[Inspired by Arsenio Hall's "Things That Make You Go Hmmm…", Clayton Imoo talks about Canucks-related things that make him go hmmm… You can follow Clay on Twitter at (@canuckclay) or on his website, Clay's Canucks Commentary.]
The Vancouver Canucks came out of the All-Star break the same way they headed in: with a 3-2 victory. They beat the Edmonton Oilers in a shootout in the last game before the break. On Tuesday, they beat the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime. I was at Rogers Arena to watch the game and upon reflecting on it and the rivalry between the two teams, there are a few Things That Make Me Go Hmmm:
1. Craziness in overtime. You might remember the last time the Canucks and Blackhawks went to overtime. Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on April 26, 2011 is considered one of the most exciting games in Canucks history.
Tuesday night, the stakes were nowhere near as high, yet the entire extra frame had the crowd buzzing, screaming, jeering and ultimately cheering. And sandwiched between a mesmerizing Sedin shift and their game-winning goal came 30 seconds of madness.
The craziness started when all-star Jonathan Toews put a sweet outside-inside move on all-star Alex Edler, leaving the big Swede on the ice. The play started innocently enough, with the crafty Toews luring Edler to the outside boards before darting between Edler and a barely-backchecking Kevin Bieksa. Thankfully for the Canucks, Cory Schneider made a good save.
Just 15 seconds later, after a brief foray in the Blackhawks zone, Viktor Stalberg used the EXACT SAME outside-inside move, this time on Dan Hamhuis, albeit with way more speed than Toews. Again, it was Bieksa who was slow getting back to help, and again Schneider was forced to make a big save. Perhaps Stalberg would have scored if he wasn’t impeded by a Bieksa hook and a Hamhuis slash. Both went uncalled.
The lesson learned: dart down the right wing before cutting inside on Canuck defenders. And make sure Bieksa is the other d-man.
Then, after another 15 seconds had elapsed, Brent Seabrook absolutely plastered Ryan Kesler from behind into the boards, leaving the crowd grasping for its collective breath for the third time in 30 seconds.
The Sedins’ skillful give-and-go play to win the game just 30 seconds later seemed anti-climactic by contrast.
2. Comparing rivalries. Soon after the conclusion of Tuesday night’s game, I saw a few tweets from people favourably comparing the Vancouver-Chicago rivalry to the Vancouver-Boston rivalry. The latter is obviously a more recent one that is still fresh in our memories, while the former goes back three consecutive playoffs. The two are tough to compare. The Canucks-Bruins game in early January was a complete gong show with penalties and shenanigans galore. I remember the actual game was just okay but the atmosphere was unbelievable. Contrast that to Tuesday night’s tilt: the Canucks-Blackhawks game wasn’t particularly intense (until the third period and overtime) but it was actually better hockey. Thus, both games were very entertaining in their own right. And in the end…who really cares about which is the more heated rivalry…it’s just good to know that we have at least one strong rival in each Conference.
On the topic of good hockey…the best game I’ve seen this season start-to-finish was the Canucks’ 4-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings back on December 21, 2011. The game was memorable not only because of the CHB get-together prior and the fact that I missed my daughter’s 4th birthday for the game, but because of its frenetic pace for the entire 60 minutes. There were only four penalties the entire game (all to the Canucks) and the Red Wings outshot Vancouver 40 – 25. For my money, Vancouver-Detroit may not be the best rivalry per se, but it produces the best hockey.
3. Navigating through Rogers Arena. One other thing I noticed Tuesday night was just how hard it is to get from point A to point B, especially during a 17-minute intermission. I had grand plans to meet Bruce (@transcendwebs) for the very first time after a few months of friendly Twitter exchanges. My first mistake was suggesting we meet outside of section 104 (which I didn’t know was in the River Rock Club Section and thus inaccessible). My second mistake was using the stairwell at gate 8 (by section 329) instead of the stairwell outside of section 304. By the time I met Bruce outside of section 101 (after a quick change of plans over the phone), we had a grand total of 3 minutes to meet, chat, affirm each other’s good looks and blogging skills, and find a solution for world peace before we headed back to our respective seats (his in section 110, mine in section 303). I made it back to my seat just as they were dropping the puck to start the second period…and that was without a bathroom or concession stop.
So I ask you, loyal CHB readers: what are some of your tips for quick and easy navigation through the Rogers Arena concourses?