Game 3, home opener, Columbus Blue Jackets – same result. If you didnt look at the score, a game that should have been boring was exciting and eventful. The Canucks looked good from start to finish, they were firing on all cylinders, and for those that watched and those in attendance they saw something that hasn’t happened since Luongo was traded to Vancouver and signed: The team carried Luongo instead of Luongo carrying the team.
I’m not even sure where to start with Luongo. This isn’t the bandwagon flaring up, or me coming down hard on Roberto, but tonight he looked absolutely awful. I try to defend Luongo, it’s a team game and it’s rarely the fault of any individual player that the entire game is lost (unless when Sundin’s taking terrible penalties. It’s a joke. Seriously. Laugh.) Tonight’s loss can be solely blamed on Luongo. 3 straight goals, unanswered and all shouldn’t have gone in. They earned the first goal off a turnover when they had no momentum what so ever, but the whiff by Luongo? I’m scratching my head as to what went wrong. He didn’t look outstanding the first two games, but he looked fine and was still making the saves that garner him many of the Lu chants he gets night in and night out. Luongo lost this 2 points. The Canucks gave him everything he needed for the win. Sad to see, frustrating to see such a good effort fall short.
It’s only 3 games into the season, but the Canucks D looks bigger, badder and better than ever. They were solid in the defensive end last year, and this year the plus minus wouldn’t tell you that, but they’ve been on par with what we would expect. However, in the offensive zone this Canucks blue line looks like it belongs to another team. They are firing on all cylinders and really creating chances. The Canucks had 43 shots tonight, and another 41 opportunities that were either blocked, missed the net, or hit the post. A lot of that was driven by the defense. They look great and none look better than Willie Mitchell. He was amped from the puck drop tonight and you could see it in absolutely everything he did. He really earned the 2nd star he got tonight. Mitchell’s offensive presence (3 points in 3 games) to start the season might see him shatter his points record he set last year. I like the new look Willie a lot. 79 more games of him and if the Canucks can turn things around he’ll be key in a blue line that looks poised to be the best blue line in the NHL this season.
Samuelsson has looked great so far. He picked up another assist tonight and Vigneault was rewarding his play by giving him ice time late in the game. He killed the Canucks comeback by taking the bad penalty which lead to the put away 5th goal by Columbus. That being said, contrary to what his plus/minus would say he’s looked like one of the better Canucks out there. When the Canucks pick up their play and start walking over teams, the pace he’s playing and producing at is going to be key as far as the Canucks secondary scoring goes.
Amidst all of the negative and the stampede of bandwagoners heading over to Calgary, there’s still a lot to take away from tonight’s game. The Canucks may have lost 3 games to start the season, but they have dominated the play in all 3 games. With the exception of the end to the Colorado game where the Canucks frustrations came out, the Canucks have dominated the majority if not all of all three games. They’re not struggling to get shots on net, and haven’t lost any of the games due to flatfootedness or lazy penalties. The Canucks are creating opportunities, they are skating well, and there’s still a lot to look forward to. When things start to go right, they’re going to go very right and it’s going to be fun to be a Canucks fan again. This team is too good to be 0-3-0.