On the heels of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg talk, Damien Cox discussed the idea that Canada might be entering another hockey “golden era.” That is an intriguing point to make, but perhaps the most interesting developing story is the rare two-year run of hockey in the city of Vancouver.
While it’s far too early to assume that the Canucks will win the Stanley Cup in 2011, they’re only six wins away from doing just that for the first time in franchise history. That would put a silver cherry on top of the greatest regular season in the club’s history, with a Presidents Trophy win and players such as Daniel Sedin, Roberto Luongo and Ryan Kesler earning major award nominations.
That run would be impressive enough, but when you combine the first quarter-plus of 2011 with the highest moments of 2010, it’s clear that Vancouver is having a hot run of heady hockey play that may never be duplicated. Let’s not forget what happened in the 2010 Olympics: Team Canada won the gold on its own soil in Vancouver as Sidney Crosby scored that iconic overtime goal. The Canucks’ own Luongo was in net for that gold medal win, capping a dream-like scenario for Vancouver hockey fans.
While their postseason ended in disappointment against the Chicago Blackhawks, the 2009-10 Canucks boasted some high points that this year’s team is building on. Henrik Sedin earned the Hart and Art Ross Trophies and ultimately sealed his fate as the Canucks’ captain. For all the talk about choking during the last two seasons, I’ll never forget the way the Canucks fought through a 14-game road trip caused by the Olympics.
No doubt about it, the San Jose Sharks could make a series out of the Western Conference finals with a win in Game 3 tonight. Even so, this stands as the Canucks’ best chance to win a Stanley Cup since Mark Messier buried their hopes in Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup finals. It would be a memorable span either way.
That being said, if this Canucks team does manage to win the Cup, it might be time to christen Vancouver hockey’s “Gold and Silver City.”
Voters named Swedish goalie Viktor Fasth the MVP of the 2011 World Championships tournament right in time for him to allow five Finland goals in the third period. Call it a curse or a coincidence, but either way, Finland dominated that final frame to win their first gold medal since 1995. They beat Sweden in that final game as well, which was their first ever gold in the World Championships.
Finland 6, Sweden 1; Finland wins gold medal.
Petteri Nokelainen began that third period scoring frenzy with a breakaway goal to give the Finns a 2-1 lead. Niko Kapanen made it 3-1 just 46 seconds later. Finland buried any hope of a Swedish comeback later on in the third when Janne Pesonen and Mika Pyorala scored 35 seconds apart while Antti Pihlstrom scored in the final minute to make it 6-1.
The Swedes could have taken a 1-0 lead into the second intermission, but David Petrasek took a hooking penalty with 30 seconds left. That ended up being an inopportune infraction as Jarrko Immonen tied it up in the dying seconds.
If you count that Immonen goal, the Finns crushed the Swedes with two three-goal bursts, with the first set taking about four minutes and the second taking about five. Magnus Paajarvi scored Sweden’s only goal in this contest.
Though you won’t confuse the Finns with Kristen Wiig, they have qualified as bridesmaids in the World Championships going into today’s contest. NHL.com points out that the Finns are tied with Canada (and Sweden) for the most gold medal round losses since their last title in ’95.
Czech Republic 7, Russia 4; Czech Republic wins bronze
The Czechs fell short of matching their 2010 gold medal, but beating Russia for the bronze isn’t a bad consolation prize.
Roman Cervenka scored a hat trick, Petr Prucha found the net twice while Jan Marek and Tomas Plekanec also scored to lead the Czech Republic to another victory against Russia. The Czechs forced Russia to settle for the silver last year and left their rivals without a medal of any kind in 2011. Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice while Dmitri Kulikov and Vladimir Tarasenko found the twine once in a losing cause.