The 2013-14 season will long be remembered for the Vancouver Canucks and their fans.
Unfortunately for coach John Tortorella and his team, the memories might remain more bitter than sweet. From fines to suspensions, locker room invasions to opening face-off brawls, and blowout losses to the surprising trade of longtime goaltender Roberto Luongo, the fate of Vancouver’s season has been “over” so many times critics might need a new word for over.
But with less than a handful of games left until the playoffs begin, the Canucks continue to tempt the season death sentence they were handed just a few short weeks ago, refusing to give up hope on the idea that one of two wild card spots in the Western Conference belongs to their team.
Vancouver smashed the Minnesota Wild 5-2 Wednesday night riding on two goals from David Booth, along with goals from Zach Kassian, Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin, despite being outshot in the game 31-19. The shot total shows that while the Canucks continue to struggle finding consistent firepower with an injured roster, Vancouver’s goaltending remains the most solid aspect of their game.
After losing 11 of 12 games, the Canucks have come back to win six of their last nine. Coincidentally or non-coincidentally enough, the wins surfaced almost as soon as the goaltending drama Vancouver has trademarked in recent years was finally set to rest with Luongo leaving and Eddie Lack left to start in net; night in and night out, Lack only continues to prove he is the backbone of this Vancouver squad.
But for the first time in a long time, Lack is no longer the only member of the team fighting through 60 minutes for the win. The Canucks’ renewed compete level was shown Wednesday night with every stick maneuver, face-off win, shot fired and rebound puck scooped away. From Kesler’s goal coming after three other Canucks players maneuvered the puck around the crease to a very distinct team effort made not only to win face-offs, but make plays with the puck from those victories — all in all skilled desperation won Vancouver the game.
Where this team goes from here depends very little on any drama Tortorella decides to bring forth in the remaining weeks of the season and entirely on how desperate these players remain as they carry each other across the finish line and hopefully into another playoffs. And if this showdown was any indication, this team has proven that desperation might be a miracle worker after all.