Dear Vancouver: We’re Cup Bound, Can You Believe It?

Dear Vancouver:

Are you all still in disbelief? Are you all still partying from last night? Do most of you still think it’s just a dream? It isn’t a dream. Our Vancouver Canucks are heading to the Stanley Cup Finals. It has been 17 years since our last finals appearance and only a third time in our 40 year history to get to here.  It hasn’t been an ‘easy’ run, but nothing worth winning is ever easy. I for one, am happy it happened this way.

Round One: The Monkey Off The Back

After going up 3-0 against the Chicago Blackhawks, and seeing that lead slip away, it hurt. And by the time Game 6 came around, I am sure some of us out there lost faith in our boys. In fact, there were even a few out there ( in Twitterverse and the Facebook world) who were going to denounce the Canucks as their team. Sure the Canucks played terribly in games four and five, but there is a reason why they play the games. It had to be done. It was won and was it ever a thriller. There were talks of trading Luongo and running him out of town.  After last night, and 54 saves later, is he still you goat?

Roberto Luongo celebrates a 54 save effort and win with the Green Men: Photo credit David Carigg

Round Two: Grits and Fits

This series was one that many of the Canucks fans, myself included, just wanted toget through’.  It was hard hockey to watch. Not just because the Predators brought a bland brand of hockey to the table, but more because it was frustrating to see many of the Canucks get contained by it. The Sedins were deemed ‘invisible’ by fans and media alike. It also showed what Ryan Kesler was made of.  After an unbelievable year, he tops it off with factoring in the majority of the scoring in this series.  Captain America is definitely a Canuck.

Round Three: No Way Jose

This was a closer series than the 4-1 in games indicated, but the better team won, no question.  The San Jose Sharks were valiant and worthy opponents. Although I don’t agree with Dan Boyle thinking the Sharks deserved to win this series and Vancouver didn’t, it could have gone either way at any point. Vancouver’s goal tending from Roberto Luongo was excellent. The Sedins, especially Henrik showed why they are Art Ross trophy winners. Henrik tied Pavel Bure for most points by a Canuck in a single series with 12, 11 of those were, or course, assists.

Personal Highlights

I have been privileged to watch live games in every round of these playoffs, so far. I even made my way to San Jose for Game 4, but I wasn’t alone. I shared that experience with about 6000 other Canucks fans who made the journey. Although the palm trees were abundant, the weather was warm and it felt like I walked into a western movie in certain parts of town, it felt like a home game with all the Canucks fans there.  Prior to the game, many of us met on San Pedro Street, also named “Sharks Avenue”, to congregate and march to the HP Pavilion together.  At the arena, we took over the lower bowl for the warm-up and were chanting “Go Canucks go!”. We sang “O Canada” like we were north of the 49th and we chanted and sang throughout the game when our boys make it a final of 4-2. I felt like I was in Vancouver…south.

Canucks Nation

Canucks Nation invades San Jose - Photo Credit: Justine Galo

Although I didn’t attend Game 5 in person last night, my daughter took my place. When I met up with her and my significant other, I could tell with the look in her eyes that she believed.  It was much to being the same look I had during the 1994 Western Conference Final. She understood what it was that had me love this team above all others.  She was now ‘in love’ with our Canucks more than ever before.

In conclusion, we all are probably still waking up today with a little bit in a dream-like state.  Did that really happen? Are the Canucks for real? Well, yes. It all happened and the Canucks are very much the real deal but as my twitter friend @PabloPenguin74 said to me @Aviewfromabroad it is the first thing I thought as my eyes opened from slumber. For some, it won’t be real until game 1.” He’s right. It won’t feel real until then. So we have a few days to soak it all in, but Game 1 will come and we, Vancouver, as a city and a Canuck Nation, will be heading to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Get ready and buckle up, stay on the wagon, it’s time for the real work to begin.
GO CANUCKS GO!

Our 40th Anniversary puck iced at Rogers Arena's Best Buy Club- Photo Credit: Justine Galo

 

Justine Galo

Time to mail out some more towels!

Another game and another tweetup under my my belt and I’m happy to be able to give out three more Canucks playoff towels to three readers/followers/friends of Canucks Corner.

These towels could be great collectors items and we want to give away as many as we can during this great playoff run of the Canucks 40th NHL season.

