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Sizing Up the Superbowl

by Jeff Paterson / Vancouver Canucks
They are hockey players, not football stars, nevertheless as professional athletes a number of Canucks have developed a strong admiration for what the New England Patriots are trying to accomplish with a win over the New York Giants in Sunday’s Superbowl.

Due to the number of games on the schedule, the perfect season is obviously unattainable in hockey, and yet the pursuit of perfection exists in every locker room in the National Hockey League.

So with a few days off during their southern road swing, you can be sure the Canucks will be gathering in front of a television to see if the Patriots can get the job done one last time and post the first unbeaten since in professional sports in 36 years.

“In football, they play so few games and have so much time to prepare and it hasn’t been done and that alone tells you how tough it is,” says defenseman Aaron Miller. “I’m a big Bills fan because that’s where I grew up, but it’s something amazing and I don’t know if will be done again so I hope they do it. It would be something neat to see in my lifetime.”

Jeff Paterson is a Team 1040 broadcaster and a regular contributor to the Georgia Straight.

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No one on the Canucks works harder on a nightly basis to be perfect that Roberto Luongo – his six shutouts this season are evidence of that fact.

Constantly pushing himself to be the best he can be to give the Canucks the best chance to win, the netminder is well aware of the fine line between success and failure in pro sports.

That’s what stands out to him about the Patriots season – the fact that the dream hasn’t been derailed by a bad break or a bad call. Luongo marvels at the way New England has consistently found a way to rise above the many challenges presented through the year.

“It’s really impressive. Especially if you look at their games, a few games down the stretch, they almost lost but they found ways to win and that’s what really differentiates a great team from a good team,” says Luongo. “Sometimes you’ve got to dig deep and find a way to win and that’s what makes a quality of a great team like that.”

Alex Burrows has done his share of reviewing film breaking down opponents and watching for tendencies in their power play. That’s the thing about the Patriots season that jumps out at the feisty Canuck forward.

He’s amazed that with all the time teams have between games to prepare for the Patriots that somebody hasn’t been able to find a weakness and exploit it.

“Every team really prepares and every team watches all the film and still they always find a way. Even after that first week when they got accused of cheating, you think maybe they’d face some adversity, but they just battled through it,” he says, adding that the Patriots run is all the more impressive considering they are the hunted every time they step on the field and always see the best their opponent has to offer.

For Ryan Kesler, the thing that stands out about the Patriots, is their continued hunger for success. Having won three of the last six NFL championships, the Pats could be excused if their motivation wasn’t always at its highest. But that’s simply not the case.

“It’s been fun to watch. When you go undefeated for that long, you tend to get relaxed and that leads to holes in your game. But even when they’re down, they seem to always have that push to come back,” says Kesler. “It (the quest for the perfect season) is something that is pretty special to watch. It’s a few less games than hockey, but at the same time, it’s still impressive.”

The Patriots still have one hurdle to clear and they’ll have to do it on the game’s grandest stage with the eyes of the sporting world focussed squarely upon them.

A bunch of those eyes will belong to members of the Vancouver Canucks who will be watching eagerly to see what perfection looks like.

Then they’ll be hoping to apply some of what they’ve seen to the stretch run of the National Hockey League season.

The Canucks know they’ll never be able to run the table the way the Patriots have, but they can still borrow a page from New England’s playbook and strive to be perfect every time they play a game.
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