What a game that was! The Canucks won game 2 by a score of 7-3 and looked like the powerhouse team that won the President’s Trophy during the regular season. That was the best the Canucks have played in the playoffs this year, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Their top three lines are all producing, and their defense is jumping into the play. Roberto Luongo is steady in between the pipes, and making the big save when he needs to (in both game 1 and 2, he made a key save in the third period while the Canucks were trailing or tied). And their defense, judged by many to be the best in the entire NHL, is looking like it. There’s still a long way to go, but they are firing on all cylinders right now.
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.
It wasn’t a picture perfect win, but it was a win nonetheless Monday night at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The Canucks limited the Predators chances, en route to a gritty 2-1 win. Usually I’m not a big fan of sitting on a one goal lead for long periods of time, but if there ever was a time to do it, it was game 6 in Nashville. The ice surface was so poor that it was very difficult to make complete passes and hold pucks in the offensive zone. The puck looked like a bouncy ball out there, hopping and skipping around all over the place.
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.
One of the great things about this year’s Canucks has been the way the players have absorbed each other’s best qualities. Malhotra’s faceoff skill, Ballard’s hip checks, Sedin body positioning, and Bieksa’s tenacious yet positionally sound defence have been picked up by the entire team. The stud in the shared skills stable though is certainly Kesler’s sizzling every-inch-matters brand of intense puck pursuit. Even twinkle toed Mason Raymond has turned into a fore checking menace!
The biggest game the Canucks franchise has played since game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup finals did not disappoint on Tuesday night. It wasn’t easy, but the Canucks finally got their revenge over their arch rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks. It took good goaltending from Roberto Luongo, a smart defensive corps and a gritty effort by their forwards to edge the Blackhawks, 2-1 in overtime.
I’ve been to two game sevens now. My record stands at .500, but both times, a flair for the dramatic has kept Canucks fans’ hearts pumping non-stop, clammy hands clenched, and knees and feet shaking uncontrollably. My first game seven was in 2004, when the Canucks played the Flames (the game where Matt Cooke scored shorthanded with five seconds left, only to have the Flames respond on the same PP in OT), but that will have to wait for another time. My second, was tonight.
Frankly, I’m amazed at the amount of debate over which goalie should start in game 7 for the Canucks-Blackhawks series. Currently on the Team 1040 website, their poll shows 53% in favour of Luongo, 47% in favour of Schneider.
Well, did anyone see that coming? After spanking the Canucks 7-2 in game 4, they followed that up with another beat down in game 5. So here we are, nervous, panicking. Is it justified? Absolutely yes. Chicago has all of the momentum and Vancouver will need to turn it around.
Hey, did you read my blog posting yesterday titled: “Canucks-Blackhawks Game 4 Preview – Get Your Brooms Ready”? It appears some of the Canucks did, because they looked like an overconfident team in game 4. The Blackhawks have life.