Where do you start on this series?
The Canucks were outhit, out-chanced, outcoached, outshot and obviously outplayed throughout this series.
That means the better team won. Ok – I started there.
What was the biggest problem in this series for the Vancouver Canucks? The third period. Plainly put, the Canucks were awful in the third period in this series.
The Canucks were outscored 14-5 in the third period. The Canucks only allowed 5 goals total against the St. Louis Blues in their first round series. In five of the six games against the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round, the Canucks were either tied or leading going into the final frame. Their inability to close out a game was their ultimate undoing in this series.
In Game 6, the Canucks were tied to start the third period, twice held the lead in that frame, but gave up four huge goals and eventually the game, the series and their season.
The most frustrating part about the Canucks failures in the third period is that the Canucks game plan to start every game was nearly flawless. They were dominant to start every game. The more experienced Canucks owned every first period in this series.
The younger, faster Blackhawks just wore them down through each and every game, and the Canucks failed to devise a game to counteract as each game went along.
The loss of this series falls squarely on the shoulders of the coaching staff for failing to adapt their game plan to address their faster, younger opponents as each game went one. The Canucks game plan after the start of the second period appeared to be to NOT lose, rather than to go for the win. That simply didn’t work. They just never were able to provide the kill shot in this series. In five out of the six games, the first team to score three goals won the game. If the Canucks were able to get to three goals first against the Blackhawks in more than just two games, they would still be playing. It was their game plan of trying not to lose which kept them from providing that deadly blow against a resilient Blackhawks team.
The loss of Game 6 falls directly on Captain Canuck and his defense. The defense was terrible on Monday, but Luongo was even worse. It was the first time that Roberto Luongo has given up 7 goals in a game as a Vancouver Canuck. The timing of his dismal play could not have come at a worse time.
Now, we have look back at Luongo’s playoff history. He has played great in both of his opening round series (2007 vs. Dallas and 2009 vs. St. Louis). However in the deciding game in both of his second round series, he has faltered.
Against Anaheim in 2007, he was completely distracted when Niedermayer lofted the series winner past him from the blue line. Against Chicago, he looked utterly lost in Game 6.
This now raises a huge question – Is Luongo going to start thinking he has a second round jinx? What is it going to take for him to overcome that hurdle? Luongo doesn’t seem like the type of player to harbour those types of superstitions, but I wonder if it’s in his head now. To be honest, I hope that it is in his head. I hope that he’s thinking about that. I don’t believe he is dwelling on it and eating him up, but I hope he thinks about it.
Why? Because I think there is one very positive point to come out of this. He is going to want to re-sign here in Vancouver, because he is going to want to prove that he can win with this organization, despite two major playoff gaffes. I don’t believe that he will ask for more money, because I think he’ll want to simply come back and do his job.
I’m excited for next season and very curious about what changes will occur in the off-season. Now that the players have stopped playing, it’s time for Mike Gillis to put on his gear and get his game going.