<table width=80% align=center border=0><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/henderson_headshot.jpg align=left hspace=4>Memo to Vancouver hockey fans: stop listening to panicky poultry. Chicken Little had it wrong – the sky is staying put.
Ha - I wonder if the Nashville Tennessean newspaper has a cover story this morning promoting public self-immolation for disconsolate Predators fans? For those of you hysterically proclaiming that, without a doubt, Mr. Nonis should have traded our future talent for a rental player at the deadline, last night ought to serve as a rebuttal. The kids are definitely alright!
The players clearly weren’t nervous at the start of the game but I was, partly because I was worried that it might be another ugly contest and partly because I was being interviewed by Scott Rintoul about my blog at the first intermission. I have done plenty of on-camera work before, as the spokesgal for any number of events and as an actress, but being stood up in front of the GM faithful, blasted with lights, and expected to answer questions coherently, well, that did have me working hard to scrape up enough saliva to speak. <a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/03/MAR0608_Canucks-Predators08_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/03/MAR0608_Canucks-Predators08_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4></a>
Turned out to be fun though, and my mood was made better by the excellence of the first period. I was concerned though, that Scott might ask me to name my favourite player, and I would have been forced to own up to my devotion to Markus, whose pair of boneheaded errors resulted in the only two Nashville goals. Listen pal, if I’m going to keep defending you, you are going to have to stop being the only minus two player on the night.
But mental errors aside, THAT, boys, is how you have to play for the rest of the regular season and, dare I say it, when you make the playoffs. Too often this year, the team has looked like it was trying not to lose. Last night, from the drop of the puck, and Alex Burrows’ fantastic quick goal, the Canucks looked like they were trying to win. That sense of confidence was undiminished by Nashville’s speedy, replying goals and a little early shakiness by our beloved goaltender.
There were any number of things to admire on the night. Watching the lads take 44 shots on net, for a start. Shift after shift they controlled much of the play. Being a healthy scratch seemed to motivate young Mr. Raymond. Mason is definitely emerging as one of those skilled players I just delight in watching. Occasionally looking like the off-beat offspring of Pavel Bure and Nazzy (okay, don’t think too hard about it), Raymond demonstrates that sudden burst of speed and the dangerous, flat-out approach to the game that was the hallmark of Pavel’s playing style, and his smooth, skilled, confident goal from behind the net reminded me of the captain in his prime. Hmm, that’s a bit over the top maybe, and he still makes puppy mistakes, but let’s keep number 21 around a little longer, please.<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/03/MAR0608_Canucks-Predators11_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/03/MAR0608_Canucks-Predators11_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4></a>
But I would say my favourite moment of the evening belonged to Kevin Bieksa. Kevin was looking a little out of sorts even before his devastating injury and since his return he has seemed like he is still rediscovering his rhythm. But even though I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “the rough stuff”, I just love watching the man fight.
When Kevin starts flinging off equipment, takes on that ferocious warring stance and focuses the famous Bieksa Bone-Liquifying Death Stare, I anticipate his opening single deadly punch with total glee. Heck, I have been the recipient of the Stare and even the muted version used on mere interviewers is powerfully intimidating. I am very grateful that, even though Bieksa was still attempting to whomp someone as he was hauled off the ice, the League has decided that a suspension for instigating a fight so late in the game would be “outside the spirit of the rule”. I’ll say – the man was rightly standing up for himself and his team.
What a night. Even pretty little Ryan Shannon was interviewed wearing the bloodied eye of a scrapper. Now we can enjoy two whole days of blissful Cup-contemplation before the voices of doom begin to rise again.