Written by: Larry “the Nucks IceMan” Johnson
The past two games against the Ottawa Senators and the Calgary Flames have been the best four periods of hockey I have seen the Nucks play this season. I mention four periods because the Vancouver Canucks owned the Ottawa Senators in every category for the whole three periods and with the Flames, only the first period.
The speed and puck movement really caught my eye as everyone had a lot of jump. The puck movement from the defensive zone to breaking forwards and on the power play, was tape to tape variety and reminded me of the Detroit Red Wings of a couple of years ago. It was the zoom zoom kids making the opposition look like pedestrians waiting for the walk light.
Kevin Bieksa, who was quoted in the Vancouver media that “he felt quicker” than before his injury, was true to his word. He was attacking the oncoming forwards, moving to the open ice and jumping up into the play better than he has done all season. Now this reminds me of the Kevin Bieksa that we knew in his first year.
The movement of Alex Burrows down to the second line had caught me off guard originally, but with Mikael Samuelsson ringing up the cash register of goals, you can see that Coach Alain Vigneault had a plan and saw something the rest of us did not, and that’s what good coaches do.
Back together again, it looks like the dynamic duo of Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows will be doing a lot more than playing their defensive style hockey they were noted for previously. Kesler is on a 12 game scoring roll and Burrows continues to score, while setting up Kesler and Pavol Demitra.
Speaking of Demitra, he looks like he has picked up right where he left off in the Olympics. Playing the best hockey as a Canuck, this guy is flying around the ice, dishing the puck off to his team-mates and is doing a yeoman’s job manning the point on the power play.
Not only that, but have you noticed he is going to the dirty areas of the ice and coming out with the puck, while throwing body checks? O.K. so they’re not devastating, board crashing type checks but he is squeezing this man out of the play.
The Sedins have come out of their road funk and look again like the keep away twins of GM Place. These guys look at the opposition as being mere obstacles in which to navigate around in order to setup scoring type plays. Henrik is now three point behind Ovie and with Ovie out with a two game suspension, should be able to pass him for the time been.
You have to admit that the defense with Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa out, had everyone wondering if they would be able to do the job, but give them credit, they pulled it off. Depth guys like Aaron Rome and Nolan Baumgartner held the fort until replacements came to the rescue.
Yes we all have eyes and can see that newly acquired Andrew Alberts is not the most mobile D-man the Nucks have but he does make himself valuable in front of the net clearing traffic. Come playoff time, this will help immensely, with the likes of the big forwards from Chicago and San Jose.
While we are on the topic of San Jose, this will be Litmus Test number three for the Nucks on Thursday night. At this point they are batting .500 as they failed against the Black Hawks put passed with the win over the Colorado Avalanche.
This is more than a test, since they have only beaten San Jose once in two seasons (3-1, March 7. 2009) and if the Nucks want to go deep into the playoffs, they will have to go through a team like this somewhere along the way. The Canucks might as well prove to themselves now, that this is possible. Another thing, this years version of the Nucks is a better team all around.
Am I starting to believe that this team is real? Yes but with guarded optimism because you must remember, 40 years has taught me a lot of lessons along the way.
Do I think this might be their year? Yes I do and you can read why in my previous article, “The Multiple Personalities of the Vancouver Canucks”.
Filed under: Vancouver Canucks