Like a lot of hockey fans, I watch a lot of other sports besides the greatest game on earth. I particularly love Football, both the CFL and the NFL. And I think Tennis is one of the most under-rated sports on the planet. And I’ve spent more than a few summer afternoons taking in the great American past time known as baseball. I love all sports…well except maybe NASCAR. That one I just don’t get. Boring. And I’m not worried about offending NASCAR fans. If they chase me…I’ll just turn right.
I’ve interviewed a cross section of athletes in the pro world. Lots of nice guys out there. Lots of narcissistic jerks. Some brilliant guys and some guys that should just wear their helmets twenty-four seven. And hockey players are quite simply some of the best people around. For every Sean Avery, I’ll name ten Trevor Lindens. And when you think about Canucks place, what it means to the community, what it means to real people, I defy you to come up with a similar effort in other pro sports. Hell, a group of NFL players, trying to get some financial support for former NFL players who have fallen down hard on their luck, sent out letters to every NFL player in the system, asking for their support in setting up a system to help these guys. These guys being…men who built the sport into a billion dollar industry. And of the hundreds of letters they sent out, you know how many responses they got.
Yeah, fifteen. And I’m not picking on football here. Look at the other sports. See anything like Canucks Place? How many times have you seen Canucks visiting sick or injured children? Lots, right? The Canucks have always been a huge part of this community and as much as we love our hockey, it’s important to recognize what the Canucks organization does for the community off the ice as well.
I’m just saying.
So before I get accused of trying to worm my way onto the Canuck payroll, let me confess my uneasiness with some of the things I see on the ice. I still have seen only flashes of Bob Luongo, the Real Roberto, these last few games. Soft goals can kill you and he’s been good for one softie every game. Our PP has been spotty, too many guys standing around. The PP is about movement and energy so guys like, oh I don’t know, say Alex Burrows!!!…would excel. The excuse from the coach is… We got to parcel out the minutes . Like guys in the NHL don’t play both the PP and the PK! Come on Coach…
I’m just saying.
And I need to see both top lines performing on the same night…not alternate nights. And it would be nice to see the third line perform with a bit more consistency. We have three guys on that line that could be good for twenty goals a season. We haven’t seen that from these guys. And finally the defense. We said before the season that we have one of the best top six in the league, but the decision making is too often inconsistent and tentative. Some nights the top six look slow and ponderous.
So there you have it. A pretty damning indictment…and where are these guys sitting in the standings, Dawg? What, fifteenth, sixteenth? Well, obviously we are fifth and climbing. My frustration comes from seeing the signs out there, but not the results. We’ll play well for a bit and then find ourselves playing down to the level of the bottom feeders. Good teams, contenders, not pretenders, don’t do that. They bury those guys.
That’s the attitude I’m hoping for tonight. I don’t think we need to have a laugher to gain that confidence…but we do need to dominate…because that’s what we need to do to start getting ready for the post-season.
Okay, the first period. Well, that’s more like it, boys!!! When you have a team on back-to-backs, you have to get to them in the first period. And we did. And you have to have a functioning PP and PK…and we did. One more thing, your goaltender has to play with a confidence bordering on arrogance. Ask Scott Hannan about that. One complaint. Steve Bernier is a pylon on the PP, standing in front of the net like the Colossus of Rhodes. Alex Burrows is the Tasmanian Devil who is simply the best any forward has ever looked with the Sedins. Ever. Come one coach, you know I’m right. Would you like another Jack Adams trophy? Put him on the PP. Just look at his work on the shorthanded goal. This guy just does not give up. And bonus goals by Wellwood and Pyatt gives us a commanding lead. Should be enough…but we’ll see.
Conventional wisdom also dictates that the team playing the second of back-to-backs will have its best period in the second. That certainly held true tonight. The Avs found their legs and even though they didn’t get lots of shots, they did play more in our zone than their own. But outside of a PP that found Edler trying to cover the point (and backing in and allowing a big shot from said point) we did a decent job of keeping control of the game. Like I said, we don’t’t need a laugher, we need control.
And oh, Lawdy, Lawdy!!! Is that Alex Burrows on the PP with the Sedins? Well, indeedy do. Unfortunately, as Shorty reported, we threatened but did not convert. However, we did look more dangerous with Burrows twice retrieving loose pucks to keep the cycle going. The rest of the period was a saw off…and the Avs will need more than that to escape the dive for five.
We open the third period with a goal by Roberto Luongo on an assist by Darcy Tucker. I know that goaltenders cannot handle the puck outside of the trapezoid but I’m thinking that outlawing goaltenders from handling the puck outside the crease would greatly benefit our boys. Unfortunately, we are making a game of it…for the Avs.
But there seems to be no panic in this late season edition of the Canucks. We kill penalties with ease and we keep most shots to the perimeter. And to his credit, after the week goal, Roberto slams the door shut. A couple of highlight saves included free of charge.
And it’s always fun to watch Darcy Tucker do the cheesey & whiny thing. After a career of cheap shots, he loudly complains about everything that comes back around on him. Gotta love karma. Which leads to the late penalty and a chance to euthanize the Avs .
The PP moves feet and pucks and we control their zone until Alex Edler wires one home quicker than Wells Fargo. Nice tribute to Ohly for the assist that gives him the lead in all-time points for Canucks D-men. He frustrates me sometimes, but the guy has had a major career for us. Be nice to see him lifting the Cup over his head come June. And a great juxtaposition of camera shots of Ohlund and Edler. A present leader with a future leader?
So there was lots to like tonight, particularly the W and the two points. Good hustle and good puck management. But we need to keep building on this because I still see us having to be better if we hope to be real contenders.