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Vancouver Canucks

Maybe The Canucks Are Contenders

Every time I get ready to write them off, the Vancouver Canucks bounce back with a game that makes me think they may be playoff contenders after all. Last night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Canuck Janik Hansen took a penalty at the 3:29 mark of the first period and three seconds later Willie Mitchell joined him in the box to give the Leafs a two man advantage for the next one minute and fifty seven seconds. During the first minute of the five on three, the Canuck defense and goalie Roberto Luongo held the Leafs in check, but then Luongo lost his stick. Even with this advantage, the Maple Leafs, who came into the game with the 3rd best power play in the league, were stymied for the next twenty seconds until a Canuck cleared the puck down the ice and Roberto reclaimed his errant stick from behind the net.

Less than two minutes after the teams returned to full strength, former Leaf Kyle Wellwood scored his team high 7th goal of the season to put the Canucks ahead. The shots on goal to this point were ten for Toronto and one for Vancouver. By the 8:31 mark of the second period the Canucks held a 4-0 lead, having scored 4 goals with only 9 shots on goal. At this point, 40 year old Curtis Joseph entered the net for Toronto but by then the game was in the bag for the Canucks who coasted the rest of the way to a 4-2 victory. The sell out crowd had been hoping for another Luongo shut out, but Ian White scored for the Leafs at 14:53 of the 3rd period. This was the first even strength goal allowed by Luongo in the six game home stand. Toronto added another goal on a power play late in the period, but it was too little too late for the Leafs.

In the NHL, making the playoffs is all that counts because once you get there claiming the Stanley Cup becomes a possibility. The formula for making the playoffs can be relatively simple. Win two thirds of your games at home and half of your road games and you end up with 96 points which is enough for a 4th or 5th place finish. Approaching the quarter pole for the season, the Canucks are 6-2-1 at home and have won 4 and lost 4 on the road. So far the formula has been followed with perfection. Between now and their 30th game on December 13th against the Oilers in Edmonton, Vancouver will play eleven out of thirteen games on the road. If their point total over this period seems to fall, Canuck fans should not despair. As long as the team has 34 points when they meet the Florida Panthers at home on December 14th, they will be okay. Any point total higher than 34 will be good news indeed.

The Old Timer
November 16, 2008

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