Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Test of Faith

Canucks fans have experienced many moments of pain and disappointed over the last 40 years. My first real experience was in 1989 Vs the Calgary Flames. Mike Vernon's overtime glove save on Stan Smyl and the series clinching goal off the skate of Joel Otto are still fresh wounds 22 years later.

A couple first round series wins over the Winnipeg Jets in the early 90's gave me hope that all you had to do was get into the dance and anything was possible. 1994 confirmed that. A tough first round series led to a relatively easy run to the cup finals. Before the advent of espn classic, my most vivid memories of game 7 were Jyrki Lumme taking a 1st period cross checking penalty (despite not having a stick in his hands) leading to a Ranger goal and Nathan Lafayette hitting the cross bar late in the third.

After '94 it really did seem like all you needed to do was just make the playoffs and anything could happen. Then came the dark ages of the whale and Orca Bay. The Stanley cup was a distant dream. Harold Druken's goal Vs Los Angeles in 2001 felt like one of the greatest moments in Canuck history. Sad really, but finally returning to the playoffs for the first time in five years really was one of the greatest moments in franchise history. After all, if you just make the playoffs anything can happen right?

Of course nothing did. The Canucks would be swept by the Avalanche in '01 and would lose 4 straight to Detroit - after taking a 2-0 series lead - in '02. Both opponents would of course go on to win the Stanley Cup.

Then came 2003. Despite losing the division title on the last day of the season, the Canucks managed to get by the St Louis Blues and found themselves up 3-1 against the Minnesota Wild. For the first time in almost a decade there was a clear path to the Stanley Cup.

Then it happened. The most epic and heartbreaking collapse a Canuck fan could imagine.

Now, after almost a decade of lockouts, missed playoffs and early playoff exits the Canucks have their best team ever and hold a commanding 3-0 series lead over their nemesis. Surely this is the year right?

Game 4: 7-2. Game 5... I don't know how to put it in to words. Perhaps one of my frustrated, beer induced tweets sums it up best:

This is just beyond bizarre. Can we just send this franchise to another city and start fresh with the Coyotes or Thrashers?

Heading into this series if you told Canucks fans' they'd be healthy and up 3-2 heading to game 6... The vast majority would be pretty happy. Yet no Canuck fan on the planet is happy right now. Most are probably questioning why they are stuck rooting for a franchise that continually breaks their heart.

It was once unfathomable that something could eclipse the heartbreak of the Wild series. Yet somehow the Vancouver Canucks are on the verge of doing just that - the most heartbreaking and epic collapse imaginable. As a fan it's hard to keep the faith, but what else can we do? We've gotta believe.

This IS the year.

Let's go boys!