Sunday, March 2, 2008

Plain Smart or Plain Lucky?

Much to the bane of Canucks Nation, Dave Nonis has filled the bottom 9 forward spots with "pluggers and grinders." Hardly eloquent vocabulary, and when the Canucks face off against the NHL's more talented offensive sides, the boys in blue and green will find themselves in hot water. But thankfully Gary Bettman arranged the schedule so each team played 32 times a year within its own division, and none is as gritty as the Northwest. See, the last 9 games of the regular season are against divisional rivals, and with 3 points separating 1st from 4th, the battle to make the playoffs could legitimately go down to the wire.
And this is where the genius/ luck of the Canucks management core shines through. Never do our loathed pluggers get up for a game more than versus rugged divisional rivals such as the Calgary Flames or Edmonton Oilers. And with 9 North American grinders leading the way, the Canucks stand to destabilize the calm that has swept over St. Paul Minnesota.
Its no surprise that the Canucks' two best games this season have come over divisional rivals. Namely 6-2 against the Wild, and 4-2 versus the Oilers. Both teams challenged the Canucks physically, but in both cases, Vancouver answered three-way, with fists, shoulders and pucks to the twine. A winning combination right there, and if that slot machine gets lucky over the stretch drive, the Canucks will be well-set for the playoffs, because thankfully pretty hockey doesn't win Cups. Grinding hockey does, and hopefully Vancouver will be the next beneficiary of that philosophy. Boy will that ever make Dave Nonis look smart!

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