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I Watched This Game: Canucks 2, Predators 3 (SO)

I came to grips with the tank today. When I woke up this morning, I was the same crotchety, anti-tank guy I've been all season.

I came to grips with the tank today. When I woke up this morning, I was the same crotchety, anti-tank guy I've been all season. But then, as I was writing this morning's post, I realized just how close the Canucks were to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the bottom of the standings, and it occurred to me that there's something I believe in more than a strong effort every night: screwing the Leafs out of future happiness. I don't like the tank. But I dislike the Leafs far more. And so, by the time I sat down for Thursday night's clash between the Canucks and the Predators, I was perfectly fine to watch the Canucks be terrible again.

And then they came out strong, ending their goal-scoring drought almost right away, and even potting another during a first period where they handily outplayed the superior Predators. Friggin' Canucks. Whatever I want, they do the other thing. But all was not lost: after all, the Canucks can't close. They clearly need Alec Baldwin to come yell at them. Lord knows he's not giving them the leads -- not when they so consistently lose them. I was satisfied with the outcome when I watched this game.

  • The big story coming into this game was the Canucks' goalless streak, a run of futility that spanned three full games and nearly 230 minutes. Vancouver looked poised to seize yet another record for futility, like that time they lost four consecutive games 5-2. But if there's one thing at which these Canucks succeed, it's failing to succeed. So it came as no surprise when Bo Horvat ruined everything by breaking the fast at 234:52, leaving the Canucks just off the podium with the fourth-longest skid in the last 30 years. Selfish, selfish play by Bo. Perhaps the most selfish thing done by a Bo since Bo Brady kidnapped Hope Williams from her wedding to sly politician Larry Welch. Bo, you knave! 
  • Horvat scored the goal on a rebound opportunity after Sven Baertschi used a little fancy footwork to swivel onto a loose puck in the Nashville end. Pekka Rinne managed to knock Baertschi's shot down, but it fell in front of Horvat, who swiped the puck like it met his age and distance settings on Tinder. Bo swiped left, if you're wondering. All the puck's pics were of animals and vistas. Why do people do that? I'm not trying to gauge how attracted I am to the last mountain you climbed.
  • But the Canucks weren't done there! Later in the first, with Nashville on the penalty-kill, the Sedins remembered how good they are and did a thing. With Alex Burrows camped out in front of the goal as a decoy, Daniel Sedin slid in behind him, took a pass from Henrik, and made it 2-0. The point moved Henrik into 88th all-time in NHL scoring, passing Maurice Richard, who was named after his mother's two favourite members of Earth, Wind and Fire: Maurice White and Dick Smith. Oh, you didn't know his mother Alice Laramée, travelled back in time to give birth to him? I thought everybody knew that.
  • In the second period, the Canucks locked things down, slowing the game up considerably. The two clubs combined for just 12 shots (six apiece), as the Canucks headed into the second intermission with their 2-0 lead intact. Based on the first two periods, one could be forgiven for thinking Vancouver might be able to steer this one into the win column in the third. Of course, if one has been watching all year, one has seen the Canucks surrender a league-worst 87 third-period goals en route to a record barely above .500 when leading after two, so one knows better. 
  • Sure enough, the Canucks botched the soufflé late in the third; the collapse happened quickly. At 11:56, James Neal made it 2-1, and just over a minute later, Filip Forsberg did what Forsbergs have been doing to the Canucks for two generations now and made it a tie game. I want to say I felt for Vancouver, but I'm pretty numb to these collapses by now. I didn't feel a thing. This season has basically been a hockey epidural.
  • Let's talk bright spots: Brendan Gaunce shifted to centre for this game, and he had one of his best games with the Canucks as a result. Plus he went 4-for-5 in the faceoff circle, which was refreshing for a team that whose faceoff men usually look like someone unplugged their controller right before the puck was dropped.
  • Nikita Tryamkin was excellent as well in his 19:44 of icetime. Clearly, he's earned a great deal of trust from Willie Desjardins in a short amount of time, and it makes sense: the big blueliner has shown improvement with each game he's played as a Canuck. But tonight it looked like he took a Tryamkinian step forward. He has such an active stick -- well, actually that's not true. His stick is naturally inert. But he's very active with it. His best shift was, without a doubt, his last shift, which lasted the full two minutes of Brendan Gaunce's overtime holding penalty. Tryamkin looked exhausted about halfway through the ordeal, hunching over at his blueline and trying to catch his breath each time the Canucks got the puck out, but once the Predators re-entered the zone, he was there, shutting down passing lanes and doing everything he could to disrupt Nashville's puck movement. The man really does appear to be a diamond in the rough. La Gem Nikita, the people will call him.
  • Finally, I'm not sure why Ryan Miller was so annoyed with Craig Smith's shootout move. Smith came in slow and deliberate, but he never came to a complete stop. Maybe he whispered some Batman v Superman spoilers to Miller as he roofed the puck? If so, I still don't see what Miller's so mad about. No one likes the movie.