It goes without saying that tonight’s pivotal game 6 is the biggest game of the year. If anyone knows what to expect, please let me know, because I can’t figure this team out. They’re down 3-2 in the series but both of their wins were by fairly large margins. They were great at home all year, but have dropped both home games in this series, and looked terrible while doing so. With that said, lets take a look at the ten most important questions heading in to today’s matchup:
1. Will Salo play?
It was assumed that Sami Salo would miss game 6 after testicle-gate, but it looks like he might play! Salo participated in practice this morning (although skating gingerly) and participated in the power play meeting. He’s going to be a game time decision. If he can’t play, look for Lawrence Nycholat to play in his place.
2. Will Kevin Bieksa be good Bieksa or bad Bieksa?
Good Bieksa showed up in game 5, playing steady defensively and contributing offensively. Unfortunately that’s been a rare site this year. Lets hope we see the good Bieksa for the second night in a row.
3. Will Roberto Luongo step up?
He has in all three games in Chicago but didn’t in game 3 and 4. He’ll need to fight to see pucks and will need to keep his composure.
4. Will the Canucks stay disciplined?
Lets hope so because their PK has been brutal in these playoffs.
5. Will the Canucks PK do the job?
They have a playoff worst 67.3% penalty kill percentage.They were 4 for 4 in game 5, which was huge.
6. Whose top scorers will rise to the occasion?
The Sedin twins haven’t dominated a game in a while and Mikael Samuelsson is due also. Burrows had his best game in game 5. Patrick Kane has been quiet of late, which seems like the calm before the storm, while Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp have been great all series long. Those players, among others, will be key to their team’s success.
7. Will Dustin Byfuglien get up to his old tricks?
He will probably interfere with Luongo most of the night, but it’s how Luongo and the Canucks D respond to it that matters. Hopefully the refs actually call him for goalie interference one of these days also.
8. Will the Canucks get traffic in front of Antti Niemi?
Two of the three goals that Niemi let in last game were because of Burrows screening in front, so probably not a bad idea.
9. Who will score the first goal?
Chicago scored first in the last two games at GM Place and if the Canucks could pop the first one in it could calm some nerves and put the pressure on the Hawks. It might also get GM Place to be a bit noisy.
It’s been quiet all playoffs long. Time for the fans to step up. Put down your blackberries and your sushi in the club seats and make some noise!!! Hopefully fans will take cheering as a way to make the team play better, not just as a matter of recognizing excellence.