Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Wild 6, Canucks 0
Reuters photo -- Eric Miller

[posted in full Thu ~4:47p]

My goodness, this was bad. Last Saturday night, Raffi Torres lit up the Canucks on his birthday. In this game, Wild goalie Dwayne Roloson and his teammate Randy Robitaille were celebrating birthdays. The trend of birthday-having players doing well against the Canucks held up, but it wasn't the reason the Canucks lost. There was no one player to blame in this game, and those six goals aren't wholly Dan Cloutier's fault or anything. The entire team completely and unequivocally sucked. Bottom line is, the Canucks have a day off before facing the same team in the same building on Friday night.

Let the badness begin...

1st period
Richard Park lifted Andrei Zyuzin's stick early to nullify a scoring chance, but from there it only got worse. Todd Bertuzzi got the obligatory boo-fest and shortly was called for hooking after tying up Willie Mitchell. Dan Cloutier stopped a couple of shots on the start of the power play, but as he does, he did leave some rebounds, making it a bit precarious. Zyuzin took a rink-wide pass from Pascal Dupuis and unloaded a point shot which went off of Jarkko Ruutu's stick (he was in the middle of the right circle) and floated past Cloutier, who had already went to his knees in front of the net.
»» 1, MINNESOTA, powerplay, Andrei Zyuzin 1 (Pascal Dupuis, Randy Robitaille) 3:05
Ruutu was whistled for holding right after the Zyuzin goal, but this one was killed. The Canucks had a power play not long after on a Randy Robitaille hooking penalty, but as was usual with nearly all of the Canucks' shots in this game, they were either weak or from the outside, nowhere down low by the net. Cloutier flashed some brilliance, making a toe save later on Robitaille. Alex Henry took an interference penalty for the Wild, but once again, the power play was crap. To cap off the crappy period for the Canucks, Bertuzzi was called for hooking with about three seconds left. Minnesota outshot the Canucks 11-3 in the first period, and it definitely seemed like that was the case.

2nd period
Ironically, the Canucks played better but the score got worse. A weird bounce of the puck led to a loose puck out front for Wes Walz, who shot it high and wide. Mattias Ohlund and Nolan Baumgartner had a shift of nearly two minutes (look here) early on in the period. Brendan Morrison chimed in with the best chance of the game, but he was robbed by Dwayne Roloson in the Minnesota net. One of the Canucks shot the puck into the net after the whistle, with Minnesota players taking umbrage. Since Bertuzzi couldn't do anything in terms of putting the puck into the net and getting scoring chances, he let his fists do some talking as he sparred with Alex Henry. It's the first fight for the Canucks this year, I'm pretty sure, unless one happened in Edmonton (I was out that night). Trevor Linden was interfered with, and he let the officials know as much. Despite the Canucks playing with a little more spirit after the Bertuzzi scrap, they had nothing to show for it. As a result, it got worse. Baumgartner lost his position on Marc Chouinard, cheating too much to the puck. Chouinard had no trouble, putting it past Cloutier's left leg.
»» 2, MINNESOTA, Marc Chouinard 4 (Brian Rolston, Kyle Wanvig) 11:17
Matt Cooke tipped a rebound just wide of the net, and later Sami Salo had a deflected shot stopped by Roloson. Cloutier robbed Brian Rolston, going post-to-post and making a pad stop. On the same play, Ed Jovanovski went off to the box for a slash. With a good centering pass from Alexandre Daigle, and with Cooke leaving Matt Foy in the slot and Salo being late to compensate, Foy had his first NHL goal.
»» 3, MINNESOTA, powerplay, Matt Foy 1 (Robitaille, Alexandre Daigle) 17:30
Shots amazingly were 12 apiece in the period, though Minnesota was unquestionably in catbird seat after the Chouinard goal. Minnesota outshot the Canucks 23-15 after forty minutes.

