The Canucks are back and looking to continue their roll against the Eastern Conference. Will Alain Vigneault and the Rangers have anything to say about that? Or will they just keep reminding us of that time they ruined our dreams? Read on to find out.
The Canucks kicked off their road trip with a decisive win against their Heritage Classic “rivals” from out East. The Canucks came into Ottawa looking to forget their woeful 6 game homestead and boy, did they ever. As standard operating procedure dictates, Vancouver gave up the first goal of the game as Clarke MacArthur beat Roberto Luongo short side to make it 1-0 Sens. If you were thinking to yourself, gee, I wonder whose fault that was? John Tortorella quickly made that clear as he berated Jannik Hansen on the bench for a missed check and lackadaisical back check. Whatever he said to Hansen seemed to galvanize the rest of the team as the Canucks exploded for 4 goals in the second period courtesy of Mr. 300 Daniel Sedin, David “Holy crap he actually scored” Booth, Jason Garrison, and Dale Weise. Ottawa made it close at 4-2 before the second period was over, but Mike Santorelli killed that idea by making it 5-2 in the third and sealing the win for the Canucks. If you heard a sudden gust of wind, don’t be alarmed. It was just the lower mainland breathing a sigh of relief.
The New York Rangers (or, those bastards that ruined 1994 as I like to call them), will always be connected to Vancouver in some way. Usually, we’re talking about the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. However, these days it’s all about the most obscure trade we’ve ever witnessed in NHL history. Although we have already seen Alain Vigneault return to Vancouver (albeit in the preseason), Saturday’s game against the Rangers marks the first time John Tortorella will return to New York as coach of the Canucks. After a dismal start to the season under the new regime, the Rangers have begun their slow ascent to respectability and now sit in 7th place in the Eastern Conference
despite with a 13-12-0 record. Led offensively by Brad Richards and Derek Stepan, the Rangers have had a tough time scoring goals under Vigneault, who recently stated the Rangers had to “go into games with the mentality of 2-1″ (anyone else just have a chill run down their spine?). Vigneault seems intent of leaning on his defence, led by Marc Staal and his ridiculously good looking goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Tortorella isn’t one to mess with lines if he believes things are going well. After a 5-2, I wager he thinks things are going well. Look for Luongo to get the net again.
D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Burrows
Higgins – Kesler - Hansen
Weise – Santorelli – Booth
Sestito – Richardson – Kassian
Edler – Bieksa
Hamhuis – Tanev
Stanton – Garrison
1. Continue to Take Advantage of the East
As we’ve all heard repeatedly over the last month, the Canucks have dug themselves a hole in the Western Conference that historically, will be close to impossible to dig themselves out of. I don’t really buy into that, especially because I’m one of those people who believes the Canucks have played much better than their record indicates. However, regardless of how well they played, they still failed to get points and now find themselves in 9th place. This is where the current road trip can really help the Canucks get back into the playoff fold. The East has been terrible this year (the Rangers are in 7th…), so this is a huge opportunity that the Canucks absolutely have to take advantage and gain some points.
2. David Booth
The one thing about David Booth that you have to admire is that nothing seems to get him down. I’m not a huge Booth fan, but I have to admit it was hard not to smile when he finally got his second goal of the year. In what may be his final chance, Booth has begun to play much better and is taking advantage of his opportunities. Although Tortorella is being cautious about his progress, it has been encouraging to see him driving the net and creating chances.
3. Alain Vigneault vs John Tortorella
It’s very rare that a coaching matchup is a hot topic going into a hockey game. But with teams essentially swapping coaches during the offseason, we’re bound to hear a few comparisons about how each team has responded to the change. Obviously we have seen the Torts effect (Thursday night for instance), but it will be very interesting to see how the Rangers play under AV as the team is finally starting to gain some traction. It will also be interesting to see how hard each team plays for their new coach, knowing full well how much a win would mean to them.
The only thing that really concerns me about this game is the early start, but that wasn’t an issue earlier in the year when the Canucks played a fantastic road game against the Penguins. I just hope the Canucks can break through Vigneault’s system otherwise I’m going to need a lot of lunch beers to enjoy this. Vancouver wins it 3-1. Former Canuck Taylor Pyatt continues to make the ladies swoon.
Side note: I showed my wife the original picture of Pyatt that I wanted to use. She didn’t feel it was good enough and was very adamant I use a better picture. Taylor seems to have left an impression…