Can the Canucks do what the Canadiens did last night and MAKE IT SEVEN?
The Vancouver Canucks staved off elimination in Game 5, but face the same fate tonight as they host the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6. This time, the Canucks play the Blackhawks at home, where they have not fared well against Chicago. To stay alive, they’ll have to reverse that trend.
This year, regular season and playoff combined, the Canucks have only beaten the Blackhawks ONCE at home out of 4 games. For a team that had the best home record in the NHL, this is a disturbing trend. Luckily for the Canucks, Chicago has been almost as bad as them when they host the Canucks, as Vancouver has won 3 out of 5 games combined at United Center this year.
So it would seem to me that the key to success for the Canucks is to play the perfect road game, much like they did in Games 1 and 5. It’s hard to imagine the Canucks playing much better than in those two games, but it’s hard to imagine them playing much worse than they did in their last two home games. The Canucks need to turn to muscle memory and relive what they did in Game 5 and do it all again.
And they’ll have to do it all without Sami Salo, as he nurses a sore *ahem* nether region *ahem*. At first feared to be a ruptured testicle, Salo suffered a nasty injury after taking a slap shot to his groin in Game 5. Now listed as day-to-day, Salo is unlikely to play tonight. That means, Laurence Nycholat will play as the 6th defenseman tonight. That also means that the Canucks bottom three defensemen are O’Brien, Alberts and Nycholat.
Because of that, the Canucks HAVE to play smart. Very smart. They cannot take penalties to expose the vulnerability of these three blueliners. The forwards must play all 200 ft. for all 60 minutes. They have to support their defense for the entire game. If they don’t this will be a long night.
This is a night begging for a 2-1 Canucks victory. The forwards need to play back whenever the Blackhawks press, take their opportunities when they arise, and above all, play smart hockey. Sticks down, hands down, turn the other cheek.
In a massive twist of irony, this game 6 falls EXACTLY one year from last year’s season-ending debacle in Chicago. Surely Roberto Luongo will find the irony and look to exorcise his demons against this team.
Tonight’s the night, boys. Do Canada proud and MAKE IT SEVEN.