Last week, we wrote about the importance of a potential Vancouver Canucks win over the Washington Capitals – not so much because it mattered in the standings, but because it could serve as a momentum builder of sorts. A win cures a lot of ills, especially a convincing one.
And though there were still holes evident in the team’s game – defensively, at least – a 7-4 victory over one of the league’s hottest, most-talented teams is about as convincing as it gets.
Sure, Luongo wasn’t at his best again. He struggled with his glove hand – highlighted by the goal he allowed on Mike Knuble’s penalty shot – but he was certainly better than he had been, and his glove save off Alex Ovechkin in the third period was as good as save as he’s made all year, and put an exclamation point on the team’s victory.
They got loads of offense from the blue line – Ehrhoff who? – led by Alex Edler’s two goals, while Chris Higgins and Max Lapierre, who’ve both been better-than-advertised this season, also had two goals each.
So yes, it was a game full of positives. But it won’t mean much if the team can’t build off it, and carry the positive vibes into the six game road trip that begins tonight in Calgary.
Last year, the Canucks struggled in the month of October – it’s something of a tradition for this club, as though they follow the lead of Luongo, they’re beleaguered former captain – but showed signs of improvement in November, until they were pasted 7-1 by the hated Chicago Blackhawks on national TV Nov. 20.
But that game, as terrible as it was, served as the team’s rallying point. After a team meeting – for players only, called by captain Henrik Sedin – the Canucks began to crawl out of their funk, and they went 14-0-3 in a 17-game stretch from Dec. 8-Jan. 11.
That’s the kind of run the team needs to go on now – building off a big win this time, rather than a big loss – if they want to silence the doubters, shake off the Stanley Cup hangover, and get themselves on a roll, and in a position to sit atop the Western Conference (or darn close to it) once the season hits the stretch drive in early 2012.