Vancouver - Nov. 2, 2011 - The Vancouver Canucks made the month of October look like a distant memory tonight as they rolled into Calgary and embarrassed the home team Flames 5-1. It’s only been two days into November but I had to check the calendar to make sure it wasn’t May, because the Canucks were playing like they usual do in the Spring months.
The Canucks started the game playing like they were on a mission. And that mission was to start fast, play hard and finish strong, which they succeeded in doing as the Flames for the majority of the game looked more like traffic cones as the Canucks controlled the puck and the play from beginning to end. “The Calgary Traffic Cones!” Kind of has a nice ring to it!
It was all Canucks until the last 30 seconds of the game when Alex Tanguay spoiled Luongo’s shutout bid by deflecting a shot passed Luongo to at least make a mark on the scoresheet that the Flames were even at the arena tonight! Other than Tangauy’s goal, the only noise made by the Flames were self inflicted by the Canucks themselves when Kevin Bieksa’s half-hearted clearing attempt in the Canucks zone resulted in a Flames breakaway which required Luongo to bail him out.
The other notable times were Henrik Sedin’s back to back trips to the penalty box late in the second and early in the third periods. Seriously, did he forget something in there that he to go back and get? Luckily the Flames’ power play was as effective as their will to want to actually play the game tonight, so no damage was done on the scoresheet.
At the eight minute mark of the first period, the Canucks set the tone for the remainder of the game as Jannik Hansen’s pass to a speeding Chris Higgins found himself behind the Flames defense and all alone with only Mikka Kiprusoff to beat, which he easily deposited the puck over the netminder’s pad with a sweet little backhand shot. Five minutes later on the power play, Alexandre Burrows scored to make it 2-0 with a very Bobby Orr-esque shot into an unguarded net. Burrows, while on his butt, blindly backhanded the puck into the net as bodies were crashing the crease, and Kiprusoff was not even close to being in a position to stop the puck. Bobby Orr couldn’t have scripted the goal any better!
Daniel Sedin scored at the end of the first period to make it 3-0 for the Canucks and to serve notice that the vacation was over and the Canucks meant business. But the sweetest goal of the night was setup from the unsung hero of the Canucks, the grinder, Maxim Lapierre as he setup Cody Hodgson with the easiest goal he’ll ever score, into a wide open net. Fighting for the puck along the boards, he made a cross ice pass to a waiting Hodgson who easily deposited the puck past a stunned Kiprusoff who was obviously not expecting a pass, but rather a shot from Lapierre. I’ve said it earlier, but I’ll say it again and that is Lappy is going to have a fantastic year for the Canucks this year. He’s playing physical but with the skills too. Very “Kesler-ish.” It will be interesting to watch his game play this year!
Alex Edler had another strong game tonight on the heels of his two goal performance on Saturday night, he scored a goal and assisted on two others in the Canucks effort. Again it was a well balanced attack from all four lines and the D tonight that made the difference between a win and a blowout!
It was by all means the best way for the Canucks to open this upcoming road trip by soundly beating a much weaker divisional opponent to get on the right track!
Luongo had a strong game, and looks to be regaining last year’s form and confidence. But hey, when you have goal support from your team like he’s had the last two games, who wouldn’t be confident? Lou stopped 28 of 29 shots to earn the win. It should have been a shutout, but what can you do?
Next up for the Canucks is the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night, who are now just below the Canucks in the standings after tonight’s win. Then it’ll be payback time as the Canucks reacquaint themselves with the St. Louis Blues. Oh yes, there will be payback Friday night if the Canucks can keep this level of intensity up and play like they did tonight!