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Hockey, Sports

SixPack: Canucks win by losing final game of season

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Omar Apr 09, 2017 5:00 pm 344

You’re not supposed to care anymore.

Since January 26, the Canucks have been the worst team in the league. And all season long, they’ve been unbearable to watch.

They rarely scored first, they rarely had or held leads. All opposing teams had to do was show up for half periods if that, score a couple of goals, grab the lead and get back to coasting.

Yet you’re still here watching the games until the bitter end and reading about them afterward.

That doesn’t exactly fit with the “Canucks fans can’t handle a rebuild” narrative.

Are fans paying big bucks for tickets? No.

Are seasons ticket holders busting down the doors at Rogers Arena to renew? Definitely not.

Was the entire city ready for this torturous hockey season to come to an end? Uh, yeah.

That’s more about the boring product on the ice and lack of confidence in the team’s direction than the city being full of bandwagon fans, though.

Really, Canucks fans are as engaged as they could possibly be considering their team just finished second last out of 30 NHL teams.

The biggest concern for most fans going into game 82 was Vancouver would somehow find a way to screw this up. Had they won, they’d finish above both Arizona and New Jersey (and Colorado), and they’d get the fifth best odds in the draft lottery with Vegas coming into the league next year.

With a loss, they’d stay at 29th and have the second best odds.

Benning and Linden did say they wanted the team to be playing meaningful hockey in March and April. Well, considering those numbers, the last game could not have been bigger.

Don’t think that’s what they meant, though.

Anyway, the Canucks did it. They lost 5-2 in their final game, and with Connor McDavid needing two points to reach 100, they gave those up too.

It really was a remarkably terrible season, so to do it justice we’ll have an extended version of the SixPack.

Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to read it with the long off-season.

See also

1. Time travel back to October

Remember that 65-point projection from USA Today back at the start of the season?

Of course you do – it gets talked about once a week.

What you might not remember is Trevor Linden’s response.

These are the quotes from the iMac’s article:

“Sometimes there’s a shock factor to it,” Canuck president Trevor Linden said hopefully. “You get more attention when you make predictions like that. I expect us to be better than last year.

“I expect us to be hard to play against and to compete every night. And at the end of the day, we’re going to be in the fight (for a playoff spot). We do expect to be better this year.”

Now, I don’t need to tell you, the person who’s still reading about the Canucks after game 82, that they weren’t better than last year.

At the end of the day they finished with 69 points – a nice, round number – and 6 fewer than last season’s 75.

At the end of the day, the Canucks weren’t in the fight for a playoff spot.

And because of that, at the end of the day, you have to wonder who will be making proclamations and promises like these for the team next season.

2. How they almost blew it

Honestly, they were never close to blowing it. Still, with the Canucks’ luck over the years, fans were worried they might somehow tie or even win this game.

Early in the first, Boucher had a breakaway that had fans jumping out of their seats (in morbid fear) when he hit the post.

Then Bachman had them worrying he was going Dominik Hasek with a bunch of saves on Edmonton’s snipers, including this one on McDavid.

Luckily Edler was playing – he who many have annointed second-in-command to the OG Tank Commander, Willie.

Edler took a slashing penalty late in the first, just 10 seconds after Tryamkin’s, giving Edmonton a two-man advantage.

This was the result.

Now, let’s take a moment to recognize the efforts of one Luca Sbisa, who not only tipped in Eberle’s first goal that got the scoring started for Edmonton, but who has been one of the strongest supporters of the tank efforts in the past two seasons.

(He was also one of the biggest reasons the Canucks lost to the Flames in the playoffs two years ago, so it’s the least he could do.)

The Canucks weren’t done scaring their fans, though, as Goldobin scored early in the second to make it 1-1.

It really was a beautiful goal, as Goldy knocked it out of the air and showed what the Sedins might’ve been able to do had they been playing with finishers all year instead of Megna, Sutter and whatever other stone-handed linemates Willie threw with them.

