So we'll call it over, Was it worth the ride? Damn rights.
Lets flash back a moment to the begining of training camp. The Vancouver Canucks assembled in Vernon, British Columbia with a new look. Alain Vigneault is coach, Roberto Luongo is in goal and most undoubtably Todd Bertuzzi is not in the line-up. There a several scribes across the continent saying that the Canucks will not make the playoffs. Even the local media and fans are doubting anything more than an early first round draft pick in the 2007 NHL Draft. The main concern about the team was lack of depth, and for good reason.
The Canucks stormed out of the gate in early October by defeating the aging Detroit Red Wings on opening night. Roberto Luongo was true to his form stiffiling the Wings as they peppered him with shot after shot. That was just the begining, right.
Yes, that was just the begining. While the Canucks did not struggle they did not were playing well enough to stay in the mix of the playoff hunt, and then November came. After an impressive October record of 7 - 5, the month of November concluded with just five victories in 13 games.
As the team rolled into the month of December the questions about the future of GM Dave Nonis, Coach Alain Vigneault and captain Markus Naslund were being asked. The Canucks finished off the 2006 calendar year with an 8 - 5 record in the month of December.
The month of December was a key month for the club. AV's troops were sitting a game below .500 at the Christmas break with three incredibly important games coming up. The Canucks would face division foe's Calgary (back-to-back) and Edmonton to wind up the 2006 portion of the schedule. Both Calgary and Edmonton were battling for the division title meanwhile the Canucks were battling for their playoff lives.
It is understood that as the Canucks prepared for thier Boxing Day contest with the Calgary Flames the team had one of those 'players-only' meetings. The result of the meeting was that they would have to do everything possible, leave everything on the table, and take no prisoners to make the playoffs.
From that point on the Canucks would compile one of the best records in the league. Roberto Luongo would set franchise marks for wins (47), Henrik Sedin would set franchise marks for assists (71), and Alain Vigneault would set the club standard for wins by a Coach (49). Not to mention the club record for points 105. The team would also lead the league in penalty-killing percentage and have one of the lowest goals against averages in the league.
Did they silience the critics? I think so. The Canucks made the playoffs, won the first round and have battled the Ducks a lot harder than anyone gave them credit for. In the end, depth or lack there of has come to bite the Canucks, but in the end you are not supposed to have a lot of depth when you are rebuilding right?