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Polished looking Canucks dismantle the Wild
Roberto Luongo was making saves with his eyes closed on his way to his second shutout of the season. The Vancouver Canucks must have spent some serious time in the video room as they come out and play a defensive gem against the Minnesota Wild, earning a 3-0 win.
Vancouver - January 5, 2012 - What a difference a day makes after a rather poor defensive showing on Monday against the San Jose Sharks, because the Canucks must have spent some serious time in the video room as they come out and play a defensive gem against the Minnesota Wild, earning a 3-0 win. Sure, it was the quickly sinking Wild, who at their present pace will be challenging the Oilers for the basement in short order, but nonetheless the defensive play of the Canucks was impressive and was a huge part of Luongo earning his second shutout of the season.
This game could have had TRAP written all over it as the Canucks could have easily looked past tonight’s game and thought about Saturday’s big tilt against the Bruins in Beantown, but instead they came out and played a solid 60 minutes of “no B.S, not in our house hockey” against a divisional rival. Right from the opening face off, one could tell the Canucks had done some retooling of their game as they started strong, and played the full 60 minutes seemingly without breaking a sweat.
Ten minutes was all it took for the familiar announcement of “Sedin, Sedin, to Burrows, score!” to reverberate through Rogers Arena and signal the death of the Minnesota Wild tonight, as the Sedins did their damage early and with great precision. Daniel opened the scoring the scoring at 6:42 by taking a pass from brother Henrik and blasting it past goalie Josh Harding from the top of the left face off circle to put the Canucks up by one. Less than 4 minutes later it was Alexandre Burrows once again reaping the rewards of playing on the top line with the Sedins as he took a pass from Daniel Sedin at the top of the crease for an easy tap in goal on an open net. Henrik also assisted on the second goal. Manny Malhotra sealed the win for the Canucks by scoring an empty netter late in the third to ensure Luongo’s second shutout and the Canucks 3-0 victory.
But it was the defense that thoroughly impressed tonight, as there was no flopping, flaying, or otherwise desperate plays in the Canucks zone. When the D weren’t playing the puck in their own zone, they were playing the shooter so well that Luongo had a clear lane on almost every shot he faced. Salo in the first period made a smart play to block out an attacking player, allowing Luongo to clearly see Dany Heatley’s shot from the left circle. It was impressive to finally see the Canucks D not worry about the shooter as much as the players in front of Luongo. If Luongo can see the puck, he’ll stop it, and he proved that tonight with flying colors, as he stopped all 28 shots directed toward him. With the D clearing out the trash in the shotting lanes, Luongo made the saves look easy as his confidence grew as the game went on, giving up very few rebounds and those that did get away from him he seemed to get back into position quite easily.
I can’t help but feel that tonight’s game was just a final polish for the Canucks before they face the Bruins on Saturday morning where surely they feel there is a score to be settled. Granted the Bruins are not the Wild, but if the Canucks can bring tonight’s effort and skilled defensive game to Boston, then it could just be a prelude for what might come in the spring. Either way, Saturday has long been circled on the calendar in Canuck Nation, and promises to be one hell of a game as the top dog in the league takes on Boston who is 4th overall in the standings. It’s gonna be a good one!
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