So, if you don’t have one, and don’t have the means to get one here is what I want you to do:

  • Follow us on Twitter @CanucksCorner
  • Like our Facebook page
  • RT The following message on Twitter:

I need me some Towel Power from CanucksCorner.com! http://tinyurl.com/3sdc7rs  RT for a chance to win! #cctowelpowerR3

I’ll draw three winners via a random draw on Friday, May 27th at noon pacific and mail out the towels.

Good luck and GO CANUCKS GO!

Contest: This is what we live for! Win a signed Canucks hockey stick!

If you’ve visited Canucks.com lately, you may have seen this really cool feature called, “This is What We Live For”.  This feature allows fans to submit photos of themselves to be part of a very cool Canucks mosaic.

The Vancouver Canucks have offered CanucksCorner.com readers a very cool chance to participate in this mosaic for chance to win a hockey stick signed by the team. Considering the Canucks are making a strong run for Lord Stanley the potential value of this prize is priceless! So what do you have to do to win it?

1. Locate the photo of myself (shown below)  in the www.thisiswhatwelivefor.com photo mosaic. This could take awhile so you may need some patience if you want this cool stick but what fun is winning something without working for it? Once you locate the photo, you will see a pop-up congratulating you for finding the photo. Then click ‘submit’ and follow instructions you’re entered into the contest. (1 entry)

2. Submit your own photo to the mosaic and leave a comment here with the link to your photo. (1 entry)

3. For a bonus entry, tweet the following:

Win a @VanCanucks team signed stick! Find @CanucksCorner in the “This is What We Live For” photo mosaic! http://bit.ly/kk8Db2 #Canucks

The Canucks will send me all the names of the people that found my photo and I’ll combine them with the those that leave comments and links to their photos as well as those that tweet the above message to draw a random winner.

Here is the photo of my ugly mug that you’re trying to locate:

Such a friendly guy!

Thanks to all who entered and congratulations to Tammy McEvoy from New Westminster who was the lucky winner of the signed stick!

Seven Reasons Why the Canucks Should Beat the Predators

Since the beginning of the series with the Nashville Predators I knew the Canucks were in for a tough one.  The Predators may not put up a lot of goals but they sure can prevent a lot of them. The Predators block a tremendous amount of shots, they don’t mind getting dirty in the corners with their opponents and most of all, they have the incredible play of Pekka Rinne.  I will admit, I am not a fan of “Predator” style hockey. I find it to not be entertaining nor is it exciting but I will admit, it’s efficient. If there was a team to choose in the playoffs for ‘winning ugly’, I award that honour the Predators, hands down.

Pekka Rinne making a save on Maxim Lapierre. Photo credit: nhl.predators.com

However, with the Canucks losing Game 5 at home with the series lead (3-1) in a rather ‘ugly’ fashion on Saturday night, there are some out there that are beginning to wonder if the Canucks can finish off the Predators.  I believe they can. I believe the Canucks are too talented, and work just as hard as the Preds to not win this series. Game 5, in my opinion, was summed up to a few unlucky bounces, bad play by a few key players, and Roberto Luongo not being so great in this one.  I see the Canucks rebounding and ending this in the next game, but nothing is a guarantee.

That all being said, I have my reasons as to why the Canucks should win this series, so without further ado, here they are:

  1. Ryan Kesler Whatever type of energy drink this man is having, the rest of the team should grab a bottle and join in.  He has been a rock carrying this team through this series. He is scoring key goals and making all the right moves on both ends of the ice. He’s become our modern day Trevor Linden, and then some.  He plays with an edge but still in control. He is showing the reason why Bob Clarke made an offer when he was an RFA five years ago, an offer that some of us out there, thought was completely absurd. I’m sure we all think that Bobby Clarke sensed something that we all should have at that time. The Canucks are now reaping the rewards of qualifying Kesler’s offer back in 2006.
  2. Blueline Depth Unlike Nashville, the Canucks have an abundance of blue liners to bring into the line-up. Guys like Salo, Bieksa, Hamhuis  and Edler don’t have to play 30 minutes a night because they can all share the ice time and responsibilities, a little more evenly. Keeping their blueline with fresher legs, the longer a game goes, the better it should be for the Canucks. Weber has shouldered an incredible amount of ice time to compensate for a not so strong defensive core.
  3. Blueline Offensive Contributions Unlike the Predators, the Canucks have very capable defensemen that can contribute on the score sheet on a fairly regulary basis. Bieksa, Edler, Ehrhoff, Salo can all blast shots from the point. A few don’t have a problem jumping into the play.
  4. Special Teams The Canucks haven’t capitalized enough on their powerplays during this series, but their penalty killing has been, for the most part, stellar.  Nashville hasn’t capitalized much on their power play opportunities and is a big part of the reason they are down in the series 3-2.
  5. Lapierre and Higgins If you told me in January that former Montreal Canadiens, Max Lapierre and Chris Higgins would have been key players in this series, I would have laughed in your face. Higgins has worked very well with Kesler and Raymond in moving the puck, working hard on the forecheck and potting a timely goal or two. Lapierre has done exactly what he was intended to do when he was acquired during the trade deadline. He is winning key draws on 3rd line shifts, hitting and grinding in all the greasy areas, and frustrating the likes of Mike Fisher in the process.  Their value from the trade are really starting to show in this series and if the Hockey Gods be happy, allowed to do so in the next.
  6. Roberto Luongo Say what you will Luongo haters, but with the exception of Game 5, he’s been good this series allowing far less goals than some of you anticipated.
  7. Talent There is far too much talent on this team to not advance to the next round. There is far too much that has happened in this season to have them lose now. Talent can get you long way, desire and discipline will help them get the rest of the way.

