It’s funny, no matter how much I tell myself that it’s just one game, and that it’s only the first game of the season, but no matter what happens, every time Calgary and Vancouver face-off it gets personal. After the first game of the season got started it was nothing less than I would have expected from the two teams who manage to put on a great game no matter what. After the two pre-season games between the two teams were exciting the expectation for entertainment was understandable and the two teams didn’t disappoint. I’ve left it in my mind that it was the first game of the season. It’s a long schedule, it’s an 82 game race to the division crown before you start the rat race to the cup but there are some things to take away from last night’s game.
Samuelsson impressed me the most last night. Why? He was dirty. The Canucks as a team come off as passive aggressive at best on most nights but last night Mikael was getting fiesty and that’s something the Canucks need. Since Burrows moved up to the first line with the Sedins he’s had to stop playing class clown and has had to change his play from that of a Jarkko Ruutu to that of the third Sedin. At one point he tackled Phaneuf which will always get him points, but after scoring his goal he threw in a slash just to let the Calgary player know he was there. I’m glad he got on the board early in the season. I have above average expectations for him and after Detroit fans wrote him off I want nothing more for him than to be a offensive hit here in Vancouver to not only spark this offense, but to prove the nay sayers who got down on him. Knowing how the Vancouver media cracks down on new faces who fall behind the eight-ball offensively it was nice to see him get that monkey off his back early.
The Canucks defense was firing on all cylinders last night. While they weren’t particularly up front and center after letting in 3 goals on the first 7 shots of the game from the Flames, when in the offensive zone they were blasting from all angles and ranges on the point. I was impressed at the number of shots they were taking and how the forechecking was tight. After the first period melt down the Canucks pressure was non-stop and it was impressive to watch them hem the Flames in their own end for minutes at a time and completely dominate the play.
Luongo had a rough first, but after getting over the opening game jitters he shut it down and started making the saves which get him the LUUUUUs. The first was a bad period for the team overall. They looked like a bunch of ungelled players that had never ever played together before. Granted in the pre-season the team that dressed didnt get a lot of ice time together, but after the first period Burrows looked to click with the Sedins again getting on the board for his first of the year and the rest of the team started playing as a unit after getting over the bumpy start.
The comeback isn’t dead. And this is one of the most important things the Canucks could have taken away from the pre-season. The Canucks after going down 3-0 so early in the first could have given up, and yet uncharacteristically, or rather characteristically of the new look Canucks they clawed back. And while the comeback was never completed I think as we go into the season we’re in for a Canucks team that isn’t going to sit back anymore. We have the speed to be that team in the NHL which erases 3 goal deficits. The new NHL was built on the premise that no lead is safe. For a while the Canucks were victims to that as other teams would come back repeatedly but this season we are in for a treat as these Canucks have adopted that never say die attitude and it showed in the first game of the season and that’s where it needs to start.