Off the Schneid in Vancouver

In what has been billed as a season to celebrate 40 years of NHL hockey in Vancouver, the Canucks offense arrived fashionably late to the party Sunday night.

Mason Raymond scored his first two goals of the season, while Ryan Kesler and Mikael Samuelsson also got off the mark with tallies of their own. Even defenseman Andrew Alberts hit the scoresheet – jumping into the slot and netting a rebound past Cam Ward to put the Canucks ahead early in the first period.

The bevy of goals against the Hurricanes (2-2-0) was almost therapeutic for a Vancouver team (2-2-1) with only seven to show for its first four games of the season.

“I think a lot of guys have felt snake-bitten,” a relieved Mason Raymond told Jim Jamieson of the Vancouver Province. “We had our best 60-minute-effort and it’s good to see Mikael and it’s good to see Kes and myself finally finding the net. When our lines are rolling I think we’re a tough team to beat.”

In an attempt to inject some life to his goal-starved team, coach Alain Vigneault mixed up his line combinations and gave backup goaltender Cory Scheider a rare home start. Since Roberto Luongo’s tenure in Vancouver, the star goalie has been on the bench for only four regular season home games in over four years.

“For me to come out and get a win and some confidence from my teammates and the (coaching) staff, that’s big for me,” Schneider said to the Vancouver media following the game.

The red-headed 24-year-old was red-hot Sunday night, stopping 32 of 33 shots and earning his second win in the NHL. Scheider, a former AHL goalie-of-the-year, earned his first NHL game almost two years ago on Dec. 18th, 2008.

With Schneider getting his first start and season, scorers not named Sedin bulging the twine, and role players finding their niche – many of the questions the fans and media in Vancouver were poring over are beginning to get answered.

The Canucks faithful can now rest easy and enjoy their team’s 40th anniversary season. Amidst all the anxiety and paranoia, all it took was for a hurricane to roll through town to get the party started again.

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