Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Odds-Defying Continues

The Vancouver Canucks lead the way Western Conference in goal scoring, something that hasn't been meant to happen since the ugly demise of the West Coast Express. That's right, the Canucks have spread around 11 goals in just two games since that wonderful night last Thursday when the Flames were hit for six. Just two days later and once more the Canucks emerged the victors, coming back from 3-1 down for Pavol Demitra to scoop in Alex Burrows's rebound. More to the point, Demitra showed more emotion after that one goal that Naslund did through most of his career. That emotion was present throughout the team and that made it very difficult for the Flames to keep up. Outhustled, outskated - outplayed, the Flames are the wrong end of a 12 goal differential after one preseason game and two regular season contests against Vancouver.
Whether the boys will manage to sustain the offensive onslaught remains to be seen but the early signs are good: already, the Canucks have five multi-point players with more set to join the list after Monday's showdown with Alex Ovechkin's Capitals. Of course, all depends on the play of perennial All-Star Roberto Luongo but when the team is averaged 5.5 goals per game, thinks are a lot easier. Indeed, many commentators stated that last year's stagnant forward group would have made the playoffs had it not been for the bullet-ridden rearguard. Once more though, the injury bug is always lurking around the corner. Kevin Bieksa, returning from a badly lacerated calf, went down awkardly in the second half of the long weekends home-and-home and flew back to Vancouver to have an MRI on his knee. The team will be fine for the time being - so deep is the defense that Nolan Baumgartner, who had 34 points in the bigs just 2 years ago is currently off by the wayside with the Manitoba Moose. That said, if injuries once more become habitual, it will be a long season marked only by the potential arrival of John Tavares or Victor Hedman.
All the while, the Canucks must continue to play fundamentally sound hockey. Goal scoring is all good and fine but grit and defense must be equal components of the team's mindset if success is going to continue throughout the season.
NB: It appears my advice went unheard: The Canucks went down 5-1 to the Caps last night having only registered 10 shots. Gee, that's awful: more goals in their first two games then shots in their third.

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