Maybe with the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders making for a horrible game last night, the Vancouver Canucks decided they needed to spice things up a little bit.
No, the Canucks and Dallas Stars were not the L.A. Dodgers and Houston Astros, but the teams put on a good show for a crowd at Rogers Arena that was clearly feeling the vibe. With fans in the crowd getting into the spirit of things with multiple sing-alongs and ‘Go Canucks Go’ chants.
Maybe it was just the costumes that inspired people to get a little more carried away than usual, but perhaps the Canucks’ recent crowd woes will subside if the games are this entertaining, because hoo boy, this was a good one.
In the end, the Canucks lost 2-1 to the Stars in overtime. More surprising than the result, however, was the fact that it was the Canucks pushing the play on the Stars, as Vancouver outshot Dallas 39-29 and was the better team for large parts of the night.
The Canucks competed hard against the average teams they faced at the start of the year. Yes, the Edmonton game was a bit unexpected, but we chalked that one up to first night excitement.
However, the last two games against teams from Washington and Dallas have been straight up shocking.
In the last two contests, the Canucks outplayed two teams that were on everyone’s playoff predictions at the start of the year. And while both clubs have issues (the Capitals got ravaged in the offseason when many core players left, and the Stars have questionable depth on defence), they still have major stars that the Canucks lack.
In fact, what’s so interesting about Vancouver’s recent play is that it’s come with Travis Green’s four-line approach. That Markus Granlund, Brandon Sutter and Derek Dorsett were three of the top four forwards in time on ice last night would have been surprising at the start of the year, but it’s been par for the course during Green’s first season at the helm.
Especially in close games, Green trusts that line. And while we still hold firm in the belief that Derek Dorsett shouldn’t be getting near 20 minutes of ice time in any situation, it must be admitted that the Sedins look much fresher getting pre-pubescent minutes (captain Henrik had 12:50 last night, the fourth-lowest on the team).
The Canucks have come to the realization that the fact that they don’t have any truly elite players anymore means that they must line match. So, they’ve decided to put Sutter’s line against the other team’s stars, freeing up Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi and Brock Boeser for lesser competition, and then letting the Sedins and Jake Virtanen feast on third and fourth lines.
It’s still early, but the Canucks are competitive. And they might stay that way.