I honestly didn’t want to say anything. Sports fans are a superstitious bunch. We’ll digest every single stat, break down plays to microseconds and examine every possible aspect of the game we love. And we’ll still put on that “lucky jersey”. Not utter the word shutout in a game where out goalie has a clean sheet. We know it has no effect. It couldn’t. And we still do it.
I didn’t want to say I knew this would happen.
How could it not? Liking this team should be viewed as self-loathing behaviour, because it’s apparent that nothing good can ever happen. In a season where the team isn’t even in a goddamn playoff spot, something amazing was happening. We were having fun again. We were winning games, but even when we weren’t, there’s something there that gave us hope. It’s Brock Boeser. It’s Bo Horvat. And... it’s Elias Pettersson. And tonight, the Hockey Gods had enough of our joy, and decided to bring us back down to Earth.
I am still at a loss how this couldn’t have been a penalty. The whole ‘tangled up’ notion is insulting to the intelligence of hockey fans. They were not engaged in a battle for the puck. Pettersson is skating away and Jesperi Kotkaniemi hooks him, wraps him up in some kind of MMA-style leg lock and takes him down.
Now, does he mean to have his leg fold under and cause the injury? No. It wasn’t a deliberate injury. It was though, a pretty ridiculous example of interference, and here we are in January and we’re looking at the 3rd serious injury on a Canucks player without the puck that will go unpunished. And don’t kid yourself here, there’s not a thing that DoPS could do here, even if they cared enough to punish him.
And so we just get left with a lot of questions. Why wasn’t this called? Why didn’t Ben Hutton even skate over and give Kotkaniemi a shove? Is he going to be okay? At least there’s a ray of hope here...
Saw Pettersson walk through the room. No crutches and not a noticeable limp. #canucks waiting on coach to talk.— Dan Murphy (@sportsnetmurph) January 4, 2019
Here’s what Kotkaniemi had to say:
Here are Jesperi Kotkaniemi's answers to the questions about the Elias Pettersson injury: pic.twitter.com/rMJE9SVTmI— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) January 4, 2019
And then we get this, from Erik Gudbranson after the game:
Gudbranson post-game said they "for sure" considered getting in Kotkaniemi's face but "it's hard to say, you could, but usually that'll end up as a 7 minute power play for the other team and that's not what needed at that time"— Satiar Shah (@SatiarShah) January 4, 2019
Erik was just a wee lad when Pavel Bure had his knee blown out. He wouldn’t know that Bure was never the same. And yet SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO JUST SAY “FUCK IT!” AND STAND UP FOR YOUR GODDAMNED TEAMMATES, ERIK!!! I’m not saying murder the kid, but it’s not like he spent the night trembling in fear whenever a Canucks player approached. It was a bullshit, needless play that ended in just about the worst possible way and it didn’t raise a single pulse on that bench.
The Habs opened the scoring on a goal from Jordie Benn. I know, right? At least it wasn’t Michael Chaput. Benn puts the puck on net and Jacob Markstrom, screened by at least 3 guys can’t pick it up until it’s going past him. Another solid performance tonight from Marky, and he deserved better.
Gotta hand it to Brock Boeser. Dude was trying his best to will the team back into this. It’s unfortunate, because what we get left with apart from a couple posts and Price robbing him a few times is this defensive gaffe that led to the second goal.
After that, it was just frustrating chances hitting iron, getting stopped by Carey Price or getting blocked.
While it wasn’t a terrible game from the Canucks standpoint, after the Pettersson injury, they struggled to get things going (apart from Boeser, Horvat and Jake Virtanen, who were at least trying to generate chances). Defensively it was a hot mess, and this may shock you, but Erik Gudbranson had a bad game. How bad? Well, I am not a stats expert, but this is pretty bad:
It's decisions like these that lead to Gudbranson's abysmal 32.57% controlled exit rate combined with the #Canucks worst fail rate of 23.24% - Nearly one in four of his touches end up in turnovers, icings, or penalties in the defensive zone, it's bonkers! pic.twitter.com/vOCSOgp39R— Darryl Keeping (@dkeeping) January 4, 2019
Unless you’re tanking, why is a player performing like this continuing to dress? Maybe he needs to be sent a message the way Nikolay Goldobin was. Great job sitting the team’s 4th leading scorer on a night where they were shutout for the 3rd time in 6 games, by the way.
Here’s Travis Green’s postgame comments:
I didn’t know if anything could make me laugh tonight, but this did:
Please stop saying "If Kotkaniemi was taken down like that, Habs fans would be mad too." That comparison would only work if he had taken down Tyler Motte.— FAQ.gif.pdf (@HockeyDipshit) January 4, 2019
Stefan is gold, always.
Even iMac gets it tonight...
IMac: I think of all the blood lust that exists when a star player goes down, I think the most justifiable anger is that this is twice now that Pettersson has been taken down and injured behind the play without even a minor penalty being called. #Canucks— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) January 4, 2019
So we head into Toronto with no Elias Pettersson, no idea if Goldobin will get to play, still absolutely no idea why they signed Tim Schaller, and not much hope of beating a struggling Leafs team running tandem AHL goalies with how poorly the Canucks have played in the last few games. It’s at least looking like it might not be a serious injury, but this garbage has to stop at some point. We can’t just constantly be cursed to suffer these soul-crushing defeats for as long as we follow this team, right?
We’ll have the injury updates as soon as they’re available. Until then, think good thoughts, and maybe things might work out. Might wanna find that lucky jersey, just in case.