Canucks have come a long way

HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:09 AM ET

In a season that's seen more gates than Buckingham Palace and more drama than The Hills, the Canucks managed to stay focused -- for the most part.

From Tampergate to Augergate to Roxygate, the distractions were plenty for a team with high expectations.

But in spite of the off-ice controversies, the Canucks defined themselves by their ability to overcome the on-ice problems.

They've soldiered on despite 324 man-games lost to injuries, especially with the one to defensive stalwart Willie Mitchell.

They've survived the road trip from hell.

They've responded to a shameful penalty kill which allowed six straight PP goals to the Kings by laughing it off and then killing eight straight to close out the series.

Even Roberto Luongo answered the "slump" label by making instrumental saves in the first round against the Los Angeles Kings.

And then there's the comebacks. Through 88 regular season and playoff games, the Canucks won 13 times when trailing after the second period -- a feat which took three combined campaigns to do prior to this season.

"We knew all season we're a resilient team," said Kevin Bieksa. "We got a lot of unfortunate bounces especially on the penalty kill and it would have been easy to hang our heads and just give up but we just battled through those bad bounces."

Although trailing late is a dangerous position to be in against Chicago in the second round, the never-say-die mindset is important for the Canucks.

It's an attitude developed over the last few seasons as Vancouver's core group matured and gained confidence in each other while new roster additions like Mikael Samuelsson and Christian Ehrhoff complemented them.

That resilient mentality pushed them to where they are now and it'll be needed again heading into their next challenge against the Blackhawks.

"As long as there is life, they keep pushing," said coach Alain Vigneault.

"To come back in the regular season it's something, to come back in the playoffs it's even more challenging. It's got nothing to do with coaching. It has to do with players believing in themselves."


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