He's back in the NHL and playing for the Canucks. He certainly gave Ek a lot of material to work with in terms of being the focus (somewhat) of the hockey universe for the last long while.
I really had been hoping for a larger build up to his return and really didn't get much. Living in the Vancouver area, I was kinda hoping for a little buzz about the guy but didn't get that at all.
As for the game, some may have expected him to make a splash right off the bat but realistically, that was probably not going to happen. He played just over 15 minutes of hockey registering one hit and drawing one penalty with zero shots on goal. I don't think you'll see too much out of him for the next couple of games. He still has to get his feet wet having been out of the league for a little longer than most. Even then, his presence alone makes the team stronger. It takes the pressure off the Sedins to be consistent producers and allows the team's 3rd line to be a bit more of a factor while still playing against the top line of the opponent. Last night, we saw Steve Bernier cash in. Many Canuck fans (especially on this board) deemed him a 30-35 goal scorer this season. Of course, I knew that he'd get 20 at best this season. He's young and doesn't have the confidence in himself to put up 30 goals much less 15. You saw that when he played (or tried playing) with the Sedins. But the insertion fo Sundin into the lineup allowed for him to come through. That will likely be a consistent pattern for the Canucks the rest of the way.
When the Canucks get Roberto Luongo back from injury, there will easily be high expectations for this team. They will surely leap to the division frontrunners (if they hadn't already) previously occupied by the Calgary Flames. They will have the same expectations that the San Jose Sharks have had the last 3 seasons and the Nashville Predators had the 2 seasons after the lockout. Of course, we have lots of the games to go and the trade deadlineis less than two months away and anything can happen in that time.
What separates a team like the Canucks and a team like, um lets say, the Predators...is outright hustle amongst other things. The Canucks hustle after every puck and make smart moves with or without it. They constantly battle along the boards or wherever the puck may be. They have a rugged blue line that rarely makes mistakes in their own zone. Adding Mats Sundin made sense for a team that wanted another scoring threat/playmaker in their lineup. A lot of these things that I have mentioned are things that Pred fans would love to see in their team and I'll elaborate on that in my next blog, likely on the weekend titled: "Sullivan returns" - I'll talk about Sully's return after being out nearly two years due to a back injury as well as lash out my building frustrations with the team itself.
Thanks for reading and take care!