Ryan Kesler providing some offense in the series vs the Predators: Photo Credit CBC.ca

Although I feel the Canucks will win this series, I have to give credit where it’s due. The Predators are not going down without a fight. They have played valiantly and Pekka Rinne has kept his team within striking distance throughout the whole series. It will take all the talent, all the want and a killer instinct to put away the Predators. On paper, the Canucks should have this series in the bag, but theories were meant to be tested. That’s why they play the games and that’s why the Canucks get another chance to put the Predators away, once and for all.

 

Justine Galo

A Little Faith, Please

As I have gone on this roller coaster ride in the first round so far in the 2011 NHL Playoffs series between the Vancouver Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks, all I can say is I am glad it’s coming to an end, one way or another. This series has had the best of times for us Canucks fans in the first three games and the worst of times in the last three games of the series. But I will give credit where it is due, the Blackhawks have fought back to even up the series and bring it to seventh and deciding game. The team who wants it more will be winning the series. No sugar-coating and no excuses; it’s one and done.

I haven’t written a column in a while, and for whatever reason, I feel like putting up a few comments tonight. I could rehash the ‘would’ve, could’ve, should’ve’ angle of this series for the Canucks, but I won’t. There have been more than enough write-ups about that exact topic.  So I’m going to make this my rally cry. My pledge of allegiance to the team that I have been loyal to for 30 years of my life.

The Canucks can win this series, they just need to put their minds, their bodies and souls into this game.  It may take whatever they have left in the tank, but I know they can.  Why? It’s simple, they have been too good all year long and worked too hard to get to this point to give up now.

Last night in Game 6, I saw a team that wanted to win, dictated play for the majority of the game and most of all played for each other. Despite all that, they came up the short end of the stick.  I refuse to believe it will happen twice. I believe they refuse to believe it will happen twice, especially in their own rink.  I am not sure if I can call it destiny but I have had a feeling about this team since the beginning of the season. Call it ‘wishful thinking’ or whatever you want, but I’ve suffered through many heartaches with this team over the last 30 years to doubt this feeling I cannot shake off.

Believe, just like it says! Photo: Wikipedia Commons

If they happen to lose Tuesday, I will have to figure out as to why my feeling was wrong, but that’s for me to figure out. I just want to see a great game between two great teams playing the greatest game on earth. It’s what every hockey fan wants, but as a Canucks fan, I want my team to win…their way. So to the doubters in Canuck land who have their reservations, I ask you all to be like me,along others, who have been long suffering fans to give our team the support they need and deserve.  It may not seem like a lot because we’re not on the ice playing the game, but I want Canucks fans everywhere to unite and cheer our boys on in the final battle of this series.

I am not hoping they seek ‘revenge’ but rejoice in victory.  To me, as a fan, that’s the key to winning the series, playing their game.  The Canucks will play their game, and win like they have done so many times this season.

I don’t have any fancy sports cliches, no ‘motivational’ words of wisdom but I do have faith. So I ask you all, to join me and have a little faith in our Canucks and I am sure they will do their best to deliver.

Cheer loud and cheer proud my fellow Canucks fans, because we are all that seventh man and right now, the boys need us. As fans, that’s what we are supposed to do…believe.

 

Justine Galo