The Most Unlikely Ways
With his overtime winner on Friday night in Anaheim, Cowan now has two of the three Canuck goals in this series, has grabbed a share of the team playoff goal-scoring lead and - this is my favourite -- since March 1st has more goals (9) than any Canuck not named Daniel Sedin (10).
Trevor Linden's post-season performance has been nothing short of inspiring. More terrific work down low in the Anaheim zone led to the Cowan double-OT winner in Game 2. Linden now leads the Canucks with 2+4=6 in playoff scoring and four of his six points have come on game-winning goals (scoring a pair and setting up Cowan and Taylor Pyatt in overtime). Linden, who had 25 points in 80 regular season games scored at a clip of .3125 points per game during the preamble to the playoffs.
Now, when the chips are down and the competition level is up, the 37-year-old has more than doubled his regular season output picking up playoff points at a pace of .667 per game. If he manages three points in this post-season (and based on the way he's playing that could happen as early as Sunday), it'll be Linden's most productive playoff run since the magical spring of 1994. Oh, and someone should get Trev a copy of the playoff scoring leaders - there he is a point ahead of Sidney Crosby (forget the fact that Sid the Kid's been eliminated for more than a week - at this stage in their careers, Linden likely won't get many chances to outpoint Crosby). Linden should enjoy it, just as he appears to be enjoying every minute of the playoff grind.
Speaking of grinding, Game 2 of this series with the Ducks is now the 18th time (in 91 games) that the Canucks have been involved in a 2-1 hockey game this season. They are 3-0 in the playoffs with that as the final score, 8-0-1 since Christmas on such occasions, 12-1-1 since November 1st and a remarkable 13-3-2 overall. Once it got to overtime tied at 1-1 on Friday, the Canucks had the Ducks exactly where they wanted them.
A year ago at this time, both Alexander Edler and Jannik Hansen were both finishing up their rookie seasons in the Western Hockey League (Edler in Kelowna and Hansen in Portland). What a difference a year makes.
Edler did everything the Canucks asked of him and then some logging the 2nd most ice-time of his young NHL career on Friday (19:37) and added a couple of shots on goal. And Hansen, with his great wheels, hasn't looked out of place since getting the call early in the Dallas series. Friday, he had a career-best five shots on goal and has 16 through his first seven games at this level. Not bad for a guy who isn't even listed on the players page at NHL.com. Someone might want to inform the league that Jannik Hansen is in fact playing - and playing well. Then again, you get the sense he's about to announce his own arrival with his first career goal any day now. (Note: Hansen's profile is on NHL.com if you go to the Canucks playoff statistics and click on his link, but if you go the page where players are listed alphabetically, there is no record of him).
With the series tied at one win apiece, now the Canucks have a chance to make some noise on home ice. And certainly Canuck fans will be ready to rock GM Place for Game 3 on Sunday.
Vancouver fans didn't have much chance to cheer during the Ducks two regular season visits (6-0 and 2-1 Anaheim wins in November). But much has changed since then. Since the start of December, the Canucks (including the playoffs) are 42-17-6 overall and 22-7-4 at the Garage where another sell-out crowd will be revving its engine.
The Ducks, since December 1st, are 34-20-8, but just 16-14-3 away from the Pond. Do the math - 14 losses and three in the other' column, the Ducks have lost more than they've won on the road since the start of December. The Canucks hope to add to their road woes Sunday and Tuesday.
A note to all Canuck fans: Sunday's face-off is set for 5pm. The Team 1040 has a super-sized Sunday pregame show beginning at 2pm.
Jeff Paterson is a Team 1040 broadcaster and a regular contributor to the Georgia Straight. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org