Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sundin sets the pace for Canucks

It would seem that training camp is finally over for Mats Sundin, the mid season addition to the Canuck's lineup finally began to show some of that tenacious skill that many had come to expect from him in previous seasons.

Tuesday night in St. Louis, Sundin appeared to be back into his groove, battling for the puck behind the net and taking his teams game up a notch or two as the Canuck's battled back from an early deficit to persevere against the feisty Blues.

The comeback was very much on the back of Sundin, who picked up two of the Canuck's six goals on the way to the 6-4 victory over St. Louis.

Sundin has over the last few games shaken off much of the rust that the almost eight month break from hockey had set upon him. Over the last three games he has begun to be a dominate player once again, overshadowing the first line as his second line unit found their pace and frequently found success on the score sheet.

The rise of Sundin has coincided with a modest little win streak by the Canuck's, who have won their last three games, the Blues game by no means a classic, but one which showed a determined Canuck squad that did not throw in the towel after the Blues took two goal leads twice in the game.

While Roberto Luongo has also been working himself back into peak shape, Tuesday was not one of his better nights; it’s rare that he allows a team to score the key goal in the course of a game, but St. Louis found the mark on two occasions that seemed to put them in the position to put the game away.

A lot of the credit should go to the Blues, who despite their lower levels of standing in the West showed remarkable grit in their bid to topple the Canuck's, they were however aided by some sloppy defensive work in the Canuck end, as the defense had trouble clearing the puck from time to time and the forwards neglected their back checks which allowed the Blues time to set up and find their scoring range.

In the end though, it’s the two points in the standings that most will remember and while it was a rather ugly win, it was a win none the less.

However, even more promising than the ability to battle back for the win, has been the steady progress of Sundin, the always talkative hockey fans of British Columbia were beginning to get a little worried that the promise of the signing of late 2008 was not going to deliver their team to promised land of playoff hockey.

While the path to Stanley may still have a few pitfalls, they might be feeling a little better about their chances after the last three games, with Sundin starting to score and Luongo slowly getting back into his groove there may yet be some post season planning to be made in Vancouver.

Vancouver Province-- Ask, and ye shall receive
Vancouver Province-- Canucks fight back for victory
Vancouver Sun-- Canucks beat the Blues
St. Louis Post Dispatch-- Blues Collapse, Stay in Cellar

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