The Canucks have started the second half of the season by picking up four out of a possible six points in their first three games of a four-game road trip, starting with that memorable tilt against the Boston Bruins last Saturday. As we look ahead to the team’s five remaining games before the all-star break, here are some Things That Make Me Go Hmmm:
1. Coach Alain Vigneault’s decisions. Technically, this is a “non-hmmm” instead of a “hmmm” as Alain Vigneault once again has the club near the top of the overall standings (albeit with a few more games played than every other contender… more on that below). Once in a while, AV will do something that gets us talking and scratching our heads such as starting Schneider over Luongo in Boston, limiting Cody Hodgson’s minutes, or juggling his lines before they seemingly have a chance to gel. But you simply can’t argue with results. Since his first season with the Canucks in 2006-2007, Vigneault has amassed a regular-season coaching record of 263-147-44 (through Tuesday night’s win over Tampa Bay) – good for a winning percentage of .628. Throw in a Jack Adams Award in his first season, and you can legitimately argue that he’s been the Canucks most successful coach. And to think, he likely wouldn’t be here right now if Luongo didn’t stop Patrick Sharp in overtime in game 7 of last year’s first-round playoff series against the Blackhawks.
It was 5:18pm on Saturday and Gail and I were cleaning up after our very successful “Ruin the Bruins” Canucks viewing party that saw close to 20 people come over to watch Vancouver beat Boston 4-3 in a very exciting game. To be more accurate, I believe Gail was cleaning up while I was having a great catch-up session with Derek, while his son Ryan was playing with Jacob and Kayla. I presumed that Sean was upstairs watching TV, taking a nap, or doing homework (yeah, right).
Then, I felt my cell phone in my pocket buzz once. Then twice. Then again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again.
Finally, I said to Derek, “Excuse me, I better check who’s texting me.”
I’m taking a break from planning my Saturday morning “Ruin the Bruins” party to offer up a few quick thoughts as the Canucks have reached the midway point of the season. It feels so strange to type the word “morning” when blogging about a hockey game, but I digress.
On this eve of the Stanley Cup Finals rematch, here are a few Things That Make Me Go Hmmm:
1. The need for perspective. There are so many intriguing storylines heading into Saturday’s game against the Boston Bruins, notwithstanding the fact that it’s the only regular season meeting between the two Stanley Cup Finalists. Luongo or Schneider. Mason Raymond’s return to the rink where he nearly had his career ended. Daniel Sedin vs. Brad Marchand. Burrows, Bergeron, and biting.
Thursday afternoon, I tweeted: “48 hours from now we’ll either be celebrating a bit of revenge for the Canucks or wondering what it will take to beat the Bruins in Boston.” I received a couple of replies, with both of them intimating that a Canuck win had limited upside (as opposed to a Canuck loss having a larger downside) and that true revenge would be winning the Stanley Cup. While I didn’t disagree with these sentiments, I pointed out that a win is a win and we can’t do much about the Stanley Cup until June. It’s important to remember that this is game #42 of an 82 game regular season and that we shouldn’t read too much into the result of the game, whatever it may be. I don’t buy the argument that a Canuck loss will have a long-term effect on the team’s psyche… the same way I won’t get too excited if the Canucks walk out of Boston with a win. Enjoy it for what it will be: a hotly-contested battle of two of the top teams in the league.