The Canucks are an even-keeled bunch. This composure has been learned from past failures, and has paid off this postseason.
(Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
This is a Guest Post from Kavi Lehdar.
For virtually every Canucks fan, this season has been an apprehensive one. When the boys went on their crazy 17 game undefeated streak from December to January many fans were saying, “Seen the winning streaks before, show me in the playoffs”. The lack of enthusiasm for a record breaking streak was somehow fair given the Canucksʼ recent playoff history. Things kept moving along swimmingly (maybe even skatingly?) until they went on a slump. By slump I mean they won and lost alternating games for 13 straight outings. Let me reiterate that the media and fans in Vancouver called this a ʻslumpʼ. They amassed 14 points in those 13 games.
The reasons for mentioning these strings of play during the Canucksʼ season is because there was one thing evident about the club (and each and every player on it) during both their undefeated streak as well as their ʻslumpʼ. It was their even-keeled approach to each game. The Canucks, for the ﬁrst time in their history seemed to rid themselves of the emotional ties that bind a player to wins and losses during a hockey season. Win 5 in a row, no big deal. Lose 3 out of 4, what-evs. It was the Canucks themselves who decided to learn from past lessons of defeat, and changed their approach. It was the staff who prepared the players to view each game as the only important game. It was the management who put each piece together, making sure the team assembled produced more than the sum of its parts. That is the deﬁnition of a team, total trust in what youʼre doing and where you plan to go.
The consistency of thinking, belief, and performance of this yearʼs collective unit have unlocked a formula for this version of the Vancouver Canucks to excel. The height of their level of composure and conﬁdence in themselves was so non-chalantly displayed with under 1 minute left in Game One of the Western Conference Final against San Jose. Daniel and Alex Burrows were caught as the forwards on an icing call with a 1-goal lead and SJʼs goaltender on the bench for an extra attacker. So what does Henrik do during the timeout knowing he canʼt go out there to take the important draw? He goes up to the coach and tells a joke. Yes, a joke, to AV who starts laughing out loud. Apparently Henrik asked AV if he and Daniel could switch jerserys so he could take the draw. How many times in your life have you seen a coach laugh, out loud, during the ﬁnal minute of 1-goal lead in a Conference Final Game?? It just shows how relaxed and calm they are during these moments. While his snickering was subsiding, AV watched Daniel do something totally unexpected. He shot the puck forward off the draw, giving his team a chance to change. Not only was his faceoff play bold and intelligent, but it was a prime example of the type of conﬁdence this team has. It shows they believe in whoever is out there, doing whatever they need to do.
To give you an example of what the Canucks looked like just one year ago, take a look at the San Jose Sharks from Game 2 last night. They were tied in the second period of the game, but after not getting the results theyʼve come to expect over the past 3 months, they unravelled. Vancouver was winning puck battles, they were out-shooing, out-hitting, and out-skating the Sharks. San Jose is the type of team that relies on its bruising forecheck and zone time, but when that didnʼt happen it got to them. Now recall, if you will, last yearʼs Games 3 and 4 of the Conference Semi-Finals between Vancouver and Chicago. Chicago had had their way with the Canucks in front of the Canucksʼ net. Vancouver was rattled, but instead of continuing to try to get their game back, they chose to retaliate versus the Hawk players. So what does Chicago do? They made Vancouver pay with PPG after PPG. Does this remind you of anything? It’s exactly what the Canucks did last night.
Winning the Stanley Cup isnʼt about being 10 or 20 percent better than the pervious year, itʼs about playing at 100 percent of your capability. Not 80 percent, not 99 percent, but 100 percent.
I believe the Canucks have learned lessons from their past. Thatʼs why I believe they can very well (ﬁnally) be the team at the top of the Mountain. Just donʼt get too far ahead of yourself, because you know the Canucks wonʼt either.
Kavi Lehdar entered this world from St. Paul’s Hospital in downtown Vancouver, because he wanted to be born at the hospital closest the Canucks’ home rink. Pavel Bure is his definition of excitement. He’s new to poutine since BK has a veggie gravy. Follow him on Twitter.
>>> Thanks Kavi!