May 09 2011 11:56PM
All Hail King Lu. We pray to thee and thy solid goaltending.
Blessed be they glove and blocker. Amen.
(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
Game Review: Western Conference Semfinal Game 6 - Canucks @ Predators
The Vancouver Canucks are moving on the to Western Conference Final for the first time in 17 years. And for only the third time in their history, the Canucks win a 7 game series in 6 games.
And this game was a perfect microcosm for the series overall.
So how exactly was this game an exemplary microcosm of the whole series?
Well, Kesler led the team, with 2 assists and basically MADE the first goal happen.
The goaltending was solid at both ends.
The Predators minute amount of offense came from Legwand and Ward. And it came on a ridiculously fluky goal.
The Predators power play was completely anemic, while the Canucks' man advantage, while sparse, was lethal.
And just like 4 of the other 5 games in this series, the road team won.
The Canucks certainly weren't making it easy on themselves to start the game. Henrik Sedin took a dubious high-sticking penalty less than a minute into the game, followed a few minutes later by another penalty call on Kevin Bieksa. All in all, the Canucks were shorthanded 4 times in the first period, yet, despite only 7 shots on net, went into the first intermission with a 2-0 lead. The first goal was all effort from Kesler, dragging the puck deep in the Preds zone, then centering the puck to a wide-open Mason Raymond who beat a sprawled Pekka Rinne. The Canucks got a much-needed two-goal lead on the power play, as Henrik threw the puck at the net from the corner, tipped though by Kesler and swatted home by Daniel.
Again, Kesler put the team on his back and carried them through this game and through this entire round.
The Preds only goal came, once again, on a fluke. David Legwand shoots it at Luongo from behind the net and it takes a funny hop on the bad ice and just ever-so-slightly squeaks over the goal line before Lu falls on it. The Canucks did virtually nothing in the second period to generate offense, with only 2 shots on net. But as they went came out of the room for the third period, the Canucks, nursing that 2-1 lead with only 9 shots on net, took over the game. They forechecked relentlessly, they kept the puck moving toward the Nashville net as much as possible and forced the Predators to defend, exactly what you want to do when you have a lead in a game where you can clinch the series.
Tonight, their best players were their penalty killers, who kept the Predators from getting any significant chances on the power play. And their PK was led by Luongo, who was fantastic again, putting the ghosts of the Chicago series well behind him.
And now, the Canucks are returning home and moving on to the Western Conference Final.
Three Big Stats
Here are my top 3 stats from last night's game:
1. 14:00 and 17:47. Daniel and Henrik's individual ice time, respectively. The amount of penalty killing in the first period certainly contributed to reduced TOI for both Sedins. But it was obviously that Kesler was driving the bus, not the Sedins. But beyond that, it's REALLY hard to explain how Daniel only got 14 minutes of ice time tonight.
2. 11 points. Ryan Kesler had 5G 6A in 6 games against Nashville, including 2 assists in Game 6. Kesler now leads the NHL playoff scoring race with 15 points. Simply amazing.
3. 3-0. The Canucks were perfect in Nashville, winning all three games at Bridgestone Arena. In fact, there was only one home-ice victory in this series, and that was Game 1. For the Canucks, who won their series against the Blackhawks by going 3-1 at home, it was an interesting switch to go 3-0 in road games in the second round. Adaptation - a key to success.
Three Big Moments
Here are my top 3 moments from last night's game:
1. Mason Raymond's opening goal, all because of Ryan Kesler and his effort. He was again in beast mode.
2. Jeff Tambellini's goal-saving dash. Martin Erat takes an errant pass and is a full zone clear from Tamby, but Tamby simply flies down the ice and, at the last second, muscles Erat off the puck without taking a penalty. Amazing, considering this was Tambellini's first playoff game ever.
3. Daniel Sedin's game-winning, power play goal. Won the game, won the series. 'Nuff said.