The Canucks need to fix what’s been broken in the past two games, and three of their last four.
The Blackhawks now look like a cocky team. Not just confident, but cocky. The Canucks can strike against that with experience and poise. But what’s gone wrong so far?
The TEAM1040 ran an interesting poll this morning, asking fans the most important reason why the Canucks are down in tis series. The Canucks have been outhit, outchanced, outshot and outcoached in this series. It is impossible to argue against any of those.
As for as importance as to why the Canucks are on the brink of elimination, I would rank them as follows:
1. Outcoached. Vigneault’s game plans in four of the five games have failed to win the game for the Canucks. They were lucky to escape with a win in Game 1, and clearly won Game 3.
2. Outhit. The Canucks are the bigger, stronger, more experienced team. But the Blackhawks have been FAR more physical and have owned the ice, especially in Games 4 and 5 in the Canucks zone.
3. Outchanced. I’m not as concerned about the Canucks getting boatloads of chances. But they have been letting the Blackhawks get too many good scoring chances on Luongo. The bigger concern for the Canucks is capitalizing on the chances that they do get, specifically in the third period.
4. Outshot. The Canucks are used to being outshot in games, and they have Luongo back there. So again, I’m concerned about the number of shots they’re giving up. But they need to GET more shots on Chicago. More shots leads to more chances which leads to more goals.
So with all that being said, what do the Canucks need to do to actually win Game 6 and stave off elimination?
My five keys to the game tonight are:
1. Luongo needs to win this game. In Game 4, Luongo was 2:44 away from stealing that game and putting his team up 3-1 in the series. But poor penalties and defensive play led to a let down and OT loss. Luongo needs that kind of effort to literally steal Game 6 for his team.
2. Alain Vigneault needs to be the better coach. He needs to stop trying to coach to defend the Blackhawks, and coach the Canucks to win. So far Vigneault has been the better coach in exactly ONE game – Game 3. Other than that, the Blackhawks have been the better all-round team, which means that they’re winning the coaching battle. Vigneault needs to stop playing this like a chess match and coach a simple game to win.
3. The Canucks need to draw penalties. The Canucks have drawn only 3 penalties in the past two games. This is proof that they are not playing aggressively and are not pressing the Blackhawks. If the Canucks are drawing penalties, it means they are outskating the Blackhawks in the offensive zone, which means they’re winning puck position battles and driving hard.
4. The Sedins and Burrows needs to be the best Canucks skaters. To paraphrase Tony Gallagher, Daniel and BUrrows have been holograms in this series so far. They’re letting the younger Blackhawks defense control the puck. Burrows needs to be thorny and acidic. I know it’s a cheap move, but I would not be adverse to Burrows running into Khabibulin “accidentally” on purpose tonight.
5. The Canucks needs to stop the third period bleeding. They’ve been outscored in the third period 10-3 in this series. The Canucks are giving up games late in the game. They gave up both Games 4 and 5 in the third period, and almost lost Game 1 in the last frame as well. Really, it comes down to a complete game effort, and the Canucks have been lacking a full game effort for four of these five games.
Despite the fact that I will be watching the game through my hands like a scared 9-year-old watching “Friday the 13th”, I’ll be rooting as loud as anyone tonight.