We have been playing fairly well for the last month and a half. We’ve had our down times (Montreal, southern Cal) but we’ve put together some decent streaks. We’ve consistently beaten the teams we should be beating. We are looking ahead in the standings, not worrying about who is behind us. Even Mike Gillis was speculating that the Canucks could not only finish ahead of Chicago, but beat out Calgary for the Division lead and…AND…finish sixth overall.
Heady stuff, that.
And that’s what worries me. After all, I’ve been a Canuck fan since 1970. You know the old song “Been down so long it looks like up to me.” That’s the theme song of the Canuck fan. We’ve had some magical runs…think 1982 and 1994. But be honest, that magic came out of nowhere. We had had fairly mediocre regular seasons until those playoff performances that sent us to the end of the post season. We followed up both by returning to mediocre hockey the following year. And the times we did have division winning teams, we disappointed in the playoffs.
And I said a couple of months ago that the teams that do well in the playoffs are the ones that come out of the all star break on fire. All you have to do is glance back to last year and look at the Dallas Stars. They got stronger and stronger until they eventually got bounced by the Stanley Cup Champs.
This year…not so much. Injuries to key players like Morrow, Richards and Zubov have decimated the Stars record this year. But, lest we get over-confident, don’t forget that they still have chubby Marty Turco who, as miserable as he has been at times this year, has always saved his best hockey for us. Thanks Marty.
So, as much as Dallas is on the bubble, they are a well-coached, highly motivated team. They play a disciplined style and they can give your confidence fits. Add one more small pain to my lower back…and that is the fact that Brendan Morrison, a remnant of the glory days of the West Coast Express, is returning to the garage…on St Paddy’s Day.
So what do we need? We need to pay attention to our game tonight. We need top notch puck support, forechecking and especially shoot-ins. Turco loves to over-handle the puck, but we can make him pay. We need to put the foot down and not let up. Simple, right?
But Dallas starts with the trap and we start out with our eggs scrambled. An early too many-men penalty (no excuse, except the head is not in the game) leads to early Dallas pressure. But we kill it and come back quick and Kesler and Demitra combine for a goal…ahh, nuts. No goal.
But Daniel Sedin busts the slump (first goal in 11 games) with the perfect shot in the top corner…okay, kidding. He banked it in off Robidas…accidentally. This one counts though.
The game heats up with Steve Ott running around hitting everything moving (the hit on Demitra should have been called). Ott is one of those guys you love to hate. Daniel Sedin takes a hit and comes back with a shot to the head.
BOBBLE HEAD RAY
WHINES WHEN TOUCHED
Ferraro whines about undisciplined play but I like the aggressive move. Big Willi follows up by pasting Robidas into the boards. Dallas doesn’t do much on the PP as we look to gain some momentum, but Turco robs SOB on a great scoring chance.
Hordichuk delivers a massive hit on Begin, but unfortunately it is interference. Lots of feeling tonight. Our PK looks in full control until Robidas makes up for his earlier gaff by blasting one to the net. Looks like uber-rookie James Neal tips it in.
A tied game after one is not a disaster…just gives me room to worry. I suggest a brandy. Good call.
Seems to settle the Canuck nerves as well. Against the run of the play, Kesler pulls some magic off of a Demitra feed, splitting the Dallas D before wiring the backhander home.
And a PP a short time after that sees our PP bear down, with Kesler making a good pass to Wellwood and then Wellwood making a GREAT pass to Sundin. Great hand-eye by Mats and we are up by two.
An unfortunate penalty by Alexander the Great leads to some worrisome moments, but skate off with the lead intact. Nice to see Kesler out for the last shift after taking a hand off the glove. One less thing to worry about.
And the game seems in control all through the third period until we run into penalty trouble…but Kesler and Burrows play Batman and Robin and Luongo is not severely tested. I’m also thinking about how well that Raymond and Wellwood are playing tonight when Dallas gets a lucky break and the hated Steve Ott cashes in. Nothing easy tonight against a Dallas team that has come back on us more times than cabbage and corned beef. Maybe I’ll have another brandy and get out my old Greek worry beads.
Until one of the prettiest four way passing plays you’ll see with Wellwood, Bieksa and Raymond combining to set up Bernier. See, brandy is good for you.
But then another penalty gives me a heart attack in my bum. Turco is pulled. The loud smacking sound is Ferraro’s lips leaving Marty’s butt. Or was that Steve Ott’s butt? It’s hard to tell with Ray, as his hate-on for the Canucks is well evident tonight. But we shut the Dallas PP down tonight with a superb effort. Great two points. Nothing to worry about…tied for fourth!