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Pacific Division: Canucks at Home, Flames Hot, Rock Stars, Kraken

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The Pacific Division has had an interesting first two weeks. Besides the Vancouver Canucks going 3-2-1 on their longest ever season-opening road trip, the Calgary Flames Monday night just reeled off their third straight win on the road, this time a 5-1 win at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers. Two nights earlier the Flames beat the Washington Capitals 4-3 in overtime, after opening their trip with a 3-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night. Both the Canucks and the Flames have seven points in the Pacific Division with Calgary having played one less game. You know what, it’s a big division, so …

Let’s Skate! …

— A couple of neat little leftover notes from the Seattle Kraken home opener. 1) Ann Wilson of the 1970’s and ’80’s rock band “Heart”, made famous with her guitar playing sister Nancy, sang the US national anthem and left it all out there. She had to catch her breath and collect herself afterwards because she really gave it everything she had. It reminded me of her effort with the unforgettable rendition of “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, when she was part of the line-up that paid tribute to the band for the Kennedy Centre Honours in 2012. Whether you like that kind of music or not, it’s a breathtaking performance and the last four minutes, with the late John Bonham’s son Jason on drums, might have you grabbing for a tissue. A youtube vid’ for the ages.

2) It was cool to see Seattle Kraken CEO and President Tod Leiweke take the opportunity to address the crowd before the game. He stepped out in front of the penalty box area with a mic and talked about the work that went into the building, the people that made it possible, and the fans for the season ticket requests/deposits that hit 32,000 in the first day. Also given the fact that the team is the NHL’s 32nd played a part in the franchise deciding to retire the number-32 before the first game in honour of the fans. This was a page out of the Minnesota Wild handbook, the team Leiweke worked for when that franchise retired the number-1, also in honour of the fans, before their first game in 2000. Besides being an extremely successful sports businessman and a former member of the Vancouver Canucks organization, Leiweke is universally regarded as a great dude.

Injuries are the big story as to why the division favourite Vegas Golden Knights are presently residing in the basement of the Pacific. It’s been a pretty remarkable stretch of bad luck to start the season and it doesn’t get any easier as the team visits the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night. The Golden Knights have a whopping two points, already trailing the first place and undefeated Edmonton Oilers (5-and-0) by eight points.

It will be interesting to see if Vancouver Canucks fans take advantage of the 100% capacity opportunity for Tuesday night’s opener against the Minnesota Wild. Things have been a little quiet around the NHL. Only 7,417 fans showed up in the 19,070 seat Key Bank Centre in Buffalo Monday night for the win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Part of it might be Covid, part of it might be an unofficial boycott from fans who are tired of the mess in Buffalo, despite the fact that the team has started like gangbusters and is in 2nd place in the Atlantic Division. But then there’s this; only 13,590 New York Rangers fans turned out at the 18,006 seat MSG for the Calgary Flames match-up last night. And the Blueshirts are another team who’ve been off to a great start. So it’s gotta be the ongoing Covid lifestyle/early hangover.

Hmmm, we shall see how the Vancouver Canucks faithful react. Either way …

Enjoy the Hockey Action!!

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