Friday, October 10, 2008

Big Blow Out Against Flames On Opening Night

The script really couldn't have been written any better. In front of Vancouver's 216th consecutive sell-out crowd, on a night which saw tribute paid to the loss of a former team-mate and family member, the Canucks laid a beating on one of their most hated rivals in the NHL. Nine different players hit the scoresheet in a game that featured a little bit of everything as the Canucks opened up the regular season by shutting out Calgary 6-0.

Before the home-opener, a wonderful pre-game ceremony took place to honour the memory of former Canucks defenceman Luc Bourdon. With Canadian recording artist Tom Cochrane on hand to sing "Big League", a video tribute was shown on the jumbo screen at GM Place in front of the Canucks players, their fans, and members of the Bourdon family. It was a touching tribute to a player that left us far too early.

The ice was tilted in Calgary's favour for much of the opening period as the Canucks found themselves in penalty trouble. However, the netminding efforts of captain Roberto Luongo kept the home team in it and eventually Vancouver had the lead going into the final two periods thanks to a goal by Henrik Sedin.

The two periods to follow were not good for the road team, thanks in large part to some pretty dominating territorial play by Vancouver. Alex Burrows, one of Bourdon's closest friends during their time together, wore his heart on his sleeve in this game, scoring twice to be named the game's 1st Star. Other scorers in the game for the Canucks included Steve Bernier (even strength), Mattias Ohlund (power play) and Rick Rypien (short-handed).

There was no shortage of fireworks and physical play between these two clubs. Whenever liberties may have been taken against Vancouver players, Canucks team-mates stood up for each other. This was especially true when Luongo found himself in a shoving match with Damond Langkow and Jannik Hansen arrived on the scene to fire a series of punches to his opponents head. As well, when Henrik Sedin got wiped out inside the Flames blue-line by Dion Phaneuf, there was Bernier to jump in and take on the blue-liner in the game's lone scrap. Outside of the scoring and the saves, that may have been one of the most satisfying aspects of the Canucks performance.

Having started off on the right foot, the Canucks now embark on a six-game road trip that will zig-zag across the continent. It kicks off with a return meeting with the Flames on Saturday. You know the Flames will be (pardon the pun) fired up for their home opener at the Pengrowth Saddledome. It will definitely be a big time challenge put in front of the Canucks. However with the way this team has come together and performed the past few weeks, it's hard to imagine this club not meeting this challenge head-on.

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