Buckle up, it's a wild one

BARRY MACDONALD -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

It was one of those "where were you when Henrik scored the winner" nights that won't soon be forgotten by fans of the Vancouver Canucks.

It was a classic, and not merely because it started Wednesday night and ended Thursday morning, or that it was the sixth longest game in NHL history. More because it offered up so much, from a series that was being touted as one that would offer so little.

The advanced billing was not promising, based on the four regular season games between these two teams. Boring was a common adjective for both the Stars and Canucks, and compliments were often of the backhanded or veiled variety.

When the Canucks weren't being referred to as overachievers, they were being saluted for their blue-collar style, their commitment to a system, their grit and tenacity.

In other words, not exactly an oil painting.

But if game one is an indication of what's to come, this will be a series for the ages. The survivor will have about as much chance of winning another series as Philadelphia, but let's enjoy it while it lasts. It was proof that there is nothing wrong with the NHL game as we know it today. Sure, both teams spent their respective 82-game seasons adhering to a style that best suited their talent base, and their coaching staffs, but underneath that rough exterior was an abundance of skill ready, willing and able to surface.

Like Wednesday night. And Thursday morning. For awhile, Roberto Luongo looked like he was breathing the same air as the rest of us, surrendering four goals in regulation time.

Over nearly four periods of panic-inducing sudden death, he goes immortal again, looking cooler than the other side of the pillow in stopping all 36 offerings from the Stars. He stopped twice that many on the night.

Markus Naslund was as good as he has been all season, which indicates he can actually turn on a switch when the mood suits. Kevin Bieksa survived moments where he looked like an atom house league reject, and played a team high 54 minutes in his first stab at the post season pressure cooker. And if Mike Modano is only 37 years old, so am I.

So many stories, so little time.

It's what the NHL offers at this time of year. It's why some alleged sports journalists south of the border, the ones who can actually distinguish between a puck and a football, consistently argue that the hockey playoffs are the best pro sports has to offer.

The first night produced three one-goal games, two decided in overtime.

The dog of the night involved Sidney Crosby. The Canucks and Stars have provided a tough act to follow. But I am willing to watch scene two tonight, and maybe, tomorrow morning.

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Barry Macdonald is co-host of BS in the Morning on the Team 1040 from 6-9 a.m.


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