Things had been going so well for Canucks Tank Nation (we have to specify as there are several Tank Nations across Canada).
The Canucks had lost nine games in a row. Spirits had never been higher (grimly dark).
For a team that at one point looked like it might end up in the 8-10th draft position, the fact the Canucks were actually in a heated race (drowning) for Auston Matthews was a miracle in and of itself.
The Sharks, though, are a strange beast. So good at thumping Vancouver in Rogers Arena, so bad at beating them in San Jose.
Add to that the fact Ryan Miller always seems to play well against San Jose.
Add in the fact the Sedins are bound to have a couple of good games left in them this season.
Add in the fact that the odds alone are working against Tank Nation (hard to lose them all).
Add it all up, and Tank Nation knew they were in trouble tonight. Fears were confirmed when the Canucks managed to walk out of San Jose with a 4-2 win.
Some rejoiced. “A win is a win!”
Some were angry. “Auston Mattheeeeeeeeeeeeews!”
Some were out with their friends not watching the game because it’s awful hockey. They were the lucky ones.
Since apparently I can’t file a SixPack without six things being talked about (I asked Rob if I could just write an intro then draw a picture of a fart in MS Paint, but he refused), let’s jump into this, shall we?
1. The Night the Tank Failed
— Sporting Vancouver (@vansport) April 1, 2016
At one point, things looked perfectly set up for Tank Nation. Lose out the season and have the best shot at Matthews? Yes please, sign us up.
— Dan Murphy (@sportsnetmurph) April 1, 2016
Except this is Vancouver.
A place where nothing is easy.
So we all knew this loss was coming.
When Daniel Sedin scored a goal straight out of NHL 13 (soft rebound goal), we weren’t surprised:
When a Sedin scores but then you remember Auston Matthews pic.twitter.com/ZaQvM3Dnip
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) April 1, 2016
It’s always nice to see Daniel score, of course, but the Canucks winning any games is kind of like seeing your brother hook up with your ex-girlfriend. Sure, you’re happy for the guy scoring, but it’s super weird and conflicting and you kind of wish it wasn’t happening.
Then Bo Scorevat showed up:
Which again, is kind of awesome. Horvat has struggled on offence at times this season, so to see him finish off that turnover is great to see. You have to hope it’s a confidence booster for him.
Except, again, it meant the Canucks were slowly sliding away from Matthews.
— Russ (@russellgburger) April 1, 2016
Luckily everyone knew the Canucks would have to make it a bit greasier than that.
So when the Sharks tied it up a 2 in the third, it felt…right. It felt like home.
Some of us even thought maybe Tank Nation could pull this one out.
Until Jannik Hansen and his Geoff Courtnall-like slapper from the side arrived:
Congrats to Hansen on his 20th… Seriously, way to go. 3-2 Canucks lead. pic.twitter.com/aWmdfkwnRB
— Blake Price (@BlakePriceTSN) April 1, 2016
Before you knew it, Granlund (perhaps feeling the heat from the Shinkaruk goal) iced the game away with an empty netter.
Just like that, Tank Nation had suffered its first defeat in nine games.
2. Bang Bang Bartkowski
We are getting closer and closer to finding out if Benning wants to re-sign Bartkowski and it terrifies me.
They like his skillset. They’ve stated they love his skating.
And yes, we can all agree, the guy can skate.
It’s what he does while skating that is the horrifying part. He just doesn’t make good decisions.
He’ll try and skate his way out of trouble when he shouldn’t.
He will clear the puck when he has time, right to the other team.
His defensive coverage can be lacking.
But if management loves a guy, they will focus on that one ability they like (ie Sbisa and his scrum ability) and hype it up to no end.
So it’s not crazy to think that the team would bring him back and talk about his skating being a key factor in it.
And maybe on a stronger team, you can hide Bang Bang in the lineup better, and make better use of his skating and offensive contributions.
But on this squad? No chance.
When you see things like this, you kind of die a little inside:
That’s Bartkowski, playing like he ran out of batteries.
Maybe he thought Biega was going to slide right over, but either way, it’s an awful play. At the speed Couture was going, Biega had no chance to cover him effectively if they swapped off. It also takes an ungodly amount of time to pass before Bang Bang even realizes anything went wrong on the play.
Will they or won’t they re-sign him? That is the scariest question of them all.
3. These Things Happened
There weren’t enough things that happened in this game to make for great talking points, so let’s rapid fire some of the smaller things.
Biega threw a huge hit. Yay Biega, yay!
