We're three games into the 2016 season and just as everyone predicted, the Vancouver Canucks are first in the Pacific Division after defeating the St Louis Blues in overtime while the LA Kings and Anaheim Ducks are struggling to pick up points.
While this is clearly a small sample size, Vancouver fans woke up this morning with a wary sense of hope for the 2016 season. After all, two of these wins are against the Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes. The Flames were still trying to get their offence going after giving up a boat load of goals in their first two games against the Edmonton Oilers and the Hurricanes were still shaking off the Winnipeg Jets come from behind victory last Thursday after holding 4 to 1 lead in the 3rd period.
Sure, those wins looked good, but these are he teams we're used to grabbing points against. These are the games we win to keep us in that frustrating spot just outside of the playoffs and away from a top draft pick.
The St Louis Blues were the big, bad shot of reality on the horizon. The St Louis Blues are fast, skilled and they can hit. The St Louis Blues were going to show us where we really stood in this league. So what happened? How are the Canucks still winning games despite never leading a game all year? Let's take a look.
On the 4th of July, Doug Jarvis was named the new assistant coach for the Vancouver Canucks, replacing Glen Gulutzan (now head coach of the Calgary Flames). With 26 years of coaching experience and a 13 year career where he played 964 consecutive games, it's safe to say that Doug Jarvis knows hockey.
Despite giving up 3 goals to Carolina, the Canucks are showing some noticeable changes in how they're defending the opposing teams attack. Plays are broken up in the neutral zone with active sticks and players are back checking with more intensity. While this may not be the handiwork of Jarvis alone, you have to think he has a part to play in it.
Haters Gonna Hate
As most Canuck fans already know, the majority of sports media predicted a dismal year for our often overcast city. The weeks leading up to the home opener brought a lot of questions being asked about these reports and a lot of wry responses from our management and players.
You can't single out exactly how these low expectations motivate a team, but you have to think those players have them in mind every time they step on the ice. Sometimes that " us against the world" mentality brings a fire out of a team and that seems to be the case so far.
Never Say Die
Now that we're a whopping 3.6% through the season, one thing's for sure; this team can be down but they're never out. Starting the season this way helps set a tone for the year, everyone on the roster know that regardless of the score, there's still a chance. They've done it before, what's stopping them from doing it again?
Will this trend continue? Is failing to score first, relying on a late rally to come from behind and stealing a win actually a viable game strategy? Of course not, but it's what we've got and I can't wait to see what they do next against the Buffalo Sabres tomorrow night. Who knows, we may even score a goal before they do!
There's a whole lot of hockey left this year and no one knows how it's going to shake out. So let's enjoy the ride while it lasts and keep cheering for the team that entertains us through the ups AND downs.