There’s optimism in Vancouver again

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Funny what a victory over the NHL’s best team can do to the mood in a city.

Even better if the NHL’s best team happens to be a hated rival.

This morning, the night after a 3-1 Canucks win over the Chicago Blackhawks at Rogers Arena, Vancouver hockey fans woke up to read about an “inspiring performance” from a team that played its “best game in ages.”

Never mind that ‘Hawks coach Joel Quenneville called it his team’s “worst game of the year,” Canucks fans haven’t seen many performances like the one they saw Monday from their guys. (Not lately, at least. They saw plenty two years ago.)

Vancouver outshot the Blackhawks, 32-25, and played much of the game in Chicago’s end of the ice.

“I thought our effort level was great, our execution was great, our defensive play was great, physicality, it was the whole package,” said goalie Cory Schneider, who stopped 24 of 25 Chicago shots. “If we play that way, and we know we can, we can beat a lot of teams in this league.”

Daniel Sedin was named first star after scoring once and adding an assist. His brother Henrik was the second star, with two helpers.

If the Canucks are going to have success in the playoffs, the twins will need to win the possession battle and produce.

“From the first shift we were focused on getting pucks deep and we were on the forecheck and forechecking the right way, which is a key for our team,” said Daniel.

Granted, it was only one game. It didn’t completely erase the memory of performances like last Thursday’s 5-1 loss in Dallas, or all the wins that might have been losses if not for Schneider.

With the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference wrapped up and no chance to move up, the Canucks play out the string by hosting Anaheim Thursday and going to Edmonton Saturday.