You Don’t Fight Fire With Fire. You Fight It With Ice Cold Water Running Through Your Veins.


About half way through the third period of game three, I finally figured it out. I finally realized what Willie Desjardins was up to. And it’s not a good sign.

There’s been much talk about Desjardins’ line deployment, especially the lack of ice time for the Sedin line, and I think now I know why…

Desjardins has bought in to the idea that you need to counter physical play with physical play of your own. The more Calgary cranked up the hitting on Sunday, the more he threw out his own physical players. Unfortunately those physical players are not his best players.

Heck, some of them aren’t even his most physical players. At 5-on-5, Kevin Bieksa played the most of any Canuck skater in the third period, but just barely more than Chris Higgins, who was on the ice more than the five other defensemen!

Desjardins let Hartley dictate the style of play. After gooning it up at the end of game two, the Flames came out banging and hitting in game three. You don’t respond to that by hitting back. You respond to that by playing your top, skill players even more. 

The Sedin line was actually out there mostly against the Stajan-Ferland-Jones line. And they had their way with them.


Heck, they had their way with everyone they faced, but my point is that for all the attention given to Ferland and his big hits, the puck was in the Flames end for the majority of the time he was on the ice. Not only that, it’s not like you had to get the Sedins away from him to protect them. I don’t recall a single one of his uncalled charging penalties big hits being against the Canucks’ top forwards.

So here you have the Hartley with the last change deciding he wants a possession sinkhole of a line out there against the Sedins and what do you do? Well, what you should do is give Hartley the match-up he wants, because eventually it’s going to pay off. What you shouldn’t do is decide to make this a rough and tumble series because (a) that’s not the Canucks’ game, and (b) that is exactly the kind of game Hartley wants.

Hartley wants it to be about lots of hitting and big checks and physical play. He wants to throw the Canucks off their game. He wants Desjardins to respond and give Bieksa and Sbisa to have more ice time. Nothing favours the Flames like a 3 or 5 alarm fire:


Seriously, it’s like a fire drill every time those two are out on the ice.

And Desjardins walked right into the (fire) trap.

Ugh. If I wanted to see somebody blow lines this badly, I’d go on a road trip to Vegas:


You don’t fight fire with fire. You douse it with water or you suffocate it of oxygen.

The Canucks need to get some ice cold water in their veins to maintain their composure in the face of Calgary’s physical pressure, and/or to exhaust the heck out of Calgary players that are used to playing 10-12 minutes a night, and leave them gasping for air. If Hartley wants them out there, go ahead and give him more rope.

So forget the fire. The Flames may have a lock on on fiery desire. But as the hate continues to grow in this series, what’s important is icy cold composure. As noted hockey analyst, Robert Frost, once said:


Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice. 


You can also check out the monthly collections of Graphic Comments over at The Sporting News.

  • RandomScrub

    Couldn’t agree more. The Canucks’ best method of toughness is and has always been a strong power play. Let the Flames goon it up – try to draw them into penalties (ugh, no Burrows… well, try anyway) and then score on the PP. Or, at even strength, as the author alludes to.

    Willie is getting played, why can everyone outside the game see it so easily?

  • Graphic Comments

    Boy, Edler and Tanev really have been getting it handed to them, eh?

    The Canucks need them to be better, period.

    I have to say though, I’ve gotten sicker of this series with every game. I’m debating even watching the game tonight, if (in particular the past two games) are establishing some sort of trend of the type of hockey and officiating we’ll see in this series.

  • Graphic Comments

    Haha “uncalled charging penalties” lmfao. Too bad Burrows is out, I’m sure “Furkland” feels the same way. Let’s not forget who the dirty team here is, when you have Hamhius holding down England while Dorsette punches him on the ground. The head shot on 18yr old Bennett. The hit from behind on 5’6″ Gaudreau then jumping unsuspecting Russell. To top it off Bieksa sucker punching Ferland (who would’ve fought him if Bieksa had balls to square up). Don’t kid yourselves nuck fans.

  • beloch

    The Canucks lost the goon-free moral high-ground on Sunday with the deliberate head-shots and sucker-punches. This series is a war and both sides seem willing to do nasty stuff when they’re out of the game.

    Personally, I’m hoping for a tight, one goal nail-biter tonight. The thuggery will be kept to a minimum that way, as it was in game #1.

  • KillingItDaily

    I’m just surprised it took you that long to figure out what he was doing and why he was doing it. I guess no one told him about all those Blackhawks’ and Kings’ series a few years back. What gets us to the playoffs isn’t chippy run and gun style of play, but why he thinks that playing that way in the playoffs will work is saddening. However, I give him a long leash because it’s his first year in the nhl. Surely the brass will bring it up at some point.

    Until then, clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

    Let’s go boys!