The better team won. Face it. I have heard lots of whispers from the Canucks players and from fans that somehow the Hawks aren’t the better team, which boggles my mind. They were the better team during the last two regular seasons, they were the better team the last two playoffs. Sure there were some mitigating factors. Willie Mitchell’s injury sure hurt. Playing game 6 with a less than 100% Sami Salo and losing Alex Edler made things difficult. Lots of the Canucks forwards were banged up. Injuries ARE excuses, legitimate excuses. Injuries don’t mean you automatically lose, but they make things more difficult. These injuries meant that the Canucks had to be extra good, seeing as how they were underdogs to begin with. In the next few days I’ll take a retrospective look back at the Canucks season that was, but for now, lets concentrate on what happened in the deciding game, game 6 versus Chicago.
The Canucks got off to a terrible start in game 6. The shots on goal and the score were very misleading stats after the first period. The Blackhawks got probably the best five chances to score, but were stonewalled by Roberto Luongo. Luongo was positively in vintage form in the first period and gave his teammates a mulligan for a terrible start. Despite the bad start, his big saves got the crowd really involved, who were much more into the game than they were at the start of game 3 and 4 of this series.
‘Balls of Steel’
Canucks fans are normally known for unimaginative, lame cheers. You know the ones, “Turrrrrrrrrrrcoooooo!” and “Calgary Sucks!”. Well, we took a giant step forward with the “Balls of Steel!” chant for Sami Salo in game 6. Salo did indeed play, and was clearly under distress. He showed great courage, and should have provided a boost for his teammates.
Edler gets Byfuglien’d
The beginning of the end came in the first period when Alex Edler got hit into the boards by Dustin Byfuglien. Edler fell awkwardly on his leg and suffered an injury, which knocked him out of the game. Edler was the Canucks’ best defenceman in the playoffs, and given the depth on defence, he was probably the player they could most ill afford to lose.
In the game preview yesterday, I asked the question of whether we would see the good Bieksa or the bad Bieksa. In game 5, we saw the good Bieksa. In game 6, not surprisingly, we saw the bad Bieksa. His unbelievable misplaying of the puck in the neutral zone which lead to Chicago’s second goal was a huge moment in the game. It kind of summed up his season: too casual.
Demitra’s Grand Finale
Demitra decided to roll the dice on a play at the blueline and he crapped out. His giveaway which lead to David Bolland’s breakaway goal made it 3-0 going into the second intermission. It was an absolute dagger. Alain Vigneault wasn’t impressed and benched him the rest of the game. That play will be Demitra’s last as a Canuck.
Could they? Would they? They didn’t. Shane O’Brien’s goal early in the third made things interesting, but only for a moment.
The Nail in the Coffin
Patrick Kane’s goal to make it 4-1 all but sealed it up. Another Canuck blunder, the Blackhawks made it look easy. Despite the fact that the Canucks stayed almost completely out of penalty trouble, the Hawks waltzed into GM Place and had their way. Nevermind the home ice advantage, the crowd, having last change. None of it mattered because the Blackhawks were too fast, too strong, too mean, too skilled, too good. There’s no shame in losing to the Blackhawks, they were the better team, but to lose in that fashion, was an embarrassing way to end the season.