Now the collective province of British Columbia can exhale, as the Nucks broke out of that losing slump with a number of firsts. Let’s see what that looks like and why.
The big one was of course, that first win for the club, jumping all over the Montreal Canadiens, who had played the night before.
That doesn’t discredit the effort that the Canucks had to put forth, as a number of times last year, oppositions came a knocking, having to play the back end of a back to back and still beat the Canucks (Boston for one last year).
The success of the Canucks has always been their defensive scheme, which was established in the first year that both Coach Alain Vigneault and Roberto Luongo arrived.
We all know looking back that this was a necessity with the offensively challenged lineup, but it produced a divisional championship that year. Many have voiced their opinion on the so called “trap”, so I will not beat a dead horse again.
That defensive scheme has never gone away, it’s just that with the current version, there is a more talented group to provide the offensive side.
When this team plays their game, and it’s not the run-and-gun that the fans would like, they give themselves an opportunity to win on most nights, and that was the key against the Habs, a first.
Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond, displaying their speed, both broke around the Habs defense and beat Carey Price for their first goals of the season.
Price didn’t get much help from his team last night and really couldn’t be faulted for any of the goals. They were all quality chances, executed to the max.
Steve Bernier, with his first, was set up on a pretty behind the back pass from Daniel Sedin and had an open net to drill that one in. Nice to see that he buried it in the back of the net on a quick release, making sure that Price would not get to it.
The special teams both had some firsts, limiting the Canadiens to one power play goal and scoring three. This has to be a continued improvement this year if the Nucks are to be successful.
The outnumbered rushes against the Canucks were limited to one, which was a huge improvement over the previous three games.
These days the shooters are just too good to give up four or five odd man rushes per game and not have it end up in the back of your net.
Luongo, although only having four shots to handle in the first period, made sure not to give the Habs any life, by shutting them out.
In case anyone didn’t notice, Louie played a lot more aggressive, coming out instead of staying too deep in his net. Another first.
In the second period when the Canadiens swarmed the Nucks, all that they got for their effort was a power play goal, and in the third period on one play, Bobby Lou stopped five shots in a row, to shut down the offensive push, another first.
I can’t leave out the “Ripper” (Rick Rypien), that middleweight, taking on that giant heavyweight, Hal Gill, needing a ladder to reach the much taller opponent, was more than capable in accounting himself in the third period, when the game was well out of reach, his first.
How many guys would have bothered to tangle at that stage? You gotta love Rypien’s feisty spirit.
Last but not least—Discipline, was much more evident last night (no penalties in the first period) and played a big part in the victory, limiting those needless penalties.