[I Watched This Game is a recurring feature at Pass it to Bulis, the hockey blog that knows who needs the puck. It chronicles the insights and observations of two guys who watched a hockey game. To view all the other wonderful stuff PITB does, visit Pass It To Bulis.]
I don’t think there was ever really any concern that the Oilers might win tonight. There was, I guess, a nagging concern that the Canucks might lose, but seriously, this Oilers team isn’t built to win hockey games. It’s built to accrue picks, like Questlove’s hair or Tenacious D.
My favourite thing about this year’s edition of the Vancouver Canucks (apart from all the winning, naturally) is that they don’t seek revenge through fighting. They just embarrass you by scoring more goals. Seriously. This is the team we have. No retaliatory fighting, just retaliatory goals. We saw it tonight as the game began to go pear-shaped for Edmonton, and they tried to salvage some measure of respect by picking on Tanner Glass. The Canucks’ response? Bury them in goals. Get hat tricks. Bury them like Beatrix Kiddo. It’s fun to watch. And I did watch. Yes sir, I watched this game:
- Like a high school Home Ec. class, the Canucks created a lot of turnovers tonight. The Oilers really struggled to get the puck out of their zone. You’d have to think the absence of Ryan Whitney accounts for this sudden transitional ineptitude, as the only puck-mover on the Oilers’ defense continues to miss games with a bad ankle. You’ll recall that he played nearly thirty minutes in a game between these two teams on December 10th.
- In Whitney’s absence, we saw a lot more of Theo “Huxtable” Peckham, who continues a storied tradition of black Theos who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Among his comedy of errors: tripping Mikael Samuelsson; needlessly punching Mikael Samuelsson in the head; hitting Ales Hemsky in the face with a puck. He’s lucky Bill Cosby isn’t his dad, because he’d get a real talking to about responsibility.
- The Oilers came out flying, seeming to think if they won the first ten minutes, they wouldn’t have to play the rest of the game. Despite not winning the first ten minutes, they stuck to their game plan.
- There are games when the Sedin twins are unnoticeable, except on the scoresheet. There are other games, like tonight, when it’s apparent from puck drop they’re going to make their opponents look silly. Both Daniel and Henrik finished with 3 points–Henrik his customary 3 helpers, and Daniel 2 goals and 1 assist. Their first goal was a lesson in how to hit an open net (Mason Raymond, take note). Their second goal (above) was classic Wizardous Sedinerie. It also showcased the Third Law of Sedinery: if one pass is customary, the Sedins will make two. On a breakaway, Henrik makes one pass when others would make none. On a two-on-one, Henrik and Daniel make two passes where others would make one. In school, teachers hated the way they would hand in the same test twice.
- Also of note on Daniel’s second goal, Alex Burrows’ savvy flip pass to spring the Sedins. The line has been pulling this play all season, and it tends to catch defenders sleeping. It’s safe to say the Sedins are the only players in hockey cribbing plays from Dwayne Robertson.
- A word about Daniel Sedin, who makes a living getting upstaged. Daniel scored two goals before Kesler did. This was rightfully his hat trick. But, just like Henrik took all the credit during his Hart-winning season, Ryan Kesler stole all the glory tonight, winning their impromptu hat trick fight.
- Sidenote: I imagine a hat trick fight to be two magicians pulling various weaponry out of their top hats. In the climax, the first magician pulls a grenade, and throws it at the second, who catches it in his top hat. Then, the second pulls out a bouquet of flowers. It explodes in the first magician’s face, killing him instantly. Flawless victory.
- Anyway, Daniel even had his chance to match Kesler’s hat trick, but his power move to the net was stopped by Khabibulin, and Alex Edler, the snake, ruined everything by scoring. Dick move. Daniel’s subsequent fist bump looked a little aggressive to me. Out for blood.
- Kesler’s hat trick was really something, huh? He scored three times, no lie. Thrice, in fact. His first goal came on a wrist shot so hard it broke both the Bulin wall and the fourth wall, turning to the audience and soliloquizing. His second and third goals were both tips. It was like the debit machine prompted him for a tip, and he felt obligated and tipped too much. At 2 of 3, that’s a 66% tip, which is a drastic overtip.
- The best moment of Kesler’s hat trick goal comes sixteen seconds into the video, as a dude wearing a hat suddenly realizes what just happened. Wait! I’m wearing a hat!#HatTrickKid
- The real story, of course, is that the Canucks continue to put in 59-minute efforts. They blew yet another shutout tonight, as Cory Schneider lost his post on a scramble at the end of the second. Ales Hemsky got the goal with 0.3 seconds on the clock. This is unacceptable. Were I at the game, I would have booed vociferously. It is my right as a ticket buyer and I’m an idiot.
- Anyway, apart from that Cory Schneider was good. He usually is. Whatever. We could talk about how the Canucks are 8-0-2 when he starts, but it’s getting boring. The Canucks just win a lot. You could make up an absurdly positively stat and it would probably be half-true. The Canucks are 13-0-1 when Raffi Torres eats a pregame ham and swiss sandwich. This is a Tru Fakt.
- In his inaugural game as the fourth-line center (a promotion he clearly relished) Tanner Glass went 4-for-6 in the faceoff circle. He also had a game-high six hits in 11:38 of icetime. He looked pretty good.
- His positive faceoff numbers would have been quite the accomplishment had the Oilers not forgotten that the purpose of a faceoff is to try to gain possession of the puck. The Canucks won 37 of 54 faceoffs, led by 14-for-17 and 8-for-10 nights for Kesler and Henrik, respectively. Kesler won all 7 of his defensive zone faceoffs, and that, Reid’s friends, is why he takes them.
- Ales Hemsky is a giant shovel. After being obliterated on a clean Glass hit, Hemsky proceeded to chase the Canucks’ fourth-line center across the ice, hooking and cross-checking all the way. Glass, the zennest of zen Canucks, ignored this antagonism, likely reciting Scrabble’s allowable two-letter words as a mantra.
- And finally, Daniel (Wagner, not Sedin) pointed out early on that this game would get chippy, as the referees missed some early warning signs and didn’t manage the game well in the first. By the third period, the Oilers were clearly frustrated, and began taking out their frustrations in a frustrating way. In the funniest moment of the night, Tanner Glass was assaulted by Hemsky and Jason Strudwick, only to have Raffi Torres leap to his assistance from the top rope ala Randy “The Ram” Robinson, horse collar him, and then fall down. Torres, you lovable fool. Thankfully, he provided a goofy-looking cushion for Glass to land on when he was tackled.