What a relief. You can never count the Canucks out, nor can you ever count them in, but sometimes, when they surprise you, it’s a good thing.

The Vancouver Canucks surrendered a 3-1 series lead by failing to score in either Game 5 or 6 (not to mention Game 2), allowing the Dallas Stars to force Game 7. The Canucks, save Roberto Luongo were called out by their coach for a lack of effort. Soft-spoken coach Vigneault said after the game “players – sometimes they’re like your kids, sometimes they need tough love. You need to tell them things that they don’t like to hear, but you have to say it anyway. Tough love is sometimes part of being a coach.” And they responded with a wicked Game 7. Finishing off the Stars 4-1.

It seems everything, or at least most things went right in this game, which I wish I had seen live (that lament will be repeated repeatedly throughout this playoff run).

But the most poetic thing of course is that the gamewinning goal came from none other than Mr Canuck himself Trevor Linden.

Trevor Linden now leads all active players with 12 game seven points and 6 game seven goals. I had predicted a Sami Salo powerplay slapper goal, but in retrospect, if the Canucks were going to haul themselves out of the hole their lacklustre play dug them, it would be Linden leading the charge.

Any doubts that the fans, and the Canucks themselves had, have now been erased. They’ve advanced to the second round, narrowly escaping a second straight collosal collapse in a first round playoff appearance. These Canucks are different than the ‘old’ Canucks. They’re winners. They will be in a tough series against Anaheim, but the momentum, the belief, the desire and the goaltending are all here. Go for Round 2.