Thursday, November 20, 2008

Canucks take Manhattan

When the season was just getting underway, the Vancouver Canucks were one of the great unknowns of the NHL. The names today may still be unfamiliar, but its safe to say that the league is taking notice.

With a new GM in Mike Gillis, who in his previous life as a player agent had made more than a few GM’s disgruntled many hockey observers wondered if he would find anyone to work with in the closed shop of NHL executives.

The lack of movement on draft picks seemed to suggest that he was being frozen out, the long running saga of the twenty million dollar Sundin incentive yet to be picked up, gave the aura of a sideshow on the Pacific coast, yet as the season has progressed the Canucks have become one of the more surprising of teams so far.

The need for cooperation from his lodge brothers so far not needed, but the movement of his team something that may provide for some interest as the trading deadline comes around in 2009. Those phones that did not ring in June may be a little bit busier as the deadline nears.

Wednesday night the Canucks took their show into New York City in what was supposed to be a showdown of sorts between two of the league’s top goaltenders, but as fate would have it the home sides’ defender of the nets wouldn’t put on much of a show. In fact, Henrik Lundqvist was but a score sheet memory by the first five minutes of the second period, after a relentless attack by the Canucks provided for five goals and chased him from the nets.

Vancouver for two periods had complete control of the game; from checking to scoring and goaltending they gave no opportunity for New York to make any inroads in the Vancouver end. The Rangers play was lethargic at times, incapable of freeing up the necessary ice to make a serious dent on the Canuck blue line or gain repeated access to Roberto Luongo.

That’s not to say that the Vancouver goaltender had nothing to do, those occasions when the Rangers regained some of their form he was called upon to make some rather spectacular saves, but for the most part the Canucks were firmly in charge of the agenda for most of the night.

The Third period provided for a bit of a comeback for the Broadway crew who outshot the Canucks 17-5, but that was when Luongo would play his best, allowing a couple of late game goals but shutting down the majority of the dangerous moments with little hassle.

The 6-3 win continues on with the Canucks hot streak now at five wins in seven games, a string of victories which has propelled them to first in their division, and third overall in the conference.
It’s a spot few would have pencilled them in for at the start of the season, and one where they may not finish at its end, but for the moment, the new look Canucks with their unfamiliar names are doing just fine and that’s sitting pretty good with the fans in Vancouver these days.
Photo above from the Globe and Mail website

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