Like all of you, the first thing I looked for when the new schedule
was released was Dany Sabourin’s return to Vancouver – the video tribute is being prepared as we speak.
And Sabourin promises to bring that Sidney Crosby fellow with him for the Saturday December 8th showdown which gives you a great excuse to skip your company Christmas party (you see those people in the office every day, who needs to spend time with them on the weekend, too?).
Yes, everyone in Vancouver can circle December 8th as the marquee match-up of the new Vancouver Canucks season. Tickets? Who needs tickets? And you’ll want to be there to see the Canucks and Penguins because that’s Vancouver’s only home game in an eight game stretch in the first two weeks of December.
But the release of the schedule isn’t all about Sidney Crosby. There’s plenty to digest and about as many ways to do so.
What jumped out at me about the 2007-08 Canucks schedule is the final nine games of the year – the divine nine – all against Northwest Division rivals. Last year the Canucks finished the year with games against Los Angeles, San Jose and Phoenix. Next season, it’s a non-stop diet of divisional foes – three with the Flames, two each with the Oilers, Avalanche and Wild.
Surely, you recall the excitement of the three-horse race for the Northwest crown last season and the importance of those games against the teams the Canucks were battling. Now, you take those games and you park them at the back end of the schedule and it you can already feel the impact of those contests. I love it. And the Canucks should love the fact that their final four games are at home, so that if those games mean what I think they’ll mean, there’ll be 18,630 screaming fans doing all they can to push the home team over the top.
There’ll be all kinds of excitement around the holidays with the Canucks ringing in the New Year in Calgary against the Flames and then starting 2008 on a Big Apple diet with visits from the Rangers on January 3rd followed by the Islanders five nights later.
February 1st is bound to be a big night for Roberto Luongo
as he makes his return to south Florida for the first since being peddled by the Panthers. He faced Florida last year (beat his old mates in a shootout) so some of the edge of that initial game against a former team will be missing, but still you have to know that game will hold significance for the Canuck netminder.
As will a December 18th meeting with Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils at GM Place. Maybe we can make that a ‘one game, winner get the starting job on the 2010 Olympic team’ showdown.
Tuesday November 27th is bound to be an interesting night when Todd Bertuzzi and the Anaheim Ducks (that’ll take some getting used to saying) skate into the Garage. The Ducks are here for the preseason but there’s certainly no guarantee that Bertuzzi will be in uniform that night. So November 27th seems likely to be the first time the former Canuck winger comes back to town.
October 13th will be an interesting day in the on-going sports battle between the cities of Vancouver and Edmonton. On noon that day, the BC Lions face the Edmonton Eskimos at Commonwealth Stadium. Seven hours later the Canucks and Oilers do battle at GM Place.
Overall, there appears to be a pretty good balance to the Canucks new schedule with nothing longer than a four-game homestand and no road trip longer than four games either. The Canucks have to venture into the Eastern time zone on four occasions and three of those times (at Washington October 26, at Detroit January 17 and at Atlanta February 7), they have to hustle home to play two nights later. The Canucks have 15 sets of back to back games on the schedule and eight times the second-half of those sets involve games against divisional opponents.
And, one last thing about the new schedule, Curtis Sanford can start stretching now. It says right here his first start as a Canuck will be Monday October 22nd at Carolina. Mark it down.
Now can October 5th please get here tomorrow?
Jeff Paterson is a Team 1040 broadcaster and a regular contributor to the Georgia Straight. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org