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.
Late last night I received an email from my friend Darin. Darin is a die hard Canucks fan, about as die hard as you can get. He watches every game, analyzes every play. He loves the Canucks. But he also takes losing pretty hard. He last ranted this hard during the Chicago series last year. He was remarkably quiet during the first round this year, but after last night, he needed to rant.
Manny Malhotra was back on the ice practicing with the Canucks on Friday, doing line rushes with Victor Oreskovich and Jeff Tambellini. He has been cleared to play, so presumably he will play in game 2. We have seen this movie before of course, when Malhotra was cleared to play, but didn’t in game 1. But assuming that Malhotra doesn’t experience a setback between now and the pre-game skate, we will see him in the lineup for game 2.
With a 1-0 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night, the Canucks found out their opponent for the Stanley Cup Final. That opponent, of course, are the big bad Boston Bruins. While the Lightning probably have more star power, I think this matchup will provide a little more sizzle given that the Bruins are an original 6 franchise.
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.
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.
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.
In advance of game 6 in Chicago, the Canucks must find some way to re-find their form, just as the Chicago Blackhawks did before game 4. Chicago was inspired by their fallen teammate, Brent Seabrook, and used it as a rallying point. Well then, Alain Vigneault, I have something for you. Check that, I have something for the bulletin board.