A wise man (or woman) once said that, “Patience is a virtue.”
Maybe we’ve been a little too harsh on our Vancouver Canucks. Since the beginning of the 2010-11 season, they have played 179 regular season and playoff games. You can make it 180 in 530 days if you count Wednesday night’s matchup against Chicago.
If you take out the off-season, the All-Star break this season, and breaks between playoff series, you take around 100 days off of that total.
Perhaps one might say these guys can take the heat; they know the market they are in and it doesn’t matter what anyone says, fans are going to be P.O.’d.
Be that as it may, those men who skate out there almost every night are in fact human. They have lives; wives, kids, other family members, family issues, family successes and let’s not forget a helluva lot of pressure.
When the Canucks face off against the hated Hawks at the United Center Wednesday, fans really don’t know what to expect. How could we?
However, even though we don’t what to expect, there is something we should expect each and every night: resilience.
Fighting and fighting
I don’t speak of the fisticuffs type of fighting, although that does help once in a while. This team has proven to us over the last few seasons they can turn it on when it’s most important.
It wasn’t the beginning of the playoffs and it wasn’t this or last season, but remember when Alex Burrows scored that short-handed breakaway goal against Carolina? What happened immediately after?
The Canucks were the toast of the league heading into the playoffs and they were virtually untouchable; until they met Chicago in Round 1.
The point is this team has never NOT given us a fight to the finish. That fight starts Wednesday at the Madhouse on Madison.
Of course we hope it doesn’t end for about 2 months after that.
It started to come on in the last week when the team scored 4 goals with the man advantage against Phoenix and Columbus but it once again fell flat against the lowly Minnesota Wild.
One of the brighter spots to that powerplay success was Ryan Kesler playing on the point; or at least having that one time from somewhere between the blueline and the top of the circle.
It doesn’t always end up bulging the twine but he knows how to rip one on top of his wrist shot prowess. If Coach Vee is smart, which he’s proven he is and isn’t recently, he will keep Kes in that position on the powerplay.
Sending a Message
It’s possible but unlikely the Canucks will meet the Hawks in the first round. While the Canucks are firmly locked into 2nd place and not showing any sign of catching St. Louis for first, Chicago is as equally locked into 6th.
That being said, the Hawks are 4 points back of Detroit and Nashville for 4th/5th and only 5 points ahead of Phoenix and Colorado for 7th/8th.
The likeliest scenario for a first round matchup would be for Chi-town to drop to 7th but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, given that Joel Quenneville’s squad has gone 7-2-1 in their last 10.
As Yoda would say, more likely to catch Detroit, they are. Detroit is 3-6-1 in their last 10 and as mentioned, are only 4 points ahead of Chicago.
Anyhow, the chance remains the Canucks meet them in the 2nd round and winning a game like this so close to the playoffs would send that message that they won’t be playing down to the Hawks’ regular season level, which usually ramps up in the post-season.
BEST BET TO WIN: Vancouver Canucks
The slump continues into Chicago but it’s well documented that Vancouver gets up for the big teams. It’s entirely possible we see the Canucks blow out the Hawks but I wouldn’t bet on it.
It will be a tight game, more than a few goals and one that sees Vancouver finally kiss those slump-inducing habits away.
How ironic is it that they should likely do it against those original and now exorcised demons?!
Our patience will pay off Canucks fans, rest assured.
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