Yes, it’s only been two games out of eighty-two, but in these first two games, I have seen something that I never once saw last year, an absolute determination to keep pushing back when the going gets tough. Could the Sedins find their way back to a point-per-game status? So far, in two games they have combined for 8 points, add in Vrbata and that total goes up to 11 points for their line. The twins making and completing plays in a way that makes them successful instead of focusing on how to change their game is a completely refreshing concept after last year’s debacle of a season.
Game ONE saw the team open the season on the road against divisional rivals the Calgary Flames. The Canucks opened the scoring in the first period with a POWER-PLAY goal, yes one of those ever so elusive man-advantage goals that were near impossible last season from the one and only Alex Burrows. It sure was nice to see Burrows get rewarded for his hard work after being bit by the bad luck bug all last season! The question of whether or not the Sedins could find their offensive prowess was answered with the game winning goal on which vintage sedinery was on full display as they set up their newest partner in crime, Radim Vrbata. The most entertaining moment however was saved for the final minute of the game when Henrik scored an empty net goal….that was pure skill and individual effort and perhaps the best empty net goal scored that I have ever seen:
Game TWO saw the team play their first home game of the year and with it, came great expectations as the fans and players alike had anticipated all summer what could be. Would the fans support the team after the train wreck that was last season?
The anthem was sung, the puck dropped and the building was buzzing from the first minute to the last. It was a game that perhaps from the outset, no one expected it to be particularly high scoring and certainly no one saw the Canucks falling to THREE separate 2-goal deficits before coming all the way back to force overtime AND a shoot out? Let’s be honest, last year a situation that saw the team fall behind would NOT have resulted in the resilience that was shown in this game. Every time the Oilers re-gained their 2-goal lead, while there may have been panic in the eyes of the fans remembering the ghosts of last season, there was ZERO panic in the eyes of the players.
You know what they say, 2-goal leads are never safe and that rang true for Edmonton who had three 2-goal leads but could find a way to stop the resilience that Vancouver was determined to put on display led by the Sedins starting with the first Canucks goal of the night and ending with the game tying goal….and included this beauty they set up for Vrbata:
Let’s be honest, last year had the Canucks been in the situation of being in a two-goal deficit three times, let alone ONCE in one game, they would not have found a way to come back. This time, they not only came back to force a tie, they came ALL the way back to steal two points in the shootout. Ryan Miller, after a shaky start to the came closed out the game with some big saves including stopping ALL three shoot out attempts to preserve his first home ice victory in a Canucks uniform. Seems nearly divine that in the days leading up to this back and forth game that the team was practicing shoot outs right?
It may not have been the ideal game plan that the team envisioned but this game with its back and forth pace had more of a playoff feel to it than simply the second regular season game. Both teams battled for every inch of the ice and kept the fans on their toes as the ending was yet to be determined. It was nice to see the Canucks re-ignite some excitement into their on ice game and in stands.
Oh and hey remember that oh so awful power play from last season? I know it’s early to say that it’s any different…but just two games in and we have been given a glimpse of hope with the team going 3/10 on the man advantage. The passes seem crisper, the shots have increased and momentum seems to actually be gained rather than be detracted. As I said, it is no guarantee of what will be, but it gives fans something that did not exist last year; hope.
Yes, it has only been two games into the 82-game journey that make up the madness that is the NHL’s regular season, but in these two games the team has shown that they won’t go down without a fight. There is a new fire within this team and more smiles in these two games than all of last season. Will they make the post-season? It’s far too soon to tell, but whether they do or not, is up to them and how they play the remaining 80 games. The rest of the story has yet to be written.
As always, until next time, nuck said.