As a Vancouver Canucks fan heading into this year’s playoffs, which started Wednesday, a mild fear has crept into me.
It’s nothing that keeps me up at night. It’s not that I don’t believe the Canucks can’t beat the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, rather it has more to do with not being used to seeing them being this good.
I will admit this, I didn’t want to see Vancouver face the Blackhawks in the post-season for the third year in a row. I share a different opinion than many of my friends, who want to seek revenge. You can’t get revenge against a team that is not the same one that beat you two years in a row. The Canucks also aren’t the same team. I hope a third time is a lucky charm, not that I’m Irish. Watching Roberto Luongo have a strong performance to help the Canucks win, while not playing their best was nice.
Being a Canucks fan requires a special quality in a person. You must possess character to withstand the insults people throw in your direction, though it must be difficult to be a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. Afterall, those fans attend games with paper bags over their heads. My cousin, who is a Habs fan, said he admires my loyalty since I have always stuck with the Canucks despite their many failures.
While the Canucks have been to the dance in 1982 and 1994, there are a few years of playoff disappointment I can recall. In 1989, Calgary Flames forward Joel Otto kicked the puck in Game 7 in overtime. In 2002, the Canucks couldn’t overcome Dan Cloutier’s gaff as he whiffed on a slaphot from the blueline by Detroit Redwings defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom. And then of course the first meeting with Chicago. Leading 2-1 in the series, the Canucks tried to cling to a 1-0 lead only to have a couple miscues cost them.
When you have seen so many disappointing moments, you’re not sure how to deal with the success the Canucks have had this season. The key though is forgetting the past. My shrink said you have to just focus on now. (OK, I don’t have a shrink but I have been listening to Eckhardt Tolles’ The Power of Now.)
Moving along, as nice as it is that the Canucks won the President’s trophy for the first time, the important benefit from that the Canucks get is home ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
Since the President’s trophy was awarded starting in 1985-86, 25 years ago, seven teams (Edmonton Oilers in ’87, Calgary Flames in ’89, New York Rangers in ’94, Dallas Stars in ’99, Colorado Avalanche in ’01, Detroit Red Wings in ’02 and the Red Wings again in ’08) that won the trophy have gone on to capture the Stanley Cup.
It gives some for optimism. A friend/co-worker asked me what my prediction is on the series. I said, let’s wipe them right out of the playoffs. Treat the Hawks as if they are the plague. You want to get rid of that as quick as possible. I’d prefer the Canucks not give them any reason for hope.
I’m going to try and forget the past because nothing can change that. However, the Canucks can erase some of their futility by playing the way they have all season. The potential of what they can do excites me, especially since I will be at Game 2 in Vancouver for my first playoff game. Accompanied by friend/roomie/co-worker Bruce Walkinshaw as we don our Dave Babych (Bruce’s hero) and Pavel Bure jerseys at Rogers Arena.