How many times have we heard from the uninformed talk about how Vancouver is a one-man show? Suggestions abound that the only difference between missing the playoffs and winning the conference and bowing out in the second round to the eventual cup champions was the addition of Roberto Luongo. That kind of talk only makes me laugh at the Flames Fan from whose mouth those kinds of comments tend to emanate.
Ever hear this one? “The Canucks are boring because they can’t score and all they have is Luongo who gets hung out to dry on a nightly basis”
Thanks for the input Flamer89 but let’s take a deeper look at that: The Canucks were in the top half of the league in shots allowed per game, seven spots better than the highly vaunted Calgary defense corps could muster. If Bobby gets “hung out to dry” then Kipper must have a clothespin surgically attached to the scruff of his neck. The Canucks exposed Luongo to fewer shots per game than Auld faced the season before, took far fewer penalties and subsequently gave up far fewer power play goals. All the while, two building blocks for the Canucks offensive future, Henrik and Daniel Sedin, managed to bump up their offensive production – yet again. The neophytes making the “one man show” argument are off base because they completely ignore the contribution made by last season’s Jack Adams trophy winner. Is it possible that the Canucks have adapted to an entire new system based on defense and discipline or does Alain Vigneault get crowned as the best Coach in the league because he has just enough hockey acumen to look at the Canucks Roster and decide to start Luongo?
According to some, a Vigneault pre-game speech might sound something like: “OK boys, let’s go with Bobby tonight everyone on board with that? Good, I will be at Fortes working on my acceptance speech. You have my cell if you need anything”. AV leaves the room making that extended thumb and pinkie “call me” gesture.
It was only a few games into the season that I realized that while the Players, the uni’s and everything else looked the same; this was a completely different hockey team playing a completely different brand of the game. To be honest, I was not too sure that I was happy about what I was seeing at first. The team was in the middle of a metamorphosis and I was anxious to see if the caterpillar would turn into a graceful butterfly or some Weft Coast version of the New Jersey Devils.
I am not going to pretend to be smart enough to break down the X’s and O’s that explain exactly how Vigneault has managed to morph our team into a contender but it is pretty obvious that he has a devised a great system and has been able to get his Players to buy into that system. Those are the two achievements that likely catapulted him to the top of the list for the Adams trophy Voters.
Nazzy will still bring me out of my seat on a regular basis, the Twins will make yet another jump in their offensive production despite having bought into the system (last years numbers prove their adaptability), Cookie will continue to barge around the offensive zone with complete disrespect for his own safety, and Bieksa and others will still bring just enough “mean” to make opponents dread coming into GM place. So Flamer89, ask me if I care that the team scores a few less goals than I am used to seeing out of them?
The single most intriguing/Interesting event of 2005-06 was that we got to watch the Canucks build around their strength and jump from playoff spectators to division Champions in one season. The team exceeded our expectations and we got our beautiful butterfly. OK, more like a burly, sometimes nasty, butterfly with a healthy dose of attitude but beautiful just the same.