When Detroit came to town, it was expected that we’d see two aging teams, each well out of the playoff race, face each other in a classic battle of futility. What we ended up seeing was quite different, because most of Vancouver’s aforementioned aging core was either injured, recently traded or diseased.
Jannik Hansen was a surprise scratch from the lineup, replaced by Borna Rendulic at the last moment. This was Rendulic’s first game in a Canucks jersey, but he probably didn’t feel too out of place, since half the lineup were his linemates from Utica.
A combination of the mumps and the trade deadline meant that though they were all wearing blue, this team was pretty green. Honestly, as the camera panned down the Vancouver bench I laughed out loud. Now I know how the last dinosaurs felt looking into the sky that fateful night: “Wow, so many Comets.”
I watched as through the eyes of a doomed stegosaurus when I watched this game.
- A surprising and welcome addition to the lineup was Ben “I Don’t Have Mumps, That’s Just My Face” Hutton. Yup, true story, the test came back negative, he's just got chubby baby cheeks. And that's adorable.
- Frans Nielsen opened the scoring, because Frans has hands and never fans. After stripping the puck from a Vancouver rush, Nielsen passed up to Andreas Athanasiou, who dug it off the boards and sent it right back to him for a perfect shot high past Ryan Miller.
- Poor Brendan Gaunce, even when the hockey gods love him, they still kind of hate him. His first and only NHL goal came off a body deflection last year. He had a great chance for career number two as the Red Wings coughed up the puck deep in the Detroit zone. Gaunce turned and fired, a great shot only bested by a greater Petr Mrazek. Borna Rendulic gobbled up the rebound but Mrazek sprawled to make yet another stunning stop. Later, in the second period, Mrazek stoned Gaunce yet again. He finally managed to hit the boxscore in the third period… with a cross-checking penalty. Which ancient god did you anger, Gaunce? Clearly a spiteful one.
- After a slashing penalty, it was time for Frans “Ferdinand” Nielsen to take them out. Henrik Zetterberg did the hard work along the boards and found Nielsen cruising in between the hashmarks. Nielsen’s second tally slowed Vancouver’s momentum to somewhere between a Greenlandic glacier and a moss-covered stone. After Nielsen’s goal the play was pretty ugly for Vancouver. But if nothing else, the first period proved once and for all that the Red Wings are better than the Utica Comets.
- Do you come to read about atrocious Luca Sbisa giveaways? You are in luck, because there was one. Attempting to pass out of the zone, Sbisa seriously flubbed the breakout, allowing Henrik “Wet Bandit” Zetterberg to break in. Zetterberg was only just stymied by Ryan Miller’s quick reflexes, good positioning, and extensive micro machine collection. Sbisa: this is your house, you have to defend it.
- Up against the Motor City, Vancouver remembered they’re going green. Rather than stoke an already raging tire fire, they opted for some clean, efficient, electric Sedinery. Controlling play with confidence, the Twins performed a classic maneuver: they passed the puck back and forth a whole bunch. Isn’t it funny how effective this always is? Passing multiple times between the back and side of the net, Daniel suddenly shifted his aim over to Markus Granlund cutting up the middle ice. Granlund’s goal cut both Detroit’s lead and my alcohol intake in half. My liver thanks you sir!
- Oh man, the Sedins were downright dominant on a night when the seriously needed to be. Shift after shift they looked dangerous. Daniel found Henrik right in front of the net with loads of room to move, but Hank couldn’t quite pull the puck out of his skates and get it high in time. Later on a power play in the third, Henrik lasered a shot off the inside of the post, so close the red light came on. Just like Colin Mochrie in every improv scene, they had the best line of the night.
- Make no mistake, this game was mostly bad. Sloppy, choppy, at times even floppy. But the bad was shared equitably between teams, so at least the bad was of the entertaining variety. The last five minutes of the second period were full of action on both ends of the rink. Frans Nielsen had a clean break and nearly sent red hats sailing down onto the ice. Over on the Detroit side, Bo Horvat looked fast and creative even at the tail end of a long shift, and both Jayson Megna and Luca Sbisa had solid scoring chances.
- With a depleted lineup and no Alex Burrows, Reid Boucher saw some premium time on Bo Horvat’s line, and I liked what I saw. He’s a different player than Burrows, but similar in his quickness and willingness to shoot. That line started slow, but controlled play for large stretches of the third period. I mean, it was pretty much Horvat driving the bus, but in fairness he’s the only one with his Class 4 licence. Bo knows both sharing and caring, so the puck was evening distributed among his linemates.
- Some other neat stuff happened in the third period. No really! I’m 65% certain of it! But the Jannik Hansen trade situation was explosively resolving towards the end of the game, so I was admittedly pretty distracted. Likewise, I got distracted by learning how people got dressed in the 80s, which also seemed important at the time. I’m realizing that I 100% have ADD. Also, have you seen this squirrel video?
- I tuned back in right as Reid Boucher tied up the score. His first goal as a Canuck was much needed and well deserved after a solid game. Danny DeKeyser coughed up the puck behind the net, Bo got his body in the way, and Boucher bulled in and nonchalantly backhanded it over Mrazek. This all happened with under three minutes to play, so like that time the Punctuality Club visited the Rolex factory, it was well-timed. The goal is being called unassisted, which at first I thought was Bo spit, But on closer inspection Horvat didn’t actually touch the puck. Too bad, he deserved a point.
- The beastly Bo-Boucher bromance wasn’t done. In a furious finish to the third, Horvat and Boucher had concurrent top-notch scoring chances on Mrazek. Then Anthony Mantha and Mike Green gave Ryan Miller a few heroic stops of his own.
- Wow! Let me tell you, there is no better way to end a game that builds in excitement than to smother it with the wet blanket of a weak call and an overtime loss. This is how the game ends; not with a bang, but with a "wah wah wah waaaaah." With Brandon Sutter serving a questionable interference penalty, Detroit got to go to work 4-on-3. Justin Abdelkader was in the right place at the right time with the right franchise winger. Henrik Zetterberg fired to Abdelkader at the side of the net, who tipped the puck up and past Miller for the bonus point that neither team really needs.
- I should probably break down the game further, talk about the goaltending, get into the analytics. But Vancouver just acquired something shiny, and when you have attention deficit disorder, that's kind of a big deal! Also, that dog has a puffy tail!