Today marks a momentous occasion. One that occurs so rarely – every 14 years, on average – that we could call it Vancouver’s version of Halley’s comet. Of course, we do hope and believe we’ll be seeing it more often in the upcoming years.
It all starts with the vision of Mike Gillis, and the standard of excellence he has laid out for the team.
As much as Dave Nonis wasn’t given a long enough trial as GM, his goal to merely be one of the top 8 teams and then watch as anything could unfold in the playoffs was one that bred mediocrity.
So effectively has Gillis’ vision resonated throughout the organization that the residents of Vancouver have taken on the same mindset – it’s all business; this is only the third round, and we’re in this to win it all. It’s almost as if there is a muted appreciation for the current achievements of the team.
The Sharks, from February onwards, had an insane record of 23-6-3 to be the league’s hottest second half team. They of course will be facing the league’s hottest team, period. It’s a dream series for any hockey fan.
Unlike the Preds, with their Mike Fisher and Shea Weber led bunch of no-names, the Sharks have loads of dynamic players soon to become villains. Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Joe Pavelski, Ryan Clowe – like the Canucks they have an embarrassment of riches up front. And don’t even think of forgetting the stomachless wonder, Patrick Marleau, who scores only series clinching goals.
On the back end, a strong defensive core, boasting Douglas Murray, Jason Demers, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and led by one the agile and enterprising Danny Boyle who is more offensively dangerous than any one Canuck blue-liner, they are perhaps not as deep, but their top 4 is daunting.
The goaltending matchup is plain as can be. Sure, Antti Niemi managed to outdo Roberto Luongo last year. One fan said to me earlier, “Don’t worry, Niemi is no Crawford or Rinne.” This might be true, but therein lies the problem: against the Canucks, every goaltender seems to morph into Georges Vezina. Still, you have to believe Luongo’s got this matchup covered.
It’s a rare occurence, Canucks fans, so don’t sit on your hands. Celebrate; show your passion. Run down the streets yelling at the top of your lungs; high five every hand that passes you by. Act like this is a monumental acheivement, because it is. Only, if the players are around, tone it down and remember it’s all business; this is only the third round, and we’re in this to win it all.