Wednesday Morning Coffee- To Boldly Go Where This Team Ain't Gone Before...

Kirkcanuck_medium

Last night's game couldn't have gone more like it was billed.  The first two periods were a tight defensive struggle, both goaltenders razor sharp, the Nashville Predators making the most of a bounce they got in the 2nd.  Then in the 3rd the Canucks roar out of the gate and the Preds vaunted duo of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter couldn't handle the Sedins, who fed Alexandre Burrows for that now patented tap in at the top of the crease and the game was tied.  From there it was all Canucks, though to be honest it was like that for most of the game.  The Canucks held the Preds to 17 shots, 7 of them over the final 40 minutes.  Just two of them came in the 3rd.  Nashville plays a solid, disciplined defensive game.  But you couldn't ask for a better example of the difference between these two teams than this game.  The Canucks rattled off 14 in the final frame, the game winner from Burrows in the waning moments much like the proverbial arrow he shoots in honour of the late Luc Bourdon.  Before the game we were told by many (including some of the Predators) that this was a matchup the Canucks likely didn't want.  Once again, they showed that they can take down any team, any time.  More after the jump...

The stats are remarkable when you think about it.  The naysayers are quick to tell you that the Canucks point totals are inflated by the shootout, but when you look at the categories that the team leads the league in: Points %.  Goals for per game.  Goals against per game.  Power Play.  Penalty Kill.  5 on 5 goals per game.  Faceoffs.  They win almost 75% of the games in which they're outshot.  They've won 9 straight on the road, and have 26 road wins on the season, which is more than the total number of wins by the Edmonton Oilers.  Every new win means a new team record.  And this is all great.  The team will finish on top of the Western Conference for the first time in franchise history.  And they're likely going to win the President's Trophy as well.  And that's all well and fine.  But we all know there is only one trophy that matters.  Daniel Sedin is the front runner for the Hart Trophy, a remarkable feat considering his brother Henrik was last season's winner.  Roberto Luongo is having his best season as a Vancouver Canuck, quite likely in his career.  And teams don't get an easy ride when they rest him, as Cory Schneider has been the goalie they thought he could in a back up role that gives Vancouver the best 1-2 punch in the league. 

The team is getting healthier.  They can never be counted out of games.  They do a lot of little things right.  And if you ask them, they still believe that their best hockey is yet to come.  Sure there's the loss of Manny Malholtra and what he brought to this team.  The 3rd and 4th lines need to be straightened out, and it's likely coach Alain Vigneault hasn't finished tinkering with them just yet.  But when you think about Mikael Samuelsson, Alexander Edler, Dan Hamhuis and Andrew Alberts are still recovering from injury and all will likely be ready when the playoffs start (in Samuelsson's case even sooner), there's a lot to be hopeful for.

There are many who will say that the President's Trophy is a curse and the Canucks are due to go out in the first round much like the Washington Capitals did last season.  The Capitals downfall was brought on by a number of things: A 1 dimensional offensive approach, the inability to handle Montreal's tenacity on the forecheck, an insanely hot goaltender, and not taking their opponent seriously.  In otherwords, a lot of the flaws the Caps had are things that the Canucks have focused on since training camp.  This team was built to be exactly where they are right now: In control of their own destiny.  Could a collapse happen?  Sure.  It happens.  If it does it would be a shock indeed, because the chinks in their armour have been few and far between. 

5 games left.  Only 1 is against a team in a playoff spot at the moment.  Time to fine tune the process as they head towards the playoffs and perhaps destiny.  As Canucks fans we've not had a ton of things to cheer about in 40 years.  The team has struggled at times, been downright brutal in others.  We've had a shot at the Cup twice.  Once we were outgunned by one of the greatest teams in NHL history, the other a bounce away from glory.  And things like Hart Trophies and regular season titles are great, and it feels really good to be a Canucks fan right now.  But this team, this province and it's fans (around the world) need and deserve this.  It's our time.  And for what it's worth, I believe Aaron Rome scoring a goal is a sign.  Good on him!

Toasted Ciabata Bread...

The Canucks weren't the only ones sending a message last night, as the Philadelphia Flyers stuck it to their cross-state rivals, beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2.  Ville Leino had 2 goals and an assist for the Flyers... The Toronto Maple Leafs earned a hard fought and much needed win over Buffalo last night, beating the Sabres 4-3, but their efforts were overshadowed by a 3-2 shootout win in Washington by the Carolina Hurricanes.  The Leafs are still two behind Carolina and 5 behind the Sabres with time running out... Steven Stamkos scored for the first time in a couple weeks as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Ottawa Senators 5-2... The Chicago Blackhawks came down to earth after Monday's big OT win in Detroit by getting shutout by Tim Thomas and the Bruins 3-0.  The game was 'highlighted' by Hawks players trashtalking the Bruins' Shawn Thornton as he headed off ice to get the 30 stitches he would need from a skate cut on his face.  The second such incident for the Hawks this year (the first was against Calgary as Brendan Morrison was leaving the ice after suffering a knee injury) shows that winning the Stanley Cup and getting rid of a couple scummy players hasn't changed the classlessness of this team... Dallas missed an opportunity to edge closer to that 8th and final playoff spot as they lost 2-1 to Phoenix in the shootout.  The Flames can move in front of Dallas and within 1 of the Hawks with a massive game against Anaheim tonight...

WAACH 'Cast's Band Of The Day- ANTHRAX

To this day, still one of my favorite bands.  From the moment I saw the video for 'Madhouse' I was hooked.  Part of the Big 4 thrash bands of the 80's, Anthrax brought a mixture of European speed metal, mixed it with a touch of NYHC, added some comic book goofiness for their sound.  The band has had a couple lineup changes over the years, most notably in the vocal department, but recently reunited with longtime vocalist Joey Belladonna.  Here are some of the band's best from an impressive catalog of work:

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