Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Flyers, December 28, 2010

Canucks 6 - 2 Flyers

The Flyers and Canucks were a good matchup on paper. Both teams have excellent strength down the middle and strong forward lines overall, a solid defensive corps, and comparable records. Some said, prior to tonight's contest, that we might be looking at a potential Stanley Cup Finals matchup. Roberto Luongo said it was a big measuring stick game. The Flyers hadn't lost in Vancouver since 1989. That is to say, nobody expected a retread of the Columbus Blue Jackets game. Mitigating factors: the flyers were playing without Chris Pronger, as well as, seemingly, motivation and heart. This may come as a surprise, but Chris Pronger is a good hockey player, and a team without him is lesser. How much lesser is now a valid question.

But who cares about the Flyers? The Vancouver Canucks dominated this game in every aspect, and, somewhat giddy, we watched:

  • First things first: just today, I sat down and compiled a sweet list of the best 50 goals the Canucks had scored in 2010. Then Alex Burrows went and made a fool of Kimmo Timonen (above). Next time, I would appreciate some notice, Alex. Sour grapes aside, this was one of the prettiest goals we've seen this season, and shows why Alex Burrows is not just a glorified tap-in artist. It also shows that he is a legitimate complement to the Sedins. Proof: his unwillingness to shoot the puck.
  • The Canucks riddled the Philadelphia net with shots like it was the last duck in Duck Hunt and they were afraid they'd get mocked by that stupid dog. 49 shots in total, including 22 in the first period alone, and we should note that they weren't just winging the puck, willy-nilly. They were putting up points like they were holding the NES gun up to the screen like a cheaty cheater who cheats. Brian "The Mighty Boosh" Boucher got pulled after four goals and a stinkeye (check out his glare, post-whiff, on this goal), and he didn't play too badly. The Flyers defense simply gave up more chances than a Monopoly board.
  • John Buccigross tweeted this evening that Ryan Kesler is currently the best player in the Western Conference. He's wrong, but the sentiment is touching. Kes is on fire. He scored twice tonight, and was a crossbar away from the second hat trick of his career (and this year). As well as he's playing, you could argue that he hit the crossbar on purpose to set up Jeff Tambellini. You'd be completely full of rubbish, but you could argue it. It'd be a bit of a Chewbacca Defense, but you could argue it. Kesler put up another three points tonight to extend his point streak to eight games, he had seven shots, and he showcased breakaway speed that would make Gob Bluth look like he was never a member of the Hot Cops. These days, Kesler is playing like the Canucks are the United States of America. You could say everything he touches turns to gold right now, except his silver medal.
  • Jeff Tambellini is similarly aflame. No longer aflame? Darryl Sutter.
  • But seriously, Tambellini is quietly riding a six-game point streak of his own, and he's been a solid linewife for Kesler in the absence of Mason Raymond. Do you think, when Raymond gets back, things will be awkward? I've been raising your kids, Mason!
  • Tambellini had a game-high nine shots, by the way. Toss in Jannik Hansen's 1 shot (which scored, despite clearly being a pass), and the second line combined for 18 shots on goal, 4 of which rippled the mesh. While we're on the subject, let's establish that I find "rippled the mesh" kind of a gross thing to say, because I wear nothing under my swim trunks.
  • Forgotten stat: Jannik Hansen continues to lead Canucks forwards in hits. He had 6 tonight, for a total of 70 on the season, just 5 short of Andrew Alberts for the team lead.
  • Speaking of Alberts, word is he left Rogers Arena with a bit of a shiner after Jody Shelley sucker-punched him. We at PITB do not endorse the sucker punch, but we do endorse classic ska band Five Iron Frenzy's catchy ditty, Sucker Punch. We also endorse punching suckas. The jury is still out on Zack Snyder's upcoming film, Sucker Punch.
  • The Canucks won the faceoff circle yet again, coming out of 66% of draws with the puck. The big three won their draws with typical regularity, but it's worth noting that Alex Bolduc also won 6 of 11, and wingers Samuelsson, Torres, and Tambellini all won a draw as well. I have a theory that the Canucks are grooming Tanner Glass for the 4th-line center job (evidenced, perhaps, by footage of Manny Malhotra showing him faceoff techniques), but Alex Bolduc is quietly winning his coach's trust in the circle, and giving the top faceoff team in the NHL (by a wide margin) yet another option. Bolduc had 3 defensive zone faceoffs, and you can expect that number to increase if he gets a reputation for winning them.
  • We haven't talked about the Sedins yet at all, but they were fantastic tonight. They put up 5 points between them--1 goal and 1 assist for Daniel, and 3 assists for Henrik--and they buzzed around the offensive zone like twin bees. (Sidenote: holy crap do you remember TWIN BEE?!) Henrik now leads the NHL with 39 assists, and he's on pace for 91. We all know he's gunning for 100 assists. He hates when he scores, because it's not an assist. Goals are secondary to him. They're even more secondary than secondary assists.
  • The Sedins have put together a string of fabulous games, and I can't help but think that the improvement in Alex Burrows' play has given their line a cohesion they had previously been playing without. Until recently, they'd been putting up points, but they hadn't been dictating pace with their typical cycle game and strong possession. They're doing that now, and when people are claiming a teammate of theirs is the best player in their Conference, you know the Canucks are strong.
  • The Sedins are so good that fans cheer like it's an odd-man rush when they come across the blue line 2-on-2. Have you noticed? We noticed. It's funny. Laugh at it.
  • Aaron Volpatti finally had his first NHL fight, and we found it adorable. It was nice of Sean O'Donnell to indulge him, as well as re-engage him after their first attempt ended in minor penalties. He held his own. Whatever.
  • The Canucks' defense was so good we didn't notice them whatsoever. Like Abed delivering a baby in the background of Community, they quietly made a major impact on tonight's episode. We often question the way Alain Vigneault metes out minutes, but when your top four defenders are playing exactly the way you want them to, you don't keep them from the ice.
  • And finally, a word about Ryan Kesler's second goal, which looked a little like he and Henrik were playing skee-ball, not hockey. Unfortunately, Brian Boucher did not dispense tickets. Instead, he was dispensed from the game.


