Canucks Postgame: You Can Raise Your Elbows in Victory, The Canucks Won!

Photo via NHL [dot] com.

Okay, you can exhale now.

Less than 48 hours after playing what can only be described as a snoozer of a game in Columbus the Canucks went into the Nassau Coliseum and won 5-4 in overtime against the New York Islanders in a back-and-forth, wild ‘n’ wacky game. Other than a quiet stretch that didn’t have much in the way of happenings in the 3rd period this was a contest that was as entertaining as it gets. 

Once you feel like you’ve adequately composed yourself and gathered your bearings, read on past the jump for some thoughts on the eventful victory by the Vancouver Canucks. There are definitely more than a few things to talk about.

I know that there’s someone out there that watches nearly every second of every single Canucks game, that missed the first few minutes of this one because they had to take care of a chore and figured they wouldn’t miss out on anything. I know that, because I’m speaking from firsthand experience. That happened to me. So I can’t really discuss what happened only 2:26 into the game that resulted in the goal that made it 1-0 Islanders, but I do see that Andrew Alberts was a -1 as a result and didn’t play after that.

I walked right in as the Islanders made it 2-0 on a power play goal following a scramble in front of Roberto Luongo. By the time I took my jacket and shoes off and got situated on the couch, Ryan Kesler scored off of a big rebound following a shot by Dan Hamhuis to make it 2-1 just 16 seconds later. Good god, Evgeni Nabokov is terrible. Unfortunately for the Islanders the rebound resulting in Kesler’s goal was hardly the first time he gift-wrapped the Canucks a goal on this night. 

By the 9:09 mark of the opening period, the Canucks had tied the game up at 2 thanks to a nice shot from Daniel Sedin streaking by the left wing. He can thank Henrik Sedin Jannik Hansen for the opportunity, as a wicked tape-to-tape cross-ice pass made it all happen.

Unfortunately for Hansen, he took a nasty spill just a few minutes later and left the game. He seemed to loss balance as he drove to the net and a slight nudge from defenseman Brian Strait sent him crashing into the endboards. He didn’t return to the game, and we don’t know what the injury actually is at this time, but to me it looked like he maybe separated his shoulder or something. Whatever it was, it didn’t look good. It goes without saying that if he misses any extended period of time it’ll be a huge blow to the Canucks.

Remember the bizarro goal by Dale Weise/Brad Richardson on Saturday in Pittsburgh? Well, something similarly bizarre happened in this game when a pass by Weise sprung the Sedins for a 2-on-1. Daniel held, and held, and held, and held.. and heeeellllllldddd.. until finally almost reluctantly firing the puck on net from in tight. The rebound went right to Henrik who was jogging on the spot to bank it in and tie the game up at 3. If I were to tell you that the Sedins scored a goal on a 2-on-1 you’d probably think that it was a thing of beauty, but this one couldn’t have been further from that. 

With time expiring in the 2nd period quite possibly the most Kevin Bieksa-ish play of all-time resulted in a goal for Chris Higgins (43 shots on goal in 11 games now, I’m sorry but I can’t stop mentioning this stat because it’s kind of insane!) to give the Canucks their first lead of the game. He nearly sprung the Islanders on a break with a poor decision, but then kind of willed the puck into the Islanders zone, and fired the puck at Nabokov who basically said "welcome home!" to Higgins with the rebound he kicked out to him.

The 3rd period was a pretty uneventful one for the first 12-13 minutes or so. I’m sure that it was going exactly the way the Canucks wanted it to considering they were nursing a lead on the road. Ultimately the Islanders – with the goalie pulled and the extra attacker out – tied it up at 4 with 1:12 left. It was Frans Nielsen (!)  burying the rebound, and I’ll talk about why that’s important in much more detail below.

In OT, it was a nice rush by Richardson and Santorelli that resulted in the game winning goal. At first it looked like Bieksa might be credited with the goal as he was crashing the net, but as of now the goal has been awarded to Richardson. With that goal the Canucks are now 6-4-1 on the year, and 3-1-1 on their 7-game roadtrip. Next up is a rematch against Cory Schneider and the Devils on Thursday night in New Jersey.

Additional Thoughts

-If you follow me on Twitter you know that I really took offense with this tweet (and play by Nielsen). Heck, the headline of this game recap is based off of it. Essentially what happened was that as Kesler was playing a puck along the end boards, Nielsen skated by him and clipped him in the head with an elbow. Kesler fell, and the Canucks were awarded a 2-minute penalty. Nielsen went on to tie the game in the dying minutes and salvage a point for his team, so if you ever believed that there was such a thing as the "hockey gods", you might want to reconsider that..

