If you’re like most people, you find comfort in returning home from work on a daily basis and usually even more so a business trip. Vacations are obviously a different story because really who likes to return from vacation? However the Canucks made the recent 14 game road trip very business like and are probably, like us, glad to be back. The confines of GM Place have been especially friendly this year and should provide with some meaningful, entertaining games for the remainder of the season.
The 14 game road trip really wasn’t as bad as most in the media made it up to be. It seemed every time I turned on the game I was serenaded with talk of how it was the longest in history and so many km’s it could wrap around the earth a floppity jillion times. However, with the Olympic break in there, it was really two separate trips in which the players not involved in said Olympics had the opportunity to get some much needed rest. The 7 players who competed in the short tournament also got days off prior to the men’s hockey start and even Kesler and Luongo, who played to the end, were playing in their home rink and thus not on the “road.” I won’t discount that it was difficult to be away for that amount of time, but they’ve done 6 and 8 game trips before with maybe a couple of games in between that would probably have been more difficult.
In the end they finish with a record of 8-5-1 good enough to maintain their 1st place standing in the NW division 10 points up on Calgary (in action tonight against Ottawa) and 5 points up on Colorado (also in action vs. Florida). The goal when the team vacated GM place was to tread water and try and maintain that standing and from that standpoint it was very successful. Conversely they lost games they should have won early and almost every game they won could have just as easily been lost because of the disturbing trend of giving up leads and early goals. These things happen over the course of the season and in the end the record speaks for itself. Having done this without the help of Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa makes it more impressive and really even more exciting to watch. Think about how exciting the games have been on the latter leg of the road trip because of the ability to come up late to ‘steal’ games.
Of concern as well was the inability of the Vancouver squad to properly prepare for two very important games. The Chicago and Colorado games made me very worried, hopefully this worry is unwarranted but it is very hard to tell where this team stands. Of all the games played Chicago was the most important in my eyes. I’m of the opinion that all the games played against Chicago have to be at a high level to showcase that the Canucks are able to play at the same level. It has nothing to do with exorcising demons from the playoffs as that can’t be done in the regular season. The amount of goals and the type of play in the first period of the Chicago game were the kind that make you think the team isn’t ready and that’s a problem. It was a different scenario against Colorado as I believe the Canucks are the better, more well rounded team and will most likely be better prepared than the Avs in the post-season. However it is important to try and secure the division for seeding purposes and spotting a team 3 goals in a game that may help determine that seeding is unacceptable. Despite the exciting comeback and the eventual win it is hard not to see these two games as a problem as they were arguably the most critical games of the trip.
Looking forward (past Ottawa) to the game against the Flames on the 14, I’m excited to see where it goes. The Flames have won 3 straight going in to tonight and it should be a good test against a very different Flames roster. Back to Ottawa, I hope they beat the Flames.
Ottawa Senators @ Vancouver Canucks – Saturday, March 13, 2010 – TV: CBC (HD), Radio: Team 1040 Vancouver
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Written by Luke Mirza