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I Watched This Game: Canucks 1, Kings 2 (OT)

Vancouver at Los Angeles, December 1, 2015
I Watched This Game
I Watched This Game

Chris Tanev: injured. Chris Higgins: injured. Jake Virtanen: injured. Ben Hutton and Brandon Sutter: still injured.

With numerous new injuries after the disastrous game against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night, the Canucks iced a ramshackle lineup against the Los Angeles Kings. Alex Biega replaced Tanev on the top pairing. Defenceman Andrey Pedan made his NHL a winger.

The fourth line was broken up and sprinkled over the rest of the team, resulting in Brandon Prust skating on the second line with Jared McCann and Radim Vrbata, Derek Dorsett on the third line with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi, and Adam Cracknell centring Alex Burrows and whichever winger was double-shifting so Pedan didn’t have to leave the bench.

On paper, this Canucks lineup didn’t look pretty. Getting on the ice didn’t help them look any prettier and yet, somehow, they got a point. I think Jacob Markstrom just She’s All That’ed the Canucks. I watched this game.

  • Markstrom was the story of the game, making 38 saves on 40 shots. That he made that many saves was extra impressive considering he was carrying the team on his back the entire time.
  • Seriously, Markstrom was amazing, stopping numerous breakaways, absolutely robbing Tyler Toffoli with a lunging save on a Kings power play, and making 14 saves in the third period alone to get the game to overtime. He made more stops than Ronald Sharp and had to do so: the Canucks managed just 16 shots total.
  • It was the kind of performance that makes you think Markstrom should get more starts. At this point, he’ll have to borrow a page from another Jacob: cover his arms with goatskin, and convince Desjardins that he’s actually Miller.
  • Or he could trick Miller into trading the number one job for a bowl of stew. Either way.
  • With the other lines more flipped-turned upside-down than Will Smith’s life, it was up to the Sedins to establish a sense of normalcy, so Daniel scored a goal. After a nice zone entry by Yannick Weber off a cross-ice pass from Alex Burrows, Henrik somehow convinced Jonathan Quick that he was going to shoot—seriously, are you new here?—and set up Daniel for the one-timer.
  • It almost seemed like that goal would hold up as the game-winner, but even Markstrom couldn’t hold the Kings’ power play at bay forever, particularly when they were given chance after chance with some pillowy soft calls. Even Air Supply would have said those calls were too soft.
  • After Drew Doughty tied the game with a slapshot through an IMAX-sized screen, you might have hoped for a pushback from the Canucks. Nope. They managed just one shot on goal in the entire third period. That shot came before Doughty’s goal. They had no shots in overtime. The Canucks managed to go over 20 minutes without a single shot on goal. The Canucks had so little possession that it turns out they’re the other one-tenth of the law.
  • Apart from Markstrom’s goaltending and Daniel Sedins’ goalscoring, there were few positives in this game, but the continuing chemistry between Jared McCann and Radim Vrbata was one of them. Along with Prust, who held his own as a member of their line, they accounted for 7 of the Canucks’ 16 shots on goal.
  • Alex Edler’s giveaway that led to the game-winning goal was truly atrocious and unacceptable, but it doesn’t mean he’s a terrible hockey player. When it comes to the list of problems the Canucks have this season, Edler is like a guy at his first ever chess tournament: unranked.
  • Still, that giveaway was really, really, really bad. Edler’s pass to Vrbata was so far behind that Vrbata went through a yellow light and the pass got caught at the red light and ended up hopelessly lost.
  • The Canucks are now 0-and-7 in overtime and we know who is actually to blame: Matt Bartkowski, who went offside when it was temporarily 4-on-4 after a Canucks penalty ended. The stoppage in play put things back to 3-on-3 and the Canucks were doomed.