Maybe the question should’ve been, who’s not going to score for the Canucks this season.
Vancouver skated into the 2008-09 campaign as the team that couldn’t generate any offense. All summer, West Coast fans wondered who was going to put the puck in the net.
After the Sedin twins, the popular thinking went, nobody else on the roster had top-end scoring skills. Goaltender Roberto Luongo was named captain, for cryin’ out loud.
And then the puck dropped on the regular season and the Canucks promptly went out and battered Calgary 6-0. At that rate…let’s see, multiply by 82…carry the three…get the calculator…that’s an average of, like, six goals a game. Not even the early ’80s Oilers were that lethal. (They were close, though, averaging 5.6 goals per game in 1983-84.)
The star in Vancouver’s first game, besides Luongo, was winger Alex Burrows, who potted two goals and is one of a handful of young forwards – including Steve Bernier, Taylor Pyatt and Mason Raymond – who need to step up for the Canucks to make the playoffs.
In case you missed it, it was also appropriate that Burrows had a big night as he was the best friend on the team of Luc Bourdon, the young Canucks defenseman who died in a tragic motorcycle accident in northern New Brunswick this summer.
The team welcomed Bourdon’s family and fiancée onto the ice before the game and honored the fallen prospect with a moving video tribute. Burrows, who had watched the video about 10 times earlier in the week, said he was emotional again during the pre-game showing and that it was a few minutes into the game before he was really able to refocus.
North American Goal Explosion
Forget home-ice advantage. Home-continent advantage is where it’s at. At least as far as scoring is concerned.
In the four NHL games played in Europe – featuring the offensively capable Penguins, Senators, Lightning and Rangers – there was an average of 4.25 goals per game (17 goals in four games). In the first two days of action on the North American side of things, teams scored 6.64 goals per game (73 goals in 11 games). Most of the credit goes to the wild Friday night in the Southeast Division, which saw Carolina outscore Florida 6-4 and Atlanta beat up on Washington 7-4.
(What’s that, you say? The sample size is too small to be meaningful? You’re right. And you’re a spoilsport.)
Doug Gilmour made his debut behind the bench Friday night, serving as an assistant coach for the American League’s Toronto Marlies, the Maple Leafs’ farm team.
Head coach Greg Gilbert said Gilmour was helping out with the team’s group of forwards and the power play. In their home opener, the Marlies scored once in a 2-1 shootout loss against Binghamton (the Ottawa Senators’ affiliate) and went 0-for-7 on the man advantage.
Was that a hint of a smile on Gilbert’s face as he stood in front of the hyped-up Toronto media and linked Gilmour to the punchless offense/power play? Yes, methinks it was.
But don’t worry; Gilbert was just having some fun, putting a Leafs icon on the spot for a moment. We’re pretty sure Gilmour will survive the Marlies’ low-scoring debut and survive to assistant-coach another day.
In fact, considering the Marlies advanced to the AHL semi-final last season and appear to be at least as strong this year, the (minor-league) hopes are riding high in Toronto.
A run to the Calder Cup would put Gilbert – and who knows, maybe even Gilmour – on top of the pile of NHL coaching prospects.
Sam McCaig is The Hockey News’ senior copy editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears every weekend.
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