I’m still not sold on Biega, but it doesn’t help when he’s paired with Bartkowski for the game. It becomes too hard to tell who is at fault when they pair up.
Still, look at that hit!
INJURY UPDATE – Baertschi suffered a lower body injury and will not return. #Canucks
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) April 1, 2016
It doesn’t look like much, but that little leg wobble was enough to knock Baertschi out of the game.
And at this point in the season, if a Canuck has so much as an infected cut, you might as well sit them. Nobody needs to be a hero here.
That being said, one of the few watchable things during these last handful of awful games has been the play of Baertschi, so this is a tough one for people who like entertaining hockey.
In reality, this is Brian Hamilton, the assistant equipment manager doing his best Jack Bauer impression to switch out Ryan Miller’s bent mask during a break in play as quickly as possible.
“IF I DON’T SWITCH OUT THIS MASK, MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WILL DIE!”
On the internet, I hope this turns into a story of someone stealing a goalie mask and hightailing it out of there, or perhaps of an equipment manager running away from a couple of Velociraptors that found their way into the tunnel.
The one glance back that spurs him to run even faster… I can’t stop watching it.
4. The Sedins
The Sedins are already firmly cemented as legends in this city.
Yes, they are slowing down, and yes, their careers will be over sooner rather than later, but they still have some gas left in the tank.
And while during the last nine game stretch they’ve been MIA, people give them a break because a) losing is fine right now and b) if anyone deserves some time off it’s the Twins.
Still, give them credit for showing up tonight and having themselves a strong game. We even saw the cycle game show up, which was a nice treat to see.
If anyone wanted to avoid a 10 game losing streak the most, it was probably the Twins.
5. Bo Horvat
Just as a point of reference, Henrik had 36 points in his second season; Kesler had 23. Horvat just got point number 34. #Canucks centres.
— Brad Fay (@SNBradFay) April 1, 2016
Let’s also spread a little love to Bo Horvat. On a season where a lot has been asked of him (No Sutter for most of the season, trying to play both defensively and offensively, a variety of linemates) he has had a solid second season.
Obviously Brad’s tweet is spun in a positive light, and we have no idea how his career will turn out (will he have that mythical summer of “working on his shot” like Kesler did??), but Mr. Fay is correct in pointing out that it’s still been a decent season for Horvat, all things considered.
A lot has been expected of him, and it’s easy to get frustrated with his repeated attempts (and usual failures) at dangling through three guys, but on a team that had a season this poor, Horvat has shown many positives, especially in a hard position like centre.
He has a lot to work on, but what young players don’t? Aside from future Canuck Auston Matthews of course.
6. Random Grab Bag of Treats
Hahaha. Imagining Jumbo Joe in toon town is the best. Thank you @sportsnetmurph
— Cookie Hollyham 💋 (@Rad_NikkiYYC) April 1, 2016
Dan Murphy informed us that Joe Thornton credits his great season this year due to resting properly.
Then Dan informed us he ran into Joe at Disneyland and he looked haggard and run down.
He looked haggard and run down because Disneyland is in fact the WORST PLACE ON EARTH.
Argue all you want, but once you hit puberty, Disneyland is where dreams go to die, along with your feet and your wallet.
Turkey legs that taste like undercooked ham?? Come on guys, what are we doing here.
Shinkaruk with monahan and Gaudreau. This could be a fun line.
— Trevor Martins (@Tmart1040) April 1, 2016
It was not, the Flames got shut out.
Peter DeBurns pic.twitter.com/gihNRGRnCA
— Matty Go Sens (@Gerv_Rebrand) April 1, 2016
This is straight out of the movie The Burbs.
Dunk contests involve props, and I understand that.
And sometimes dunks don’t always get pulled off.
So in this case, when the player ends up hitting the Pancake Man, it’s not THAT shocking.
What I want to know is who thought it was a great idea to give the Pancake the look of a horrified pancake. It looks like it just woke up and found itself being cooked. It even has butter for its nose, which lends more credibility to my theory.
It does make for the perfect screen shot, though. It honestly looks like dudes leg hit Pancake in the face and the picture was taken at the precise moment Pancake knew they just screwed up the dunk contest and/or had possibly broken Pancake’s nose.
Jeff the Pancake. That is the name I have given him.
Doug Lidster has been around for most of the really pathetic seasons in Canucks history. Clearly he's the issue.
— Coop (@1Cooop) April 1, 2016
Never trust a man in transitional lenses.