The stage was set for top spot for the Northwest Division in the ultra-competitive Western Conference with marquee matchup between the visiting Calgary Flames and host Vancouver Canucks.
The Flames had suffered consecutive losses and Brent Sutter was fuming and probably had bitten the inside of his lip the way he always does when he's in that mood (check his press conference following the loss the night before).
The Canucks were rolling along with a home record of 8-1-1 in their last 10 games at GM Place, the Sedin twins and Alex “The Mad Hatter” Burrows were magical and Burrows had a chance of accomplishing something Lemieux, Gretzky, Sakic, Selanne, Messier or any other player in NHL history had ever done before - a hat trick in three consecutive games!
All of these factors, plus the fact that this was to played on a Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada, set the perfect stage for this game.
Magical moves and Vegas-style bouts
From the drop of the puck, the pace and tempo were at a playoff level, both teams were extremely physical and competed for every inch of ice, never mind a square foot!
Vegas (even though I love it) couldn't hold a candle to the fight card between Rick Rypien and Brandon Prust. Their two fights almost brought the house down with adrenaline alone. I can't believe I was fist pumping in the booth (embarrassing, but I still have the player's mentality every once in a while).
Did you see the enthusiasm on both benches? Their teammates loved and appreciated every minute of it and trust me, so did their coaches. I heard after the game from some of the guys that there was going to be a Part 3; the roof may have blown off if that had happened.
And how about the plays by the Sedins and Burrows? Those guys were a magic act.
Speaking of magic acts, Luongo and Kiprusoff made several spectacular saves as well.
We were blessed to watch 65 minutes.
The shootout was insane, Olli Jokinen reminded me of (Dean) Youngblood with his windup, and how about the Jamie Lundmark game winner? It was unreal, so many fakes and using his skates for deception too? Not many guys do that … yet.
The fans were pumped, the players performed and competed, the only way I knew it wasn't a playoff game was when I pinched myself, looked at the calendar, and remembered my dad's birthday was and always has been Jan. 10 (the next day).
Guess I'll have to wait a few more months.
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