It wasn’t too long ago that Alex Edler was suspended 3 games for a very similar incident. Except that I actually think Nielsen’s hit was worse because he actually appeared to prop his elbow up in the last second before contact, whereas Edler clearly tucked his. Now, Nielsen isn’t considered a repeat offender, so it’s tough to say how he’ll be reprimanded, but I sincerely hope that he doesn’t get off the hook here without anything. Mostly because I don’t want to hear about how the league hates the Canucks again.

-I thought that Zack Kassian had himself another strong game, which has been an upward trend since the game in Buffalo last week. He looks confident out there, and he’s letting his unique combination of size and skill shine. I’ve long said that his passing and vision are underrated, and now that he has incorporated some patience into his game, he is making things happen.

There was one shift in particular where he put it all on display and scored a goal on the doorstep, which was waved off because of that darn Mike Santorelli, who keeps goal-blocking his teammates. He played a season high 16+ minutes (playing a large chunk of his minutes with Higgins and Santorelli after Hansen went down), and was on the ice for 19 shot attempts for vs. only 9 against. Very encouraging signs.

-It was a fairly even game in terms of shot attempts, though the Canucks were definitely the better team at 5v5. Obviously the fact that the Islanders scored 2 goals on the power play (and another with the extra attacker) made up for that, while the Canucks once again only had 2 measly power play opportunities. I’ll probably write more about this worrisome trend in the coming days. 

-Roberto Luongo probably had himself the best .875 save% game in the history of all .875 save% games. He did give up 4 goals, but he also made some remarkable stops. If you don’t believe me, ask Thomas Hickey..

Highlight of the Night

Here’s a save Roberto Luongo made on Thomas Hickey tonight:


.. annnnd here’s Cory Schneider, who didn’t have that much fun tonight: 

Both .GIFs are via The Sporting News.

And finally, I asked my followers to come through with a GIF of Henrik Sedin doing the "Disbelief Dance" after being whistled for his 3rd minor penalty of the night. They didn’t disappoint (s/t to @keithisonfire):

  • JCDavies

    Wow, the Canucks beat a lousy team. I’m convinced they’ll go to the finals and win the cup based on this performance. Sign me up for the fanboy cool-aid, I’m sold!
    All the other top teams are shaking in their boots now!LMFAO

  • JCDavies

    Yeah, and Luongo really wanted to start another stinky goal per game. Hats off to Luongo, you can’t stop that guy when he starts leaking like an adult diaper. Such a big fat contract to play like that against the lousy Islanders. The Canucks must be celebrating with fine wine after a win like this.LOL

  • JCDavies

    When I watch hockey games I don’t always agree with the play by play guys or the refs, so I’ll go to a website like this and try to validate my opinions by sampling the opinions of others who watched the game. But when I come here I keep reading comments by hard puck city and nmoo something or other and they don’t offer me any insight into the game that was just played. Instead they just repeat their same opinions about this team not being good enough to win a Stanley cup. That’s useless and boring! I’ve read several complaints like this in the comments section and remember cam charron saying he liked the haters. Why? They are not entertaining. They offer zero insight. Why do you like them cam charron? I realize this is free entertainment and so I don’t feel entitled to anything specific however I am used to highly advanced analysis of hockey games with interesting comments from this site. I’m feeling like my expectations need to be tempered.

    • JCDavies

      Pray tell, and what do you have to offer? You don’t think the cool aid drinkers say the same thing day after day? No matter how you move the parts of a Pontiac around, it’s still a crap car. The truth is the Cup is not going to be won by any Canadian team for a long long time. Open your eyes Mr. Eyes Wide Shut. Why do you folks like to waste so much time going over the same trivial points day after day? Always believing that cows can win horse races. Analyze that, Dr. analysis.

      • JCDavies

        This is an excellent point, an excellent point indeed. I am a bit concerned that I haven’t seen the word shill though. That isa great word. Also LOL. That is also an excellent word. Like you, I feel that American cars are awful. Also that the blind should be mocked at every turn. Great points, very insightful!

    • JCDavies

      Seriously, I completely agree with you. I enjoy reading the articles but I continuously make the mistake of checking the comments in a vain wish that they will be just as interesting. Unfortunately they have about the same level of quality as youtube comments. Kind of sad for a website that has such professional analysis.

      • JCDavies

        But……what if the Canucks as a team are not interesting? What if the main players on a team are what you conclude as being the major problem?
        Should you not comment what you feel or should you make up lies and betray your own opinions and feelings?

