The St. Louis Blues’ haven’t been swept in a playoff series in fifteen years; they haven’t lost two playoff games at home since 2000. Tonight, both of those rare events could happen, although obviously the Blues will do everything in their power to stop it.
Paul Kariya’s still a question mark; he practiced with the Blues yesterday as a defenseman, largely to test his hips and ability to change direction, but as of practice on Monday he hadn’t been cleared for game action. It seems unlikely that he’ll be able to play in game four, but balanced against that is the fact that nobody in the Blues organization would particularly want the Canucks to know he was going to play, either.
Mats Sundin isn’t talking about his injury either. “Day-to-day” was all the veteran forward would say, but he did skip Monday morning’s practice – and that’s suggestive. If he can’t go, Jannik Hansen will undoubtedly dress for his second playoff game this season. Ben Kuzma had a relatively critical piece on Hansen in the Vancouver Province yesterday, recalling how it was Hansen’s turnover that ended the Canucks last playoff series against Anaheim and asking, “how do you replace Mats Sundin?”
It’s a funny tack to take, given that while Hansen was hit and lost the puck, it was a boneheaded decision by Roberto Luongo that led to the goal; he was so busy chirping to the referees he was unable to make a routine save. Then again, Luongo’s been stellar in this series so all past errors must be forgotten right now, and Hansen didn’t have a great first playoff game (6:46 TOI) and makes for an easy target. Then again, given how well Mats Sundin was playing when he was injured, the question of replacing him isn’t such a daunting one either; he was likely the Canucks worst player in Game 1.
In any case, the series could end tonight and it should be a good game. Vancouver’s a funny town, though; the police have boosted their presence to deal with unruly fans and bars a few blocks away from the stadium are asking that you take off your Canucks’ jerseys (they have a dress code, you know). The best part is, it’s only the first round.