Canucks and Beyond

Naslund In the Zone

11/29/2007 at 7:54pm EST

Brad Ziemer at CanWest News called Markus Naslund “Captain Fantastic” this morning. There are plenty of good reasons for the exuberance—as Ziemer points out:

...it’s not just that Naslund is scoring, it’s the way he’s scoring. We’re seeing more signature Markus Naslund goals, like that quick-release wrister from the left faceoff circle that beat Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere on Tuesday night. After that game, Naslund said his head is now in “the right place.”

It would appear so.

There’s also Larry Wigge’s article today at NHL.com, where he reviews Naslund’s skills and current transformation. Well worth the read.

We also talked a fair bit about Naslund on The Crazy Canucks podcast last night. And not just about his scoring, but captaincy as well, something Naslund has taken a lot of heat for in recent years.

In Wigge’s article, Curtis Sanford observes the importance of that leadership role:

Recently, several members of the Vancouver Canucks acknowledged all of those skills when talking about captain Markus Naslund. But it was another talent that was overheard inside the team’s dressing room that took center stage.

”We had a bad flight after our game in Edmonton (Oct. 20),” goaltender Curtis Sanford said of not arriving in Minnesota for a game the next night until 4 a.m. “This would have been a perfect time to use excuses like we were too tired, jet lag, whatever. But from the moment we stepped on the ice that night, Markus just willed us to a different level with his performance.

”He scored three goals, but he also pulled everyone along with him at a level higher than we had been playing, even though we were 5-0-2 in our previous seven games. You hear stories about great leaders ... Mark Messier ... Steve Yzerman ... Scott Stevens. For me, this was especially special because it was my turn to be in goal.”

Indeed. (Although, for godsakes, I hope someone drops a note to the new kid that Messier’s is still The Name We Do Not Speak in Vancouver…)

Anyway, with so many struggles in recent years, it’s been a pleasure to watch Naslund’s game resurge like this. I think many of us had almost forgotten what a truly gifted player he was—and apparently, still is.

Remarkable to watch.

Note: also brought up on the podcast last night, J.J. reminds us that Naslund is now on the cusp of making franchise history as the all-time scoring leader, as he sits only one point behind Trevor Linden.

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