Jubilation is rampant as Canucks' David Booth celebrates his goal against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Arena on April 7. With the win the Canucks clinch the home ice advantage through the playoffs and the team's second consecutive President's Trophy.
Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, PNG
There was only one meaningful question when surveying the Canucks locker room. And it wasn't who designed those hideous Presidents' Trophy hats the players were wearing.
The real question: How did this happen?
How did the Canucks, who have leap frogged from one mini-crisis to another this year, win a trophy they weren't even interested in? How did they finish first overall in the Western Conference, setting up a rematch of the 2010 playoffs with the L.A. Kings?
"No one looked at this regular season as our main goal, and it hasn't been," Henrik Sedin said. "We've been playing games, winning games but it hasn't felt like we were ever satisfied.
"We had stretches this year that we didn't have last year. We had stretches where our focus was off, say between Games 25 and 45, where it's been tough for us to get up for a lot of games.
"I don't know how we ended up with 111 points. But we must have done something well."
That was hard to tell at times. There was the goal-scoring slump, the ongoing goalie drama and of course, the great power play disappearing act in the second half of the season.
But by winning eight of their last nine games, the Canucks wind up exactly where they ended last year. They are on top of the league's standings.
"Pretty good for a terrible season," Henrik said. "It's been a long 82 games. Even though it's gone by fast, it's been tough to go through it.
"We all knew going in, this is not what people would be talking about - the regular season.
"But being No. 1 in the conference really doesn't mean much."
It does mean the Canucks will get the first two games at home against the Los Angeles Kings, something they got in each of their four series last year and they went 7-1 in those games. The players said they were told the series will start Wednesday.
If Saturday's game was a tuneup, it was an impressive one. The Canucks dominated in a 3-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers like they haven't dominated in a long time.
"Now, the fun starts," said Henrik, who was voted by fans as the team's MVP.
"But we all start from scratch Wednesday, so this doesn't really mean anything."
By the time, David Booth scored with 9:24 left in the third period, on a power play goal Roberto Luongo helped set up, the Canucks were outshooting the Oilers 36-11. They stormed out of the gate off the puck drop too, peppering Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk with 17 shots in the first period.
Alex Burrows had four shots on net and nearly scored a power play goal of his own on a pretty setup by Ryan Kesler. Booth had six shots on net of his own in the. Booth's goal was his eighth shot of the game, a significant number for the player the fans voted as the Canucks' most exciting. But also one who has been benched during the past week.
"It was quite an honour and the (award) gave me a little bit more confidence," Booth said. "I wanted to give the fans something to be excited about."
There remain several questions for the Canucks. At least, they answered one of them against Edmonton. Yes, the power play can still score. They got two power play goals, which with the way things have been going is not far off from a month's worth After Darcy Hordichuk took a double minor, Henrik Sedin picked up a rebound and slid it into the net. Before the game, Henrik expressed surprise that the Canucks had gone three months with just 14 power play goals.
"It hasn't happened for us," Henrik lamented before the game. "You can say whatever you want about bounces but if you look at the stats, they don't lie."
In the nine previous contests the Canucks power play had gone 2-for-35.
Of course, most of that was without Daniel Sedin. And it's unclear if the the Canucks will have to start the playoffs without him.
Canucks management said he hasn't skated on his own since the injury three weeks ago. That has to be at least a little concerning heading toward the start of the playoffs.
Henrik and others said Daniel has not suffered a setback on his road to recovery from Duncan Keith's elbow which bashed through his jaw.
Henrik said when Daniel starts skating it shouldn't take him long to be ready to play, even suggesting all he'll need is one day.
"Early on, maybe (he was concerned), but as time has moved on he's felt better and better," Henrik said. "But until you are out on the ice and you feel comfortable playing a game it's always going to be there."
Like Daniel, Jonathan Toews is hoping to return for the start of the playoffs but is not symptom free and doesn't feel like himself whenever he's on the ice. He did not play the Hawks final game Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings.
"Well, there's concern for sure," Henrik said. "With (Toews), I'm sure after a week he thought he'd be able to play in three or four days, and all of a sudden it's 20 games later and he still hasn't played.
"That's always going to be there. Until (Daniel) is back. And that's where we are."
Best hash tag
#nothingelsematters - in reference to the Canucks pursuit of the Presidents' Trophy.
"Anyone can win a little tournament. It takes a real champion to come out on top after 82."
— Michael K Richards via twitter.
The Presidents' Trophy hats the Canucks were wearing after the game. It may be the ugliest trophy in sports and it's displayed prominently on the hat. As Canucks blogger Thomas Drance said via twitter: Why do these exist?
"We know it's something we should be proud of, but we know it won't matter on Wednesday."
— Henrik Sedin
When it was suggested that in many soccer leagues, the champion is the regular season champion, Henrik said: "It should be that way."
Henrik Sedin on how long it will take Daniel to get ready to play once he starts skating: "If it takes him five skates to get ready, I'm guessing he would skate five times in one day. That means he's going to be ready pretty quick. We'll see what happens."
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