It’s a cliché, but it’s true: your best players need to be your best players. That’s exactly what is carrying the Canucks right now, as they lead the Nashville Predators 3-1 and are one win away from advancing to the conference finals for the first time since 1994.
Head coach Alain Vigneault tipped his hand on a few key adjustments at practice designed to improve the Canucks chances for a victory in game 3. Scoring two goals in 8 periods of hockey will do lend itself to that.
The biggest game the Canucks franchise has played since game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup finals did not disappoint on Tuesday night. It wasn’t easy, but the Canucks finally got their revenge over their arch rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks. It took good goaltending from Roberto Luongo, a smart defensive corps and a gritty effort by their forwards to edge the Blackhawks, 2-1 in overtime.
There are a couple of ways to look at the Canucks 4-3 win over the Blackhawks on Friday night. On one hand, the Blackhawks finally found a way to get pucks past Roberto Luongo. Ben Smith and Viktor Stalberg scored on Luongo, and they weren’t great goals. If the Blackhawks can get goals from their depth players on a regular basis, they will climb back in this series. Another way to look at it is that the Canucks were able to win game when they let the likes of Ben Smith and Viktor Stalberg score and get an average game from Roberto Luongo.
Tuesday’s win against the Phoenix Coyotes gave the Vancouver Canucks a perfect 3-for-3 record on their California/Arizona road trip and Canuck Nation couldn’t be happier. On Sunday I told you about the Canuck invasion in Los Angeles and Anaheim, and others have taken note. We were fortunate to have our article featured in Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog, which gave this story league-wide attention. Even JT the Brick (who has a nationally syndicated radio show in the US) talked about this big influx of Canucks fans at the Staples Center and Honda Center over the weekend… and those kinds of shows NEVER talk about hockey. On Thursday, the Canucks will try to make the road trip a perfect 4-for-4 and you know Canuck Nation will be there too.
The Canucks just completed a southern California sweep against the Kings and Ducks, winning both games in impressive fashion. They played two desperate teams, played them tough and fought through tight checking and a lot of physical play to get a pair of wins. What’s more impressive though, is the fan support from Canuck nation in both games!
Ok, maybe “like” is a little strong, but I don’t mind it. I certainly don’t hate it or think that it should be abolished (unlike a lot of members of the media). The reason I’m making these statements is because every year for about the last ten years or so, it has become fashionable to say the All-Star Game is a waste of time and should not be held anymore. In about the last three years, this movement has gained even more steam with the increasing popularity of the Winter Classic, making it the new marquee mid-season showcase.
Nothing to say but Happy New Year everyone! Download the full size here
Roberto Luongo did what a lot of people anticipated on Monday and relinquished captaincy for the Vancouver Canucks. I think this is a positive move and it was done in such a way that everyone saves face. Gillis hinted that he wouldn’t mind Luongo giving up the C, but ultimately allowed Luongo to make the decision. Getting rid of the C should help Luongo focus on stopping the puck, although pressure on him will still be high. But by giving the C to someone else, that will deflect some of the pressure.
The Hockey News has sparked a lot of talk in the hockey world lately by picking the Canucks to win the Western Conference last Wednesday. The Hockey News has also picked the boys from the West Coast to win the Stanley Cup this season. This is significant because to the best of my knowledge, no well respected publication has ever picked the Canucks to win the Stanley Cup at the beginning of a season. This, of course, terrifies me.