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I Watched This Game: Canucks 2, Ducks 1 (SO)

Canucks at Ducks, October 12, 2015
I Watched This Game
Ask not what you can game for your watch; ask what you can watch for your game!

My favourite moment of Kevin Bieksa’s time as a Vancouver Canuck wasn’t one of the big goals he scored, not even the stanchion goal that sent the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011. It’s not the tale of him one-punching Fedor Fedorov or seeing him actually pull off a Superman Punch in a hockey fight.

No, my favourite Bieksa moment was just a random moment from a meaningless game. Some hotshot young player, whose name I can’t even remember anymore, was bearing down on Bieksa with the puck. Bieksa went fishing for it with his stick and the hotshot went outside-inside on him, making him look like a complete fool.

Later in the game, the same hotshot came down the same wing and went to try the same move. Bieksa paid no attention to the puck and planted two fists in the hotshot’s chest, knocking him flat on his backside.

For whatever reason, that moment has stuck with me. That sequence of events just seemed to encapsulate Bieksa. For some fans he was endlessly frustrating, but he was one of my favourite Canucks for years, largely because he was the guy that if you fooled him once, the next time he'd knock you on your ass.

Now, seeing Bieksa in an Anaheim Ducks jersey feels just plain wrong, like it’s not even real. But then he messes with Dan Murphy during a live TV segment and everything feels right again. I moved on when I watched this game.

  • The Ducks have been using Bieksa on their top pairing, as Hampus “Krampus” Lindholm’s very own St. Nicholas. He played over 24 minutes for the second game in a row and saw a lot of the Sedins, likely because he let Bruce Boudreau know that he can actually tell them apart, which gives him a big leg up in checking them.
  • I was hoping for a good Burrows vs Bieksa encounter, akin to the bro-fights Burrows had with Ryan Kesler last season. Closest we got was Burrows accidentally hi-sticking Bieksa just prior to setting up a great scoring chance for Jannik Hansen, but instead of a scrum, Burrows just gave Bieksa a fist-tap and apologized. Who are you and what have you done with Alex Burrows?!
  • I’m really not sold on the defence pairing of Dan Hamhuis and Matt Bartkowski, and not just because HamBart doesn’t have the same ring as HamJuice. Bartkowski may be able to skate well, but he’s made some worrying defensive miscues, and that pairing got pinned in their own end like a tailless paper donkey at a birthday party.
  • The only thing dumber than Brandon Prust’s staged fight with Clayton Stoner was Willie Desjardins saying the fight was “big for us.” Absolutely nothing came of that fight. The game wasn’t even two minutes old, so there wasn’t even any momentum to change. The game’s first goal didn’t happen until literally a full period had passed. Prust and Stoner could have started a tea party on the ice, then politely moved it to the penalty boxes for five minutes, and the game would have been unchanged.
  • It’s frustrating because Prust had a pretty good game otherwise. I was impressed with his ability to pass the puck and he picked up an assist on the Canucks’ lone goal of the game by going hard to the net. It seems like he can actually play half-decently when he puts his mind to it, but he seems to get more praise for his completely inconsequential fisticuffs than for actually playing hockey.
  • I’m really liking how Willie Desjardins is handling Jared McCann. He’s made mistakes, but instead of benching him, Desjardins keeps rolling his lines and even got McCann out for a defensive zone faceoff against Ryan Getzlaf in the third period with the score tied. If McCann is going to stick with the Canucks this season, Desjardins needs to know he can trust him against the big, bruising centres of the Western Conference. McCann winning the faceoff was, like Neil Armstrong on the moon, a pretty good first step.
  • I thought Sven Baertschi had a solid game -- he was handling and passing the puck well and was one of only three Canucks forwards with a positive corsi -- so I was surprised when he got demoted and Burrows took his place on the second line. Baertschi had the lowest even-strength ice time on the Canucks, which makes me wonder if he’ll be replaced by Jake Virtanen against the Kings, because size, grit, truculence, Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor grunt, toughness, construction sounds, character, good-ol'-Canadian-kid.
  • After the Ducks took the lead early in the second period, Adam Cracknell evened the score with his first goal as a Canuck. Cracknell took a return pass from Prust on his skate, then managed to corral the puck in traffic, setting up Jannik Hansen for a one-timer, which hit Prust in the shins as he crashed the net. Cracknell took the deflection and slipped it under Frederik Andersen’s arm like a cheap anti-perspirant, leaving white flakes everywhere.
  • That was it for scoring, even with a crazy 3-on-3 overtime, complete with 4-on-3 power play for the Ducks, which turned into 4-on-4 overtime for the final 38 seconds when Alex Edler returned to the ice after his penalty. Somehow the refs missed the blatant too-many-men-on-the-ice infractions from both teams.
  • Radim Vrbata makes the shootout look so easy. He stickhandled until Andersen bit and went down on his right pad, then deked to the backhand, all while looking as casual as an Imperial shuttle piloted by Chewbacca.
  • Alex Burrows, on the other hand, looked about as cool as Peter Parker dancing down the sidewalk, awkwardly snaking in towards the goal, then barely sneaking the puck over the goal line. Still counts for just as many goals as Vrbata’s, though: zero. Sorry, fantasy owners.
  • Ryan Miller was stellar all game, making 28 saves through 65 minutes, then capping off his performance with a quick poke check on Corey Perry in the shootout. That inspired me to make a quick poke check of my own: I checked to see if you can still poke people on Facebook. You totally can!