Too bad fans weren’t in the mood to celebrate it.

Eberle scored again shortly after, giving them a 2-1 lead, and a few minutes later this happened.

That’s Slepyshev scoring, giving the Oilers a 3-1 lead, but just as Canucks fans thought they could finally rest, Willie challenged the goal as being offside.

You thought he was a stealth tanker? Thought he called that timeout near the end of the Arizona game to give the Coyotes a rest on purpose? Nope – Willie was always in it to win. He just wasn’t very good at it.

He won the challenge, returning the game to 2-1.

Thing is, the Oilers have skill for days and they scored their 3-1 goal before the second period was over.

They never looked back from there – McDavid got his 100th point, Eberle got his hat trick, and the Canucks, well they got their biggest win of the season with that massive loss.

3. Hutton should not be trade bait

If Canucks management had their way, they’d have probably traded Ben Hutton earlier this season for a winger.

Several times Benning said he’d look to move a player from his “deep” defence to get a scorer, and Bob McKenzie speculated it could be Hutton going the other way. Realize when McKenzie speculates he doesn’t do it without doing a ton of background work first.

Anyway, here’s Hutton with the instant response after Chaput was laid out.

That was Hutton’s first fight in the NHL, so the response shouldn’t be taken lightly either.

And considering how little pushback the entire Canucks roster has had over the past two months, stuff like this really should be appreciated. They’ll need it with the rebuild coming.

4. How I’ll remember Willie

Willie, in (likely) his last game as Canucks’ coach.

Willie, when handed players with offensive upside and ability by those above him.

5. Hopes vs. Expectations

With the season over, I asked Canucks fans two questions: what are they hoping to see and what are they expecting from the team in terms of major decisions over the next few days.

Hoping to see:

Expecting to see:

Hoping to see:

Expecting to see:

Hoping to see:

Expecting to see:

Some fans were even submitting their own wish lists to Linden and the Aquilinis.

6. Most savage takes

This was harsh.

This was a show stopper.

BONUS: Caption this

What was Tryamkin saying to Edler in the penalty box here?

Lolz:

LOLZ:

Savage lolz:

And the winner of the lolz:

(BTW, don’t @ me with what Tryamkin actually said. I know the real answer and I don’t care).

DOUBLE BONUS: Stay spiteful Canucks fans

Hey, if Canucks fans can’t have playoffs, why should their biggest rivals have any more than necessary?

TRIPLE BONUS: Bad move, Francesco

Considering the Canucks finished the season as the second-worst team in the league, and most fans are not happy about the team’s muddled lack of direction, it probably wasn’t the best time for this.

The immediate question: do what?

Spend to the Cap three years straight with nothing to show for it? True, you need fans to buy tickets to support those costs I suppose.

Really, the tweet was an invitation for a bunch of responses similar to these.

Nope, not the best idea, sending that tweet minutes after one of the worst seasons in the team’s history ended.

He followed up that first tweet with a second.

The worst idea? Attaching yourself to the blunders of your management group.

Linden, Benning and Willie were taking the heat. There was no need to step in the way of those bullets.

QUADRUPLE BONUS: Thanks for reading

And with that, it’s over. It’s finally over.

As crappy as it was analyzing all those losses, I think I speak for Wyatt, myself, and the SixPack third and fourth stringers, when I say it was incredibly fun writing about them.

Honestly, it’s fun interacting with you guys and talking about hockey every day.

Three more thank you’s:

1. To Ryan Biech for his constant help with most of the gifs I used in the SixPacks this season.

2. To Willie, Benning, and Linden for giving us enough material to write about day after day, through the long, 82-game season.

Whatever happens to them, the hockey writers in this city have to appreciate that effort.

3. To all of you for reading and caring enough to support us or rip us. Without you, it’d all be pointless.


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Omar
Sports writer with Daily Hive Vancouver; University of Kings College journalism grad; worked at TSN.ca and 24Hours.

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