      • acg5151

        I think Hard Puck and Surrey Bob are just hear to troll, but I do believe NM00 is a thoughtful poster. He doesn’t agree with the “cheer for everything” crowd and I applaud it. But I also the he/she is doing a better job at brining a more balanced perspective. Don’t equate negativity with uselessness.

        As for the other two, one is clearly an Oilers fan who will at some point reveal this when he starts talking about the 80s. The other is Surrey Bob.

        • argoleas

          LMFAO. What a two faced scat. Oilers fan? The Oilers suck as much as the Canucks. All the teams in Canada sucks, dreamer. Keep waving your pom poms, cheerleader, it won;t do the Canucks any good this year. LOL

  • JCDavies

    If the league had a most improved player I think we’d have to conclude that Mike Santorelli would be an early contender. He’s a revelation so far. He keeps making heads up plays, like the one on the OT winner, that shouts second line forward.

    Who knows. This might all be an early season mirage, but wouldn’t it be nice if just for once a player the Canucks picked up off the scrap heap turned out to be that diamond in the rough?

    Also, liked Torts’ comments about BX. He is a gunslinger, he does have the “it factor” meaning he wants to make a difference in every game. That does lead to mistakes, but it also leads to major successes too. Rather than gunslinger, I think we could almost call Kevin Bieksa an artist, pushing the boundaries of his medium (defense) to places other defensemen aren’t willing to go.

  • JCDavies

    Kassian having 19 SAF as opposed to 9 SAA is encouraging, I suppose… but I’m disinclined to take anything from this game whatsoever, in terms of positive signs or otherwise. When a game is as big a clusterf*** as this one, you can’t really expect (or even hope) that the play will be reproduceable.

    I really hated a lot of Torts’ decision-making in this one, though. The Booth thing was obviously a bad choice, because 37 seconds of Andrew Alberts is actually worse than not dressing anyone to fill that spot at all, much less 37 seconds of David Booth, much less 10 minutes of David Booth. I note that the Canucks were defending a lead in the third and teams seem to have trouble scoring when Booth is playing. The obvious additional point being that as soon as Hansen went down the Canucks were a 2 line team at best.

    Which again makes no sense – why put Kesler back with the Sedins when you’re short of forwards? Why not put, I don’t know, Kassian there? Or Higgins, who was having a good game? Spread the talent out a bit. Capuano was able to play Nielsen and the Hamonic pairing against the Canucks best all night, and free up Tavares to play against… well, oftentimes a line featuring Jeremy Welsh. It didn’t burn them this time, but you’re not always shooting at Evgeni Nabokov. This short bench stuff is okay in October but by the time February rolls around I’ll be interested to see if it’s taken its toll.

    Defense… As usual BXA is either the hero or the goat, depending on which way the puck bounces. But I thought Dan Hamhuis had quite a strong game in his traditional quiet way. If he can string a few of those together we’ll be well on our way to getting our #1 d-man back. Tanev made a couple of mistakes. The only time I noticed Edler was when he stumbled skating backwards and it resulted in that Tavares shot that Luongo stacked the pads on. Garrison seemed to miss the net wide short side on every shot. Not sure what was up there, might just be the percentages catching up to him.

    • jung gun

      “This short bench stuff is okay in October but by the time February rolls around I’ll be interested to see if it’s taken its toll.”

      I’m curious about this myself.

      In a vacuum, I’m all for giving nearly all of the forward minutes to the top 9 or 10.

      The less Weise & Sestito the better…

      And the Canucks have done a very good job of controlling play on this road trip.

      But can they play this way against upper and middle class Western conference teams espescially if there is a forward injury or two?

      Credit where credit is due, though.

      The Canucks have played well on this road trip against mostly middling competition as well as a terrific performance against the Penguins…

      • JCDavies

        The thing is that at this point the Canucks have been able to sustain decent results off the back of very strong play by their top forwards (including markedly better games by Kesler on this trip) and unexpectedly strong play by Santorelli and Richardson. I think the notion of Kassian actually putting together consistent stretches and trending upwards and the return of Burrows is promising but if Hansen is out for any stretch or Higgins fails to keep up his play then we are definitely in trouble. Then again, if we’re playing as much as we are at the outset perhaps the schedule lightens up later on in the season, not sure. 25 min a game for the top players cannot continue.

        • JCDavies

          Excuses and more excuses. You really love moving the same old ingredients all over that mediocre pizza don’t you kid? Don’t worry your little head so much about what ifs and maybes. The Canucks will choke again this year, you can bet on that, excuse maker. LOL

          • JCDavies

            I like this new word of yours too — excuses. It is not as funny sounding as shill but it is very effective the way in which you repeat it again and again. I am very glad to see that you’ve brought LOL back — I missed it in all the rest of your posts. Have an excellent day!

