We live for this. 4 simple words that sum up the feelings of Canucks fans across North America. And they are continent-wide, as we saw on many Canucks road games this season. And while some of the faithful expressed fear over having to face this most bitter of rivals, deep down we all know it had to be like this. This team was re-tooled to take on these Chicago Blackhawks. Sure, we have perfectly understandable reasons for feeling this way. This Canucks team has let us down so many times. It's been a 40 year love affair with so many more dark times than light. We all know what other team's fans think. They take every opportunity to knock our record. The lack of a cup. They bash two of the greatest players in the NHL with derogatory terms. They hammer away at the emotion shown by our goaltender. None of it matters. This team. This time. Trust the system. They tell you that the regular season means nothing and the playoffs are a totally different beast. I say the regular season was fine tuning for this moment. The wait is over. Revenge is nigh, friends.
There have been glimmers of hope over the last few years. With ownership, management and coaching changes, the Canucks have edged closer and closer, the last two years falling short of expectations. This year? Even the most optimistic of Canuckleheads couldn't have imagined the kind of season they had. One of the best seasons in recent history. Leading the league in goals for and goals against. The best power play. One of the best penalty kills. The best goaltending tandem in the league. And if they were to fail, it would be monumental. I am here to tell you that they will not. There is a difference in this team, and all of the weaknesses of the past are gone. They are top to bottom the best team in the league, and healthy, with the expectations of the long suffering fans supporting them, they will triumph, and it all starts here. For Manny Malhotra. For Luc Bourdon. For Trevor Linden and Kirk Mclean. For everyone that has ever cheered for this team. It's time.
A look at the other Western Conference Matchups
San Jose Sharks vs Los Angeles Kings- Much is being made of how the California-based teams outnumber the Canadian teams in the post-season, but that will change thanks to these two rivals meeting. There were times this year that the Kings looked like the gritty team we saw last year in the first round. Then there were times that there were questions about them even making the playoffs. They lost their top 2 scorers, and managed to scrape their way into the playoffs. Unfortunately that earned them a date with the San Jose Sharks, who are playing some damn fine hockey right now. This one ain't gonna be pretty folks, as the combination of the Sharks speed, skill and size, as well as a goalie with a cup ring. I think they may win a game, and getting Justin Williams back will help, but without Anze Kopitar the Kings aren't getting out of this one alive. Sharks in 5.
Detroit Red Wings vs Phoenix Coyotes- It's that classic battle from nature, you know. Snakes and their natural enemies: the octopus. The banged up Wings are going to have their hands full with the Coyotes in this one, especially when you factor in they could be without Henrik Zetterburg the entire series. Goaltending is also a question for Detroit. Jimmy Howard's numbers dropped significantly this season, and with Chris Osgood on the shelf since the start of January, should Howard falter it will be up to Joey McDonald to try and salvage it, which doesn't exactly strike fear in the hearts of their opponents. The big question is, can the Coyotes muster up enough offence to take down the Big Red Machine? They'll need to step it up, and Ilya Bryzgalov will have to continue his strong play. If it's half as good as their series last year, this one will be a lot of fun to watch. Coyotes in 7.
Anaheim Ducks vs Nashville Predators- The Ducks clinched home ice thanks to the incredible run by Corey Perry and some solid goaltending from Dan Ellis (I know, right?) and Ray Emery, who stepped in after Jonas Hiller struggled with vertigo. There's not been any sign that Hiller is going to be back anytime soon, so there will be a question for the Ducks: Can Ellis get it done against his former team? He will need to for a little while at least as Emery likely won't start due to a nagging lower body injury, which has some people questioning if he hasn't aggravated his hip. He almost had to retire after extensive surgery on it, so they're hoping he can recover quickly. It boils down to the Ducks high powered offense versus the Preds smothering defence and goalie Pekka Rinne. And if Nashville can't figure out a way to outscore the Ducks there will be trouble. Overall though I think they'll win out, but this is gonna be a nasty, dirty affair. And whoever has to face the winner will appreciate that. Predators in 7.
WAACH 'Cast's Classic Album of the day- MEGADETH- Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good
After being unceremoniously booted from Metallica before they released their debut Kill 'Em All, Dave Mustaine wasted little time in getting together his own act, fueled by his desire to show his ex-band mates they were wrong to fire him. A few lineup changes (including a stint from a moonlighting Kerry King of Slayer) led to them not releasing their 1st album until July of 1985. But the impact of this album instantly put them in the mix with Metallica, Anthrax and Slayer as the leaders of the American thrash metal scene. The album was remixed and re-released in 2002, with the most obvious benefit being the improved sound quality. It also featured a censored version of the song These Boots, which copies of the album released since 1995 had removed the track.