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Swept by team last year
Brad Ziemer, CanWest News Service
Published: Friday, October 20, 2006

ST. LOUIS - Let's play a game of what if.

What if the Vancouver Canucks had not been swept by the St. Louis Blues, the worst team in the Western Conference, last season?

What if the Canucks had managed even a split of their four games with the Blues?

Let's see, they missed the playoffs by three points, so if they had earned four points from the Blues, they would have been the No. 8 seed in the West and gone all the way to the Stanley Cup final instead of the Edmonton Oilers.

Okay, maybe that last part is a stretch, but there's no denying the fact Vancouver's lack of success against a team that had fewer points than any other in the league cost them a post-season berth.

But with a new season, the Canucks hope they begin a new trend tonight at the Scottrade Center.

"I think we took them lightly last year and that cost us the season," captain Markus Naslund said after the team practised in this baseball-crazed city yesterday.

The Blues didn't just beat the Canucks four times last season, they manhandled them. St. Louis won the four-game series by an aggregate score of 16-4. Eight of the Blues' 57 points last season came at the expense of the Canucks.

"I mean, two times last year we played these guys and they were on a 10-game losing streak and two times we were the team that got them out of the hole," centre Brendan Morrison said.

Defenceman Mattias Ohlund feigned a bad memory when the subject of last season was raised. Who could blame him for wanting to forget?

"I don't have any memories regarding that," Ohlund said.

The fact that two of the losses came on home ice relatively late in the season, when the Canucks were in the thick of the playoff race, only makes the memories worse.

"Those two home games were obviously quite crucial games when we were fighting for our playoff lives," defenceman Sami Salo said. "But you know, they came in every night, and they outworked us. It was as simple as that. I don't think we underestimated them."

Salo knows the offensively challenged Canucks can not afford to let that happen this season, against the Blues or any other team.

"Nowadays in the NHL if you don't work hard enough you are not going to get scoring chances, you are not going to score goals," Salo said. "You just can't outskill teams any more in the NHL. I know that."

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