Don’t look now, but the Canucks are starting to look a lot like the team that had a penchant for coming through in the clutch en route to a franchise best 105 points last season.
OK, so they’re still a long way from stringing together an 11-1-1 stretch like they did at this exact time on the calendar a year ago, but Vancouver is 3-0-1 in its last four games, and has scored seven 3rd period goals to either tie or win each of those games.
Last year’s Canucks won a stellar 17 of 24 games that went beyond regulation time, and while this year’s club has not been nearly that proficient (8-8), these recent comebacks do inspire a certain level of confidence that the proverbial corner is being turned. Not surprisingly, Markus Naslund’s improved play of late has a lot to do with the recent success. The Canucks’ captain has scored in four of Vancouver’s last seven outings, with the Canucks picking up seven of a possible eight points in those contests.
•It looks like defenceman Kevin Bieksa will be back in the Canucks’ lineup sooner than expected. Bieksa played his first game of a conditioning stint with the Manitoba Moose last night in Chicago, and will rejoin the big boys as soon as he feels he is able to handle the rigours of the NHL again.
That should happen at some point in the next week, which is welcome relief given the news that fellow rearguard Lukas Krajicek has been lost for the year due to shoulder surgery.
•B.C. Little League Baseball lost one of it’s best earlier this week with the passing of Trail’s Andy Bilesky at the age of 88. Though he may not be a household name in the Lower Mainland, Bilesky coached a number of players that are.
The longtime bench boss taught the game to 2004 National League Rookie of the Year Jason Bay as well as NHLers Steve Tambellini, Ray Ferraro and Steve McCarthy. Each of those pro players has repeatedly stated that Bilesky was not only a major influence on their athletic careers, but also on the life skills that have made them what they are today. However, those are a mere few of the thousands of successful men that once called him coach, so Bilesky’s legacy will live on well past his 88 years.
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