January 14 2014 12:09AM
There was a lot of talk leading up to Monday night's game in LA as to what the Vancouver Canucks would do in response to Dustin Brown's most recent shenanigans. I did my part in perpetuating the talk by devoting a large chunk of the game preview to it (mostly because I figured there was at least a decent chance that we could see them really muck it up), but I still wasn't necessarily convinced that we'd see what most fans were clamouring for ever since the incident in question took place.
The Canucks - despite being billed as a tougher team that would play with an edge and wouldn't be bullied by bigger opponents from the day John Tortorella was hired - hadn't exactly lived up to the hype on that front this season (except for that one time in November, against these same Kings). They also had a chance to tie the Kings in the standings with a regulation win, which made me question whether they'd throw caution to the wind and go all out for the retribution.
I guess I should've stuck with my gut instinct, because that's exactly what happened. The Canucks may've lost the hockey game by a score of 1-0, but in the grand scheme of things I think we can put an asterisk beside this one, because they put a lot of the "soft" talk to rest. Lose a battle, win the war? We'll see.
A lot of things took place at the Staples Center on Monday night. We'll let the fine collection of Vines, GIFs, and funny tweets speak for themselves, because they're top notch and quite frankly far more entertaining than anything I could say with my words. Read on past the jump for the goods, and in the meantime, I think I'm going to have a smoke.
We didn't have to wait long to see how the Canucks would respond, with Zack Kassian lining up next to Dustin Brown on the opening faceoff. The cameras showed him moving his mouth a lot, probably spewing all sorts of filthy gibberish Brown's way. As soon as the puck was dropped he stuck his stick between Brown's legs, eventually pulling him down and nonsensically taking a hooking penalty just 9 seconds in. I joked at the time that something like that wouldn't dissuade Brown from pulling the sorts of stunts that he has in the past, but as it turns out that was just a sign of things to come..
Shortly thereafter, Jordan Nolan took a nice long run at Henrik Sedin (who he seems to have a personal vendetta against based on his past actions), then refused to answer the bell, turtling in cowardly fashion when Top Sixtito approached him on the ensuing faceoff. Unfortunately for Nolan, "no" wasn't something Sixtito was willing to hear:
This Vine, and all of the others, are via Thomas Drance .
Before we let Nolan off the hook and move on, let this further show that there's really no such thing as a "code" amongst fighters. Jordan Nolan has 36 fights since he turned pro back in 2010, and while he's a decent enough player on a 4th line, I think it's fair to assume that he considers himself a fighter who abides by this mythical code. I would love for someone to ask him which passage says that you can take a big run at an opposing team's star player, and then refuse to fight when the time comes. Total rubbish.
As for Sestito believe me when I say that we're far from done talking about him, but before we get to that let's quickly recap all of the other tomfoolery. Henrik Sedin went on to take a hooking penalty a few minutes later, giving the Canucks 31 penalty minutes as a team before the 1st period had even reached its halfway point.
They escaped these first 11 minutes or so of the game (which was like nothing I've ever seen before) unscathed, having only given up a handle of shots to a meek Kings man advantage. As has been the case for the majority of the season, the team's penalty killing unit was probably it's biggest weapon on the night, aside from their fists I guess. Through all of that PK time they only really surrendered one quality scoring chance against, a Jeff Carter breakaway, which was matched on the other end when Mike Santorelli went in all alone against Quick. Somehow, despite playing with one less player for essentially half of the period, the Canucks held an 8-7 advantage in shots on goal at intermission.
The Kings PP is about as fearsome as Jordan Nolan after he's taken a run at a star player.— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) January 14, 2014
Those first 20 minutes of play - which seemingly took forever to actually unfold in real time - were something I don't think I'll soon forget. And that comes from someone who really isn't a proponent of fighting. But this was something else.. this was awesome. It feels like Twitter was created for spectacles like this; I was feverishly refreshing my timeline the entire time, soaking in all of the witty repartee.
