Thursday, April 01, 2004

Canucks Tops in the North West

Vancouver has recaptured their momentum and now they’ve recaptured the top spot in the North West Division of the Western Conference.

Sami Salo’s snapshot in the waning moments of the third period gave Vancouver a 2-1 victory and put them in the drivers’ seat to claim the NW title over arch rival Colorado. Vancouver now has 97 points, one more than the slumping Avalanche and with both teams having two games remaining; the Canucks control their own destiny.

Brendan Morrison got points on both Canucks goal setting up Markus Naslund’s second period marker and passing the puck over to Salo who put the winner in the net with only 21 seconds to go in regulation time.

Dan Cloutier faced 23 shots in the Vancouver net and the one Duck goal was a bit of a fluke that deflected off of defenseman Sami Salo. Anaheim’s Martin Gerber had a much more intensive workout, facing 41 shots from the Canucks, turning back many good scoring chances to keep the game close.
The Canucks have now won four games in a row and seem to have finally put together a game plan that suits the revamped line up. Matt Cooke once again played a big part of the first line’s success, making the initial hit in the Duck end of the ice, forcing turnovers and creating a bit of space for Naslund and Morrison to get some shots off.

The Canucks can keep their momentum going with the final two games of the season, they play in San Jose on Friday and are back home to face the Oilers on Saturday. Two weeks ago many were writing the Canucks off for the playoffs, suggesting the baggage of the last month would carry over into the playoffs and an early exit. All of a sudden the team has pulled itself together, focused on the work at hand and begun the process of reinventing itself for a playoff run.

The climb up the standings in the last week and the collapse of the Avs, should give many Canuck fans hopes for a lengthy run in this year’s playoffs. The Canucks have started to believe in themselves again, the least their fans could do is to climb aboard the bandwagon again.

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