Fifth in the league in standings, top amongst the division, the Vancouver Canucks have as many wins as the defending Stanley-Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings (14). Although, the Wings played two less games than the Canucks, Vancouver is only two points below the all-star powerhouse from Detroit.
Would those of you who thought the Canucks can make the playoff this year please raise your hands?….
Thought so. Few would have predicted the current streak our team is in during the beginning of the season. On paper, this team is lucky to even make the playoffs, but if the playoff starts tomorrow, the Canucks will enjoy their home-ice advantage playing the sixth-seeded Chicago Blackhawks.
Of course, it’s still way too early to assume success for the team in any ways, as it is only 22 games into the season, not 82. However, the recent efforts shown by the team is very promising. Enjoying an 8-0-2 run in their last ten games, which includes a crazy eastern-road trip, playing in 5 different cities in 8 days, and winning 4 out of 5, the team showed excellent conditioning and strong will to win. Perhaps this is also the reason for the recent injuries to the team, with Luongo going down in the Pittsburgh game and now Bernier out for a hit during the Detriot home-game.
This particular stretch of games was especially challenging, not just for the tight scehdule, but also the teams they played. The Canucks were able to defeat some of the best teams in the league right now, namely the Rangers, the Wild, the Penguins and the Red Wings.
The last game against Detroit showed the most character from a tired bunch. With their Captain star-netminder out, the team played tremendous hockey in front of Curtis Sanford. They were severely outshot through all three periods, especially in the second, but both the offense and the defense played smart hockey, and never gave up despite twice falling-behind with 3+ minutes to go in the third period. The entire squad just kept on going at it, and at times it feels like the players know they can get one more goal to even things up. This type of confidence can even be felt by audience thousands of miles away.
Daniel’s tip-in forced overtime, and Salo, who was in his first game since recovery from the flu, took his trademark one-time slapshot from a Demitra pass to win the game in OT.
The team’s recent success is very encouraging for long-time fans like me, but I know that they will eventually lose some games very soon, and it’s still too early to say anything, especially with many teams still having a few games in their hands. The Wild has 25 pts so far, playing 3 less games than the Canucks, so if they are able to win all three games, Minnesota will resume the lead in the Northwest Division.
No matter what, the character of this team is worth praising, even if it’s a bit premature. There’s a lot of good signs showing here, with the stellar play of Sanford, finally a chance for Cory Schneider to play his first NHL game, the success of the Wellwood Project, the Sedins picking up their game, Demitra having fun and enjoying hockey again, and maybe – just maybe a possibility that Mats Sundin might sign with the team??
It is fun to be a Canucks fan right now. Let’s hope I still feel the same when they start losing~