Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne makes a save against Vancouver Canucks' Jannik Hansen in the first period of an NHL hockey game on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. Canucks won the game 1-0.
Photograph by: Mike Strasinger, AP
NASHVILLE — The Canucks 1-0 against Nashville was a game only grinders, and plugs could love.
And Bary Trotz. Maybe Alain Vigneault.
The Canucks coach at least got his two points. Hockey fans, however, had to write lines on the chalk board. Isn’t that what happens in detention?
That’s how watching the game felt. Actually, watching it was probably too cruel for kids.
One photographer called it “the most boring game ever played.”
No one was arguing with him.
The Predators were at their joy-killing best Friday, and the Canucks, tired, and generally out-of-sync this road trip, were all too willing to oblige.
Roberto Luongo was great in the first period. The rest of his team was out of it, managing just three shots on net in the first period, and one of them was a dump in.
So, where were the Canucks? Maybe at a Carrie Underwood concert. She wasn’t at the game. She obviously knows more about hockey than anyone realizes.
Vancouver did get better. But on Friday, that’s not saying much.
“This was our third game in four nights on the road with a tremendous amount of travelling and late nights.” Alain Vigneault said. “I had to play four lines. We did. We got a lot out of our people in the second and the third.
“Lui gave us the chance for us to get our legs and get our energy.”
In a plumber’s game, what better guy to score the only goal than Dale Weise?
Midway through the third, Max Lapierre got a shot on net, but the puck deflected off Scott Hannan’s skate and landed in Weise’s lap, for a backdoor tip in.
“We were joking yesterday at the pre-game meal how certain guys in the league always get these backdoor tap-ins,” Weise said. “I said ‘You know, I’d just love to get one.’”
He got his wish.
“Max made a heck of a play there. It was right on my tape, you can’t miss those,” Weise said.
Vigneault obviously has a soft spot for Weise. He’s had him up in the lineup with Ryan Kesler. He’s had him on the third line. He’s given him some shifts with the Sedins. And when he put Zack Kassian on the fourth line, it was Kassian who had to play left wing, his off wing, keeping Weise on the right side.
That’s before he scored. Now, that Weise got a goal, how long before he is on the power play?
“He’s an energy player, he’s a banger, a skater,” Vigneault said. “He’s playing on our penalty killing right now. He’s been a physical presence. He’s had a couple of good bouts this year. It’s good to see him finally get a goal.”
Weise generated chances through his first month of the season, but they generally took the tunnel to nowhere. How many have there been?
“I don’t know, how many nights have I lost sleep over chances I figured I should have scored? That’d be a better question,” Weise said. “It feels really good to break the ice and get that one, as big of a goal as it was.”
When the Canucks lost Kevin Bieksa in the game, they didn’t just lose one of their defencemen, they lost one of their leading scorers.
They could have used him.
Bieksa was forced out when he pulled up, leading into a Hal Gill hit on his second shift on the third period. With a a groin injury, he didn’t return.
“He tweaked a groin a little bit, we’ll know more tomorrow,” Vigneault said. “At first, it doesn’t seem to be that serious but we will find out tomorrow. See how he reacts to ice and treatment.”
If he’s out Sunday in Detroit, Andrew Alberts is in.
The injury scrambled the Canucks defensive pairings and left them without their hottest goal scorer.
Bieksa came into the game with five goals in his past eight games, and in the first period, when the Canucks generated just three shots, Bieksa had two of them.
So without Bieksa, who was going to score? It looked like no one. Through the first 50 minutes the game was scoreless. Snoozer doesn’t do it justice. At one point, Alex Edler nearly turned the puck over and the crowd erupted. They were that desperate for entertainment.
Could there be a better game for Weise to play hero?.
After the Weise goal, it was Luongo time. He made a string of saves on Mike Fisher, Rich Clune and Roman Josi. He was great both early in the game and late.
The Canucks had one sniff of a scoring chance in the first. Jannik Hansen took a stretch pass, and had a partial breakaway which was broken up by Nashville defenceman Kevin Klein, who somehow escaped the play without a hooking penalty.
Luongo got his first start in three games and held the fort as the Canucks were out-shot 13-3. Sergei Kostitsyn tested him first with a great chance generated off the a 3-on-2 rush with Craig Smith and Brandon Yip.
Luongo later thwarted Colin Wilson with a big glove save. Wilson flashed a creative move, generating a backhand chance in front of the net.
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