Saturday, March 26, 2011

I Watched This Game: Canucks at Thrashers, March 25, 2011

Canucks 3 -1 Thrashers

Seemingly lacking in motivation, the Canucks were not what you would call "good" against the Thrashers. They were, however, good enough, which is all that was necessary. With the victory, the Canucks set a franchise record for points in a season, with 7 games still left to play. Unfortunately, Daniel Sedin had his point streak halted at 9 games and 16 points, but secondary and tertiary scoring stepped up to fill the void. And, despite the two-goal lead being the worst lead in hockey, the Canucks sat back, rolled their lines, and dared the Thrashers to come back. The Thrashers did not. I watched them fail. I watched this game:

  • It should be awfully clear by now that the Sedins are terrible at penalty shots. With his first period failure, Daniel Sedin is now 0 for 4 in that situation in his career. You just know that Daniel wished he could decline the penalty shot in favor of the two-minute powerplay: Please can I have some teammates and opponents on the ice? Please? Actually, that's not a bad idea: in football you can refuse a penalty and take the result of the play instead. You should be able to refuse a penalty shot and take the powerplay instead, especially when you have the number one powerplay and your opponent has the worst penalty kill in the league.
  • My theory on why the Sedins are ineffective in the shootout: one of their main weapons is their renowned patience. They constantly pass up what appear to be prime scoring chances in order to create better ones. A shootout is anathema to them: you get one chance, you can only skate in one direction, and there's no one to pass to. A Sedin with a penalty shot is a little like a mule with a spinning wheel.
  • After five games without a point, Mason Raymond scored the opening goal with an assist from Raffi Torres and Chris Mason's five-hole. Torres makes a great play to intercept a pass in the defensive zone, attracts the attention of an overeager Johnny Oduya, slips a perfect pass to the streaking Raymond, then drives hard to the net, creating a perfect distraction for Chris Mason. Mark Stuart did a poor job taking away the pass, meaning Mason (of the Chris variety) had to stay open to the possibility of the pass. People will call this a weak goal and, to a certain extent, it is, but blame has to be put on the defense as well for playing the situation so poorly.
  • Raymond's goal seemed to give him a shot of confidence with sugar on the rim. He seemed to be everywhere on the ice and seemed to be developing some chemistry with Chris Higgins, who was originally thought to be a potential replacement for Raymond. Instead, Samuelsson may find himself bumped down to the third line if Raymond and Higgins heat up. Higgins brings a very different set of skills to the second line, as he tends to work harder and play with more grit, where Samuelsson has more patience and vision. Vigneault may have a tough time valuing his options: should he go with the Black-Scholes model or the Heston model?
  • Keith Ballard has figured out the secret to getting more icetime than Aaron Rome: play on the same pairing as him and skate more slowly to the bench. Ballard had a great game, making several key defensive plays early, hitting Daniel Sedin and Victor Oreskovich with perfect outlet passes, and finishing, with Rome, a game-high +2. He played 16:41, a full 37 seconds more than Rome. Clearly a big step.
  • Victor Oreskovich showed tonight why Gillis wanted him included in the Ballard trade. He played a physical game, logging 2 hits and winning battles along the boards, but he also showed some deft hands, getting off 2 shots and making a number of nice passes. His setup of the Bolduc goal, however, was merely an okay pass, enabled by the perfect outlet by Ballard. Also an okay pass: Want to see my final four?
  • So that covers the second and first assist: now to the goal itself. Alex "Howard Moon" Bolduc scored the eventual gamewinning goal with a gorgeous backhand. I haven't seen anyone with a backhand that devastating since Eve Cleary. Bolduc looked his absolute Moon-iest in his postgame interview with Dan Murphy, as seen above, not to be confused with my co-writer at PITB, who is at his Mooney-est at all times.
  • Christian Ehrhoff had a bit of a rough game: his giveaway on the Thrashers' lone goal was thoroughly unfortunate. It did, of course, give Roberto Luongo another chance to put the Snack Goal Principle to work. While Mason Raymond came just short of a defensive play for the ages, Luongo instead decided to try falling over, an unorthodox goaltending technique to say the least. I don't think it will replace the butterfly anytime soon.
  • Evander Kane was remarkable, so here's a remark: like an overzealous mob boss, he was putting a hit on everyone. He was only credited with 4 hits, while Dustin Byfuglien was credited with 6, but Kane's hits were certainly more noticeable. Kane was easily the best Thrasher, making an impact every time he stepped on the ice.
  • Alex Burrows picked up his 22nd goal of the season with a shorthanded empty netter. Hurray!
  • The subject of the first intermission feature was Dan "Community Man" Hamhuis, who looked kind and approachable in his nice suit with a golden tie. The last time he drew that much attention to himself was as a volunteer rodeo clown for the American Junior Rodeo when he played for Nashville.
  • As pointed out by Harrison: this is the 12th time this season that a Canuck goalie has lost a shutout in the third period and the 8th time within the game's last ten minutes. It's the only reason Luongo isn't in the top 5 of every major goaltending category: he leads the league in wins and is third in GAA and SV%, but only has 3 shutouts. He made some simply unfair saves, as seen in the video above, some of them more absurd than a baby monkey riding backwards on a pig.
  • Finally, because I know everyone will want to talk about it: the refs weren't great tonight. The Canucks did not get a single powerplay, despite there being many potential candidates, some provided by the Byfuglienian one himself, Dustin Byfuglien. That said, there's no conspiracy: the referees were not instructed to avoid giving the Canucks powerplays so that a team in a non-traditional hockey market wouldn't be embarrassed by the best team in the league. It would be career suicide for anyone in the NHL front office to try something like that as it would surely be leaked by someone. I can't imagine Gary Bettman or any of his cronies taking that kind of risk. Sometimes refs just do a bad job. It happens, especially in a meaningless game like this one.


