With a 3-2 win in game 1, the Canucks are 7 wins away from their first Stanley Cup, but surprisingly it’s not all positive news the day after. There are more than a few misconceptions that are spewing from the mass media today. Maybe it’s because there’s a two day break, maybe it’s cause they’re bored. Maybe it’s something else.
Here are a few of the news stories making the rounds today:
Roberto Luongo is not known as a good puck handling goaltender. In fact, he has been known as a terrible puck handling goaltender. So naturally after giving up this goal in the first period of game 1, criticism flowed his way. Was it justified? Yes, but no.
Let me explain. Roberto Luongo is not a great puck handling goalie. But he rarely gives away the puck like he did in game 1. For the most part, he plays within his limits and makes the simple play. I’m willing to cut him a break, especially given the fact that he played exceptionally the rest of the game.
Luongo’s critics will find a way to rake him over the coals no matter what. When he had great numbers in front of bad teams, they said he hasn’t won anything yet. Then he won a gold medal, but they said he didn’t play that great. Now he’s a Vezina Trophy candidate on the President’s Trophy winning team in the conference finals and he STILL has doubters. He’ll need to continue his strong play, but lets not act like he’s played poorly.
If I hear that “Niemi just wins” one more time, I think I might puke. Saying that Niemi is just a winner is another way to say that he wins despite having average numbers. I think he plays well under pressure, but he has never been a world beater. You know why Antti Niemi has won so much in the playoffs? Because he’s played on excellent teams, that’s why. Niemi is a good goalie and he had a good game, but lets not get crazy here. Luongo is getting raked over the coals for his giveaway in game 1, but there’s been hardly a mention of Niemi’s giveaway.
Another big story has been about the Canucks taking dives. So is it true? I think it is to an extent. They’re not taking blatant dives, but they certainly are embellishing out there. The criticism is fair, but some members of the media are getting carried away.
John Lu of TSN did a whole story on it today, and even stated that the Canucks lead the league in diving this year. That’s very misleading, considering the fact that only Ryan Kesler and Maxim Lapierre received diving penalties this year. Kesler got one penalty for diving, and Lapierre got three (two of Lapierre’s three diving penalties came before he was acquired by the Canucks).
Are the Canucks diving? Yes. But they’re not drawing many penalties because of it. Ryan Kesler’s head snapped back on a high sticking penalty, but the stick hit him in the face. So they are diving, but it’s been exaggerated a lot.
The Sharks are also picking a convenient time to become sportsmanlike. Wasn’t it only a week ago that they were spraying Jimmie Howard with snow at every chance?
By the way, if the Sharks were diving and the Canucks were complaining about it, there’s no doubt in my mind that the eastern media would be calling Vancouver a bunch of whiners. Just saying…
The Real Story
The real story after game 1 is that the Canucks outplayed the Sharks, and won despite giving the Sharks a gift of a goal to make the game 1-0. They were grittier, faster, stronger… better. That’s not to say that they’ll walk away with this series, far from it. But in game 1, they were the better team, and they won. Luongo and Niemi played equally well, though Niemi had more work.
The other real story from game 3 was the fact that Daniel and Henrik Sedin bumped their slump. Funny how fast stats in small sample sizes change. Henrik Sedin now has 6 points in his last four games.