Following their 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night, the Vancouver Canucks owned the best record in the NHL, had scored more goals than any other team and were tied for third in goals against.
Individually, they had the league's leading scorer in Daniel Sedin and the fourth-leading scorer in Henrik Sedin. Ryan Kesler stood third in goals. Roberto Luongo was tied for first in wins and fourth in save percentage among goalies. And the team had three players among the top-10 in plus-minus.
So, to find anything wrong with this Canucks' season, is difficult. To find anything wrong, in fact, you have to be the sort of person who doesn't like sunny days because of the glare on the windshield. But you also know there's a secret fear which secretly grips the hearts of all Canucks' fans these days; a fear which may seem illogical to an outsider but one which is very real to the faithful.
It's this. Things are going too well for the Canucks and it can't continue because, well, it never does for this team. Something will happen. It always does. You just wait.
And if you're remotely familiar with the history of this franchise you can understand why that feeling exists.
This season, after all, has played out like one extended dream sequence for Canucks' fans and there's a fear they'll wake up. Who, for example, could have envisioned Kesler emerging as a 50-goal threat this season or Cory Schneider stepping in and putting up numbers almost identical to Luongo's .
But there's so much more to this run the Canucks have enjoyed. If their best defenceman suffers a serious back injury in any other season, it's cataclysmic. This year it's like a winning lottery ticket.
Alex Edler goes down and it creates the cap space needed to get Sami Salo in the lineup.
Salo, who'd been talking about retiring a couple of weeks before, goes to Manitoba and scores two goals in his first game. Now it looks like he'll play with the Canucks next week which should give him time to get match-fit. Edler, meanwhile, is due back in April which means the Canucks could be looking at a playoff blueline where Salo and Keith Ballard are their fifth and sixth guys.
You consider all that, then you hear about that crazy trade rumour for Zach Parise and you think, maybe it's possible.
I mean, for the faithful, it's all been a little unsettling. Over the years, Canucks' fans like the French army and Charlie Sheen's wives - have been preconditioned to accept disappointment as the natural order of things.
This year? They bring up Lee Sweatt from the minors and he scores the game-winning goal in his first-ever NHL game. They find this kid Chris Tanev who was playing Tier II two seasons ago and he plays like a 10-year vet. Cody Hodgson finally appears and he looks like he might be the answer as their fourth-line centre. Unless they get Parise.
And there's still more. This might not mean much to the guy in section 310 but the Canucks' locker room, which used to be a guarded, uninviting place, is now populated by some very quotable folks. Kevin Bieksa, Jeff Tambellini, Tanner Glass, Keith Ballard, Manny Malhotra and Schneider are all bright, funny and insightful. They're good guys. This season has even been a win for the media.
On Saturday, for example, head coach Alain Vigneault told a story about the Canucks' first goal on Friday night where Kesler was coming on the ice for Hodgson just as Christian Ehrhoff was scoring the Canucks' first goal. Kesler then jumped back on the bench so Hodgson could record a plus.
This was a game, we'd remind you, in which the Canucks beat their tormentors with a comeback in the final 10 minutes and with a goalie who has his own history with the Blackhawks.
Gold Jerry. It's gold.
Vigneault was asked if he's aware of the excitement his team has created among its followers.
"I wouldn't be honest if I said we didn't hear the buzz," he said. "That being said, I don't think it's having an effect on anyone in our room."
Maybe so.. But, outside that room, you know it's a different story.
Edited by tututooter21, 07 February 2011 - 08:33 AM.