Mandatory Win Achieved …
If, if,if … if my Aunt had testes then she'd be my uncle.
There's always countless “ifs” in anything in life and Sports is nothing if not a never-ending stream of 'em as they all are “a game of inches”, but if the Canucks had lost this game in Colorado after the disastrous no-show the night before in St Louis then this season might have started into freefall.
There would be no excuses allowed. No Back-to-back, no late arrival and no playing at altitude rationalizations. The Canucks absolutely had to win this game against the worst team in the west and that they did.
If they had lost against a team that had been out-scored 15-3 in their last two games and were without as many as 14 regulars and had dressed only 17 skaters, most of whom would be in the AHL if all was well with the once-mighty Av's, the pressure they would have faced would have been immense and the possibility of the team's confidence and psyche being shattered would have been very real.
That may sound a little over-the-top as far as dramatics go, but this edition of Team Canuck has been impossible to define as they have shown us a little, and a lot, of everything imaginable so far. It has been a season full of streaks, most of which have been opposites, both good & bad, and the only thing that has been consistent is that when they start doing something they do it up real good-like … no messing around apparently. Momentum has been a huge issue for this team, when it's good it's good, but when it's been bad it has been downright scary bad more often than not.
I didn't actually watch the game as I got home during the first intermission (PPV game for those of us here in VanCity) and the tone from everyone on the radio was anything but good as I tuned in. By all indications the opening period was little more than an extension of the previous 3 the night before against the Blues, but like the talking heads who seemed to get more excited with the play as the game went on, the Canucks picked up the pace in the second and got two early ones in the third to skate away with a 4-1 win.
Your best players have to be your best players to win is one of the thousands of cliches used in hockey everyday, and at least as far as the stats read from this game (those of you following along at home know my thoughts on how people put too much emphasis on actual goals and assists when judging how well players have played) that is exactly what happened.
Daniel got his 28th of the year and Henrik tied his career high with his 18th, while both added an assist. Mats Sundin put up 2 third period assists, the second of which was a very nice setup for Pavol Demitra who ended up with a helper as well.
The night before the Sedins were practically invisible after a huge game in Dallas, and Sundin and Demitra would have been better if they were invisible according to their coach who openly criticized them after the 3-2 loss in St Louis.
Based on the fact the team is on the road and was traveling immediately after the game to Colorado it is more than probable that the team's highest paid forwards didn't even know they had been called out by Alain Vigneault, but from what I've seen and read, Demitra didn't need to hear any of it to get himself motivated for this game.
Often seen as somewhat indifferent in both his play and attitude, it sounds like he was a man on a mission last night and probably had one of his better games as a Canuck. Again, points don't always tell the story as he has had numerous so-so games where he has put up 2 points, but he was involved in this game and it was because he was “pissed” at himself for his bad game against his former team the night before.
“I was not very happy with my game,” Demitra said afterwards when speaking about the St Louis game. “Trust me, I was pissed. I put my game face on and I was ready for a good game. I was so pissed with myself, I couldn't even sleep (Thursday) night.”
He missed a good opportunity in the first shooting wide and his frustration with himself was apparently easily heard by all throughout The Pepsi Center. In the second he was chosen by AV to take a penalty shot and after making a more than decent attempt, but still coming up empty-handed, he was so mad at himself that he looked like he was trying to punch a hole through the boards at the bench with multiple left-right combinations.
Hard to say what sparks a team in any given hockey game, but there's a good chance that the emotion displayed by a guy who rarely shows any at all, was the catalyst that got the rest of his mates going. Henrik scored minutes later to tie the game at ones and by the time the second was over the Canucks had outshot the home team 16-5 in the period … 37 seconds into the third brother Daniel got his to give Vancouver the lead and from there on out they did enough to get the job done and the put the 2 points in the bank.
Those points in the standings should have given them 1st place in the North West if they had gotten the job done in St Louis on Thursday, but they'll have to settle with being just one point back of the Flames and two behind the Hawks as they head to Chicago for the much anticipated potential playoff-preview tomorrow night in the Windy City.
This win was nothing to get excited about, but the alternative is something we gladly don't have to deal with … they bounced back and got the job done.
We are, of course, Gradeless for this game as your Bogger didn't see the game so handing out passes or fails blind wouldn't make a whole lotta sense, even though many probably feel that is how they are always done anyways!
About the Author
Written by Mark Gage