Entering the new era of the NHL in the 2005-06 season, the No. 1 line of the Vancouver Canucks was expected to be one of the most dangerous in the entire league.
Markus Naslund is doing his best to prove the predictions were bang on the money. Just two games into the campaign and Naslund has already struck for four goals to the delight of poolies everywhere who snatched him up.
In the new NHL, a free-wheeling skilled player like Naslund should thrive, but his team took one on the chin thanks to the new rules in last night's 4-3 shootout loss to the Oilers.
IT MIGHT BE A FAIR RESULT
"That was disappointing going into the last minute with the lead and ending up losing. But if you look at the whole game it might be a fair result," admitted Naslund. "They skated a lot better than we did. We still have aways to go to play at our best."
It wasn't an obvious blunder like a horrific giveaway in the slot or a stumble at the blue line that caused overtime and ultimately lost the bonus point for the Canucks. Mattias Ohlund's clearing attempt sailed over the glass and he got dinged in the revamped delay of game infraction, which led to the game-tying tally from Raffi Torres.
"That was a tough penalty to take, but things happen like that and hopefully we'll get a break down the road," said Todd Bertuzzi, who steered clear of giving his take on the vocal treatment he got from the boobirds in the Rexall Place seats.
"It was a good game out there," was all Bertuzzi would offer.
Before Torres's second goal, it appeared as though Naslund would wear the Oiler Killer crown once more. In 46 games against Edmonton, he's hit the twine 22 times - including an overtime winner late in the 2003-04 season - and piled up another 23 assists, one of which looked to have set up the game winner.
NOT ENOUGH POWER-PLAY POWER
But Naslund's standout play wasn't enough. He's the only Canucks' forward to score in two games and his crew failed to take full-advantage of 12 power plays - four of which were 5-on-3s.
"We have to score more than three goals," Naslund surmised. "With the amount of chances we had especially on the power play, we've got to be able to put teams away when we have those chances. Any time you have 5-on-3s, you've got to think that you're going to score."
Naslund had one final opportunity to leave his mark on this game, but he failed to give the Canucks a cushion in the shootout when his leadoff attempt at beating Jussi Markkanen was rejected.
"Usually I pick a move before," said Naslund. "I was going five-hole and I was going to shoot early, but he didn't seem to bite on that and made me look pretty bad."