3rd period
Mitchell hooked Markus Naslund just 16 seconds into the period, putting the Canucks onto the man-advantage. Not that it mattered. There was more urgency, it seemed, but results were the same. Bertuzzi made a bad pass and lost the puck shortly after, killing important powerplay time. Bryan Allen sent Todd White to the dressing room after a knee-on-knee hit. With Jovanovski in the boc for intefering with Stephane Veilleux, Pierre-Marc Bouchard was hauled down by Allen on a drive to the net. Though somewhat debatable, Bouchard was awarded a penalty shot, and when it rains, it pours. Stick side, no deke.
»» 4, MINNESOTA, powerplay/penalty shot, Pierre-Marc Bouchard 1 (unassisted) 9:54
Park whiffed on a puck in front of the net. Morrison was boarded from behind by Chouinard, and the resulting power play got decent chances from Jovanovski and Salo, but by this point they were only efforts to spoil the shutout because the game was long lost. Cloutier was caught out of his net, and as he scrambled back to cover, Foy pounced on the puck and backhanded it off the back of Cloutier's left leg. Again, the thing about raining and pouring comes to mind.
»» 5, MINNESOTA, Foy 2 (unassisted) 13:38
Foy went to the box shortly after for interfering, but obviously nothing came of it for Vancouver. Cloutier and Steve McCarthy were tangled up at one point, it got so bad. How about a 2-on-1 break to finish it off? The puck went right through Cloutier.
»» 6, MINNESOTA, Brian Rolston 1 (Wes Walz) 18:35
Okay, a Naslund shot off the post finished it off. They wouldn't be scoring tonight. The Canucks outshot the Wild 18-5 in the final period and 33-28 overall, but none of that mattered.

Three stars -- (1) Minnesota's Dwayne Roloson, (2) Minnesota's Matt Foy, (3) Minnesota's Randy Robitaille

skater, goals-assists-points
none for Vancouver

Ouch. Dwayne Roloson stopped all 36 shots on his birthday for his 17th career shutout. He is unbeaten against the Canucks in his NHL career.

For the third straight game, the Canucks allowed the first goal, and it can be said that they haven't put together 60 minutes of good play this season. After Richard Park fanned on the puck in the third period, Tom Larscheid on the radio broadcast simply remarked that the Canucks looked "tight as a drum." I didn't need a TV screen to know that they weren't doing anything. I for one can't really believe that the Canucks actually got 28 shots off in this game. If you tried to count legitimate scoring chances, it's way way less. It's safe to say that Roloson probably saw nearly all of the pucks that got to the net in this one.

The Canuck radio postgame trio of John Shorthouse, Tom Larscheid, and Dan Russell dug up an interesting number. In his last 92 games (including playoffs), Todd Bertuzzi has scored a grand total of 19 goals. In his last 19 games (again, including playoffs), he has scored one goal. Larscheid noted that Bertuzzi isn't playing with much confidence, and that he may have underestimated the difficulty of getting back into the NHL.

While Bertuzzi is struggling, it doesn't help the big line isn't getting the puck, and it doesn't have the puck as long as it should when Brendan Morrison is only 7-for-21 in the faceoff circle. Though the big line can't do much without the puck, on this night it was a team-wide effort in futility as they won 36% of their faceoffs. Trevor Linden was 3-for-9, Ryan Kesler was a brutal 5-for-18, and Bertuzzi was 1-for-4. Henrik Sedin still had a shred of magic left over from his game against Detroit, winning seven of eleven faceoffs.

Sami Salo and Ed Jovanovski had five shots apiece. They're defensemen, so their shots are more likely from the point or the blueline, pretty far from the net. Morrison, Naslund, and Bertuzzi combined for four shots total. You can guess where those shots should be from, but even those probably weren't very close. Anson Carter was next on the shot chart with three. Somehow, the Canucks managed seven non-minus skaters. They also had seven minus-one skaters along with four minus-two skaters (Ohlund, Park, Kesler, Cooke). Jarkko Ruutu, Matt Cooke, and Mattias Ohlund delivered three hits apiece, so I guess it's not all bad. Wait, maybe it is all bad. This game was bad, after all.

Just a horrible game for Vancouver. I hope the Canucks got it out of their system. They've got to come out of the gate strong. Who knows, Marian Gaborik might actually be in the game Friday night, and surely that makes the Wild a better team.

The Canucks are 2-1-1, good for five points in the standings.

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