Saturday, October 06, 2007

JR crashes Vancouver’s home opener party

The last time that Jeremy Roenick was in Vancouver for an NHL game he spent the bulk of the time at a local watering hole watching the action on television.

Judging by the impact that he had on the Sharks and Canucks season opener at GM Place, the Canucks might have considered paying for him to hit the town on their dime before the game started.

Last year, Roenick’s career seemed to be winding down, he was languishing in the Coyote doghouse, finding his ice time getting lessened as the season flew by, leading to the infamous Vancouver visit and his decision that if he wasn’t going to be in the line up at the rink, he may as well be in one at a watering hole.

As the season ended, the talk was that JR was going to hang up the blades, head for the broadcast booth and move on with his career in a different direction. However, a conversation with the Sharks changed all that, JR went to training camp and in the first two games of the season, last night’s loss in Edmonton and tonight’s win in Vancouver, he has been a major contributor.

Friday night, he just missed out on picking up yet another hat trick, as he was all over the ice, picking up loose pucks and firing shots at will at an embattled Roberto Luongo.

As the flow of the game tilted in the direction of the Sharks, Roenick was busy picking up points as he fired two shots behind Luongo on the way to the Sharks 3-1 win.

The Sharks came out a determined lot having played in Edmonton the night before and having the Oilers get the better of them on the scoreboard, Friday night no such problem would surface as the Sharks dominated the bulk of the play through all three periods.

Luongo must have felt very alone in that first period, the Canucks played tentatively in the opening frame, unsure as to handle the constantly streaming amount of sharks crossing the Canuck blue line.

The Canucks contributed to their own misery by taking far too many penalties, allowing the Sharks to set up their potent powerplay and control the puck for large periods of time.

Lukas Krajicek was take to school by Roenick, who scored both of his goals while evading Krajieck’s less than successful attempts to keep him away from the Canucks net.

It was a frustrating night for Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, who must be wondering if any of his charges had paid much in the way of attention during the month of training camp just passed.

The Sharks, who lost Friday in a shoot out, showed why many have still pegged them as a serious threat in the NHL West, one of the favourites once again to compete for the Stanley Cup.

Vancouver moves on to Calgary on Saturday night, renewing what has been a lively and at times physically intense rivalry, which this year carries the added bonus of Mike Keenan behind the Flames bench.

Added to the mix is Calgary’s opening night loss to Philadelphia on Thursday night, which will have them anxious to show that they’re ready to battle every game this year, and there will be no better incentive to get their game back on track that to play the Canucks.

San Jose’s next game is Sunday against Colorado, which means that most likely JR had a chance to take his new team mates out to one or two of his favourite Vancouver haunts.

With a two goal performance and his play back on the highlight reels again, we wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t buying a round or two for the table!
(Picture above from the Globe and Mail website)

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