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.
I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Henrik Sedin has 1 goal (an empty netter) in his last 18 games. Daniel Sedin has not scored since the Chicago series. Their plus-minus is a combined -14 in the postseason. Mason Raymond has zero goals.
It’s a cliché, but it’s true: your best players need to be your best players. That’s exactly what is carrying the Canucks right now, as they lead the Nashville Predators 3-1 and are one win away from advancing to the conference finals for the first time since 1994.
Head coach Alain Vigneault tipped his hand on a few key adjustments at practice designed to improve the Canucks chances for a victory in game 3. Scoring two goals in 8 periods of hockey will do lend itself to that.
As we told you yesterday, the Nashville Predators have complained about the Canucks famed ‘Green Men’ and the NHL has taken action to curtail some of their actions. Most notably they won’t be allowed to touch the glass next to the penalty box.
It was revealed during the second intermission of yesterday’s Canucks game on Hockey Night in Canada that the NHL has told the Green Men to knock off some of their antics beside the opposition penalty box. Apparently they’ve been told to not touch the glass. What’s worse is that Glenn Healy agrees with them!
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!
Both have been keeping me up at night. Thankfully, Sami Salo is taking tonight off against the San Jose Sharks. The underrated Nolan Baumgartner will fill-in in his place. Did you know that ‘Baumer’ is a career +22 in 97 career games in a Canucks uniform? He’s played in ten games this season and has been a minus player only once. So this is a good move for the oft-injured Salo. Every time he goes into the corner to retrieve a puck I’m worried that he’s going to get injured. The “new Mitchell” has stepped up his game this year, and in my estimation has been the team’s best d-man this season. He’s also been remarkably healthy, which can only mean one thing: he’s due. A Sami Salo injury, combined with Willie Mitchell’s injury, could cause the Canucks to get bounced in the first round of the playoffs.