Vancouver - Nov. 17, 2011 - This game was very reminiscent of the ol’ flaming bag of poop left on the porch for the unsuspecting homeowner to discover. The Blackhawks showed up, left the poop then hid behind the bushes cackling like a couple of school girls as the Canucks stood there with poop all over their skates wondering what the hell just happened as the final score was 1-5 for the bad guys.
The Canucks started the game with some energy and passion, keeping up with the Blackhawks very well. For a while there it looked as though the Canucks had solved their 5 on 5 deficiencies as both teams played the entire first period without drawing a penalty. The Canucks meant business, and they were showing it with their play, even Schneids looked good. But isn’t funny how fast things change in this game?
Jannik Hansen opened the scoring on a beauty passing play from the the Sedins, depositing the puck past Crawford for the opening goal to start the second period. The Canucks were on a roll right? Well, whatever roll they were they were on got derailed 4 minutes later when Ryan Kesler took a tripping penalty, and that was all the Blackhawks needed to get their engines going.
The Canucks coughed up consecutive power play opportunities to the Hawks in the second period and they both resulted in goals for the visitors, who ended the second period leading 2-1. But the Canucks weren’t out of it just yet as they weren’t becoming unraveled and showing signs of frustration. No, there was still some “comeback” in the eyes! But the wheels fell off the bus midway through the third period when Toews scored a goal that nobody could have stopped, I mean nobody! I hate to say it, but it was one of those scoring plays that leaves you staring in awe, and wondering if the Canucks D were doing the same. Viktor Stalberg somehow managed to draw every Canuck D-man towards him like a magnet has he entered the Canuck zone, leaving Toews all alone in front of an empty net to make it 3-1. Like a loose fiber on a sweater, it was the goal that started the unraveling for the Canucks. The Hawks would pot two more at even strength to make sure everybody knew who won this game to make the final score 5-1.
The Hawks had one simple game plan in mind to beat the Canucks, and that was discipline. The best way to keep the Canucks’ off their potent power play is to not take penalties and that is just what the Hawks did, play penalty free hockey for a full 60 minutes. The Canucks were like a shipwreck survivor bobbing around in the ocean. They could tread water for a little while at even strength, but eventually they tired and couldn’t keep up with the Hawks.
Aside from losing by a four goal margin to the hated Hawks, this game showed once again that the Canucks are still a ways away from getting to the next level of their play. They might have flashes of brilliance here and there, like Yannik’s breakaway in the second period when he intercepted a pass at the Canucks blue line but just couldn’t settle the puck down enough to lift it over Crawford’s pad. But for the most part, the Canucks are treading water, and it remains to be seen if they are going to rescue themselves, or slowly dip under the surface and continue to struggle.
The .500 Canucks get a few days off and play the Senators on Sunday night at home, and hopefully in the meantime the Canucks will figure out how to quit treading water and start swimming.