May 22 2011 11:56AM
The Canucks need to be the first team doing this today.
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Game Day Recon: Western Conference Final Game 4 - Canucks @ Sharks
The Vancouver Canucks try to get back on track in Game 4 and carry over their improved play from the third period of last game. They ended the game by doing a lot of things right but, boy, did they ever do a lot wrong to dig themselves a hole.
And they need to get themselves on track from the opening whistle.
Game Time: 12:00 PM PT
In all three games in the Western Conference Final, the Sharks have scored the first goal. Luckily for the Canucks, in both of their first two game, at home, they were able to rally quickly and ultimately take over the game. While they were able to ultimately take over the game in Game 3, they weren't able to rally quickly enough, thanks to litany of lazy and undisciplined penalties from start to finish.
A less-than-40-hour turnaround favours the fitter, speedier Canucks. Alain Vigneault made a tactical coaching error in Game 3 but taking out the speed and smarts of Tambellini and Hodgson, in favour of the crash and smash of Glass and Bolduc. Especially when you consider that Glass isn't hitting... at all. Whether AV decides to change back, we don't know yet. We do know that he will have to make changes on defense, because of Game 3 injuries to both Ehrhoff and Rome. It is expected that Ballard and Alberts will slot in for the 2 injured D-men, but Chris Tanev was also called up, so there is a chance that the rookie blueliner could make his way into the lineup tonight as well.
The Canucks penalty kill was having a hell of a time stopping the bleeding. Even though they only conceded three penalties in the first two games, the Sharks went 3 for 3 on their power play, then started Game 3 by scoring on each of the first two power plays they had... Going a perfect 5 for 5 to start the series. After that the Canucks locked it down, going 7-for-8 on the PK and only allowing a goal on a lengthy 5-on-3.
Will AV go back to speed and smarts? Will he try bang-and-crash again? Will know at Noon today as Game 4 kicks off matinee-style.
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
1. Quit being lazy. It got them into deep, deep penalty trouble. The Canucks have to turn their hustle back up to the levels we saw in games 1 and 2.
2. Go with speed and smarts, not bang-and-crash. It worked to perfection in Game 2. The Canucks need to push the pace for a full 60 minutes, from start to finish. The Canucks are the fitter, speedier team and they must exploit from the opening whistle. And as for the smarter part, the Canucks have to cut down on their mistakes, especially the errant, nonsense passes from the defense. If they can't make a tape-to-tape pass at the blueline, dump the puck down the boards. No more giveaways.
3. Get the first goal. The Canucks have allowed the first goal in all three games. They need to put the Sharks back on their heals to start the game and the just step on the gas. At the very least, the need to keep the Sharks from scoring in the opening period.
Here are your top 5 links for today's game:
1. Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Sharks (Canucks.com)
2. Buzz around San Jose indicates it's Tanev-Ballard (The Province)
3. Ballard Poised to Re-Enter Canuk Lineup (CBC Sports)
5. Sharks Gameday: Much Like the Rapture, Afternoon Games Make This Writeup Nearly Inconsequential (Fear the Fin) << SEE WHAT THE ENEMY HAS TO SAY!