Of course, you understand that playing hockey as the Comeback Kids is not in the game plan. On the other hand, when we were slumping, we weren’t coming back from two goal deficits, we were blowing two goal leads. So given the choice, I guess we’d rather come back from the two goal deficit.
The last time we played Dallas we lost in the shootout on a squeaker. But Dallas was at the beginning of their recovery from a truly miserable start. Much of that misery was self-inflicted by a bad case of Averyism. Radical surgery was required and, assisted by Dr. Bettman, it was Dr. Marty Turco, leading the charge in the operating room. The cancer surgery was successful and Dallas turned its season around. I remember writing a few weeks ago about the odds of Dallas making the playoffs…and I rated them as a lock, even with injuries to mainstays such as Morrow and Zubov.
This is a good team with a proud hockey history. This team has won a Stanley Cup. This city is used to championships. Hell, I remember cheering for the Dallas Blackhawks way back when they were a Canuck farm team lead by the excellent coaching of John Muckler.
And now the excellent coaching of Dave Tippett has Dallas just behind us in the standings and one of the teams we will battle for a playoff position. Although Dallas having to battle to make the playoffs is something of a surprise given their performance last year in the post season, eliminating some fierce competition before losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champions.
And we have our excuses on the table before the puck drops. Third game in four nights. On the road. The flu bug running through the locker room. Our back-up is in net. Oh yeah, and the usual assortment of bumps and bruises that afflicts every professional hockey player by this time of year.
Oh yeah, and it’s Friday the 13th.
No matter who wins or loses, a headline writer for each team playing tonight will use that hoary old nugget in describing the outcome as unlucky (or lucky…choose your poison) for one of the teams on the ice. So, if we lose we are ready with all the excuses in the world.
But are we ready to play?
The first period is a series of reminders. Like, I’m reminded what quick hands Taylor Pyatt has. He is generally a slow, non-violent; big man. And then just as everyone looks for him to pass to a breaking Kyle Wellwood on a two on one, he wrists a deceptively quick shot over Turco’s glove. Love to see Marty bang his stick in frustration.
And then I’m reminded that not only is Turco a fine goaltender, he is virtually a third defenceman out there. I’m taking up a collection to send Roberto Luongo to Marty’s Puckhandling For Goaltender’s Camp. Send one dollar plus postage and handling…ah, never mind. But I don’t think it’s a great play, percentage wise, to shoot it in on the PP.
And then I’m reminded how special teams can change momentum. We keep Dallas on a leash until our second PP becomes so dreadful, not only do we not get a shot, we don’t get possession in the Stars’ zone the entire two minutes of the penalty. This subsequently leads to Dallas pressure after the they kill the penalty and that leads to Canucks’ panic. And that leads to us to a PK fighting for our lives.
But strangely enough, two of the worst PKs in the league, shut down two of the hotter PPs. All sorts of reasons to get superstitious tonight.
Must be something to do with Jason Voorhees.
But the second period was just plain frustrating. How can Steve Ott get away with boarding Willie Mitchell on a late hit? But then Hordichuk gets called for the rough play on Daley? And the insult is the little shot that big Willie gives to Ott’s chops gets called. Have another donut, McCreary.
And frustrating to see us kill off a two man penalty only to let the second half of the PK slip away. Or watch LaBarbera make the mircale save on Modano only to see the screen shot go in 30 seconds later. Oh man, I cussed so loud I scared both my dogs. We head into the third period down a goal. Well, at least that’s a positive sign.
But not tonight, kids.
Looks like we used up our puck luck in the previous four games. So we can’t take any points home from this game. But take a couple of positives back on the charter.
Jason LaBarbera looks like a solid investment.
And the boys didn’t throw in the towel. They competed until the buzzer went.