of humour, as Glass appears to be have garnered a promotion in the absence of Raffi Torres. Soon, my worst nightmares will come true. Next thing you know, Byron Ritche will return to man the powerplay.
- Poor Jannik Hansen. First he lost his center to an eye injury, then he lost his other winger to a suspension. He did an admirable job on his lonesome, even setting up Mason Raymond for the game's opening goal with a beautiful cross-ice pass, but his gloved punch to Pierre Marc-Bouchard was a clear sign that he wants to be suspended too, so the line can be reunited in the press box.
- Speaking of suspensions, frankly, Greg Zanon's 1st period elbow to the head of Maxim Lapierre might have warranted one that stretched into the playoffs. Lucky for Zanon, the Wild didn't make the playoffs.
- Both of Mason Raymond's goals came on wrist shots after fancy setups, the first from Jannik Hansen, and the second from Daniel Sedin, but they weren't tap-ins. Raymond put himself in great position to receive both passes, and these are places he might not go while playing the wing. He was also the only faceoff guy to finish over 50% on the night. He appears to be adapting to his new role as third-line center quite well. It makes sense. There's a little less pressure to score, it's harder to get over to the side boards and circle the zone, and there's a little more ice. Mason Raymond really likes extra ice. Whenever he goes to Earl's, he asks the waitress to make sure there's plenty in his drink; otherwise, his soda is much too strong.
- With both Mason Raymond and Ryan Kesler flirting with a hat trick, and everyone trying to make sure Daniel Sedin gets the last touch, I started the appropriate hashtag: #passittoraymondorkeslerbutfirstpassittodanielsohecangetapoint. I had low expectations for it. Then it trended in Vancouver. I'm not sure what to think about this.
- Alain Vigneault rolled all four lines, resulting in steady icetime for everyone, save Jeff Tambellini. Tambellini played eight and a half minutes. No other Canuck played less than fourteen. When you can't find icetime for Jeff Tambellini in a blowout in the last home game of the season, it's safe to say you aren't trying. Victor Oreskovich might want to reserve an airport shuttle.
- Last night marked the return of Alex Edler to the lineup. He looked good, albeit a little out of sync. He also seemed determined to regain some lost ground in the hits category. He had a game-high four hits in this game, which, as Jeff Paterson tweeted, should answer some questions going forward. Questions like: who led the game in hits and In what category did Alex Edler lead the game? Also: which game did Alex Edler lead in hits?
- Edler was immediately returned to his initial pairing with Christian Ehrhoff, sending Sami Salo to the bottom pairing with Keith Ballard. This is the match the Canucks have been hoping to make all season, but injuries have prevented Sami and Keith from being together long enough to click. Looks like they finally get together in the end. If this sounds a lot like a romantic comedy, that's because it is. After the game, Sami found out he was the subject of a bet to make him over and get him elected prom queen. Expect a last act poolside dance.
- Speaking of bets, Roberto Luongo picked up his fourth shutout of the season last night, much to his surprise, and he told reporters that, prior to the third period, he and Cory Schneider bet on who would break the goose egg. Schneider picked Miettinen. Luongo picked Edler. Chew on this: what if Edler actually had scored an own goal, but Miettinen had the last touch? SUCH A DISPUTE IS UNSOLVABLE.