Flying towards the finish line the Vancouver Canucks are pulling together, as they make a statement that the reports of their demise were greatly exaggerated. For the fifth game in a row the Canucks put Two points nto the win column, Friday night’s win over San Jose yet another example made for all the doubters that had fallen off their bandwagon.
The win kept the Canucks at the top of the Northwest Division standings one point ahead of Colorado, who had an easy time with Columbus on Friday. Once again a solid team effort would be credited for the Vancouver win. Matt Cooke continued to reward Marc Crawford’s faith by scoring the go ahead and what would be the eventual winning goal in the first period. Cooke found success in the Shark end of the ice, tying up the defense in their own end, shaking out loose pucks and generally making a pest of himself. Markus Naslund had another decent game, putting some distance between his play of a few weeks ago, more involved in the play Friday, Naslund picked up another assist and finished the night a +2.
Dan Cloutier also had a big game, facing 34 Shark shots giving up the only goal at 11:26 of the first. For Cloutier the last couple of games have gone a long way to help to get him in the frame of mind for the playoffs to come.
The Canucks final game of the year is Saturday night at home to Edmonton, a big game for both clubs. A win by the Canucks would sew up the division title in the North West and place them in second place over all in the Conference. The Oilers of course need a win on Saturday if they are to have any hope of making the playoffs. They’ll be watching the scoreboard before the game; the Predators and Blues play each other in St. Louis, an all important game in the race for the final playoff spot in the West. For Edmonton all they can control now is their own destiny, so Saturday night should be a wild affair at GM place.
The runs of the last couple of weeks by both Vancouver and Edmonton have been something to watch, Vancouver guaranteed a playoff berth have been using the games as a way getting back on their game. Edmonton using the games to fight for their playoff lives. A loss Saturday for Vancouver and it’s a mild disappointment, a loss for the Oilers and it’s the end of the line. The hockey should be entertaining, the results key to how the playoffs shape up come Wednesday night.