- Canucks still flying with shutout of Blues (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province)
- Unheralded players contribute toward win (Tony Gallagher, Vancouver Province)
- Taking it one game at a time, sort of (Gordon McIntyre, Vancouver Province)
- Canucks sting Blues for 11th straight home win (Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun)
- Luongo strikes back at critics with shutout (Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun)
- It’s not always about the money (Cam Cole, Vancouver Sun)
- Good time to get hot (Sam Craig, The Hockey News via Metro News Vancouver)
- Blues, Tkachuk go down (Michael Russo, Minneapolis Tribune via St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
- Kesler is singing the same contract tune as buddy Burrows (Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province)
- Mitchell’s play a real plus for Canucks (Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun)
- LaBarbera finding peace while waiting in the wings (Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun)
- Rangers, Canucks could be tough in playoffs (John Mackinnon, Edmonton Journal)
- Canuck alumni come to Smithers (Interior News)
- Canucks double up Dallas for record 10th straight at home (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province)
- 10 straight wins but time to fret (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province)
- Ohlund receives what he deserves (Tony Gallagher, Vancouver Province)
- Kesler plays Superman as Canucks make club record (Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun)
- Not in the Stars for Marty (Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun)
- Fans cheer Ohlund as Canucks win record 10th in a row at home (Matthew Sekeres, Globe and Mail)
- Some room for improvement (Guts Mactavish, 24 Hours Vancouver)
- Dallas Stars powerless to seize opportunity at Vancouver (Mike Heika, Star-Telegram)
- Has there been a better time to be a Canucks fan (other than ’94)? (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province)
- Johnson fingered for blame (Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun)
- Amicable split for the ‘caped crusaders’ (Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun)
- Canucks keep eye on S-Kings (Cleve Dheensaw, Victoria Times Colonist)
- Recent trends good for ‘Nucks? (Scott Rintoul, Metro News Vancouver)
- For love of game – and Cup (Hosea Cheung, 24 Hours Vancouver)
- Tests abound for Dallas Stars (Mike Heika, Dallas Morning News)
- Canucks take lead and keep it to beat Senators 5-2 (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province)
- Scoring was never really his thing (Gordon McIntyre, Vancouver Province)
- Sundin circus to Sedin circus (Tony Gallagher, Vancouver Province)
- Yes, they can: Canucks beat Senators 5-2 (Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun)
- Rebuilding the blueline (Matthew Sekeres, Globe and Mail)
- Sundin’s road show arrives in Ontario (Roy MacGregor, Globe and Mail)
- The Sundin train to TO stops in Ottawa (Wayne Scanlan, Ottawa Citizen)
- Double trouble for Sens (Ken Warren, Ottawa Citizen)
- Sundin deserves nothing less than cheers in TO (Sam Craig, The Hockey News via Metro News Vancouver)
- Top prospect trade bait? (Ken Wiebe, Winnipeg Sun)
- Burke’s European adventure (Gary Loewen, Toronto Sun)
- For Mats it feels like a homecoming (Don Brennan, Toronto Sun)
- Will Leafs fans cheer Mats Sundin’s return? (Paul Hunter, Toronto Star)
- The centre of attention (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province)
- Kesler carving out new career path (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province)
- Auld still has Sens-e that he will improve as goalie (Tony Gallagher, Vancouver Province)
- Canucks’ Burrows barges ahead (Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun)
- Sedin contracts remain a stumbling block (Matthew Sekeres, Globe and Mail)
- Swedish compatriots eagerly await Sundin’s return to Toronto (Tim Wharnsby, Globe and Mail)
- Confident Sens get their groove back (Sean Gordon, Globe and Mail)
- Sens offer Shannon great opportunity (Rob Brodie, The Daily Observer)
When it was put together 3 games ago, the Demitra-Sundin-Kesler line was expected to provide some secondary scoring and take the heat off the Sedin line. It has, of course, done more than that, outscoring the Sedin line 22 (9G-13) – 6 (3G-3A) in 3 straight wins.
