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John Garrett: the road trip & the phenomenon

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks played an eight game road trip before the Olympics and ended up 4-4-0. Okay, but not great.

I am sure they were hoping for at least ten points and maybe twelve.

Toronto had been struggling and blew a 3-0 lead and the Canucks were able to rally and win. Montreal had just lost to Ottawa and Mike Camalleri, their best player, had been injured. The Canucks outplayed the Habs but lost. Ottawa was on a roll especially at home and you thought this might be a tough one. It was and the Canucks lost.

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John Garrett is a former Canuck and currently the colour commentator for Sportsnet.

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Boston had lost eight of nine. The Canucks, led by Roberto Luongo, beat the Bruins. Tampa was playing better and their goaltender Antero Nittimaki was on fire and the bolts beat the Canucks. Luongo shut out the Panthers and Andrew Raycroft beat the Columbus Blue Jackets. Roberto Luongo got the hook for the second time in the trip and the Canucks lost to the Minnesota Wild 6-2.The Canucks lost to four teams who had fewer points and three who probably will not make the playoffs.

These next six games present a tougher challenge. You better win the game in Columbus because that is the easiest one of the bunch.

Wednesday the team moves to Detroit where it is never easy to win. Friday the team moves to Chicago where playoff memories live on. Nashville beat the Canucks last time there and that is the stop for Sunday. Tuesday in Colorado could be a battle for first place in the Northwest Division and then the next night it is off to Phoenix to play the much-improved Coyotes.

Six games in nine nights. Five hundred on this one may be an accomplishment.

OLYMPIC AFTERTHOUGHTS

The Olympic hockey tournament is a phenomenon unto itself.

The best players in the world leave their respective pro teams and come together to represent their countries. It is not about the money. The players have no monetary remuneration for their efforts. It is about pride. It is about showing the world that your country has the best hockey team in the world. It is about showing that your country has the players who can come together and play as a team even though they have only one practice before they play. It is about beating the best that the world has to offer.

Team Canada played with more pressure and under more scrutiny than anyone else. Gold was the only option. Coming into the tournament there were at least five teams who had a legitimate chance to win it all and a sixth who were poised to spoil the party.

Russia had Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Semin and in goal Evgeni Nabokov. The Swedes had Henrik and Daniel Sedin and brought Peter Forsberg back into the spotlight. They also had Henrik Lundquist in net. The Czechs were led by Jaromir Jagr and Patrick Elias. Tomas Vokoun who leads the NHL in shutouts was in net. The Finnish team had Temmu Selanne, the leading scorer in Olympic history and Saku and Mikko Koivu. Mikka Kipprusoff was their goalie. Team USA had Patrick Kane and Ryan Kesler. Ryan Miller was their goaltender and led the tournament in save percentage. The Slovaks had Marion Gaborik and Pavol Demitra. Jaroslav Halak who has played so well for the Montreal Canadiens was their go to guy. Any of these teams could have won but team Canada did.

This was decided by desire and determination. This was a case of a team that wanted to succeed above all else. Canadian hockey players are born and bred to think of team above all else. They strive to be the best, to prove that if talent is equal their desire will win the day.

Once again the difference was that attitude.

 
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