Speed, Defence help Canucks to strong start

Discussion in 'HFNHL Talk' started by Hossa, Dec 12, 2005.

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  1. Hossa

    Hossa Registered User

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    The books of history are filled with stories of underdogs rising up and succeeding. While the 2005-06 version of the Vancouver Canucks probably won't end up being a folk tale in that regard, they have to be turning a head or two early on in the new HFNHL season.

    After a year off, the rebuilding Canucks made modest improvements, namely the acquisition of two-time Selke award winner Michael Peca. Along with signings like Manny Legace from before the lock-out, and a new coach in Claude Julien, the Canucks are a different team than before. Few though expected them to be much better.

    Although the club's record is only 4-3-1 through eight games, their style of play suggests their success could continue. Every skater on the roster except penalty killing specialist Jay Pandolfo has a point. Twelve different players have a goal, with rookie franchise cornerstone Eric Staal leading the way with five.

    Special teams play has also been stellar. The powerplay and penalty kill are both fourth in the league. While the PK was expected to be strong because of the plethora of defensive forwards on the team like Peca, Pandolfo, Jim Dowd and Mike Sillinger, the powerplay is more surprising.

    A key to the offensive game, powerplay included, has been the outstanding play of the club's two talented veteran blueliners. Alexei Zhitnik is tied for the team lead with seven points, and Jiri Slegr is only one behind with six. Combined with David Tanabe and Steve McCarthy, the Canucks have a mobile blueline to complement a tenacious group of forwards.

    Considering the formula of the NHL's Calgary Flames in 2004-05 to get to within a game of the Stanley Cup, there clearly is a certain method to GM Sean Keogh's madness in acquiring largely defensive forwards. While the club does lack of a bona fide superstar scorer like the Flames, they have a style that could keep them in the playoff hunt deep into the season.

    And that suits them just fine.
     
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