Don’t call it come back, or maybe do. Ryan Kesler made his long anticipated return to the line up after missing 19 games due to a fracture in his foot. He wasted no time in making his impact felt scoring the opening goal just 7:26 into the first period:
As Kesler goes, so do the Canucks. When Kesler is on top of his game, so to is the entire team. Combining the Phoenix & Calgary games, Kesler has 3 points in his first two games back and will be looking to add to that total come Saturday.
The Canucks are currently on a 5 game road trip beginning with the game against the Flames. This was not their best effort by any means. The team may not have dominated until late in the game in Calgary, but they did walk away from the Saddledome with two points. There is ONE player who deserves ALL of the credit for this win, Roberto Luongo. Some people were shocked upon learning that he was starting in place of Cory Schneider. People were concerned that perhaps he would not be up to the task making his first start in 12 games. Luongo more than held his own, he was very good in this game making 40 saves including 18 saves in the 3rd period. People tend to forget that Luongo is still a very capable goal-tender despite the controversy that is constantly stirred by the media every day. The game aside from goal-tending was a snooze fest until the final 7 minutes when suddenly the Canuck offense took flight scoring 3 quick goals to prevent the game from going to extra time. Roberto kept the team in this one especially in the 3rd period when Calgary was pressing. Without solid goal-tending this game would have gone the other way. HUGE win to start the road trip!
1 game down of their 5 game road trip before returning home to play their final home stand of the regular season. If the Canucks can combine their dominance against the Coyotes, their offense from the Calgary game & continued great goal-tending, they will put themselves in great playoff positioning. The Canucks are currently 6 points up on Minnesota, but the Wild are constantly on their heels to catch the North West Division lead, they will need to continue to play with the consistency they have had in the 2nd half [posting a 12-4-0 record with 8 games remaining].
I should also mention the Canucks were forced to call upon a Calgary University[Dustin Butler] goalie to play the role of backup to Luongo in the Calgary game because Cory Schneider was out with the flu. The kid did not end seeing any ice time thanks to the great play of Luongo, but he did get a taste of being part of an NHL team at least for a day.
The playoffs are just under 3 weeks away and a lot will happen between then and now that will help to determine the final standings and first round match ups. Are you ready for the ride we are all about to take these next two & half weeks?
Next up the Canucks will take on the Colorado Avalanche Saturday afternoon [or sometime Sunday morning in Oz]. Over the last 4 games the Canucks have outscored their opponents 11-3. Ryan Kesler has looked excellent in his first two games back and will look to further extend his points streak to 3 games and the Canucks will be looking to extend their win streak to 5 games[interesting fact that coincides with their current streak: with Derek Roy in the line up the Canucks are a perfect 4-0-0]. #GoCanucks
Let’s not forget to wish a HAPPY BIRTHDAY to ALEX BURROWS!!!!!!
As always, until next time, nuck said.
Image: Canucks Army