The Vancouver Canucks suffered a tough loss against the Montreal Canadiens last night — a thought-provoking game.
Whenever the vaunted Montreal Canadians visit the Vancouver Canucks, it’s hard to establish for certain if there are more red Montreal uniforms or blue Canuck ones in the stands. “It has ever been thus,” as long-time NHL president Gary Bettman loves to say — several times per day no less.
You see, the Vancouver Canucks almost got an NHL franchise in 1967 — but were beaten out by the St. Louis Blues, who never even bothered to make a presentation to the league. Go figure. So up until 1970, all Vancouver hockey fans could do was cheer for Toronto or Montreal — and the syndrome still persists to this very day.
Last night the Habs beat the Canucks 2-1 in overtime, and here are three thoughts about the game.
1. Canucks Should Protect Bachman
Canucks erstwhile backstop Ryan Miller proved once again that he deserves to be re-signed, because until Jacob Markstrom loses those giant ears on the side of his helmet — I’m afraid he’ll never quite cut the mustard.
Moreover, they should strongly consider protecting Utica Comets goalie Richard Bachman over the giant-eared one. Because unlike Markstrom, Bachman won’t complain about a lack of games.
There’s that — plus the fact that Bachman is unbeaten in the NHL — albeit with two games stretched over almost three years. Markstrom will love it in Las Vegas — people down there won’t notice when Jacob dutifully complains about ice-time, fans being too busy getting sore arms on the one-armed bandits.
2. Not Repeating Virtanen Mistake
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While thousands of turncoat fans at Rogers arena yelled “Go Habs Go,” we found out that coach Willie Desjardins won’t brook half an effort from newly-acquired Nikolay Goldobin. The young Russian will be just fine. It’s just that no one wants to see a repeat of the Jake Virtanen entitlement scenario any time soon. That was a gigantic mistake — giving Virtanen ice time by default last season.
The poor kid ran with it, partied all summer and put on a bunch of weight. Canucks management now look wistfully at players taken later in Round 1 of 2014, players like David Pastrňák (Boston Bruins), William Nylander (Toronto Maple Leafs) , Nick Richie (Anaheim Ducks) , Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings) and Nick Schmaltz (Chicago Blackhawks), as they do a fly-by on the entitled young man from Abbotsford.
And unlike Virtanen, they’re all making solid impacts on their team, while Jake is finding it hard to get points in the AHL. Mr. Virtanen will soon find out what tough love is all about — if he hasn’t already!
3. Hard Work Not Enough for Playoffs
It’s a darned shame, because successive Canucks managements have been royally roasted for steadfastly refusing to develop talent in their own back yard. Canadiens stalwart Brendan Gallagher (former Vancouver Giants star) is just another great example of that.
But by picking up a single point against Montreal, the Canucks are now faced with the improbable task of having to win about 85 percent of their remaining games. Faced with yet another playoff miss — we can be thankful once again to be living on the mild west coast.
For it’s going to be another long, hot summer, so let’s hope that Canuck youngsters Virtanen and Goldobin emulate the work ethic and inherent class of the Sedin twins, before it’s too late and they set sail. All that will be left is to hoist numbers 22 and 33 up into the rafters.