If you don’t believe the Canucks will make the playoffs this season, you’re talking about the point that got away in Dallas on Tuesday night. However, if you are of the opinion that Vancouver is once again post-season bound, you’re talking about the point the Canucks earned.
While none of the players were satisfied with Tuesday’s shootout loss, there was a lot to feel good about if you are a Canucks’ fan.
The work ethic was visually evident despite a decimated defensive corps. Captain Markus Naslund looked like a sniper again on both of his goals in regulation, but especially on his shootout marker. And Roberto Luongo appears ever so close to getting back in the type of zone that propelled the Canucks to a 9-2-2 record in the month of November.
Throw a few healthy bodies into the mix, and there’s reason to be optimistic. But optimism doesn’t win hockey games, and with the Canucks sitting 10th in the West heading into Atlanta tonight, a win would go much further than a few good signs.
• Alex Edler has been a revelation to say the least this year, particularly when you consider all of the injuries on the Canucks blue-line. But it’s time for the Edler-shootout experiment to be put on hold for the time being.
After scoring on each of his first two attempts, Edler has looked like a fish out of water on each of his last three. It’s time to give speedster Mason Raymond a chance to show off his hands, while the likes of Edler, Ryan Kesler and Taylor Pyatt try to reinvent their go-to moves during practice time.
• I haven’t checked the temperature in Hades of late, but it must be pretty chilly because the Phoenix Suns have acquired a legitimate centre.
While a lot of people have ripped the Suns for dealing Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks for Shaquille O’Neal, I am all for it.
Yes, Marion is ultra-versatile and the best defender on a team that often puts up as much physical resistance as Ghandi. But the Suns have been beaten for the same reason in each of the past three playoffs; when the going gets tough in the paint, they’re gone.
Shaq may not be the same player that brought a three-peat to L.A. earlier this century, but he still alters shots and makes players think twice about going hard to the hoop when he’s healthy. I’ve watched the Suns fall short too many times with a bunch of smaller, athletic players to call this a bad deal. Give me a frontcourt that features the power of Shaq and Amare Stoudemire with Steve Nash running the show from the point, and I’ll take my chances.
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