It’s that time of year again, folks! It’s that time of year when half the crowd is wearing blue and white with a big old Maple Leaf on the jersey, and it’s hard to tell whether this is a home or away game.
The Vancouver Canucks host the Toronto Maple Leafs at 4 PM at GM Place tonight, in what is always an entertaining and emotional game.
The Canucks are facing a down-and-out team at the moment. The Leafs are the only remaining winless team in the NHL now, and will be hungry and desperate for a victory. I am sure that Brian Burke and Ron Wilson will be rallying the troupes as hard as ever to win this one. It’s on the national stage. It’s Burke’s former club, from which he was fired. But most importantly, he needs to get his team in the win column.
The Canucks, on the other hand, are a team that looks like it is finally coming together as a team, and starting to play to their potential, despite a rash of injuries. The Canucks last game was a hard fought, buoying win against their new hated rival, the Chicago Blackhawks. The Canucks have two of their last three games, and four of their last six. They appear to be surging a little, and gelling together as an entire roster.
Vancouver has also won its last four meetings with the Maple Leafs, either home or away, dating back to 2006. So the Canucks and Luongo have had recent success against the Leafs. To add to the Canucks chances tonight, the Leafs are starting their third-string goaltender, Joey McDonald.
The Leafs are desperate and angry. The Canucks are starting to surge. You have two teams with vastly different mindsets, going in two different directions. Let’s hope that direction is focused squarely at the back of the Leafs net for the Canucks this afternoon.