06 February 2011
This season the Canucks have been great. But because I expected them to be good coming into the season, this season has felt like I have just been waiting for the post season to start. Is it because we know as Canuck fans that what matters for the team is not what they do in the regular season, but what they do in the post season that has me overlooking how great the team has been playing this year? I fear that I have not appreciated their success as much this season because of it.
This team has been a machine. They were winning games back in December like it was no big deal. And even if they didn't play a great game, they still were able to manage out a win. Is that what great teams do? Does the luck pop in to help find you the win even on a night when you didn't play that well?
We've had injuries. Lots of injuries to our defence in particular but even with the injuries, we've been able to see our young rookies come up and fill in the holes when needed. When everyone thought Edler's injury would spell the end of our run, it looks like the team hasn't even missed a beat (ok we do miss Edler, but we're still winning). And really how good is Chris Tanev's first pass?
There have been problems with the lack of even scoring over the last couple of weeks. But even though it seems like the majority of roster had not scored in 10+ game (as of last week), the monsters of the Sedins and Kesler kept this team scoring goals.
And in goal, we have Luongo playing his best hockey here in a very, very long time. It's almost been overlooked because of how well the Sedins and Kesler have been playing, but Luongo has been able to quietly go on an 18-1-5 run.
So for Friday night's game, I met up with a friends at a sports bar in Vancouver. So why was this game to much better than the rest of the games this season? Because it FELT like playoff game.
The pace was perfect. Chicago came out strong, but the Canucks worked their way back to playing their game. There were goals, and goals that goalies should have had. There were goals that go off of rookies, and when the camera zero's in on them on the bench (Tanev), you can see on their face that they feel the weight of their mistake. But then an assistant or trainer pats them on the shoulder and the team just works harder together.
Or there was the hilarity of Aaron Rome's return to the lineup and running into his own goalie behind the net, allowing an open net for the Hawks, only to sprawl with the Luongo in front of the net helping making the save.
Sure there was a questionable goal by the Canucks (they really were offside) but hockey is fast sometimes and the refs sometimes miss stuff. And what's a playoff game without a questionable call?
But in the end, the score is tied 3-3 and everyone at my table is nervous as the minutes wind down on the clock. Four minutes left and Burrows starts the play out of the Canucks zone to Daniel Sedins. Daniel drops it to Henrik who sends it back to Daniel and then into the back of the net. Daniel Sedins takes over the NHL points race, leapfrogging Steven Stamkos. It was effortless. And I'm cheering like this really is a playoff game.