  1. I saw the "Mule with a spinning wheel" bit on the Twitter - and was really excited that there was going to be a Blood, Sweat, and Tears reference in this IWTG - but, alas... it was a Simpson's reference. I must have clicked on the Kurtenblog by accident.

  2. OMG, I had tea going through my nose on the not-going-to-replace-butterfly remark!
    Thank you for yet another great IWTG!

  3. I thought Ehrhoff was trying to make kindling for a fire the way he was breaking sticks out there; definitely not the best of luck for him tonight.

  4. THANK YOU for the link to the baby monkey.

    To quote the comment below the video, "Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is why the internet was invented." It was AWESOME!

  5. fowl play

    the chicken hawk's annoyed with me
    the canucks have come between us
    so much in love are he and I
    yet today you should have seen us

    he squawked i was a broody hen
    I clucked that he could close his beak
    and best not get his hackles up
    or i'd rip holes in his physique

    he screamed the hawks i have betrayed
    and made a traitor of his son
    who posts on blogs high coos of praise
    about the team now number one

    he's screeching owls and whooping cranes
    i cackled clay is on his own
    he's bald eagles chasing seagulls
    a lonesome loon whose mind has blown

    when he became himself again
    he said the hawks are still alive
    i said that i agreed with him
    he said “they'll take the 'nucks in five!”

    although i did not disagree
    he looked at me and understood
    he shook his head and tersely said
    “you can't believe that they're that good.”

    chicken chick

    he gets this way just once a year
    it's always when playoffs are near
    and since vancouver won tonight
    we're sure to have another fight

  6. Hold on. Are Chicken Chick, Chicken Hawk, and Clay Pigeon a nuclear family?

  7. Danielson

    “There's no one to pass to” versus “There's no one to whom to pass.”

    Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.
    (Winston Churchill)

    The spurious rule about not ending sentences with prepositions is a remnant of Latin grammar, in which a preposition was the one word that a writer could not end a sentence with. But Latin grammar should never straightjacket English grammar. If the superstition is a "rule" at all, it is a rule of rhetoric and not of grammar, the idea being to end sentences with strong words that drive a point home. That principle is sound, of course, but not to the extent of meriting lockstep adherence or flouting established idiom.
    (Garner's Modern American Usage, Oxford University Press, 2003)

    So, simply because people are too lazy, sloppy or plain bone-idle to learn to both speak and write with precision we should just ignore the rules. I think not. PLEASE! Let’s STOP this perpetual dumbing-down of language generally, and of English especially. Let’s start raising the bar again (it’s currently below limbo height) by refusing to accept low quality, poorly communicative and generally sloppy English usage. (Bob Lewis, peasant and pedant)

    The smallest worm will turn being trodden on.
    (Shakespeare, King Henry VI, Pt. III)

    Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that’s the stuff life is made of. (Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac)

    James Thurber, in an essay entitled, "The Psychosemanticism Will See You Now," cited an exchange he heard in a Columbus eye hospital, a place to go to "get something in your eye out," to which another replied that you couldn't find a better place "to get something in your eye out in."

    Here's an example of a sentence that can end with a preposition: What did you step on? A key point, you might say the Quick and Dirty Tip, is that the sentence doesn't work if you leave off the preposition. You can't say, “What did you step?” You need to say, “What did you step on?” to make a grammatical sentence. I can hear some of you gnashing your teeth right now, while you think, “What about saying, 'On what did you step?'” But really, have you ever heard anyone talk that way? I've read long, contorted arguments from noted grammarians about why it's OK to end sentences with prepositions when the preposition isn't extraneous (1), but the driving point still seems to be, “Nobody in their right mind talks this way.” Yes, you could say, “On what did you step?” but not even grammarians think you should,
    (Grammar Girl, grammar.


  8. I love the IWTG feature but sometimes the comments are the best part. You guys have a knack for attracting bizarre ones. Kudos!

  9. It's true, madwag is nuts. Can you imagine if he was your father?

    You: Can you pass the potatoes?
    Madwag: Yes, I am quite capable of passing the potatoes. I will not, however, because you have yet to ask me to do so.
    You: Ugh. Can I be excused?
    Madwag: Yes. I am also capable of excusing you. You are not excused, however, as you have clearly failed to learn the lesson of your previous error in diction.

    Ha ha, just kidding. I'm sure he's a great dad.

  10. @harrison

    Background Music, Please

    Although we have a family tree
    We actually live in a house
    The Chicken Hawk son Clay and I
    With our tenants the family Grouse

    The latter are not hockey fans
    They like soccer and jai-alai
    But we watch all the games we can
    The Chicken Hawk, son Clay and I

    We migrated here some years ago
    Because of the war in Iraq
    Son Clay and I like the Canucks
    As does our cousin Whisky Jack

    The Hawk remains a Blackhawk fan
    And loves the work of Paul Cezanne

  11. Accounting references FTW!!

  12. Btw on the tweets on babcock. Maybe another point: why is he trying to get into Lu's head? Does he not have any faith in his own goalie?

  13. There should be a penalty in addition to the penalty shot.

    The penalty shot replaces the lost scoring chance, so it's a break-even thing. Actually, given that you lose the opportunity for your teammates to pt the rebound, it's a bit of a 2nd-rate replacement at that.

    So by giving only a penalty shot, you give the penalty-takers no incentive at all to stop tripping a player with a breakaway; quite the opposite in fact.

    Canuck PP is around 25%. Penalty shot success (in general, not Daniel in particular) is about 33%. That's only an 8% improvement w/the penalty shot, but *less* the chance that the player or his teammates (on the rebound would have scored.

  14. Babcock wasn't trying to get into Lu's head, the Nucks are the centre of attention for the media right now alot of the time, and Detroit had just played them. He was asked a question about the Nucks and Lu so he answered.
    On another note, Babcock has the most gloriously Canadian accent. I don't know if he's from Winnipeg, but he sure sounds like it.

  15. anyone else notice that at the very end of the little goal Luongo almost nails Higgins with the puck? Welcome to the team, fresh blood.

  16. @ Anonymous 12:19:

    Why would he mention the playoffs, and wonder aloud about whether Lu could handle the pressure? He could have just gone with the usual, "they're a solid team, and I'm sure they'll be tough in the playoffs." He didn't, and I don't believe he just slipped up.

    I think his comments still belie a fear of his own goaltending. Remember Nabokov.


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