Alex Burrows Ring of Honour Night was always going to be full of sweet, warm nostalgia—that was guaranteed.
But the players on the Vancouver Canucks made sure that the good feelings extended far past the opening ceremony, even if the game was closer than the eventual 5-2 score.
After a first period in which the Canucks seemingly scored at will, the team certainly cooled off a bit and allowed the Ottawa Senators (not the class of the NHL) to at least compete.
The Sens, for the record, put 42 shots on goaltender Thatcher Demko and, other than stretches of the first period, didn’t look overwhelmed.
But still, Canucks fans had to be enthralled at the way forward Antoine Roussel inserted himself back in the lineup, scoring his first goal of the season on his first shift.
Here’s what else we saw in the Canucks’ 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators.
Celebration of the night
We’re not sure what’s better here, Roussel pointing up his hero’s new spot in the Ring of Honour (decidedly awesome) or Jake Virtanen happily going along for the ride.
It was just a great way to start the season for Antoine Roussel who has been on a long road back since his ACL surgery in March.
“It’s something I thought that if I scored, a salute or a little respect to my idol.”
Thanks of the night
Before taking questions from the media, Roussel wanted to make sure he thanked the Canucks’ medical staff.
“Just wanted to thank the medical staff that took care of me during the rehab and the coaching staff that just put me back…couldn’t have wrote it better.”
Face-related news of the night
Roussel confirmed that he will not be shaving his ‘stache. Which is good or bad depending on your Movember mileage.
Trend of the night
It was first goals of the season. Oscar Fantenberg (in his second game of the year) and Zack MacEwen (tallying the first of his NHL career) joined Roussel in potting their first markers of the year.
Showcase of the night
Whenever a team comes into Vancouver, there are always a couple players you notice. It should come as no surprise that Brady Tkachuk really impressed. He was all over the ice, making plays and finishing bodychecks. In fact, he was credited with six hits (tied for the game lead with MacEwen),
Inspiration of the night
You had to feel for MacEwen, the big guy from P.E.I. who has been battling to stay in the NHL for some time.
He proved that Roussel isn’t the only player on the Canucks’ roster who has taken some inspiration from Alex Burrows.
Real estate speculation of the night
“I’m sure my parents will be able to find a spot for it, maybe until I get a house or something, we’ll see,” – MacEwen when asked what he’s going to do with his first goal puck.
Yo, sorry Zack, but you’re going to have to log a lot more time in the NHL if you’re expecting to land a house in Vancouver proper. This is not P.E.I. That $70,000 AHL salary ain’t gonna fetch you a house in Vancouver proper. That’s where we’re at in Vancouver, NHL players can’t afford houses.
Realization of the night
Canucks coach Travis Green got a fantastic performance out of his backup goaltender. And it came as he watched last season’s backup ‘tender in Anders Nilsson get yanked from the crease in the first intermission.
There has been a lot of talk about how good Nilsson’s been in between the pipes for Ottawa this season, but it was not evident tonight. Sure, the Canucks were all over the place, but Nilsson looked out of position a few times, to say the least.
Update of the night
“Re-evaluate in two weeks” was Green’s update on Alex Edler.
That’s not great, but hopefully Fantenberg can fill in as well as he did tonight. It might be tough, after all, Edler has been the team’s leader in ice time and has carried a heavy load in all situations.
Challenge of the night
Green rolled the dice and challenged a goal that would have cut the Canucks’ lead to two halfway through the third.
After a particularly desperate challenge against the Pittsburgh Penguins which he lost, Green had a great goaltender interference challenge last game against Edmonton and got the offside one against the Senators tonight as well.
“I wouldn’t have called it if I was guessing, it wasn’t a guess,” said Green. “But I was thankful that they got it, too.”
He’s getting his challenge moxie back!
Memory of the night
Alex Burrows will always be the Dragon Slayer. And, as everybody and their uncle put together “Best of the Decade” lists, it’s impossible to deny that the goal that advanced the Canucks past the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011 is the Canucks’ moment of the decade.
Burrows has had many other great moments as a Canuck too, to be sure. But none will stand the test of time like the night he slayed the dragon.
As the Canucks say goodbye to the 2010s, which have been bursting at the seams with Shakespearean levels of drama and tragedy, one can only hope that the lows will be higher. And that, against all odds, the highs can somehow get there too. Other than a Stanley Cup win, we don’t see it happening.
Long live the Dragon Slayer.
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