The other thing I noticed is that Vigneault has taken to putting the Sundin line (with Bernier on the wing, and sometimes, Demitra on the point) out first on the powerplay. In fact, Demitra, Sundin and Kesler combined for 36:58 minutes of powerplay ice-time the last 3 games vs. Sedin, Sedin and Pyatt’s combined 30:58 minutes.
I don’t think even the most optimistic of Canucks fans would have expected this when Sundin signed.
The beauty of the emergence of the RPM line (Ryan, Pavol and Mats), as they’ve now been dubbed, is it forces opposing teams to choose which of their best defending players they should play against which line. Against Chicago, the Sedins played primarily against Chicago’s best defensemen, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, while the RPM line played primarily against Brian Campbell and Matt Walker. Against St. Louis, it was the RPM line that faced Barrett Jackman and Carlo Colaiacovo, while the Sedins faced Jeff Woywitka and Jay McKee.
I realize this is a small, 2-game sample, but at least it’s a glimpse of the goodness of having some secondary scoring. Not all teams are blessed with dynamic defensive duos a la Niedermayer/Pronger, Chara/Wideman, Lidstrom/Rafalski, Blake/Boyle or Phanuef/Regehr that can defend more than one scoring line. In fact, most teams don’t and those teams would have to pick their poison. Defend the Sedins and hope the RPM line doesn’t score? Or vice-versa?
- Three-game trip big test for Canucks (Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province)
- Gillis preparing Canucks’ trade deadline strategy (Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province)
- Canucks walk the line (Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun)
- Michael Buble proves able as Canucks colour man (Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun)
- Thank Nonis for sticking with Kesler (Scott Rintou, Metro News Vancouver)
- Defensive specialist Kesler adds some offensive stimulus (Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun)
- Coach Vigneault concerned about Canucks penalty-kill (Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun)
- An offensive awakening for Kesler (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province)
- PK a pain in the Canucks’ neck (Jim Jamieson, Vancouver Province)
- Burr sticks by making impact (Gordon McIntyre, Vancouver Province)
- Despite slump, Canucks still in it (Sam Craig, Metro News Vancouver)
Finally, the slump is over. Or is it?
Alex Burrows, right after he scored the shorthanded game-winning goal on a breakaway, celebrated by trying to break his stick on his knee presumably to symbolize the team finally breaking out of their 8-game losing slump. Burrows tried twice; the stick didn’t break. I hope that’s not a bad omen.
At any rate, the Canucks were good last night, but they were also lucky.
First the good.
On my Twitter feed the other day, I commented that I didn’t like the idea of splitting up Burrows and Ryan Kesler, who has been the team’s most consistent forwards all season. Boy, did they prove me wrong.
Burrows’ line with Kyle Wellwood and Steve Bernier were a constant threat and combined for 6 of the Canucks’ 24 shots. Kesler, Pavol Demitra and Mats Sundin combined for 5 shots and 7 points (2G-5A). And of course, Kesler and Burrows played together on the penalty-kill and manufactured the game-winning goal.
Sundin also had a strong game. He logged 16:30 minutes of ice-time, recorded a goal, an assist and a +2 rating, and won 15 of 19 faceoffs (79%). In fact, he took a key faceoff in the Canucks zone with less than a minute left and trying to protect the lead. More importantly though, it looks like he’s finally moving his legs.
Now the lucky.
While the effort was definitely better, it still wasn’t complete. After building a 2-0 first period lead, they allowed Carolina to get back into the game. In 25 seconds. They also had some help from a shaky Cam Ward. (To be fair, Lui allowed a couple of iffy goals too.)
The trick of course is to sustain this level of play. That’s 2 fairly good, back-to-back efforts now and they gained 3 out of 4 points to boot. Who knows? Maybe they finally did exercise those GM Place demons for good.