By me, Dee
The Canucks played their best game of the series Tuesday night, unfortunately it’ll also be their last game played this season. Vancouver fell to San Jose 4-3 in OT in game 4 of the series, resulting in the Canucks being swept for the first time in the post season since 2001. There was a lot of hope going in the game, Ryan Kesler had said that he wasn’t going to go down easy. Jason Garrison had noted that the team was going to put the past behind them and focus on the game ahead. However, some hope was lost early when Sharks’ Brent Burns opened the scoring in the first period. Offense was hard to come by this series, so Mason Raymond brought a spark of hope to Canucks fans everywhere with his game tying goal later in the first period, only to have it put out by Joe Pavelski’s 2-1 goal late in first period.
Ryan Kesler commented during the second period intermission that the Canucks were going to do their best and “compete like bastards,” for the remainder of the game, and compete they did; with goals by Alexandre Burrows and Alexander Edler, rallying the Canucks to their first lead (3-2) half way through the third period. Unfortunately, the Sharks fired back with a game tying goal by Pavelski late in the third period, and followed that up with Patrick Marleau’s eventual overtime winner. Bing, bang, boom: the season ends for the boys in blue.
1. Cory Looking for Glory: There was a lot of controversy coming into tonight’s game with word that Cory Schneider was getting the start for game 4, especially after his 5 goal outing in game 3. He was visibly shaken after his last start, getting consoled by teammate Roberto Luongo, because Lu’s clearly been there and dealt with that. How did Schneider do this time around? He was better, stopping 43 of the 47 shots he faced, but was he good enough? Schneider did try his best to keep his team in the running, including killing a crucial 4 minute double minor in the second period. That being said, the game-tying goal, and ultimate OT winner both resulted from Schneider’s inability to retain control of the puck after an initial save. What does the future hold for Cory? Only time will tell.
2. Zebra Crossing: You never want to dig for excuses after your team loses, but it’s hard to overlook the questionable calls against, and missed calls for the Canucks in this series. The penalties were 24-10 in favour for the Sharks this series. Yes, some of those were a result of the Canucks’ poor decision making, but that’s quite a differential and something you don’t see too often in professional sports (especially in the playoffs).
The most questionable call came in overtime against Daniel Sedin, who was given a 2 minute minor for boarding. How often does a Sedin even throw a hit? And then to have it be called boarding? A call like that happens once in a blue moon. Replays show that it was a clean shoulder to shoulder hit, and hockey fans even outside Vancouver admit that it should not have been penalized. Nothing can be done about it now, but one thing is assured, that penalty will haunt Canucks fans all off-season. Side note: Daniel Sedin was also issued a misconduct penalty for “abusive language” at the end of the game. Nice to see that refs are out to tame the potty mouths of hockey players, they’ve sure got their priorities straight.
3. Time in the Sin Bin: While some calls were worthy of debate, there was no questioning the fact that the Canucks took too many undisciplined penalties. Not one player was to blame, a lot of different names were thrown into the mix. Daniel Sedin was called for hooking a few minutes into the game and Derek Roy for boarding later in the first period. The second period saw Dan Hamhuis’ double minor for high sticking and Alexander Edler for slashing. Kevin Bieksa personified his frustration with a sloppy cross-checking penalty in the third period. All these infractions, later followed up by Daniel Sedin’s boarding penalty in overtime, meant that the Canucks spent a majority of the game a man down, and killing penalties. Bottom line, it’s hard to win do or die games when you’re more worried about preventing goals, than you are creating chances to score them.
4. “Compete Like Bastards”: Ryan Kesler is known for his dramatic theatrics. He’s also known for coming up big when the team needs him most and doing whatever it takes to win. During game 2, in a second intermission interview, Kesler said that the team would find ways to tie the game (with the Sharks then leading 1-0) and get ahead. What happened? Kesler came into the third period firing on all cylinders, scoring not only the game tying goal, but the goal to put the Canucks up 2-1 late in the period. Point being, Kesler has a knack for firing up his team.
