Week 5 had the Canucks back home after a long & grueling road trip in which they went 5-1-1. They finished the week on a relatively good note. There were initially some concerns that the team would return from their trip very tired and weary. The first two home games were tight and could’ve gone either way.
Against the Washington Capitals, Canucks clearly showed that they didn’t miss a beat. Outshooting the
Caps 44 to 21, the Canucks once trailed 2-1 thanks to Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth’s stellar performance. Eventually, Ryan Kesler and the Sedins pulled through in the third period and defeated Washington 3-2.
The Canucks appeared to be on a good winning streak. That was until they faced the Detroit Red Wings who just moved into the Eastern Conference. While the game was another tight affair, the Canucks could only muster 21 shots on goal against Detroit’s Jimmy Howard. Ultimately, Chris Tanev’s screen on his goalie Roberto Luongo cost them the game. The Red Wings won 2-1.
At this stage of the week, the main concerns remained the lack in power play scoring, and the inconsistency in shot totals game in and game out. No matter how good the Canucks seem to be, teams like Detroit, Chicago and San Jose always seem to bring them down to earth. It will take some time to improve their power play, shooting, defence and toughness to at least be at level with those elite clubs.
You could argue that the Toronto Maple Leafs are becoming one of those elite clubs. Heading into Saturday’s major contest in Vancouver, they sat 3rd in the Eastern Conference with an impressive record of 10-4. Their Achilles Heel? The Leafs haven’t won in Vancouver since November, 2003. Will that losing trend change?
It was an impressive 4-0 victory over the Leafs. Roberto Luongo earned another shutout, the 64th of his stellar career. And while they got their power play on track, the Canucks roughed up the Buds with some solid checking, hits, and intimidation. The loss for the Leafs was costly as David Bolland tore his Achilles tendon, lacerated from a check by Zack Kassian who momentarily scored the Canucks’ second goal. This was the same guy who called the Sedins “sisters.” He has since regretted making those remarks.
The so-called “sister act” has been paying off for the Canucks. So much so, that the team has re-signed Henrik and Daniel to a four-year, $28 million contract each. Doubters will cry foul. Why re-sign some 33 year-old Swedes with little left in the tank.
Little? You may be surprised…
If a 60 year-old Swede like Daniel Alfredsson can still kick it with Detroit, then why not the Sedins? They surely have more than enough in the tank, they truly want to finish their NHL careers in Vancouver, and this is how they’re rewarded for their their loyalty to the team that drafted them. If the Canucks are going to be a serious contender, they’ll to lead the way and have a supporting cast to help them through it.
Canucks Rating: B
Highs: The Sedins will return for another four years. Scoring will be maintained if not improve. Their leadership will continue to be a benefit for a transitioning team that wants to be respected again.
Lows: To do that, the Canucks will need to improve their play against other top contenders in the West. Week 6 will see them battle on a short road trip against Phoenix, San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim.
Postscript: Congratulations, Pavel Bure. Your number 10 will forever be immortalized in Vancouver Canuck lore.
A former novice/atom player, timekeeper and fan of the game, Peter has lived and breathed hockey throughout his life, covering hockey happenings in Edmonton, Vancouver, and currently in Saskatchewan. He is now a contributing writer for the Hockey Writers.