First off, let’s forget that this happened. Alain Vigneault summed up my feelings succinctly with his summation of the debacle at Rexall Place on Saturday night:
I really don’t have one positive thing to say about this game. We got outplayed, we got out everything-ed in all areas. They deserved to win hands-down.
With that said, let’s talk about tonight’s game. In particular, I want to highlight how impressed I was with the Canucks. Two aspects of the performance stand out: first, the Canucks’ resilience after going down 2-0 early in the first period; second, burying the Panthers when they had the opportunity.
As to the first point, I will admit that when the Panthers scored twice off-the-bat, I thought the game was effectively over. In my defence, I’ll offer up as an excuse some carried over frustration, on my part, after the embarrassing non-effort in Edmonton. Coming out of the gate as flat as the Canucks did after that performance, on home ice no less, made me think the Canucks were not going to have it tonight. Thankfully, I was wrong.
As to the second point, I have repeatedly called attention to the Canucks profligacy when it comes to chances to put teams to the sword this season, resulting in a window of opportunity for the opposition that is too often exploited for my liking. Tonight, with the game tied 2-2 in the second period, the Canucks on the power play, and a delayed call against Shawn Matthias, Pavol Demitra scored his second of the game off of Jay Bouwmeester’s skate to put the Canucks ahead. Then, with Matthias in the box, Kyle Wellwood batted a pass from Daniel Sedin cleanly out of the air at the side of the net to put the Canucks ahead 4-2. Finally, for good measure, Ryan Kesler took a Kevin Bieksa pass off the boards for a breakaway, while short-handed, and buried a backhand into the roof of the net to put a final point of emphasis on an explosive second period.
Nice to see the Canucks addressing what I think has been the most disconcerting weakness of the team thus far this season.