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Raining Toads - SEP.24.08

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Nancy Henderson

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<table width=80% align=center border=0><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/09/henderson_head.jpg align=left hspace=4>The Canucks are 2 and 0! Can a rain of toads be far behind? Or maybe we should just give in to the sweet insanity – could you safely run the parade down Robson Street?

After a summer of handwringing, despair, and battening down the hatches of the good ship Canucklehead, fearful of the tsunami of team awfulness surging towards us and threatening to leave us bobbing upside down in a season nicknamed “Poseidon Adventure On Ice 2008”, faithful Vancouver hockey fans can be forgiven for allowing themselves a few brief moments of giddiness at the unexpected early success.

I watched game one at home, game two at GM Place. Errors, flailing and broken plays are the hallmark of the pre-season, when there is a wild mix of the young and the veteran, and everyone is playing “What’s My Line?”. Still, there were definitely moments to enjoy and some pleasant surprises.

STOPPING THE SPECULATION

<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/06/jun2408_schneider_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4>Cory Schneider for one. Well, I have been hoping for signs of potential NHL greatness from this prospect since we drafted him, so I wouldn’t say it was a surprise that he possessed the ability to carry the burden of playing regulation, overtime and a shootout with such an impressively calm demeanor. But it was certainly heartwarming to see. The big-boy pants look good on the kid.

Cory appears to have been taking correspondence courses at the Luongo school of solid positioning and earning a minor in keeping the team alive during dire miscues. He looked unflappable during long second period stretches when all the Canucks seemed to be doing was flapping. Who knows what the future holds – will the lad stay or be traded? If Roberto decides his future lies elsewhere it would be nice to turn to a homegrown number one goalie that we had nurtured ourselve.

LORDY, LORDY, LOOK IT'S HORDY

<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/09/Sept2308_Canucks-Oilers01_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4>Darcy Hordichuk, too. I suppose it would be safe to say that I had no real expectations of Mr. Darcy other than that he would not shy away from the rough stuff. But on a number of occasions last night, I exclaimed “hey, that was Hordichuk”, including when he scored.

Obviously as the real games begin, a guy with 13 career goals will not be the answer to our offensive woes. But it was fun to see him step outside the box a bit and show off a few other skills.

YOUNG SKILL

<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/09/sep2008_camp25_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4>The Sedins can be coaxed away from the boards into flying around the ice with panache – not really a surprise as Markus lured them into doing that on occasion last season. And Hansen, Grabner and Raymond showed signs of speed, skill and dazzle that were not a surprise at all. But can any of the youngsters stick with the big club and demonstrate these abilities on a regular basis?

Steve Bernier seems willing to go into the tough areas – his helmet came off so many times you would have thought he was auditioning to play the part of a Rock-Em-Sock-Em Robot. But will that result in any goals or just more endless, fruitless cycling with the Sedins? Does shootout dynamo Kyle Wellwood have soft hands or just soft muscle tone?

There were more questions than answers after two starts. But I’m finally beginning to feel some excitement about the puck drop on the real season.

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