Editor, White Cover Magazine
Yeah, yeah. Carey Price is the best goaltender in, like, forever. PK Subban, PK Subban, PK Subban. And of course, there’s the whole ‘home crowd’ thing… basically half of Rogers Arena erupted whenever Montreal did anything excellent last night, and they nearly blew the roof off the place when Max Pacioretty tied things at two late in the third period. It was cool to see, sure. And the red sweaters look just sweet. But it was also pretty damn embarrassing – there were more Miiii-llllerrrr chants (in a mocking way) and there were more CA-REY! chants (in a pump-up way) than there was a wave or a Go-Canucks-Go. And really, when you’re wearing a Canucks t-shirt in the Canucks’ building, you sort of just want to cower away and wait for the win to work itself out.
Last night, the Habs inhabited Vancouver. (Get it?)
But it was, easily, the best game of the young NHL season… for West Coasters, at least. PK going after Daniel was fresh. Alex Burrows arriving later than American Thanksgiving to hit Alexei Emelin was a surprise, too. What else was new? How about Price letting in a wrist shot he could see, or Dale Weise and Derek Dorsett playing pretty puck on odd-man rushes, dishing sweet cross-crease feeds to Pacioretty and Nick Bonino (respectively), who both scored.
But even though there was a winner (Vancouver) and a loser (Montreal), each seem to have somehow come out ahead.
We already know how strong the Habs are, top-to-bottom. They reached the Eastern Conference finals last year, after all, and might have won if Price hadn’t gone down in the series’ first 60 minutes. But the Canucks, they’re a work in progress. And after two games against a couple of the East’s elite – tonight against Montreal, and two weekends ago against Tampa Bay – it’s clear Vancouver is deep enough to contend, game-by-game with anyone.
Not only is the top line of Daniel, Henrik, and Vrbata – with the first two combining on one of the sexiest walk-off winners you’ll ever see – near money in the bank, but the second and third lines (mashing Chris Higgins, Burrows, and Bonino with Zack Kassian, Shawn Matthias/Linden Vey, and Brad Richardson) are essentially interchangeable, and in a stable, solid way. And when Vey is playing the fourth line with Vey, Dorsett, and (sigh) Jannik Hansen, Vancouver’s bottom feeders of capable of being carnivorous, too.
Sure, the defence needs some work. Dan Hamhuis and Chris Tanev are almost always awesome, and Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler are solid supporting characters. But while Yannick Weber and Luca Sbisa deserve our trust and patience, there’s always the fear they’ll Ballard it when the time’s wrong.
Then again, if super sophomore Ryan Stanton and all-potential blueliner Frankie Corrado are ready to plug holes from the bottom, and if Tom Sestito and Bo Horvat are waiting for an injury to earn their spot up front, I suppose Vancouver’s got enough talent to iron out the creases in the sheets.
At 7-3, we might just be able to say in all seriousness, The best is yet to come.
VIDEO: Canucks vs Canadiens Highlights (Oct. 30, 2014)