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I Watched This Game: Canucks 5, Blue Jackets 3

The Vancouver Canucks gave Jacob Markstrom a ton of help in his return to their net.

The Vancouver Canucks gave Jacob Markstrom a ton of help in his return to their net. In the backup's first NHL start since being sidelined with an early-season hamstring injury, the team did absolutely nothing to keep the Blue Jackets' shot count down. How did this help? Why, it allowed Markstrom numerous opportunities to test his health and range of motion with stretches, slides, lunges, dives, and all other manners of acrobatic, desperate saves. Plus it also let him to improve on his ugly career save percentage. That's just good team hockey right there.

Now, at times it didn't look like good team hockey, it looked like loser hockey -- such as when the Canucks fell behind in the third period. But fortunately, they were playing a John Tortorella team, which meant it was all but assured that the wheels would come off Columbus's wagon late. That's how it usually goes, and that's how it went when I watched this game.

  • It's always strange and a little discombobulating seeing an old flame, and that's what the Canucks had to deal with tonight. But a lot of time has passed. They probably don't even think about Kevin Connauton anymore.
  • They have other problems, such as their powerplay, which is about as woeful the story of Juliet and her Romeo. For the second straight game, the Canucks didn't just produce nothing with the man advantage -- they produced less than nothing, surrendering a shorthanded goal. That's embarassing. You've gotta fight against being beaten shorthanded with everything you have, like Harrison Ford did in The Fugitive. Maybe the Canucks should station a player way down by their own net to be extra mindful of these types of goals. Some sort of net... minder.
  • Vancouver's powerplay looked even worse because Columbus's was so potent. The Blue Jackets opened the scoring in the first period with the man advantage, and it only took them seven seconds. It was like a powerplay coached by Mike D'antoni. Maybe the Canucks should look into something like that. A quick glance at their OTL-heavy record tells me they're already pretty reliant on three pointers.
  • While the Canucks' special teams struggled once again, their special players -- those delightful Sedins -- did not. Neither did Jannik Hansen, their linemate for this evening (and after that performance, Lord willing, forevermore). The three forwards combined for 11 points in this game. They were the most dynamic Scandinavian threesome since the Esbjörn Svensson Trio.
  • Shortly after the Blue Jackets opened the scoring, the Sedin line answered, with Daniel and Henrik setting up Hansen in front of the Columbus zone. It was some pretty ugly defensive zone work from Columbus, as Brandon Saad walked the puck back below his own goal line, where the Sedins denuded him of the puck and Daniel Sedin centered for Hansen all alone in front. Hansen made no mistake. Unlike Saad.
  • Hansen repaid the favour in no time at all. Seven minutes later, the Canucks scored on a very similar play, except with Hansen centring the puck this time, and Daniel Sedin scoring the goal. But Hansen's best work came before the assist, as he pressured the Blue Jacket defenders off the dump-in, once again leading to a turnover. That none of these defenders thought to shadow Daniel Sedin was an added bonus. But why would they? I mean, what's he ever done? He's just Henrik's little brother. Daniel Sedin is Ike Broflovski.
  • But then the Canucks took another penalty, and once again, the Blue Jackets scored pretty much instantly. This time it only took nine seconds. A tantric powerplay this is not.
  • Actual sentence from John Garrett: "Canucks have only been credited with one giveaway through two periods, but they have at least twice as many here in the third." That's only two giveaways, John. Probably not worth mentioning until doubling the number does more than just increase it by one.
  • The Canucks were awful in the second period, outshot 22-7. Although, considering how bad they've been in third periods this season, maybe they were just trying to conserve energy? If so, it worked. After the Blue Jackets jumped ahead partway through the third on Cam Atkinson's shorthanded goal, the Canucks came alive like Peter Framtpon
  • And, as usual, the first responders were the Sedins. (They had a little siren and everything, and even one of those fire SUVs. They called it the Twimbulance.) On what had to be the worst-defended goal of the evening, Daniel Sedin gained the zone with a perfectly-placed dump-in, then Hansen beat his man wide to be first to the puck as it came off the boards. He centred it immediately for an untouched Henrik Sedin, and the Canuck captain evened the game up. In so doing, Henrik established the primary difference between him and a valley girl: he literally can even.
  • But the Canucks weren't done. Four minutes later, Hansen went back to work, making a strong defensive play in his own end (perhaps to demonstrate to Columbus what that should look like), then feeding Brandon Sutter in stride as the Canucks broke out through the neutral zone. Now, there's no doubt in my mind that Sutter had a golden mushroom, because he took off like a shot, blowing past Ryan Murray so easily you'd have thought it was Douglas Murray, then beating Sergei Bobrovsky between the wickets. Seriously, that's how much time Sutter had -- he played an entire game of cricket with Bobrovsky before a Blue Jacket defender arrived on the scene.
  • Sutter wasn't the only forward who showed a great deal of speed on that rush. Sven Baertschi was the first forward out of the zone, and he crossed his own blue line with so much speed, it backed both Columbus defenders way off. Look where Ryan Murray is when Brandon Sutter gets this puck. Sutter's got half the neutral zone to gain speed without having to worry about protecting the puck. 
  • Finally, the Canucks closed out the win with one more goal from the Sedin line, as Henrik Sedin scored into an empty net from his own zone. You could criticize Henrik for shooting there, but I'm sure he'd argue that he didn't shoot -- all Henrik shots are passes.