We’re now two games into the Predators-Canucks series and it’s become clear that goal scoring will be at a premium. Both teams have combined to score 2 goals each in 8 periods of hockey. A series for the ages? Not likely…
So where has all the goal scoring gone? Well, in game 1 it was the Nashville Predators who failed to show up and rode the coattails of Pekka Rinne to keep them in the game. In game 2, it was the Canucks’ turn to fail to show up through 60 minutes, putting up a pathetic 15 shots on goal. Meanwhile, Roberto Luongo stood on his head for 59 minutes, before letting in a stinker from behind the net.
Did they learn their lesson?
It is a combination of failing to play hard and great goaltending so far in this series, which is concerning to me. The Canucks have not learned their lesson like they said they did versus Chicago. The came out in game 2 and gave less than 100%, and took their opponent lightly. They needed a killer instinct, and failed to produce it. True, they were the dominant team in overtime, but where was that for the first 60 minutes? By not playing a complete game, they left it to chance, and chance was on Nashville’s side on Saturday night.
Unfortunately for Canucks fans, this goal scoring issue is now becoming a trend. We’re now 8 games into the playoffs and we have yet to see a goal from Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler or Mason Raymond.
In my opinion, the Canucks need to do two things against the Predators in order to solve Pekka Rinne. The first is the not so secret trick to solving any great goaltender: get traffic in front of the net. The second is to find a way to draw more penalties. The Canucks had 1 power play in game 2, which isn’t going to get it done. The Canucks power play has been a catalyst all season long and it needs opportunities.
Sitting on one goal leads
Above all, the most worrisome thing that I have seen with the Canucks lately is their strategy of trying to sit on one goal leads for long periods of time. They’ve tried to do this for three straight games and have been burned by it twice. Jonathan Toews burned them in game 7 of the Chicago series and Ryan Suter burned them in game 2 of this series. They nearly got burned in game 1, when Mike Fisher had a chance on a breakaway.
What bothers me about this strategy is that they haven’t employed this strategy all year. This team has constantly talked about the ‘process’ and ‘playing the game the right way’. If that’s what they were doing all year, why aren’t they doing it now? Sure the Suter goal was a fluke, but that’s what you leave yourself vulnerable to when you try to protect a one goal lead for such a long period of time.
What does this remind you of?
I hate to say it, but through two games of this round, I’m reminded of two Canucks playoff failures of the past. This idea of sitting on one goal leads for ridiculous amounts of time reminds me of game 4 versus Chicago two years ago. In that game the Canucks tried to sit on a 1-0 lead until they were eventually burned by a Willie Mitchell turnover with less than three minutes left and eventually lost the game 2-1 in overtime.
This whole series reminds me of the Canucks series against the Minnesota Wild in 2003. That year the Canucks took their opponent lightly after a thrilling 7 game series win in round 1.
I realize that I’m being very negative in today’s blog, but clearly all hope is not lost. The Canucks have the talent to win and are getting great goaltending from Roberto Luongo. They just need to play with a bit more intensity and get bodies in front of Pekka Rinne. The way they played in overtime of game 2 is a clear indication that they’re capable of it. If they play like they did in overtime, they’ll get results.