Monday, January 09, 2006

Hockey Night in Canada – January 7th

In the Province Newspaper when the Canucks beat Chicago last Thursday the lead headline read “Finally, Finally, Finally.” One had to agree. On a four game road trip where success would have been six or seven of eight points the boys came home with two, or was it three. There is no excuse for losing to St Louis or Minny. The game in Dallas should have been the trips’ feature game against a top notch conference rival. Unfortunately most nights the team didn’t bother to show up and the results were indicative.

After Saturdays tilt with Calgary the headline should have read a single “Finally!” Yes finally the team is no longer “Oh” for Alberta. They gutted out a decent game to get two points even if Calgary also got one point. The best news was Toronto, due in here on Tuesday, beat Edmonton the same night so some ground was gained in the fiercely competitive Northwest Division.

The Canucks generally out worked, out hit and out played the Flames. A string of timely calls in the Canucks favour did not hurt too. There were some nice signs of life in the team. They out shot the Flames 36 – 30. They held the Flames to 30 shots – something they didn’t do even in the Chicago win. Ohlund upped his game, or perhaps brought it back to the A level. He had a number of god hits and except for a messy screw up with Nassy at their own Blue line, which was in no way his fault, Ohlund held Iggy in check most of the night.

Sami Salo had a brilliant game. He had the canon dialled in and beat Kiprusoff far more times than his two official score sheet goals with one called back and a several posts. Sami sealed the deal on putting the game into extra time on a chance created by Baumgartner with only thirty seconds remaining in regulation. Then 2:53 into the extra frame with a Flame still in the sin bin, Salo unleashed another blast from the point with B Mo (Morrison) left to sweep in the garbage for the bonus point as the league is calling it.

So now where does this leave us? Well of course, on a two game winning streak with the Leafs due in town Tuesday. When the Nuck’s beat Nashville a week or two back that was also a good game against a good team in the midst of some poor Nuck’s performances. They followed that momentum builder up with a road loss to Edmonton. So for me the real test of how good was Saturdays OT win over Calgary will be just how well the boys answer the bell for Toronto on Tuesday. If the emotion, effort and hits of Saturday show up on Tuesday, I’ll tend to be convinced that we are headed back into positive territory. Back into a battle for first in the Northwest and not just a struggle to be better than seventh in the conference. The headline for Saturday’s win over divisional leaders Calgary does read “Finally” but now boys you have to back it up with a solid outing against the Leafs.


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