April 15 2010 09:58AM
You can't stop 'em. You can only hope to contain 'em!
The Vancouver Canucks' quest for the Stanley Cup begins tonight as they host the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of their first round series tonight at GM Place.
The nervous yet excited energy in the city and around the province is palpable, as Canucks fans cheer on a team some see as more than just a Cup contender, but a threat to win it all.
Before the Vancouver Canucks worry about hoisting any Cups just yet, they have to take care of their first opponent, and that starts by winning Game 1 tonight.
So what are the keys for the Canucks?
Roberto Luongo needs to START solid. He has a terrific habit of ending games well, but has a bad habit of letting in a couple of goals early and forcing his team to claw back victory. It will do wonders for his confidence if he can lock it down in the first period and play simply and efficiently.
The defence need to keep the puck out of their zone. Yes, I know that's obvious, but they that's their only job. Simple, quick passes out of the zone is a key tonight. No dilly-dallying. One pass and gone. They also need to clear the crease for Luongo. They need to be physical in front of their goalie and move the Kings' big bodies out of the way. The Kings are pretty effective at getting in front of goalies, so the Canucks blueline need to bulldoze a path for Luongo.
Control the puck. This was the key to beating the Kings three times this season. Own the puck. Successful faceoffs and dominant forechecking have hallmarks of the Canucks offense all season, so the Canucks need to stay the course. The longer the puck is in the Kings' zone, the more the pressure will mount and the goals will flow. If they can get this going early, charge down ice and force pressure on the Kings' blueline, the Canucks will score quickly and this game will tilt in their favour for the whole night.
Today, Canucks fans will sit restlessly with nervous anticipation all day long, fidgeting as they wait for 7 pm to finally arrive. And when it does, the cheers will be heard across BC and throughout Canada.
You've gotta love this time of year.