…and they’re off!
Here we go folks! The games always count…but from here on in, they really count. If our hockey team really does have character, if we really have the horses, then this is the fun time of year.
No more cliches about one game at a time or even one shift at a time. If these guys can’t focus from here on in, then a lot of us will have to admit that the Canucks aren’t who we thought they were.
At least, I’ll have to admit it.
Before the season, I refused to play the prediction game. But I did take notice of the experts who picked us for dead last in the division…and the truth is, such mindless prognosticating is best left to the Sybil Trelawny’s of the world.
Ohhh, I see the Canucks in grave danger!
I never believed it. I was one of those who felt there was too much talent and character on this team. But the past couple of weeks have taken a toll on my eternal optimism. I can rationalize with the best of you. The schedule sucked. The injuries were catastrophic. And then it became, well Mats has to get his legs. Roberto has to get his game back. We needed the all star break to re-fuel.
I asked Wayne Gretzky one time what his next goal was, besides the obvious…bringing a Cup to LA. I mean here was a guy who recorded five 200 plus point seasons (no one else even had one 200 point season…not even Mario), a guy who scored 38 goals in fifty games…a guy who scored 92 goals in one season…who regularly had more assists than the second place player had points. And what was the next goal for the Great One?
It’s the mark of a true pro, he told me.
And I thought, well geeze, Gretz…who’s more consistent than you. But of course Gretzky knew more about the game than I ever will. And he knew that there’s more to the game than just getting goals and assists. As Gretzky matured, he worried about his all-round game. Ah, the little things it takes to win hockey games.
And winning hockey games was the only thing he cared about. And the reason I so shamelessly drop Gretzky’s name into the blog is that it reminds me of the only thing that I care about down the stretch.
Like Al Davis of the Raiders always said…
Just win, baby.
After the first period, I’m left with a few obvious perceptions. The first is, we got outworked in our own barn. There is no excuse for that. Secondly, I thought Lou played well…a handful of his excellent saves kept the game close. Third, whatever is wrong with this team, is still wrong. The collective head is not in the game. We had a few shots, but no scoring chances. I am left with one overwhelming feeling.
I suppose, like me, your disappointment cleared during that five minute segment in the second period. And for that brief period, like a November fog lifting, the clarity produced a moment of extreme beauty. Suddenly the passing was served short and crisp. Everyone hustled and everyone cared. Burrows is once again the best bargain in the league. Sami’s shot comes back and we are all raising our arms in the air. To cap it off, Ryan Johnson shows a better finish than a Les Paul classic.
And then the fog rolled in again. Kevin Bieksa played like it was his first game in the show. The officiating looked like it had accumulated more rust from the layoff than the players. Mats’ legs turned to lead. Ohlund looked even slower than usual. And once again I am left with one overwhelming feeling.
The third period is a variation on a theme. And that theme is, Nashville outworked us. They won every battle that counted. They answered every check with a hard one of their own. Except for that five minute segment of the second period, they just plain outworked us. I didn’t see the effort I expected. I didn’t see the desire I hoped for. And my disappointment is finally replaced by a different overwhelming feeling.