I almost spit out my coffee when John Shorthouse referenced Miley Cyrus’ song at the end of the Canucks’ 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators yesterday. Better than daddy Billy Ray’s Achy Breaky Heart, I suppose.
As you all know by now, it was the 9th time this season the Canucks had overcome a 3rd period deficit to come back and win the game – that’s 3 wins more than any other team in the league. While it’s disconcerting that they seem unable to produce the proverbial 60-minute game, it’s also remarkable that they somehow manage to find a win anyway.
Here’s Roberto Luongo (via Gordon McIntyre, Vancouver Province):
“How many times have we come back in the third to win on this road trip?” Roberto Luongo said, including the pre-Olympic stretch as well. “It’s probably four or five.” [It's five].
“If there’s anything positive, it’s that even if we don’t play our best hockey, we can always come back if we just keep battling.”
And coach Alain Vigneault (via Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun):
“You never critique a win,” Vigneault lied. “It was another comeback-from-behind game. We played better in the third, but obviously we had moments in this game where our puck management wasn’t very good and gave them momentum. They played a strong game, but we were down by a goal going into the third and again we found a way to get it done.”
How does this keep happening?
“Our guys have the mentality that they never give up,” Vigneault said. “Conditioning is a huge factor. I think we’re No. 1 in the league now at coming back and this is not an easy league to come back in.”
Yesterday’s win was the Canucks’ 40th win of the season. With 17 games left in the season – and 10 of those games at home – they’re within reach of setting a franchise record for win in a season. (When the Canucks set their current franchise record of 49 wins in the 2006-2007 season, they had 5 wins in the shootout. So far this season, they only have 3.)
Count me among those impressed that the Canucks are even in this position. 12 games into their record 14-game road trip, they’re 7-5 and assured of a .500 record. They still lead the Northwest Division with a game in hand over the surprising Colorado Avalanche, who, incidentally, they play tomorrow night. They’ve done this without two of their top-4 defensemen in Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa for almost a full quarter of the season. In fact, they’re 12-5 since Mitchell suffered a concussion against the Pittsburgh Penguins on January 16, and the Canucks, until the Andrew Alberts acquisition, have had to rely on a combination of Aaron Rome, Nolan Baumgartner and Brad Lukowich as their 3rd defense pairing.
It’s happy times for sure for Canucks fans, and after a month and a half away from GM Place, it’ll be good to see them come home with a modestly successful record. If they get at least 2 more points on this road trip, they would have survived it without giving up any ground to teams like the Predators, Detroit Red Wings and Calgary Flames, all of whom are battling for the final playoff spots. Party time indeed.