Things did not die down in the 2nd period, as soon-to-be Olympic teammates Dustin Brown and Ryan Kesler fought just 6 seconds in.
Really impressive that both Kesler and Brown lasted on their feet as long as they did there.— Dight Kwing (@nickaresee) January 14, 2014
After that kerfuffle we saw Kevin Bieksa fight Matt Greene, which made Henrik Sedin laugh. Then we saw Daniel Sedin take a penalty on Drew Doughty, which also made Henrik Sedin laugh. Basically Henrik Sedin was having a lot of fun.
.. and then we saw Dale Weise slewfoot Drew Doughty, which is when the fun sort of stopped. I don't really have time for things like that, and I expect that he'll be getting a call from Brendan Shanahan in the coming days. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing for the Canucks; Weise went on to take an idiotic, back-breaking penalty later in the 3rd period, and is quickly playing himself into a permanent spot in the pressbox.
In true Hollywood form, Dustin Brown scored what wound up being the game winner just 24 seconds into the 3rd period. The Canucks didn't really mount any sort of credible comeback attempt in the final 19+ minutes, which kind of makes the late power play opportunity they had even more egregious. For some reason completely unbeknownst to me they sent out Henrik Sedin on the right wall, Yannick Weber and Daniel Sedin on the points, and Kevin Bieksa as a net front presence. I don't know.
You could, I'm not kidding, draw names out of a hat and come up with a better PP formation.— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) January 14, 2014
puff puff pass— Jason Botchford (@botchford) January 14, 2014
Image via Extra Skater
Believe it or not but a hockey game was actually played in between all of that rough stuff, and by the numbers the Canucks more than held their own against the Kings. While the result was the same as the one from 8 days ago, everything else couldn't possibly have done a more dramatic 180. Even before they started dominating the possession as score effects took over in their bid to tie the game up, they were neck-and-neck with the Kings in the shot attempt department. An admirable accomplishment.
I know there's going to be some people out there that won't be satsified with the loss, but just keep in mind that it's an 82-game season, and falling in a game that played out the way this one did may not exactly be the worst fate. God knows we've seen enough mind-numbingly boring 2-1 victories over the past year or two in which the goaltender bailed them out. I appreciate the entertainment value of the spectacle we witnessed on this night.
By the looks of the postgame quotes from the players, they seem to agree with that, and appear to be rather satisfied with their effort despite the result:
Henrik Sedin: "It was one of our best games of the year if you look at the way we were battling and getting in on the forecheck ... (1/2)— Ben Kuzma (@benkuzma) January 14, 2014
Henrik Sedin: "We did everything to stand up for each other and our goalie and for our teammates." #canucks— Ben Kuzma (@benkuzma) January 14, 2014
Torts: "We got squat for points but we crossed a couple of bridges in what needs to be done." #canucks— Ben Kuzma (@benkuzma) January 14, 2014
Tom Sestito's Curtain Call
.. and now it's time for the main event. Forget everything I've ever said about Tom Sestito in the past, because I think he's officially my hero. The man simply does it all, including posting the impressive stat-line of 0:00 time on ice, and 27 penalty minutes (which worked out quite swimmingly for anyone that listened to me and picked him up in their pool as a speculative PIM play).
Anyways, I told my followers to tweet me the ways in which Tom Sestito has changed their lives, and I got some good responses:
Sestito even got Kassian with the twins? I'm not sure there's anything he can't do.— Jason Botchford (@botchford) January 14, 2014
@DimFilipovic Does restoring my faith in humanity count for anything?— Adam Brophy (@rocketman_ab) January 14, 2014
@DimFilipovic without Sestito, the Earth would stop turning— Kevin Zecchel (@Orsaeth) January 14, 2014
@DimFilipovic if it weren't for Tom Sestito who would I get on the back of my jersey?— Jordan Henry (@jorhenry) January 14, 2014
What can Sestito do for you? A lot, apparently. Take a bow Tom!
EDITOR'S NOTE: These teams meet again in Vancouver on April 5th (for the final time this season). After that, perhaps a playoff series..?