Before every Canucks playoff game, Canuckz.com will be looking back at the previous game and provide a preview of the upcoming game. We’ll let you know what happened, what needs to happen and what’s likely going to happen.
On Wednesday night, the Vancouver Canucks rode a dominant first period en route to a 2-0 shutout victory over the Chicago Blackhawks to take a 1-0 series lead. Here are a few quick hits of what I noticed in game 1:
-First and foremost, Roberto Luongo looked all-world. He looked like the guy that was frequently dubbed the “best goaltender in the world”. His save on Brian Campbell in the 1st period was simply jaw dropping. As good as he has been this year, saves of that caliber haven’t been commonplace, mostly because he hasn’t had to make them.
-The Canucks can HIT. Who knew? They’ve played well all season, but never did I think that they would dominate teams physically. They outhit Chicago by a large margin, especially in the first period.
-Alex Edler is back to being ‘playoff Edler’. In case you don’t know, ‘playoff Edler’ is an absolute BEAST. Remember his big hit on Drew Doughty in last year’s playoffs? That got him the nickname “Alex the Assassin”. Well it looks like he’s extra snarly this year, looking to crush his opponents.
-Max Lapierre easily had his best game as a Canuck. That may not be saying much, but he was physical and tenacious on the puck. It was the kind of effort that would make Jannik Hansen proud, who by the way, had an outstanding game of his own.
-Moose call-ups Cody Hodgson and Victor Oreskovich looked good. Hodgson was given limited minutes, but didn’t look out of place. He even had a good scoring chance. Oreskovich looked even better, providing a whole bunch of bone crushing hits. ‘Oreo’ is here to stay.
Not surprisingly, the Canucks won’t have any lineup changes for tonight’s game. The Hawks lost Tomas Kopecky to injury, Fernando Pisani takes his place.
What to look for
-Pushback from the Hawks. The Canucks had their way with Chicago in game 1, but that should change given the comments from Joel Quenneville.
-A better game from Daniel and Henrik Sedin. They were quiet in game 1 and didn’t receive a lot of ice time given the way Alain Vigneault rolled his lines and the lack of power plays. They’re likely to get more power plays tonight and likely to get more ice time.
-The play of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines for Chicago. They were completely ineffective in game 1, and for Chicago to have any chance in this series, they’ll need more than one line to step up.
What the Canucks need to do
The Canucks will need to keep their intensity high once again for game 2. They managed to knock Kopecky out of game 1, and Troy Brouwer is playing with one good shoulder at the moment. He could be one hit away from being gone from the series. They’ll need to match that intensity while staying out of the penalty box, which they did an excellent job of in game 1.
The Canucks won game 1 in 2009 and 2010 but went on to lose game 2 each year. Game 2 will be pivotal.