Canucks 2 - 3 Blues
There are many possible explanations for the wave of mutilation that has befallen our defense corps, and they all involve the unspeakable. This ain't no worldly happening, y'all. This is a straight up X-file. Here are some theories: Sami Salo's lifelong injury demon is the most powerful Hellspawn since Dakota Fanning; Dave Nonis is a voodoo champion (Cam Cole's expert theory), Rick Bowness is suffering the ill effects of a gypsy curse; while watching video on hip checking technique, skills coach Glenn Carnegie accidentally played the team a haunted video tape; Kevin Bieksa had a premonition and recently prevented the entire Canucks' defense group from boarding a plane that crashes, and now death has a list; or maybe, the hockey gods are trying to humble us. Guys, I have to know. Not so much out of concern for the Canucks, mind you, but because nobody knows what sort of evil we're dealing with here, and therefore, nobody knows how transferable this curse actually is. Am I next? After all, I watched this game:
- Forced humility by way of the hockey gods seems a likely explanation. Last night's loss to the St. Louis Blues was exactly the sort of loss that might have sent Canuck nation into a tizzy in previous years. The Canucks were sorely outhit, outshot, and outplayed, and a severe puck misplay by Roberto Luongo wound up being the difference-maker. Normally, this would be time to trot out the usual gripes about team toughness and overrated Italians. But, when it's your goaltender's first regulation loss in twenty games, and when your team remains a trillion points ahead of the rest of the Conference, it's hard not to shrug at the occasional whoopsie. I mean, the Canucks are 1-2 in their last three. Is that reason enough for panic? No, not really, all things considered, but such rationality flies in the face of regular Vancouver fan protocol. It's possible that the hockey gods are attempting to exacerbate each loss by tacking on a long-term injury to a defenceman, simply so that we will treat the defeat with our usual austerity. This is all our fault. Canuck fans: for all our sakes, please panic like you used to.
- If you're not sure what I'm on about with all this, let's catch you up to speed: in the second period of last night's game, Andrew Alberts broke his freaking wrist. He joins an injury list that includes: everyone ever. Everybody hurts.
- Unfortunately, the injuries on the back end are beginning to show. Give Chris Tanev credit for going eleven NHL games before people realized he had only played eleven games in the NHL.
- One of the best things about all these injuries has been the certain ensuing article about how it opens up cap space. That's like saying the accidental death of a plane crash survivor means more food for the remaining stranded, now forced to eat him.
- Roberto Luongo deserves a ton of credit for his remarkable streak, bookended, strangely enough, by losses to the St. Louis Blues. Don't act so surprised: compared to battling depression, it's easy to overcome wild animal attacks and natural disasters. Sometimes there's simply no cure for the blues.
- It's a shame it had to end the way it did, though. I was just going to write an article about how Luongo's puck-handling skills had improved. Suffice it to say, such an article is no longer relevant, as Luongo picked up an assist on Alex Steen's goal when he made a perfect feed to Steen while concurrently vacating the net. That's the opposite of what you're supposed to do. That gaffe aside, however, Luongo was sensational last night, making 31 saves--several of the phylum "Hoo boy, wacky!"--to keep things close, including one toe save that prompted a John Garrett swoon over Luongo's freakishly long legs.
- It's also a shame that the Canucks' loss and injury party overshadowed the kiss from a rose that was a rare goal by the third line (above). After some impressive sustained offensive zone pressure by the reunited trio of Hansen, Malhotra, and Torres, Jannik Hansen was able to shock the world by putting in a rebound. Several people tweeted "Good shift by Torres." the rarest sentence in the English language, rarer even, than the 1287-word sentence in William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! Torres didn't look too bad last night. Here's hoping he's beginning to trend upwards.
- I remain unconvinced the Canucks can't keep both Bieksa and Ehrhoff somehow, but if you're wondering which of the two should be kept, consider that Ehrhoff has looked a little shaky without Edler, while Bieksa, even without Hamhuis, remains the best breakup artist since Dashboard Confessional. On one rush, Bieksa hurried back to turn a 2-on-1 into a 2-on-2, then somehow put himself in perfect position to break up a saucer pass to the trailer. It was sort of amazing. Anyway, Christian Ehrhoff still finished as the high-minute man, logging an obscene 29:16, but Bieksa probably would have eclipsed thirty, had he not spent four minutes in the penalty box.
- Speaking of the penalty box, I didn't particularly care for the reffing in last night's game. They called some stuff they shouldn't have (Kevin Bieksa's slash) and they missed a bunch of blatant calls (like a handful of holds on the Sedins, or Samuelsson's dangerous crosscheck). That's not why the Canucks lost, though, so we'll move on.
- The Canucks' first goal was yet another instance where one Sedin picked up a point while the other didn't. This has happened a lot this season. Daniel remains five points up on his brother, which is just strange to me. Is this evidence of a rift? I say yes. We all know Daniel Sedin is out for blood and often imagines strangling his brother to death. Rumour has it, every night, in the Sedins' shared dreamspace, Daniel tries to use inception to convince Henrik he should retire, and Henrik is sick of it.
- Manny Malhotra won most of his faceoffs again, going 12-for-16. Of note: he went 9-for-12 in the defensive zone, 3-for-4 in the neutral zone, and 0-for-0 in the offensive zone. Again, that's 16 faceoffs, none inside the opponent's blue line. I hate to say Skeeter was right (I really do), so I won't. But let it remain implied. Malhotra spends less time in the offensive zone than the Jonas Brothers.
- The game-tying goal that was waved off in the dying seconds of the game was probably right not to count. While Kevin Bieksa's ability to move an entire pile of adult men with one superman punch is impressive, it seems kind of against the rules. But if Jannik Hansen ever needs him to punch Team Rocket into space, it's good to know it'll be a piece of cake for him.
- And finally: Victor Oreskovich needs to finish the night with more than one hit, especially on a night when the Blues outhit the Canucks by a margin of 2-to-1.