January 10 2011 08:39PM
So here sit the Vancouver Canucks, on top of the NHL standings as they cross the halfway point of their season.
They're currently leading the power rankings on TSN, Sportsnet, ESPN and NHL.
In their last 21 games, which is essentially the second quarter of the season, the Canucks have gone 17-1-3, garnering 37 of a possible 42 points.
So let's start planning the parade route, right?
Not bloody likely, but then again, I am a veteran (and therefore ultimately pessimistic) Canucks fan.
I must admit that I was, and still am, pretty jacked up about the Canucks chances this year. They have a deep roster through all parts of the lineup, a good mix of youth and experience, a new captain fresh off a Hart and Art Ross-winning year, and some great acquisitions thanks to GM Mike Gillis.
But I didn't see this coming. I doubt anyone did.
I know that some pundits had the Canucks as a top contender in the West. Some even had the Canucks as their pre-season choice to win the Cup. But did they foresee a stretch of play like the one the Canucks have had? No.
It's pretty hard to complain about anything the Canucks have done in this second quarter of the season. They've dropped only 5 points in 21 games. FIVE. That's ridiculous.
They've rolled through a few injuries. No problem.
They've juggled their 4th line. No problem.
They've played Cory Schneider more frequently than many expected, giving Luongo some rest. No problem.
Both Kesler and Luongo added new additions to their families. No problem.
Do you want one gripe about the team? Ok. Aaron Effing Rome. Stop playing him. Stop taking Andrew Alberts out of the lineup and putting in Rome. Rome makes terrible decisions in his own end, looks lost when he's defending, and routinely costs his team a goal with his inability to pick up a check or effectively read the play in his own zone.
There. My one gripe is about the Canucks' 7th defenseman, a problem which will likely go away when Sami Salo returns. And then the problem will return when Salo inevitably injures himself again while tightening his laces, or unlocking his car door or speaking to a reporter or breathing.
The Canucks seem unflappable. They're dominant on the road and at home. They're beating up mercilessly on their division rivals. They're on pace for their greatest regular season in their 40-year history.
So... When will it all end?
Like any seasoned, embittered Canucks fan, I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop any day now. I fully expect the Canucks to go on a 10-game losing streak and kill all that valuable momentum they built in games 20 through 41. But that's just because the Canucks have broken fans' hearts oh so many times. We're waiting for the implosion, which given their recent playoff record will probably happen precisely on May 11th. In the United Center. To the strains of Chelsea Dagger.
But for now, for today, I am loving the ride. It sure is weird to see my team sitting atop the league standings. But I'll gladly trade 50 President's Trophies for one Holy Grail of Hockey. And so would the Vancouver Canucks, I'm sure.
One thing is for sure - this is the best ride that the team and their fans have been through the first half of the season.
Let's bring it home, boys.