Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Turning Point?

It was a game that started with a Morrison and ended with a Morrison, a storybook finish to a full day of hockey stories to warm enough hearts to last a winter.

Before it reached that happy ending for the local fans though, it had all the ingredients of yet another calamitous outing by the home side. The Canucks desperate for a win and a dose of self confidence quickly fell behind in their match with the Calgary Flames on the finale to Hockey Day in Canada.

The Flames appeared to be in control of the game for the first period and most of the second, taking a 3-1 lead into the third on the strength of Mikka Kiprusoff in the Flames nets and some strong play by captain Jerome Iginla and rookie sensation Dion Phaneuf.

It was the third period though that proved to turn the tide for the Canucks, who got back into a physical style of play with twenty minutes to go. Big hits in the Calgary end led to turnovers and a rash of penalty calls to the Flames late in the game aided the Canucks on their way to the 4-3 overtime win.

Led by Sami Salo with two goals, the Canucks battled their way back into this divisional rivalry, showing some grit and determination missing in many of their recent efforts. Anson Carter once again took advantage of some pretty passing from the Sedin brothers as he tallied his fifteenth goal for Vancouver this year helping to bring the Canucks back from the early depths of the game.

The winner went to Brendan Morrison, who took a rebound off of a Sami Salo blast from the point and put it into the net to secure the victory. Ironically it was a miscue by Phaneuf that resulted in the winning goal, unable to cover the Morrison side of the net in time to stop the winning shot. In a nice bit of book ending, the Morrison goal ended a game that begun with his Mother, Grandmother and children taking part in the opening face off. A script written in Hockey Day heaven that one.

Beyond the optics of a feel good ending to a feel good day though, is a feeling that this game could be the one to take this club out of the funk it has found itself in the last month or so. Far too often in the last couple of weeks there have been statements about the fragility and lack of confidence the team has exhibited of late. Today, the Canucks took the game by the horns and just plain got to work in that third period. The hits, the return to the corners and a more physical nature in front of the oppositions net, is going to do more for this team than all the psycho analytical tripe that has been bounced around the last couple of weeks.

Should the Canucks be able to capitalize on this important win, the turning point for the season could have taken place on Hockey Day in Canada, a day in which amazing things can seem to happen.

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