Like Torts, I am a terrible loser and like Torts, I support this team through thick and thin. Losing streaks come and go but when they come, they ALWAYS brings the doom and gloom from social media.
Sure the team has let some leads slip away, missed a few empty nets and perhaps lost points they should have had during their recent losing streak BUT when a team struggles, it is just that a TEAM struggle. Teams win as a team and lose as a team [seems obvious, yes?]. Teams when struggling often meet a team that is at the top of their game and bring with them a win streak. Leading up to the game in question, the struggling team has no business winning the game.
Enter the St.Louis Blues who are one of the top teams in the NHL this season. The Canucks were that struggling team January 10th and had no business winning against a team that brought with them a 7-game win streak. Does this sound familiar?
The Blues had played the night before and should have been tired…BUT they did not look overly road weary in the first 20 minutes and while the Canucks did not look their best, LACK stood tall making 12 stops. Trouble seemed inevitable if the Canucks could not change their playing style moving into the final 40 minutes.
Would Torts call a timeout to get the team into this game or would his intermission pep talk say everything they needed to turn the tide? Who was a difference maker in this game aside from Eddie Lack? Why, it was the unusual suspect of Zac Dalpe with the Sedins [yes, you read that right…Zac Dalpe played with the Sedins in a game in which nearly all the lines were re-worked!]
One goal leads (& two goal leads) are almost never safe…especially against the firepower of a team like the St.Louis Blues. The Blues tied the game with a laser shot that evaded Eddie Lack as he was screened with traffic in front. The Canucks needed a hero to step up for the go-ahead goal. They have spent TOO many games relying on their goalies…and needed to reward Lack with at least some offense.
Mike Santorelli to the rescue with the go ahead goal!
The Canucks found a way to get the lead in the third period and the only question that remained was could they close this game out in a way that they hadn’t been able to do the previous 5 games? Could they hold the lead? The clock was winding down when the Blues pulled their goalie for an extra attacker which has been the Canucks kryptonite as of late and it became fire drill front of Lack as the Blues threw everything they could at him. Full credit to the Blues in this game as they never stopped pushing back. The Canucks were hemmed in their zone unable to clear the puck to the empty net BUT Lack stood tall preserving the victory to end the skid.
It was game Vancouver had no business winning BUT they did just that as the Canucks snapped their 5-game losing streak and stopped the Blues from winning 8 straight. Has the team solved all of their issues? No, but they’ve taking a stepping stone into the right direction and can build upon this game as they prepare for a 3-game Pacific road trip stopping in LA, Anaheim & Phoenix. A regulation win in LA on Monday [Jan.13th] would tie the Canucks with the Kings for third spot in the Pacific division and be a HUGE confidence booster.
This week we will see the return of Roberto Luongo and by weeks end the return of Alex Burrows to the line up [and it is also possible that Alex Edler could return to the blue-line]! The Canucks have a long way to go yet, it’s true but with the return of Luongo, Burrows and Edler can only help to serve their line up down the stretch before the Olympic break. It all starts when the puck drops in LA on Monday night and the Canucks take on a talented Kings team. The Kings have had the Canucks number as of late which is something the Canucks will look to change as they desire to gain 2 points in regulation.
It is not an easy path to the playoffs, but a few wins against division rivals will go a long way to helping secure a playoff berth. Every point in the standings[yes even the loser points in the SO/OT] makes a difference between finishing 3rd or earning a potential wildcard spot. It will be a tough trip BUT it is a great opportunity for the Canucks to pick up some very important divisional points.
As always, until next time, nuck said.