During the second period intermission of game 4, Kesler said that his team had to go out there and “compete like bastards.” Using it as their battlecry, the Canucks (despite the loss) were able to score more goals tonight than they had in any game all series. Burrows (PPG) and Edler, combined to score 2 unanswered goals in the third period, giving the Canucks their first lead of the game 3-2. So, while they may not have won, their offensive production made this game one worth watching.
5. Where Do We Go From Here? The Canucks elimination Tuesday night becomes their earliest playoff exit since 2001. The team has failed to pull together a mere 2 wins in their last 2 post-season appearances. Which begs the question, where do we go from here? Right now there are more questions than answers, but it’s probably safe to say that changes will be made. Could Alain Vigneault’s time as Canucks Head Coach be over? Many have criticized him for starting Schneider in games 3 and 4 in place of Roberto Luongo who was stellar to start the series, as arguably the team’s best player.
Could Mike Gillis also be replaced? More questions arise when considering what the Canucks roster will look like at the start of next season. Many Canucks struggled this series, most noteworthy being Mason Raymond, who will be a free agent this summer. What will become of injured David Booth? Derek Roy? Keith Ballard? And most importantly where will Roberto Luongo start next season. One thing is certain, this might be the last time we see this Canucks core together. It could be the end of another era in Vancouver.
Also posted on We’ve Got Twins
Stat of the night: Your brother passes Markus Naslund in his 905th career regular-season game. You did the exact same thing…
Haha, aliens :P
By me, Dee
The Vancouver Canucks clinched their fifth straight North West Division title Monday night with a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. While the Canucks have been criticized for their lackluster play as of late, last night’s dominant effort against the Cup contending, conference rival, Blackhawks showed that Vancouver is indeed playoff ready.
The Canucks personifed playoff intensity Monday night, playing physical and outhitting the Blackhawks 37-23, with Maxim Lapierre leading the way with nine hits. All four lines were at their best, getting pucks deep and forechecking hard, something Daniel Sedin said the team set out to do early: “[f]rom the first shift we were focused on getting pucks deep and we were…forechecking the right way, which is a key for our team” (x). The energy they brought early, set the tone for the game, opening the scoring with Jannik Hansen’s first career powerplay goal in the first period, followed by second period goals by Zack Kassian and Daniel Sedin.
After the game, Captain Henrik Sedin noted that it was one of the Canucks’ strongest complete games this year, “[t]here was no hesitation, the [defence] was pinching, [and] the forwards were covering for them,” (x) their full team effort was clearly too much for the Blackhawks to handle. After the loss, Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville commented that the game “was the worst game of the year” for his club, which suffered their first regulation loss in 12 games (x).
Zack Kassian’s second period goal proved to be especially noteworthy because the assist Daniel Sedin drew on the goal moved Daniel past Markus Naslund as second on the Canucks’ all-time leading scorer list. The Rogers Arena crowd showed their appreciation of his milestone with a standing ovation. “It was a little surprising” says the humble Swede, “second place, I don’t know how big a deal that is…But it was nice for both me and Henrik. It’s a big thing for us” (x).
It took Daniel 905 career games to surpass Markus Naslund as the Canucks’ second leading scorer, not surprisingly that number is identical to the number of games it took Henrik to accomplish the same feat. Daniel, with 758 career points, now only trails his brother Henrik, who stands as the Canucks’ all time leading scorer with 791 career points.
With the playoffs starting in just a week, the Canucks are set to make a long run for the Stanley Cup this year. Henrik Sedin feels confident about his team’s chances stressing, “[t]his year, in this room, we know we have a good team. If we play like this, we’ve got as good of a team as anyone else” (x).
The Canucks have just two regular season games remaining, they face the Anaheim Ducks at home on Thursday, then hit the road to close out the regular season against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
Also posted on Aerys Sports