A few short days ago, the sky was falling in Vancouver. Our star goaltender let in a few soft goals. Our #1 ranked power play unit (*cough* last year) went 0-8 and we got shut out for the second game in a row to drop below .500. As usual in this city, the villagers gathered their
On Thursday night, the Canucks squared off against the team they bounced in the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year and their demon goalie (the Nashville Predators and Pekka Rinne, respectively). Building up to the game I kept reading and hearing about whether or not these two teams have a rivalry with each other. Nashville seems to think they do which is just adorable. Sorry Preds, the Canucks have their rivalry dance card pretty full at the moment (Blackhawks, Flames, Bruins, Avs, Wings... and Team Iceland).
(It's okay though, Luongo and Gunner Stahl are equally horrible at shootouts)
The feel and hype of this game made it seem like it was the playoffs all over again. Sure the Canucks had some concerns based on the last few rounds of shinny they played, but it's still only October. Yes the Canucks are below .500, but their record is 2-3-1. No reason to panic. I will readily admit I was slightly worried with the effort put forth against the Rangers the other night, but the Canucks were hitting the net with their shots, Luongo was all but abandoned on a few of those goals and there are 70+ games left in the season.
"A little perspective..."
("Magnum CH" Chris Higgin)
The Canucks got off to a quick start, scoring their first goal less than 3 minutes into the game, which also happened to be a whopping 9 seconds into their first power play of the night. They came out hungry and it showed. Daniel got the goal, banking the puck off Pekka Rinne whilst probably thinking "there is no way he'll fall for this". He did. 1-0. It is also worth noting that Sami Salo took Samuelsson's spot at the point on the first power play unit and he looked like he was on a mission early. Love to see a little fire from Salo.
A short time later, the Canucks gave up a softie. One of the lingering issues from the Ranger game (Lu, naturally) looked bad again and you could almost hear the villagers lighting their torches in unison. But then, something I had hoped would happen, did:
The Canucks got emotional.
Not in a "my girlfriend just dumped me but a mix CD will fix everything" kind of way. They got mad. Henrik Sedin scored on another power play, early fan favorite Dale Weise got his first NHL goal on a beauty tip in and then Chris Higgins used a fortuitous bounce on a 2 on 1 to give the Canucks a 4-1 lead.
Maxim Lapierre got in a scrap at the end of the 1st period and Aaron Volpatti tried to avenge an earlier hit on Manny Malhotra by fighting Jordin Tootoo in the 2nd period (now Volpatti himself needs to be avenged). Most impressive from the Canucks tonight was their self sacrifice in their own end. They realize they need to play better in front of Luongo and help out their teammate so what do they do?
I saw Jannik Hansen fearlessly lay down in front of a point shot on an early Predators power play. Alex Burrows sprawled out with everything he had to poke check the puck out of the defensive zone and Keith Ballard was EVERYWHERE. Last night we saw some elements of playoff hockey in October. And I loved it.
"... some raw emotion..."
Unfairly maligned Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo debuted his new goalie mask last night. While speaking about it to local sports media, Luongo cracked a pretty awesome joke that I'm sure has been repeated everywhere, but it shall be repeated here too:
"It's a couple weeks late, like my game,"
Ohhhhh snap! Nice to know the guy still has a sense of humour with irrational Canuck fans ironically calling for his head. He played a solid game tonight. Nothing real flashy but when he was tested, he was up to the task. He made a pretty slick early game poke check on Jordin Tootoo in front of the net that nobody will remember or talk about.
He doesn't need to steal every game for the Canucks, but he needs to be there when they need him and on this night, he was. Any game I don't have to see Roberto Luongo's teary eyes behind that mask is a good game (unless they have just won the cup. Then he can cry himself a river and float away on it).
Tonight Bobby Lu seemed to have that focused look. He bounced back from an early mistake and kept his composure. Which leads me to ask the question:
If other goalies can play with clear eyes and full hearts.... can't Lu?
"... and a fresh coat of paint."
So there you have it, the torch fires are burning low for another night as the Canucks chased Rinne from the net and defeated the Predators (who are NOT our rivals) 5-1
Next Game: Saturday night afternoon at... 1:00 pm?
Thanks for Reading
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @jbowmancouver and retweet this post to @jonnymac68, @provincesports, @erikrolfsen and @paulc14
or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Let 'em know.