The 1994 Vancouver Canucks had a reunion on Monday, with the likes of Linden, McLean, Courtnall, Adams and others on hand. On the 17th anniversary of Greg Adams’ goal in double overtime in game 5 of the 1994 conference finals that sent the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final, the present day Canucks will get a chance to match that feat. The Clarence Campbell Bowl will be in the building, and the whole city of Vancouver is ready to party.
But there’s still a lot of work to be done before that can happen, to be certain. For starters, the Canucks failed to put away the Blackhawks and the Predators in game 5 at home in the 1st and 2nd rounds this year. It goes without saying that they will be looking to change that this time.
You could argue that the Canucks were outplayed in game 4, aside from special teams. While that has some validity to it, I think for the most part the Canucks played well in game 4, and that the shot total (35-13 in favouf of San Jose) was misleading. A lot of the Sharks shot total was due to getting a lot of power plays and getting shots in the third period when Vancouver was protecting a three goal lead. The Canucks got a lot of power plays too of course, but were so efficient on them that they often scored on their only shot. So despite the fact that the Canucks were grossly outshot, they clearly have the momentum heading into game 5.
The Canucks won game 5 because they were able to win the special teams battle. And when you win the special teams battle so decisively, you’re going to 99% of the time. I thought the key to Vancouver’s penalty kill was the increased aggressiveness on the puck, especially in the neutral zone. They made it very difficult for San Jose to not only enter the zone, but also to set-up.
The coaching staff must have read Canuckz.com to fix the power play, because they listened to me! All three goals on the power play were scored on one timers, making Antti Niemi move side-to-side.
The Canucks got good news on the injury front on Monday, as Christian Ehrhoff practiced. He might play in game 5, but I would bet on him sitting out another game given the 3-1 series lead and the great depth the Canucks have on the blue line.
As for Joe Thornton, who was knocked out of game 4 by a solid Raffi Torres bodycheck, he will play in game 5. We know he will play, but how effective he will be could be another story. Nobody knows exactly how banged up he is, but it’s probably significant given he was unable to return in game 4.
I don’t expect the Sharks to go down without a fight, and they will have a high desperation level in game 5. I think we’re due for a game that isn’t completely penalty filled and it should be a thrilling game… hopefully just like game 5 in 1994.