Canucks and Beyond

Complications of February Scoreboard Watching

02/11/2009 at 5:50pm EST

From at Bernie Miklasz at St. Louis Today:

Vancouver’s Mats Sundin had his way in front of the net all night. Of Sundin’s 19 minutes of ice time, roughly 17 minutes were spent attached to goaltender Chris Mason’s hip. I embellish for effect, but still… did anyone knock Sundin down all evening? The Blues defensemen handled Sundin with such care, and were so deferential, I thought they were going to ask him for an autograph when he parked in front of Mason.

Having come down with something that feels not-unlike the bubonic plague, it was all I could do to stay conscious and watch last night’s Canucks/Blues tilt. But it proved to be worth the effort, and as a bonus, I’m feeling somewhat vindicated and self-congratulatory today.

While I’ve been as suicidal & irrational about the Canucks’ January performance as everybody else, I’ve also been resolute—in podcast, blog and drunken arguments with friends—that Mats Sundin was going to find his form by mid-February. And so he has, by all appearances.

For Mats, the pre-season is finally over. (And thank the good lord for that.)

Now, if Calgary and Edmonton can continue to embrace the culture of losing—as they’ve shown a sporadic talent for in recent games—February could prove to be a genuinely enjoyable month for Canucks fans. Here’s hoping.

Of course, there’s still the pesky problem of EVERY SINGLE FREAKIN’ TEAM IN THE WESTERN CONFERENCE threatening for a playoff spot. Particularly galling, as they all seem to be playing against each other lately, neutralizing our scoreboard-watching strategy of “If they lose to these guys and we beat all those guys, Canucks might make the playoffs!”

Scoreboard watching with this many teams still in the mix is more like plotting a chess match. You’ve got to study the game closely and think 20 moves ahead, and then maybe you’ll have a clue who to root for any given night.

And even then, Bobby Fischer is probably going to crush you like a bug, 4 moves before you thought it was even possible.

Stupid hockey. It’s more complicated than bloody calculus lately.

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