The Toronto Maple Leafs would love nothing more than to head into the two-week Olympic break after beating one of their Canadian rivals in the struggling Vancouver Canucks. Although it may seem as though the Canucks are the better team on paper, the fact that they have gone 3-7-0 in their last 10 games while losing six in a row suggests that this is a hockey club that is experiencing nothing but a downward spiral.
Canucks head coach John Tortorella clearly doesn’t have a handle on the situation he currently finds himself in. His Canucks have quickly dropped in the NHL‘s Western Conference standings, and they are now on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture. This isn’t the type of situation that Tortorella deals with well. The loose cannon that Tortorella can quickly turn into doesn’t exactly seem like the type of coach that can turn things around for the Canucks.
However, the Vancouver front office knew exactly what they were getting into when they decided to hire the hot-headed Tortorella. Since his first-intermission bout with the Calgary Flames only a few weeks ago, his team is definitely not the same.
As the Canucks travel into Toronto to try and turn their sinking ship around, the Maple Leafs will have a very different idea of their own for the Vancouver club. Not only are the Leafs extremely hot right now as they continue to stay afloat close to the top of the Eastern Conference standings, they are also the better team. Tonight, they will prove that they are they are indeed the superior team when it comes down to the never-ending discussion of which team reigns supreme in the hockey-obsessed country of Canada.
Leading the way for the Leafs are usual suspects James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel. Solid goaltending coming from Jonathan Bernier will also help the Leafs prolong the struggles being faced by the Canucks, a team that is clearly in need of the Olympic break and perhaps a new coach.
Only a few years ago, heading into the Air Canada Centre to take on the Leafs was a joyous occasion for the Canucks and their fans. They were definitely a better all-around hockey club and often embarrassed Toronto whenever the two clubs met. For now, fans of the Canucks will either have to realize that their club just isn’t exactly what it use to be, or continue to live in denial as they hold onto the idea of being Canada’s best hockey team.
After tonight’s matchup between the two clubs, it will be clear as day that the Canucks can no longer hang with the likes of their cross-country rival in the Maple Leafs.