Friday, December 15, 2006

Flames 1 Canucks 3

It was the Vancouver Canucks' latest, most important game of the season. The players knew it. The crowd at GM Place knew it. No one disappointed.

There was a playoff-like atmosphere at GM Place with lots of cheering and screaming and chanting and drunk girls fighting. On the ice, the boys in Orca Bay blue played as complete a game as they've played this season, beating their Northwest Division rivals Calgary Flames by a score of 3-1. They played the way Alain Vigneault thought they could back in training camp (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province):

All the way back in training camp, Alain Vigneault surveyed his new team and there was a vision.

He'd have rock solid goaltending. He'd get balanced, three-line scoring. He'd have sound special teams and a smart, well-positioned defence that didn't crumble like blue cheese in front of its own net.

It took 32 games but Vigneault's once fuzzy, at times laughable Canucks concept has started to focus.

The Canucks got goals from three different line combinations, rode Roberto Luongo's sturdy back and showed off some face-washing grit in a self-proclaimed statement-making 3-1 win against Calgary, which boosts Vancouver's still-meek divisional record to 3-8-1.
Statement game - that's how everyone described this game after (Ed Willes, Vancouver Province):

So if that was a statement game, what statement did the Canucks make on Thursday night?

"That we can compete against one of the top teams in our division," said Brendan Morrison.

"I think we rose to the physical challenge and showed we can play with these guys in every facet of the game."
Most importantly, the guys that stepped up the most were the leaders of this team - Roberto Luongo and Markus Naslund (Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun):

After Saturday's nadir in Calgary, where Luongo allowed four goals on 24 shots and was hooked, and Naslund went pointless and minus-two and was absolutely eclipsed by Flames' star Jarome Iginla, the Canucks' six-million-dollar men had much to play for in Thursday's rematch.

Luongo brilliantly outplayed Flames' goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and Naslund outpointed Iginla as the Canucks won 3-1 in one of their most encouraging performances of the season.
I know it's only one win but it was a big one for this team. It showed that even with their lack of scoring prowess and style points, they can compete with the best of the Northwest; for a Canucks team that's lacking in confidence and finish, it can give them a bit more swagger.

More from the Mainstream

My 3 Stars of the Game

  1. Roberto Luongo (VAN): "Only" 22 saves, but many were of the "big" variety
  2. Kevin Bieksa (VAN): Logged a team-high 26:32 minutes of ice-time, had a +2 rating and eight shots on goal. Was instrumental in shutting down Jarome Iginla and the Flames' powerplay
  3. Matt Cooke (VAN): Was his usual pot-stirrer self. Settling in on a line with Brendan Morrison and Markus Naslund and assisted on Morrison's goal

Official Statistics

Next Game

Another big divisional game on Saturday night, this time against the Minnesota Wild

Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:47 AM


At December 15, 2006 12:58 PM, Blogger Zanstorm said...

I can't believe that Sportsnet didn't include Luongo in the 3 stars. At least you have your head screwed on right, JJ!

What a game though. That was a treat.

At December 15, 2006 1:29 PM, Blogger Jeremy said...

Sounds like it was a fantastic game. I was on the road this week, so I was sad to miss it (impossible to catch a hockey game on the tube in LA). Great recap, as usual...your site has become the first place I go when I want to know what really happened in a game. Thanks!

At December 16, 2006 10:48 AM, Blogger Dax said...

Rory Fitzpatrick was +2, more than any play on either team. He played on the PK, when others were in the penalty box. And the most telling stat of them all...

the canucks are UNDEFEATED since his return.



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