I wasn't the only one who went into last night's tilt with the Edmonton Oilers worried that the Canucks might get caught looking ahead to Saturday's matchup against the Bruins. The past few years (hell, even a couple times this season) the Canucks have played down to their opponents. Just watching the opening shift, where the Ryan Kesler / Mike Santorelli / Chris Higgins line kept the Oilers pinned in their zone, scrambling like mad and coughing up the puck repeatedly was such a great thing to see. The Canucks utterly dominated the Oilers in every aspect of the game last night, and the 4-0 score was flattering thanks to a strong effort from Devan Dubnyk, who must feel like Tom Hanks in Castaway some nights. We'll have to get a closeup and see if he's drawn a face on his water bottle.
The Canucks issues with third period leads seems to be just a bad memory, coming out with three 3rd period markers, with goals from Zack Kassian, Chris Higgins and (this is not a misprint btw) a PP goal from Dale Weise. To a man last night the Canucks played solid, smart hockey and never gave the Oilers a sniff. The rare opportunities they did get saw Roberto Luongo looking as solid as ever, notching his 3rd shutout of the year and making it the 2nd time in franchise history that they went back to back goose eggs with different goalies. Overall, Canucks fans should be thrilled with the focus and preparation that they showed in this game. I've posted Tortorella's post game presser down below, and I just love what he had to say about the game last night and tonight's match.
Since everyone (and by everyone I mean Oilers media) is talking about it, if Zack Kassian was mocking Sam Gagner's face shield last night, that was bad. Was he for sure? We may never know, much like you can't say (no matter what Oiler types will tell you) that Kassian deliberately struck Gagner in the face in that preseason game in September. I do have issues with the Oilers media's outrage over this, and here's why: It's rather disingenuous for the team that has had such role models of good on-ice behaviour as Ken Linseman, Dave Brown, Esa Tikkanen (yes I know he was a Canuck for a brief period), Marty McSorley, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson and Bryan Marchment to be lecturing ANYONE on classiness. And it's comical how the ever-shifting media outrage machine against the Canucks now hates them for being the kind of team they told us was the reason they lost the Cup in 2011. News flash for ya, folks: Nice teams don't win Championships. They just don't. Every team that's ever hoisted that Cup has had an element of nasty to it. And for the Oilers to insist that they're somehow paragons of virtue is utterly laughable. Could their response to Kassian be anymore of an analogy for the state of their franchise? Taking a run at him with a minute left is just such a perfect representation of what this franchise has become. They can't even do payback right.
Speaking of paragons of virtue, the Boston Bruins wrap up their road trip tonight in Vancouver. And while yes, it is the first time the Canucks have faced them on home ice since Game 7 of the finals, I am firmly in the camp with John Tortorella and the rest of the team: that doesn't matter. This game is not Game 9 of the Stanley Cup Finals. It's over. And it's ancient history, in my opinion. It's important because a) the Canucks can get a valuable 2 points as they continue to chip away at the leaders in the Pacific Division and b) it's always a good measuring stick to go up against one of the best in the league, and the Bruins are indeed that. But if you think there's anything more to this game than that, you probably work for a MSM outlet.
It should be a good game with 2 teams both on good runs right now, and while the familiarity of the playoff series may lend a bit to the game, and the crowd will likely be pumped, at the end of the day it really is just 1 of 82, a chance to get 2 points from an Eastern team and nothing more. There's no bragging rights to be had here. Beating them tonight is not revenge. Revenge may never be had, and that's fine. I like the mindset of the Canucks heading into this, because we all know what happened after the last time these teams met. The hype was simply too much, and despite skating out of Boston with a win in a nasty game, they seemed completely detached from that point on, and had nothing left by the time the playoffs rolled around. This is a different Canucks team, and while the metamorphosis continues, we can look forward to seeing the Bruins finding this out tonight.
KICKASS METAL TUNE OF THE DAY
The theme for today's post (and pretty much the rest of this season) comes from Florida Death Metal legends Obituary, with this track from 1994's World Demise