The Vancouver Canucks will get a chance to scratch a 40 year itch if they can find a way to win game 6 in Boston tonight. The Stanley Cup is in the building, and for only the second time in franchise history, the Canucks have a chance to carry it home.
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.
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.
There are a couple of ways to look at the Canucks 4-3 win over the Blackhawks on Friday night. On one hand, the Blackhawks finally found a way to get pucks past Roberto Luongo. Ben Smith and Viktor Stalberg scored on Luongo, and they weren’t great goals. If the Blackhawks can get goals from their depth players on a regular basis, they will climb back in this series. Another way to look at it is that the Canucks were able to win game when they let the likes of Ben Smith and Viktor Stalberg score and get an average game from Roberto Luongo.
The Vancouver Canucks will play tonight’s game in Nashville without Alex Edler, Dan Hamhuis, Keith Ballard, Andrew Alberts and, as we found out this morning, Kevin Bieksa. That’s 5 of their top 7 defencemen out of the lineup. To make matters worse, minor leaguer Lee Sweatt broke his foot in practice. Even the Manitoba Moose have injury troubles on the blueline, with Nolan Baumgartner suffering an injury last week. He might have been one of the recent call-ups.
Posting on behalf of Romeo. That Kevin Bieska is a tough son of a bitch, if nothing else.
Sami Salo is back, well, almost. He’s been skating for a long time now, and has been practicing and traveling with the team for a couple of weeks also. So when is he set to return? The Canucks are keeping this somewhat secretive, but it looks to be soon. The reason is of course the salary cap. The Canucks are very close to the cap right now and will be over it when Salo returns. According to CapGeek, the Canucks would need to get rid of $1.8 million of annual salary if Salo returned today.
Dear Kevin, I have an apology to make. I was in favour of trading you last summer. Well, not even just last summer. I didn’t like your game. I thought you couldn’t return to the player that the city of Vancouver fell in love with in 2006-07. Even this year, I said some nasty things. I said you were not a shutdown defenseman. But here you are, paired with Dan Hamhuis playing against the other teams’ best lines and playing great! You’re now leading the defense corps in plus-minus, are back to playing mean and lately you’ve even begun putting up points again!
After weeks of rumours, Willie Mitchell finally ended the suspense on Wednesday, signing a two-year deal worth $3.5 million per season. According to most, including yours truly, he hit a home run. While still a very effective defenseman, I thought that he would have to give up a little bit more money and/or term given his age and concussion history. Quite simply, he was out of the Canucks price range. The Canucks are very deep on defense and already have an injury riddled d-man they’re holding their breathe on with Sami Salo.
All signs are pointing to the Willie Mitchell making a decision on where to play this week. Mitchell has worked out for the Canucks, Sharks, Kings and Capitals this week. One would assume that he is undergoing physicals to prove his health to these teams before they tender him an offer. He has reportedly already been offered a two-year deal by the Los Angeles Kings, but the price is not yet known. Cap-wise, the Kings are by far in the best position. The Sharks could also fit-in Mitchell with relative ease, that is if they stick with Niittymaki and Greiss in net. The Capitals and Canucks are both in tight against the cap as it is, and would probably need to get creative.
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