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I Watched This Game: Canucks 2, Oilers 6

Vancouver at Edmonton, April 6, 2016
I Watched This Game
I Watched This Game

Does anyone really care that much about Rexall Place? I mean, really.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t get the veneration of hockey arenas, as if they’re grand cathedrals full of beauty and religious significance. It’s a building with an ice surface and a bunch of places to sit. Some cool things happen on that ice surface sometimes and that’s neat to think about, but that’s about it.

Because I was watching this game on my PVR, I had the luxury of skipping all the pomp and circumstance, fast forwarding through the endless interviews with Oilers alumni, and lighting my PVR on fire and throwing it out a goram window whenever Mark Messier appeared on screen.

I also managed to avoid the apparently interminable introduction of every single person who ever played for the Oilers during the post-game ceremony. I avoided it through the clever tactic of not watching it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the option of not watching the game itself. So, reluctantly, I watched this game.

  • The Canucks played this game like they had accomplished everything they had set out to do this season and, really, they did, finally putting together a three-game win streak and against the best teams in the Pacific to boot. They were out of damns to give in this game, so the dam broke and poor Jacob Markstrom got washed away.
  • Since everyone apparently decided that the last game in Rexall Place was a big damn deal, we got Bob Cole doing play-by-play, the voice of big damn deals. Even he had trouble elevating this humdrum affair into something iconic, turning to euphorically proclaiming Connor McDavid’s praises at every opportunity because there was so little worth actually praising. At one point, heading into commercial, he literally said, “Hockey from Edmonton, Alberta!” That was it. “This sure is hockey, I guess.”
  • To be fair, that was during a dull-as-a-sack-of-ball-bearings first period, that featured one of the worst power play performances I have ever seen from the Canucks. It didn’t get much better as the game progressed, and the Canucks ended up with just two shots on goal on four power plays. They have two goals in their last 47 power plays and one of those was a 5-on-3 goal. It would be less embarrassing if the Canucks just held the puck behind their own net for the full two minutes every time.
  • Seriously, at one point the Canucks dumped the puck in and went for a line change, WHILE ON THE POWER PLAY! WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS?! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!
  • Okay, I got a little worked up there, but I walked away, took a few deep breaths, and now I’m back.
  • I’m not going to break every Oilers goal down in detail, because nobody wants that. Let’s just run down each goal quickly: 1. Jared McCann can’t lose that board battle that easily. 2. Emerson Etem’s giveaway was horrific. 3. Everyone forgot how to defense. 4. Matt Bartkowski thought standing ten feet from his check was close enough. 5. Nikita Tryamkin was more flat-footed than a low Dexterity D&D character at the beginning of a battle. 6. Jannik Hansen has to get the puck deep so the penalty killers can change. These are gross oversimplifications! Many people were at fault in many different ways! Everyone was terrible!
  • Some people were less terrible. Other than getting burned by Taylor Hall on the fifth goal, Nikita Tryamkin was quite good. When Connor McDavid tried to maneuver past him on a 1-on-1, Tryamkin just leaned on McDavid until he fell over. I was delighted, until I noticed the ref’s arm in the air and Tryamkin was called for a bogus holding call. Which, of course, led to a goal for McDavid, so we could hear more about how great he is. The next 15 years or so are going to suck so bad.
  • I may be in the minority on this one, but I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from Brendan Gaunce. He does good work in the neutral zone, wins battles along the boards, and seems to be showing some acumen in the faceoff circle as well. With his ability to play both wing and centre, he should earn a bottom six role next season.
  • Meanwhile, the best Canuck was Bo Horvat, who dug deep into his pockets to pull out a few spare damns to give. He and his linemates frequently hemmed the Oilers in their zone with strong forechecking, not to mention sewing. The Oilers needed stitch rippers to get through those hems.
  • Horvat scored an absolutely gorgeous goal after some strong work along the boards by Etem behind the net. Horvat took Etem’s pass, made Jordan Oesterle look incredibly foolish with a patented BoHoToe-Drag, then went roof under the bar like someone who doesn’t understand where a roof is supposed to go on a bar. If Horvat builds you a pub, you better be prepared to have an open-air pub, is all I'm saying.
  • Poor Andrey Pedan had to play forward yet again and played just 7:30 in this game, giving him a lovely view from the bench of the pairing of Alex Biega and Matt Bartkowski, which has to do wonders for his confidence. The Oilers out-shot the Canucks 11-2 when Biega was on the ice at 5-on-5 and Pedan has to try to sleep at night with the thought Am I worse than Alex Biega? running through his head.
  • Why is Markus Granlund?
  • The cherry on top of this sundae: the first star of the game was “The fans of Rexall Place.” No, seriously.