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I Watched This Game: Canucks 0, Blues 3

Vancouver vs St. Louis, March 19th, 2016
I Watched This Game
I Watched This Game

The Canucks hosted a group of young Syrian refugees at tonight’s game, in many cases introducing them to the team and to hockey itself for the first time. With that in mind, the Canucks poor performance was fitting; what better way to introduce people to the team than by hanging a goaltender out to dry and utterly failing to score?

Really, the refugees are overqualified to be Canucks fans. The pain and suffering brought on by 45+ years of hockey futility pales in comparison to what they’ve been through to get to this country and this city. With that in mind, it’s absolutely ludicrous to get too down or upset about the result of this hockey game.

I got a dose of perspective when I watched this game.

  • For the 9th time in franchise history, the Canucks gave up 50 shots on goal. For the first time in franchise history, the Canucks got shutout while giving up 50 shots on goal. It makes a weird sort of sense: opposing teams don’t tend to rack up shots unless the game is close and that normally only happens when you score a goal or six to keep it close. This time, the only reason it was close was Ryan Miller.
  • This is the second time this season that Ryan Miller has faced 49 shots. Prior to this season, he had only faced that many shots three times in his career; he won all three games. He was outstanding in this game, making 47 saves. Appropriately, 47 is the atomic number of silver.
  • The Canucks have now gone 168 minutes without scoring a goal and have been shutout in back-to-back games for the first time since December, 1998. On the plus side, the Canucks drafted the Sedins after the 1998-99 season; on the negative side, there are no identical twins projected to be picked in the 2016 draft.
  • Here’s how bad this game was: Bo Horvat was one of the Canucks’ best players and they only had one shot on goal when he was on the ice. The Sedins had strong games and were still out-shot 12-8 when they were on the ice together at even-strength. Even the Canucks best players, who legitimately had good games, got outplayed, if not outright dominated, by the Blues.
  • Seriously, the Sedins were very good in this game. They had more than half of the Canucks’ 19 shots on goal—Henrik had three and Daniel had seven—but they just couldn’t beat Elliott. To be fair, Elliott had the help of an alien with telekinetic powers, which really ought to be covered in the NHL rulebook.
  • The Canucks poor play should have been predictable: they’re ravaged by injuries, including their two top defencemen, and it was the second game in two nights. Miller was fresh, but that’s about it, and it showed: they looked more fatigued than jeans from Forever 21.
  • Okay, so Chris Higgins didn't play Friday night, but he had to travel from the east coast. Also, he was clearly reeling all game from the surprise at being called up afte the Canucks so publically cut ties with him earlier this season.
  • It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s the young players that tend to struggle with two games in two nights the most. They may have the exuberance of youth, but they often lack the conditioning, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that Dan “Old Community Man” Hamhuis led the team in ice time, playing over 26 minutes. Before the game, he could be heard yelling at neighbourhood kids to “get off [his] lawn,” but that was just so he could get the slip ‘n’ slide set up.
  • It was a little more surprising to see Nikita Tryamkin, whose conditioning was criticized earlier this week, finish second in ice time, playing over 20 minutes and acquitting himself well. I’ve been impressed by his calm play with the puck and he used his reach and physical play away from the puck well. He and Andrey Pedan each had a game-high four hits, but Tryamkin crushed David Backes, so he wins.
  • I don’t mind Dave Randorf as a play-by-play man, but he tends to get a lot of flak online. He deserved it a bit in this game, though, as he butchered Tryamkin’s name. No, not the “Tryamkin” part, which he nailed; he kept calling him “Demetri.” It could have been worse: he could have called him Stacey, Jane, or Mary-Jo-Lisa.
  • The less said about the Canucks defensive efforts on the two non-empty-net goals, the better. Suffice it to say, the Canucks were chasing the puck all game and it eventually cost them.
  • Okay, that doesn't actually suffice. I have to talk about the second goal against, because it was utterly horrid. It starts with Andrey Pedan and Matt Bartkowski standing too far apart at the blueline, leaving tons of open space up the middle. Than Bartkowski inexplicably goes for a hit while defending the resultant quasi-2-on-1; he misses the hit and takes himself out of the play. Pedan gets back, but he too goes to make a hit that never actually connects, taking himself out of the play as well. Meanwhile, Emerson Etem backchecks without the checking, leaving Tarasenko an open path to the net. By the time the puck goes in, the Blues actually have two players wide open in front. It’s more offensive than Bob Saget, and I’m talking about Fuller House.