Well, I’m back in rainy old Vancouver after a much-needed break from the gray skies and snow, rain and wind. Geez, if we didn’t have exciting hockey of all types to keep us distracted I don’t know what I’d do!
Waikiki was burstin’ with Canucks fans… well, a few anyway, and the ones the Timster and I met at Legends and then shared a couple other game-nights with at Round Table Pizza, well they were die-hard all right.
One fellow named Art has had seasons for the Canucks since Game One in October, 1970 at the Coliseum. Now that’s dedication. And John, he was as enthusiastic and knowledgeable as they come.
Well, here we are at the unofficial mid-point of the season, the proverbial All-Star break. A few players have been heard saying they will take off with their wives for a few days to a hot spot, perhaps Florida or Mexico. (If anyone’s spouse doesn’t want to go, Mr. Hockey Player, I would be more than pleased to go as a stand-in…)
It’s the Nashville Predators that have sneaked up and taken the overall lead in the N.H.L. at the break. With 71 points, the team leads the Buffalo Sabres by one measly point. Of course, the clubs are in separate Conferences so it really doesn’t matter. The overall winner in points at season’s end gets the President’s Trophy. It can oftentimes be a death sentence as far as winning the Stanley Cup – perhaps that team has additional pressure on it… let’s never win it!
A while back I was getting all green with envy at the Anaheim Ducks and their sterling record. Well, now it seems the (formerly) Mighty have fallen. The “clucks” (no offense to fans of said team – look where you get to live!) have a two and eight record in the past 10 games, albeit with two overtime loss points thrown in. You don’t have to be a premiere statistician to know that that is crappy! However, based on a super-strong first third of the season, they are still right up there in the league standings.
Anaheim is averaging 17,000 in attendance at the Honda Center. I don’t know their rink’s capacity but that sounds pretty good. I’ve not told the lovely Lisa yet, but I MAY be thinking of a visit to the land of Mickey and Minnie for the March 11 tilt with my Vancouver Canucks. last year I went to Vegas at this time of year – this may indeed be less expensive to pull off, even with buying tickets to the game!
Nashville has quietly plodded along, armed with the resurgent Paul Kariya, the great earlier acquisition of Steve Sullivan, the tremendous presence of “yet-another-one-that-got-away” Scottie Walker (he used to be a Canuck), and the steady ‘tending of Thomas Vokoun. Well, good for them, and for Barry Trotz, the lovable coach with no neck. We’ll see where they end up on April 15 – could be very interesting!
Now, to my home team. We had a fantastic road trip to the North Eastern Division this past week, finishing with seven out of eight points and narrowly missing a clean sweep. Our back-up goalie Sabourin played brilliantly in the final game against Buffalo, but they wore us down and got a few lucky breaks, and we came out with just a “loser point.” But I still am very proud of the boys. I think they worked very hard, and Roberto Luongo was in All-Star form in the first three games of the trip, showing his versatility and quickness as we drummed arch-rival Toronto, and then Montreal two days later, by a combined 10 goals to one.
The team appears to have “that winning feeling” nowadays, compared to the ineptness and lack of confidence, especially when it came to scoring, that they were displaying only a month or so ago. Times have changed, and we are getting goals from all sorts of unlikely sources. Trevor Linden is playing well; Kevin Bieksa is giving Matthias Ohlund a run for his money as far as being a stalwart on defense (he’s also chipping in major amounts of assists).
We’re sitting tied for first in the division with the Flames, whom I hope will flicker out soon. That said, we need to keep up our own end of the bargain, i.e.: consistency. What’s been great about the Canucks’ latest month of resurgence has been the entertainment value. While watching the Buffalo game on Friday night with Lisa, I think we were beside ourselves during the final nail-biting minutes. Thank God for the Heinekens to calm us down. It was like a play-off game, and so many Canucks fans, some of them shirtless men, had made the trek to New York state, as they were shown on the Pay-Per-View broadcast quite often!
When you can feel that excited on a miserable, wet night in January, then hockey has done its job for the fan, hasn’t it?
Stone ’em, Roberto, on Wednesday night, just for the fun of it! See ya next time. HP.