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141 Perfect Minutes & A Shot At First Place

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In case you haven't noticed, Luongo is angry and not going to take it anymore (or maybe he's quite zen and enjoys herbal tea, long walks at dusk and talking about his feelings). Whatever the case, he's back and that's bad news for everyone not skating around with a mammoth "Vancouver" on their chest.

The Canucks didn't look that great last night, but definitely controlled the tempo and forced Gretzky's kids to play poorly in their end and take bad penalties. In the second period alone the Canucks were outshooting the Coyotes 9-1 at one point. It's probably a bit premature to proclaim loudly that Bieksa is back, but he did make up for some defensive miscues in the first to score the game's only goal (which is fitting considering Jovanovski was on the other end of the ice and used to personify that exact type of play for Vancouver just a few years ago).

No Wellwood action last night so he, sadly, does not get any treats for his buffet this morning. However, Luongo's shutout streak is now at 141 solid minutes and while it'll be damned hard to escape Saturday with another shutout, I do think the Canucks can take that game and jump into sole possession of first place in the division (or a tie if Calgary beats the Blue Jackets on Saturday).

Standing in their way will be the Minnesota Wild who are the current big dogs of the Northwest. You know what you get with Lemaire's crew: a top ten power play, the NHL leading best penalty kill, and a very stingy guy in the form of Niklas Backstrom. Backstrom will face the Sedins and whoever the hell their brother will be that night while Luongo gets to safeguard his shutout streak against the Wild's twin Finnish power guys in Koivu (15 pts) and Miettinen (12 pts).

It's one thing to stomp on the Kings and Coyotes of the world, but with the exception of Detroit, Vancouver has yet to play their A game against a premier team. Saturday will give them that very opportunity and, with everyone on offense and defense and definitely in net starting to click at once, it should be a hell of a game. There's talk of yet another liveblog as well so stay tuned for it.

Also expect plenty of work for Hordichuk and Brown too, but a tip from the cheap seats for Darcy: in case you end up across from this, watch that right jab ok?

Lastly, just in case anyone out there needs it, you can hire Nordy for an event. Hell, it's the weekend, me thinks an enterprising Canucks fan out there should gather 50 of his or her closest friends, buy some kegs and watch the game with Nordy on the couch in full costume. Sending a NHL mascot staggering into the streets in the early morning would be quite the sight.