Good Appetizer, Now for the Main Course
The Canucks finally ended their 5 game losing streak with a win against the lowly, injury depleted Blue Jackets tonight with a score of 6-2. The Sedins combined for 5 points and waiver wire wunderkind Ryan Stanton contributed with 3 of his own. Stanton as it stands is only 3 points behind Torey Krug of the Bruins for the rookie d-man scoring lead this year, even more amazing is Krug has nearly half his points on the Powerplay while averaging 2:16 of PP time a game, whereas Stanton has a measly PP average 0:01 with obviously no points. The kid is solid in his own end, evident with a +5 plus/minus and is averaging almost 14 quality minutes a game. He is providing solid minutes and contributing and is looking like one of the better steals for the Canucks in recent memory.
Now as nice as it was to watch the Canucks dominate the Blue Jackets, Canuck fans know you are only as good as your next game, and what a next game we have on tap. Tomorrow the hated Chicago Blackhawks come to town for a Saturday Hockey Night in Canada tilt. The Hawks currently are the 2nd best team in the Western Conference which also puts them 2nd best in the NHL. As much as the win tonight was needed, a visit from a hated rival might be what the Canucks really need the most. These 2 teams have a recent history of competitive in your face games, and if you were ever going to get a barometer of how things really are in Canuckland, this game is it. I expect the Canucks to come out again with the attitude that they have something to prove and in my mind after a streak of good hockey but no results, its time to put up or shut up. It’s hard enough right now to be sitting 4 points out of the playoff picture even though it’s only November, but this year is different, the Conference and division have never been like this, and the points you lose in the first couple of months may be the same points that keep you on the outside of the playoff picture when things really matter at the end of the year. I will have my popcorn ready and hope for a repeat effort from the Canucks and as always another win.
I have to say it was nice tonight to see Zack Kassian get a goal and other than an ill-advised attempted body check on the Blue Jackets first goal, have a very solid game. This kid is always going to be compared to Cody Hodgson and so be it. My problem is the fans and media who allow that to take away from the fact Kassian is developing just fine. He only averages a little over 12 minutes a game and hasn’t put up the offence we all want to see, but this kid is an even player on the ice, and is showing flashes of the skills that made him a 1st round pick only 4 years ago. If you were going to be fair to him you’d realize power forwards in the league take a lot longer to develop, especially when they have yet to find the rhythm to the NHL game. Maybe I’m too big of fan of big Kassian, but for me I see a 22-year-old with above average hockey sense and potentially the second best passer on the team behind Hank Sedin. I have been impressed with Zack in his time with the Canucks and yes I pull for him to do well. My opinion is skewed, but when you strip it down I am a fan, I love hockey and I love my Canucks. I want them to do well and I want their players to do well. Call me crazy but I enjoy being happy, and 90% of the time watching my Canucks makes me happy. Fans can be critical and that’s fine to a point, I just wonder for those fair weather fans out there who seem to be all about the negative and can never see the silver linings, are you a fan of the Canucks because of geography or do you generally enjoy watching Canuck games? Webster’s dictionary describes a fan as being ”a person with a strong and habitual liking for something” If as a “Canuck” fan you can’t say you generally like them, maybe it’s time for geography to help you out again, and you can hope a team finally moves to Seattle.
As always you can follow my thoughts on the Canucks and anything else that peaks my interest on Twitter @F4SLanceHornby