It was, honestly, a bittersweet symphony.
Because the Vancouver Canucks have plenty to crow about. Their comeback win over the Winnipeg Jets -- a comeback that didn't just continue but somehow picked up steam after Ryan Kesler collided with Jim Slater and left the game, possibly left his season, with a limp -- was as inspiring as any of their late-game collapses have been depressing.
On a night that Winnipeg poured it on when it could and nearly ended it at least twice -- an Andrew Ladd backhand that trickled through Eddie Lack's crease in overtime and an Evander Kane penalty shot that just barely whistled over the goalie's glove hand and protective post -- it was these Canucks that finally celebrated a "double-you."
This win was a little more fulfilling than their Saturday trumping of Calgary, somehow.
This win perhaps comes a lot too little, much too late. The playoffs are a dream now, not a chance... Vancouver making the playoffs is, at this point, as much of a mathematical possibility as you hitting snake eyes on the roulette table tonight.
This win comes with John Tortorella softer and quite likeable, even if his debut year coaching in Canada has gone as well as one of his interviews with Brooksie.
This win comes off the hands of Chris Higgins, of course, who is second to Ryan Kesler in the team's goal-scoring race. Higgy, as he'll be affectionately known for one night, put the winner away in the shootout, on a beautiful little, Patrick Kane-ish move that the easily confusable Ondrej Pavelec was quite clearly confused on.
This win comes off the persistence of Alex Burrows, the former go-to goal guy who somehow went 35 games without a marker until tonight, when he potted two and did so quite pretty-like -- one in his typical Burrows fashion, driving for a rebound he then flicked home like it was ball hockey, and the other by baseball-ing it past Pavelec at the side of the net.
It truly is incredible that Burr could go half a season squandering so many empty nets, so many decent efforts and one-timer from the slot, and then end up putting this goal in:
It was a vintage Burrows performance tonight in Manitoba, and it was a vintage Henrik performance, too.
Captain Sedin had enough to celebrate, with his 1,000th game and all. (He'll surely get a warm reception and some sort of shiny stick when he gets to Vancouver, along with a trip to Whistler for two or something.)
But Henrik the Hart was flying tonight. He sliced through the Jets in overtime, turning their teal and blue into some sort of bubble gum-like Picasso. You couldn't knock Henrik off the puck tonight, just like you couldn't through 40 minutes on Monday.
But the Canucks blew that one, as you know. Seven third-periods goals, inexplicably surrendered to a New York Islanders team that just as inexplicably scored them.
A 3-0 lead evaporated like Vitamin C on a stove. The hard-fought two-thirds from Henrik, Kesler, and Lack didn't matter when it mattered most, and Vancouver threw away their season -- for the final time -- in front of a home crowd that just wanted to get out of the building before traffic swelled.
That, really, is how it's gone this year in Vancouver. One night to symbolize them all.
And our fans' reaction to everything -- including their early flee for the inPark lots around Rogers Arena -- makes me think, regardless of how much you've hated the move of GM Mike Gillis or the style of coach John Tortorella, that firing them is a consequence and not a solution. It's all knee-jerk right now, because there's no way any of this was planned.
The fans have checked out. They're angry, but they've checked out. Hell, they checked out in June 2011, just after they put down the Molotov cocktails.
The players have checked out, and they look exhausted. It's not Tortorella's ice time that's killing them... it's the Luongo deal, the Schneider deal, and everything that's happened in the past three seasons.
They're chewing old gum, pretending they're still sucking sugar.
Kesler wants out, either reportedly or very realistically. Injuries have taken their toll and the players haven't paid the fee. The Canucks themselves are as much to blame for their downfall as Martin Hanzal is.
But there was life tonight. There was something that didn't let them bag that third period when it would have been -- finally -- understandable.
The Canucks haven't surprised anyone all season, but they've shocked them.
And on Wednesday, it was nice to see them playing hockey. It was nice to see them win one for themselves -- for Burrows, for their coach, and for that ugly Orca on the front of their sweaters.
Originally published on White Cover Magazine