Reflections on the bright side of life

The past week or so has been rather doom and gloom for the Canucks, and this has sadly been reflected in my recent posts at the Vancouver Viewpoint.

As I am too ill to be at work today, I am trying to indulge in reflections on the bright side of life. And this endeavour certainly extends to the Vancouver Canucks.

Despite losing three of four, injuries piling up, shabby goaltending and an offensive threat less potent than a stream of insults levelled by this guy, matters are not entirely bleak.

Consider, first, the play of Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows. Kesler is tied for the team lead in points with seven, while Burrows has six points and is tied for the team lead in plus/minus at plus-four. Both have been staggeringly impressive so far this season and seem poised to build on their respective steps (in the case of Burrows, a leap) forward last season.

Kesler’s play is not only lending credence to those who think Bobby Clarke was unfairly maligned as GM in Philadelphia, he’s also making former Canucks GM Dave Nonis look like an astute judge of talent for matching his putatively bloated offer sheet from the Flyers, despite some urging at the time for him not to do so. (Thankfully, Dan Murphy saw some sense.) Furthermore, after putting in his time to build his reputation as a Selke candidate over the last few seasons, Kesler seems poised to be in the running for the honour this season, particularly if he can keep up the offensive production to complement his stellar defensive play.

What more can you say about Burrows? The once-and-former ‘Ball Hockey Legend‘ has come a long way from the Montreal Red Lite, that’s for certain. Once passed off as an agitator, at best, Burrows has since proven that he is not only that but an effective defensive player and penalty killer who can chip in as needed with timely scoring on the third line.

Another bright spot for the Canucks has to be the revival of Kevin Bieksa. Now, I’m the first one to point out that is unfair to judge Bieksa harshly for his performance last season given his freak injury on the first day of November against Nashville. But even his harshest critics have to be impressed with the way ‘Juice‘ has re-asserted himself as a leader on the back end. Although Bieksa has only registered a single point (a goal in the last game against Columbus) and is a respectable, albeit not outstanding, plus-one, it is the way he is playing that has piqued my attention.

A case in point is the game against Columbus. After dishing out a crunching hit, Bieksa was immediately challenged by Blue Jackets defenceman Alexandre Picard, which resulted in an unmitigated thrashing by Bieksa. In the absence of injured defenceman Sami Salo, Bieksa was also front-and-centre for the Canucks’ attack from the blue line, scoring a goal in the third period to make it 3-2 and bring the game to within reach. Say what you want about Bieksa but he is well worth $3.75 million per season in today’s NHL when he is playing the way he did in 2006-2007 – and, at this early stage of the season, he appears to be doing just that.

The sun does indeed shine in Vancouver, even though it rains for most of the year. I suppose we Vancouverites – even expatriates such as yours truly – appreciate that sun all the more for its infrequency.

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