          • argoleas

            Oh….you’re gay. A gaylord. Good time for you to come out of your closet. Unlike you, I don’t think about ” hard dicks “. Do you and your partner also wear Canucks thongs when you both are yanking each others “pucks”?

          • argoleas

            Hey, you’re not going over to Sochi to watch hockey, are you? I thought I’d give you the “heads” up. Apparently, the Russians really don’t like gays over there. So you and your partner might wanna stay home, that way, you won’t be arrested for yanking your pucks and thrown into some gay dungeon. LOL

      • JCDavies

        We’ve owned the puck at times in a way that I haven’t seen in a couple of years. (Have no idea where to find the data to support or refute that observation.) I’m not sure what’s gotten into Bieksa lately, but I like it. Still need to tighten up on D overall. Giving up way too many goals and neutralizing some of those good possession stats with defensive slop.

        Damn though, it feels like they’ve played a boatload of hockey. It’s been exhausting to me from a fan’s standpoint keeping up.

      • jung gun

        With essentially no 4th line, and a pretty awful 3rd line when injuries start happening, the Canucks just don’t have the depth to compete with the best teams in the NHL.

        Sure they came away with a decent game against Pittsburgh, but teams like San Jose have just had their way with the Canucks, and it really all just comes down to depth.

        I just don’t see the Canucks getting past the first round, assuming they even make the playoffs, without a significant upgrade to their depth, and I just don’t see how that’s possible.

        • argoleas

          I think that the depth issue is the most serious one. As we have seen, the inevitable is occurring, and the injuries are mounting at the normal pace. If I have read accurately, Burrows may be close to returning, but Schroeder may be out for a while, and same with Hansen. So that’s your entire top-9 line out. Good to see some players having it better, like Hamhuis who seems to be recovering from whatever was messing with his game. This would be the time to think about calling up a player like Jensen, but alas not only did he have a poor training camp, he is also injured.

          The minutes of some players is seriously scary, and my hope is that Torts is simply rewarding the players that are buying into his message, and punishing the ones that are not, and that the minutes will smooth out more after a few more months as everyone gets on board. Guys like Kassian and Weise and Welsh are seeing their minutes go up, and you see Booth being benched. No point even discussing Sestido or Alberts. I dont think people need to be worried about Kesler’s minutes as the guy has not played much over the last 2 years. But if we still see their averages this high by the Olympic break, I will be very worried.

          But if anyone thinks this will be resolved with a trade, that will not happen. Any depth the team can hope to rely on is in Utica. The team should count its blessing that the minor trades and acquisitions for Richardson, Santorelli, Welsh, and Stanton have worked out so well (so far).

          In any case, next game’s lines are shaping up to be


          With that 4th line playing a few minutes save for Welsh.

        • argoleas

          As currently constructed, I don’t see the Canucks getting past the first round, either.

          For all the reasons you mention…

          And I think 2014-2015 is also going to be extremely difficult since most or all of the cap increase will be dedicated to Sedin, Sedin, Hansen, Tanev, role players (maybe even Santorelli) or their replacements.

          That being said, I can’t ignore how the team has controlled play so far on this road trip and the pleasant contributions from Santorelli, Richardson & Stanton.

          And while I’d still like to see if this play can carry over against better comp in the West, the Canucks can only play the opponents on the schedule…

  • JCDavies

    I’d be really interested to see a stat about how many goals the refa wave off for each team. Seems like we’re losing one every other game. Ref stats in general seem like an important and overlooked aspect of the game. Its pretty clear the league doesn’t have any interest in refs calling games with consistency so I think some fan pushback and analysis is due.

    All the naysayers who claim something isn’t going on have as much to gain from this as well. It’s a relevant issue, always being talked about. Why not get to the heart of the matter the Canucks Army way with good old stats?

    • argoleas

      You know what’s a bigger joke? You fools who believe this sucky team will amount to anything. Wasting real estate, wasting ice, wasting gas driving to see such a sucky waste of time team. That is truly a joke. don’t force crap down everyone elses throat just cause you happen to like crap. enjoy crap for yourself, don’t expect everyone else to like crap just cause you’re a selfish feeb. I’d cheer for the Canucks if they actually had a decent team, but they don’t. You, like |No Standards Teddy boy over there have NO standards, and you want everyone else to do the same. Not sorry, you keep cheering for a sucky team, I’ll keep mocking on that sucky team.