January 30 2010 11:02AM
Looking out my window, I am truly dreading heading outside at any point today. it's raining, it's dark, it's 5 degree Celsius, and doesn't look like it's getting any better for the rest of the day.
It's a great day for hockey!
It's Hockey Day In Canada and tonight's marquee match-up sees the Vancouver Canucks begin their epic 14-game roadtrip as they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre tonight.
As the Canucks vacate the west coast to leave way for the 2010 Olympics, they take with them a six-game winning streak and a seat atop the Northwest division. They continue to be one of the hottest teams in the league, and arguably the one dogged by the most controversy. From Laser-gate to Ref-gate to MacLean-gate and other little side stories, the Canucks simply could not escape the spotlight in the last two weeks. Luckily for them they have continued to win while seeming to put all of these distractions, both large and small, behind them.
Tonight, they face the Toronto Maple Leafs on one of the biggest nights on the regular season schedule. Looking at the season's statistics of the two clubs, they literally could not be more opposite. While the Canucks sit in the top five in over a dozen different stats, the Leafs sit in the bottom in an equal number. There really is no point in identifying any particular statistic here, because the Canucks utterly dominate the number against the Leafs. But the game isn't won on paper, and as they say, that's why they play the games.
The story tonight is not about the Maple Leafs. The story tonight is about the Vancouver Canucks and how they will start the longest road trip in NHL history. Can they continue this huge wave of success on which they've been for the past two weeks? Against one of the worst teams in the league, Canucks fans certainly hope and think so.
Can they continue to shine under the spotlight? Tonight's game puts the Canucks squarely under the microscope of the Eastern media. Admittedly, the Canucks fly under the radar tucked away out here on the left side of continent, and that suits them just fine. Then they were mired by a set of incidents that turned the cameras and microphones right in their direction. So far, though, they have played through the controversies and have continued to win and climb back to the top of their division.
The game itself tonight will likely be a bit of an afterthought and probably a boring game. The real show tonight will happen off the ice, and that can only mean good things for CBC as they showcase the biggest day of regular season hockey before the world comes to Vancouver in two weeks.