April 27 2011 02:37PM
Alex Burrows - CONQUEROR
(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Vancoouver Canucks finally... FINALLY... broke through their mental and emotional wall formed by two straight years of being schooled by the Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs. The Canucks are on to the second round and but did everything possible to almost make that NOT happen.
After going up quickly 3-0, the Canucks and their fans through they were on easy street. And that was exactly what led to their indescribable near-collapse. They were positively demolished in games 4 and 5, leaving them battered and confused. Game 6 was a great battle, which saw the Blackhawks get some terrific bounces while the Canucks were snakebeaten. A huge rise then a massive collapse led the Canucks to game 7 against their rival, their nemesis, Goliath to their David.
And in that Game 7, the Canucks faced a brick wall in the opposing net, as Corey Crawford was simply brilliant all game long. With the Canucks up early, Crawford stoned the Canucks time after time. And the Canucks, unable to break through, were less than two minutes away from taking the series, when they tried to lose again. A huge effort by Jonathan Toews while the Blackhawks were shorthanded and the Canucks were once again teetering at the edge of the cliff, ready to plummet into the abyss. And they weren't forced to the cliff's edge - they walked their all on the own. But Alex Burrows, hated by every other fanbase except his team's own, finally launched the Kryptonite into space, also launching the Canucks intot he second round.
It was a bizarre series to say the least, especially when you look at the individual performances of the Canucks players. The lauded Sedins, back-to-back winners of the Art Ross trophy, were absent for much of this series. They were terrific in game 7, pretty good in games 6 and 3, and were utterly invisible in every other game. Luongo was fantastic for Games 1 and 7, he was decent in games 2 and 3 and was hung out to dry in the two blowouts. Kesler was busy duking it out with Toews in a grunting, bullish battle for six games until he got on a different horse in game 7 and carried the game. Burrows was absent until Game 6 then awoke to capture the series. Edler was so hit and miss through the series, you would have thought he was truly Jekyll and Hyde. One moment he's crushing Blackhawks against the boards, the next moment is letting Blackhawks skate by and score.
Based on the randomness of the individual's play and their vacancy in Games 4 and 5, it's hard to deny the fact that the Canucks were lucky to escape. And they have no one but themselves to blame. They let the Blackhawks off the mat and off the hook. They COULD have buried the Hawks in 4. or 5. or even 6. But no... the Canucks seemingly have to do EVERYTHING the hard way. And Game 7 in OT is definitely the hard way.
The Canucks showed that they could be dragonslayers... when they wanted to be. They had better get refocused in a hurry, as Nashville provides little room for error. There is no more opportunity to take a game off, let alone two.
The GOOD and the BAD
What was GOOD in this series:
- The battle between Kesler and Toews.
- The Canucks shutting down Kane, Hossa and Sharp for much of the series.
- Luongo in Games 1 and 7, the Sedins in Game 7. Kesler in Game 7.
- Corey Crawford in Game 7. He was good throughout but he was spectacular in the final game.
- Dave Bolland. Ben Smith. Brian Bickell. Duncan Keith.
- Alex Burrows' two goals in Game 7.
What was BAD in this series:
- The Canucks were a hair... A WHISKER... from the greatest collapse in North American pro sports.
- The Canucks in games 4 and 5. EVERYONE.
- The Sedins disappearing act for four games.
- Alex Edler's inconsistency.
- Marian Hossa. John Scott.
- Raffi Torres.
- Cory Schneider's blunder in Game 6.
- Alex Burrows' missed penalty shot and OT penalty in Game 7.
No rest for the wicked. The Canucks start their second round series against the Predators tomorrow as Game 1 goes at 6 PM PT.
Time to go for more, boys.