  1. It was unclear, but I'm pretty sure the Canucks fans began chanting "Screw you Philly." I was so very happy.

  2. I feel like karma just paid back the Canucks for that game vs. Chicago earlier this year. I wonder if the Flyers have a sleep doc and he pegged this game to be their worst?

    That said, it was a great game to watch, but I'm still holding my breath until the next few games are in the books. "That's great kid! But don't get cocky." They beat the Beast of the East, but now they've got to prove that they're Best in the West.

  3. I'm sure your top 50 goals of 2010 list is in shambles now.

    And there's still another game in hand! One more chance for Wizardous Sedinery from the first line, some daemon-bloodied shots from the second, and perhaps some Hypno-Torres from the third (everyone obey Hypno-Torres).


  4. I've got a Flyers fan in my fantasy league. He posted about the game before, talking trash. I posted:

    Yeah, it went pretty well, I'd say.

    The Canucks scored 7 goals, the Flyers 1. The score was only 6-2 because with all the goaltending changes going around on Philly's side, Manny Malhotra got confused and scored on Luongo.

    Give him credit, though -- he accomplished with one shot what the Flyers couldn't seem to manage despite a full 60 minutes of trying.

  5. a "Mighty Boosh" reference?! well that seals it, you kids are 6 shades of alright in my books.

    and since Wisp mentioned Torres, did anyone else notice him having a grand ol' time on the bench watching the Canucks trainer tending to the linesman's scratch after the Alberts sucker punch?
    Such mirth in those buggy eyes!

  6. Steve, we totally did notice that! I was wondering if it was a Florence Nightingale thing and maybe he fell in love with the linesman on the spot?

  7. He was probably arranging a play date for his daughter. It's like Marge Simpson getting on Chief Wiggum's good side by setting up Ralph a play date with Bart.

  8. should be noted the Flyers hadn't played a game in 7 days - the longest christmas break for any team in the league, so obviously an argument there as to why the Flyers had a slow start and why they probably semi-lost interest in actually trying to score.

    but the Canucks still did what they should do to a rusty team so good news there. just don't think this is the real deal version of the flyers they beat.

  9. "The Flyers simply defense gave up more chances than a Monopoly board."

    I feel this analogy could have been continued, "As the Canucks deposited six pucks in the community chest."

    "Toss in Jannik Hansen's 1 shot (which scored, despite clearly being a pass),"

    I think this is a good illustration of why shooting percentage is kind of an imaginary stat in the NHL. A guy can miss the net forty times and finally bank a puck in off a skate, and he is a 100% shooter. While a guy who gets the puck on goal, maybe creates some rebounds, and is the victim of some amazing saves comes up looking bad.

  10. what to say
    came to play
    all the way

    brought the flyers
    to earth
    shout their mirth

    for this feat
    deemed the elite
    team to beat
    awful sweet

    and hey
    for what it’s worth
    hawks lose
    to the blues

    however dear
    you’ve still to fear
    the coming year

    eve before the fall
    she had it all
    call it karma call it fate
    chicago only has to wait


  11. I noticed the Mighty Booshers death stare too and imagine he was thinking how incredibly rude his defense was for giving up chances like that.

    Loving the GOB reference.. as in "go buy us a coffee!"

  12. I just noticed that Harrison and I completely forgot to mention Roberto Luongo's performance. Ah well, there's only so many bullet points in the world...

    Still, the Italian Medallion (Winner) was stellar last night, making 35 saves despite the potential distraction of his wife scheduled for a C-section. He flew out to Florida immediately after the game. I was especially impressed with his pads along the ice as he made several kick saves through traffic that were especially keen.

  13. It's been a while since I've been in Vancouver... do they employ town criers now?

  14. I may be old-fashioned, but when I feel like shouting my mirth, I still ring a bell and wear a tricorne hat.

  15. I could read your IWTGs forever! Never stop!

    You guys are now my favourite people on the internet for segueing in a Community clip

  16. great i just spent the last lord knows how long watching Arrested Development clips after clicking that link, thanks a lot

    lol that secondary assists link...I like to look at it and laugh daily

    btw "Italian Medallion' is an amazing moniker.

  17. I'll definitely be working "Italian Medallion (Winner)" into a future IWTG.


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