US And Canada Report

Shawn Matthias has hat trick, but hitting is Canucks’ key vs. Bruins

Shawn Matthias has hat trick, but hitting is Canucks’ key vs. Bruins

With Friday’s 5-2 victory over the Boston Bruins, the Vancouver Canucks continued what they hope is a push to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Whether the Canucks are contenders or pretenders will become clear in the weeks ahead, but for now there’s reason to believe they can be a factor in the loaded Western Conference. Shawn Matthias scored two early goals and completed a hat trick in the third period. After the game, he and the Canucks prepared to face the Calgary Flames on Saturday, never an easy proposition with a quick turnaround to Alberta.301663-330-0

After that comes a Monday home game against the Minnesota Wild and a five-game swing in the Eastern Conference. Given the Canucks’ tenuous hold on a playoff berth, that trip could decide the season’s fate. With a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks and now a win over the Bruins this week, the Canucks believe this is their time. “When you look at the standings, you need to keep getting points,” said Radim Vrbata, who contributed a goal to the win. “It’s always better to keep the winning streak going than starting a new one.”

Beating the Bruins remains something special for the Canucks, even those who weren’t in the lineup for the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. Boston won the series, and the Canucks haven’t forgotten. “We came out hard, the crowd was into it, and it felt like a really emotional game,” Matthias told The Province of Vancouver. “The whole atmosphere tonight was amazing.” Good as their offense was, with Matthias leading the scoring, the Canucks showed they could match the big, bad Bruins in physical play. And that was critical.

“When a team like Boston comes into town you have to know what kind of night it’s going to be,” Derek Dorsett said. “You have to match their physicality. We know we can do it. We just have to do it on a more consistent basis.” There it is, the key to success. While the Canucks struggled through 50-plus games, they also showed an ability to rise to challenges. If Friday was a blueprint for stretch-run success, it was a good one. The Bruins rued their poor play, which was created by the Canucks’ aggression. “Those mistakes we did in our own zone, you can’t do that in pee wee hockey, let alone in the NHL,” Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask said. “If you make those mistakes nothing good is going to happen.” The Canucks hope plenty of opponents will offer similar laments in the games ahead.


January 2018
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