Half-Way There

Markus Naslund

Young Canucks fans need to realize that they are lucky, and shouldn’t take this Vancouver squad for granted.

I’m going to throw this out there. There have been three Canuck teams that have been legitimate cup contenders, and this is one of them.

Now at the half-way point of the season, this newly-clothed team is drawing honourable comparisons to the ’94 team who came within a goal post of winning the holy grail.

And for that ten-or-so game stretch when captain Markus Naslund was bulging the twine consistently, I would have said this is looking exactly like that ’94 team.

They have top-notch goaltending, even better now than it was with McLean. They have couple point-a-game players, and a big, tough defence, which is equipped with one of the best shutdown man in the league in Willie Mitchell.

The only thing missing is that all-out superstar fifty goal scorer that the ’94 team did with Russian phenom Pavel Bure.

Because they don’t have that full-blown superstar, they can only be labeled as a good team, that is, when Roberto Luongo isn’t mentioned. And this is a perfect example of the old saying that a bad goalie can make a good team horrible, and a great goalie can make a good team unstoppable.

Forty-one games in, Luongo is putting up ridiculous numbers. After a “slow” start, he’s thrown in 6 shutouts (three in a row and a Canuck record in that category), a 1.97 GAA, and has started every home game he’s been available for.

But me calling this team great isn’t going to win them a cup, which is the only thing that matters.

Mitchell Luongo

They need Naslund to start putting in at least a goal every two or three games to even come close to Detroit numbers. And if it’s not Naslund, it’s gotta be Ryan Kesler, who has seriously shown improvements in making highly confident moves at very high speeds, something we have waited a long time to see out of Kes.

Kesler is also being considered as an early contender for the Selke award, and has three more goals than he amassed in the 48 games he played all last season, all while being put up against every team’s top goal scoring tandems.

What the Canucks need to do to take the next step into Western Conference supremacy is match that stellar home record that they have going, and bring it on the road.

The whole league is wide open this season (albeit because of three point games) and it’s going to be a great finish.

When the playoffs hit, Canucks fans just need to think about Nikolai Khabibulin as a Winnipeg Jet, and John Vanbiesbrouck as a Florida Panther.

Great goaltending wins championships, and the Canucks have better than that


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