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The Land of the Endless Grind - JAN.16.08


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>Last weekend, for a change of pace, I watched a couple of periods of the Detroit/Ottawa game. In some ways it was like travelling to a different country – things looked vaguely familiar but oh so different. There was almost no back or forechecking – the top lines rarely went anywhere near the boards, and certainly would not be caught dead scrambling for pucks behind their own net. Nope, it was just skate, pass, shoot, skate, pass, shoot. When Detroit went down by two goals I kept thinking, just chip the puck in, do a little digging for it and take a shot from an ugly angle. Emery was fighting the puck so much, it was likely to go in. But they kept staying the skill-first course. Fascinating.

Meanwhile, back in the land of the endless grind… I was pretty depressed coming home last night to watch the game, thinking “man, oh man, have we really come to this – Markus playing on the checking line?” Can a rain of toads be far behind? But I actually thought the Kesler, Burrows, Naslund unit looked okay. Well, as good as any line looked on a night like that

<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/12/dec1707_edm09_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/12/dec1707_edm09_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4></a>I know our injuries are starting to crush us, but to me, a hockey team has to play like they can score, even if they are not stocked with great natural scorers. If the Canucks go in thinking they won’t get goals but will merely prevent goals, well, they’re hooped. They stop moving their legs and start taking penalties. A team that tries not to make mistakes will do nothing but. I’m getting to the point where I almost don’t want to watch anymore, especially if we’re losing going into the third, and that scares me.

My heart goes out to the Brown, Cowan and Rypien line – they struggled and looked out of synch. Both Cowan and Rypien have been the goat-boys deluxe in recent games. Perhaps an injection of Trevor would be the perfect tonic – a little glue to keep the pieces together. And about developing youth. If we are going to drop a point or two, I’d rather watch Mason Raymond show some promise of being a future scorer than watch an energy line with little energy.

<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/01/jan0508_skills07_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/01/jan0508_skills07_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4></a>How about this? Markus calls up Mats Sundin and says “hey compatriot, what do you say we join forces? Neither of us has won a Cup, we’ve both made an Ikea warehouse full of money. Next summer, let’s offer ourselves as a package to some team for a grand total of $1 million each – we’ll be co-captains so that a Swedish player will finally lead a team to victory and we can make that teasing conference call to Don Cherry.”

The Canucks would be a perfectly good team to make the offer to, as they already have great goaltending and solid defence in place, but at this point, I’d just like Nazzy to get a chance to play his style in a city where he’d win and where he wouldn’t have to deal with the daily grief.

Oh, and one last thing. Suppose, in two years, Dave makes Roberto the most staggering offer he can imagine, but so do half the teams in the NHL, and our great and glorious goaltender signs with an Eastern Conference team where the fans and media are less rabid, the schedule is easier, the wife is happy and the baby gets to live in the same time zone as her grandparents. On that day, I wonder if the same people who so vigorously supported Luongo’s “family first” stance regarding the All-Star Game will be quite so generous? Methinks they will instead be yowling like tasered cats. Sometimes, you have to laugh.

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