Wednesday, January 11, 2006

It is Never Simple - January 10th

The Canucks came away from a game with the Toronto Maple Leafs last night with a 4 – 3 win. Why am I not ecstatic? I suppose it was more of how they won and not that they won. The ‘Nucks third and fourth lines beat the Leafs third and fourth lines. Auld, after a scary start, beat Belfour. The difference in the game was the Triplets combined with 8 minutes and change to go in the third period to put the home team up 4-2 and the insurance was enough to bring in a win. On the power play, Brother Carter tipped a Daniel aerial passed Belfour with ‘my other brother’ Henrik picking up the second assist. It was a variation on the slap pass play that you’d like to see them be successful on a couple times a night rather than every other night. However, Carter with sixteen goals seems rejuvenated and while it may have taken five years to get there, the twins seem to have arrived.

Ryan Kesler played perhaps one of his best games of the season. He was into the game with two shots, two hits, two assists, two minutes in the bin but most importantly two key plays. Middle of the second he made a beautiful pass to the Cooker who tied the game 2-2. He also came up with a key own zone face-off win late in the third period with the Leaf’s pressing. Alexandre Burrows scored his first NHL goal and seemed to be in the play far more than his meagre 7:06 of ice time suggests. A mixed line of Kesler, Burrows and Bert seemed to show some real spark Ruutu got another goal mid first period to erase an early Toronto marker.

Then why not so ecstatic? Giving up an early, shorthanded, ugly, first shot of the game goal was a major gaff. Being out shot two-to-one typically does equate to being on the winning end of the equitation. Credit be given to Auld as he did make some clutch saves in the second and third periods to save a win. He was named the game’s first star. Had he not given up the soft one early or had he stoned the Leaf’s one more time I’d be keen to say he clearly stole the game for the team. But he did not and I will not. He’s beaten Hasek, Kiprusoff and now Belfour which should certainly please the faithful. The West Coast Express was a minus two on the night. With Bertuzzi’s assist on the Burrows goal, Bert escaped the night minus one whereas B Mo and Nassy were both minus two.

We have reached the mid point of the season. The Nucks are second in the division two behind Calgary and sixth in the conference one point ahead of Edmonton and three points behind LA. If the playoffs were to start today we’d play Calgary without home ice advantage. The team is on a pace for 106 points. Last time there was a season, 101 points was enough to be the third seed in the conference. With the three point games will 106 points be enough to win the division? I except not. It is going to take over 110 points to win a division and maybe as many as 120 to win a conference. With the success in the last ten games far below that of the first twenty games, I believe, there currently is untapped potential within the team.

Friday night is a trip to see the Devils: another tough game on the road. Auld will need to be sharp. Naslund and Morrison need to deliver bigger games. It is possible and I am hopeful.


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