April 10, 2012
Canucks not looking ahead ... or behind
By RANDY SPORTAK, QMI AGENCY
VANCOUVER - The slogan can be seen on posters all around Vancouver.
The commercials have run on television, on the big screen at the Rogers Arena and can be seen via YouTube.
"This is Our Home" is the message from current and former Vancouver Canucks intended to help prevent the recurrence of last year's Stanley Cup riot.
Ten months later, the Canucks are hoping to embark on a journey that will help them own the city of Vancouver.
The NHL playoffs are just beginning, but it's Stanley Cup or bust on the West Coast, and the Canucks know it.
"It's no different from last year. Win the Cup or it's not seen as success," said winger Christopher Higgins of the expectations heaped upon him and his teammates. "There's nothing new on the pressure front, or the message coming from the fans, the media or the organization."
Even though the Canucks skated to a second consecutive Presidents' Trophy as regular-season champions thanks to a fantastic finish that included eight wins in the final nine games, they're back to square one again.
Or are they?
"I think we've been through everything you need to go through to know what it takes," insisted captain Henrik Sedin. "No one in here had done it before and we got to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. There's nothing that can happen this year that will throw us off."
In theory, the Canucks, with only a half-dozen new faces from last year's squad, should also have extra motivation after losing to the Boston Bruins in the seventh game of last year's final.
However, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault doesn't want his players looking too far ahead.
In fact, he doesn't want them looking behind, either.
"We've totally turned the page on last year. Obviously we feel we've learned from that experience, but what's happened in the past is in the past," Vigneault said. "We've focused since Day 1 of training camp on taking care of business on a daily basis. That process enabled us to have the season we had, and now we're confident that same process will help us have the success we expect going forward."
But should the Canucks expect to have even more success?
This year's squad won three fewer games, scored fewer goals -- in big part because the power play wasn't as effective -- and wasn't as strong defensively through the regular season.
The Canucks remain a team with all kinds of firepower, plenty of forward depth and a strong defence corps, but they went through more ups and downs through the regular season.
Then again, plenty of teams in the past have conserved energy and emotion through the regular season before knowing when to ramp it up.
Maybe that's a lesson from last spring.
"Experience is experience, it doesn't matter positive or negative," centre Ryan Kesler said with a shrug. "It was a fun run last year and we're excited with the challenge again. It's going to be a fun test with L.A."
Just imagine how much fun it would be to win the Cup and not have to watch it go to somebody else.
Certainly better than what transpired at the conclusion of last year's playoffs.
"We were close," Henrik Sedin said. "And we don't want to feel that feeling again."
All of Vancouver feels the same way.
On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak