by Cono Spitale
I felt a little like an old-time hollywood movie mogul Sunday watching game 1 of the NHL western conference, won 3-2 by the Vancouver Canucks over the San Jose Sharks.
The 1930s moguls like Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner and Darryl Zanuck used to sit incognito at the back of the Hollywood theatres when their new releases were pre-screened to see/hear “what the people were thinking”. Sunday at a pub in Vancouver, I heard what the “people” were thinking about the Canucks.
For example, when Canuck Roberto Luongo handed the gift goal to Sharks’ star centre Joe Thornton late in the first period by trying to clear the puck up the middle, the reviews poured in. “$10 million a year for this!…What could we get for him after this season?” Thornton didn’t say thank you but it was mutually understood when he skated away after depositing the puck into the net after the Luongo ‘pass’.
As for the Sedins, Daniel and Henrik (collectively a minus 16 +/- ratio in the 2011 playoffs), it was rave reviews. “Wow, they’re finally skating!..They’re working hard to get the puck!”
The Sedins were a 0 +/- wise last night but Henrik scored the winning goal on a power play mid-way through the third period and assisted on the tying goal by Canuck defenceman Kevin Bieksa, also in the third. “Thank God, we didn’t trade Bieksa when he was playing crappy last year.”
The newly-constructed third line of Maxim Lapierre (a trade-deadline pickup), Jannik Hansen and Raffi Torres was a force all evening – Lapierre scored the Canucks first goal early in the second period on assists from Hansen and Torres. “Gillis (Canuck GM Mike) is a genius getting Lapierre!…Who knew Hansen was this good! …”Torres is playing like it’s the last game of his life!”
After the final buzzer signalled the end of the game, there was the ultimate compliment that wafted through the room. “For the first time in the playoffs, I can say they look like a Stanley Cup winning team!” Canuck coach Alain Vigneault wouldn’t admit it publicly but silently he would probably say “Amen to that.”