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The Island and the Pie - JAN.09.08


Nancy Henderson

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<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>For those of us who agonized through the Stanley Cup final in 1982, a visit from the Islanders always provides a small jolt of nostalgic emotion. The 2008 version of the old foe could really use a little help from Mike Bossy.

Now, I just loved the first period last night, and obviously, so did the Canucks. But, they are still too easily seduced into embracing the delusional belief that they are an offensive powerhouse. They control the play in the attacking zone for a while, get a bunch of shots on net, and before you know it, they begin to make dangerous passes or unfocussed dipsy-doodles with puck in the neutral zone, thinking that they are all that, and victory will be a piece of cake. You can see trouble thundering towards you like a freight train, from fifty miles out.

<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/01/jan0808_canuck-islander07_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/01/jan0808_canuck-islander07_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4></a>Boys, boys, boys. You are not the Detroit Red Wings. If they had two breakaways on the same shift, they would score. Defence got you here and defence will have to carry you.

Fortunately, a guaranteed splash of cold water to the face comes when our freshly minted All-Star goalie starts playing like Dan Cloutier with a concussion. That second goal cracks me up every time I watch a replay of it. To quote Bugs Bunny, “what a maroon!!” Maybe it was the result of staring across the ice at DiPietro, as if looking into some kind of crazy time-warp mirror, who was playing the sort of excellent game that is normally Luongo’s bread and butter. Still, one of the many, many great things about Roberto is his ability to get mad and then get determined. He was stellar in the shootout, when it really counted.

A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants. Or in the Canucks’ case: a little scoring, a skating race, a little pie in the face.

<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/01/jan0508_skills30_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/01/jan0508_skills30_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4></a>Normally, I’m there every season, but I didn’t attend last year because I figured Canucks Superskills might be an oxymoron. Still, there was plenty of talent on display last Saturday. This year’s recipient of the whipped cream facial was Mason Raymond, the fastest skater of the afternoon. This is such a nice, happy event – packed with kids, including those belonging to the players. It’s a pleasure to see the lads without their helmets, laughing, teasing one another and goofing around. And you know going in that you will leave GM Place with a smile on your face (under normal circumstances, not a guarantee).

I particularly enjoyed the addition of the (probably) Steve Nash-inspired punishment for the losing squad – the entire side had to do 20 push-ups with the crowd counting them out for good measure. Steve has employed the same chastisement at his own Vancouver Charity basketball event for the last two years. Willie Mitchell, who was on the winning squad but not to be outdone, dropped down and showed off with a few quick push-ups himself, between turns during the hardest shot competition, while flashing his trademark giant grin. As you know, I’m fond of devising entertaining team punishments when the boys are less than successful. I’m glad to see that the Canucks organization is beginning to see things my way. Now if they would just start dishing out similar sentences after disappointing games, I’m sure it would cheer up the home crowd.

Although, considering that the last time the Canucks lost in regulation at GM Place, the earth was still cooling, the home crowd has had no reason to be crabby.

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