Keep you head up, Lu. Be Ready.
The Vancouver Canucks look to take early command of their second round against the Chicago Blackhawks as the two clubs square off again at United Center tonight. Two big questions go into tonight: Can the Canucks duplicate their effort from Saturday? Will the Blackhawks do the same?
The Canucks should have only one motto tonight – Be Ready.
The Canucks weathered an early storm and then hit the gas pedal and never let off. The two teams traded chances early and the pace was quick. Once Ehrhoff broke through with the game’s first goal, the Blackhawks seemed a bit deflated. Then the Canucks scored two goals 43 sceconds apart, separated by the 1st intermission, and that sucked all the wind out of the Blackhawks. The Canucks chased their goalie, and their only goal against was on a 2-man PK.
While the score from Saturday shows a dominant performance by the Canucks, there is certainly still room for improvement.
First – discipline. The Canucks got into penalty trouble throughout the game, and it eventually caught up with them when they were two men down. If the Blackhawks’ forwards were completely on their game, they would have torched the Canucks on the man advantage. Luckily for the Canucks, the Blackhawks forwards had trouble truly testing Luongo. Yes, they threw boatloads of shots his way, but only a handful were especially difficult.
Second – Alex Edler. There was only player that I could single out as having a subpar game on Saturday. Edler took two poor penalties and got burned badly by Patrick Kane on a breakaway in the first period. He probably set the bar too high by having such a breakout performance against the Kings, but he was arguably the only defenseman that looked out of sorts.
The Canucks need to be ready for tonight’s game. There is NO way that the Blackhawks will have the same limited effort in Game 2 as they did in Game 1. First of all, a few of the Blackhawks defensemen looked a bit lost in Game 1, specifically Duncan Keith and Brent Sopel. Again, you can’t expect that they’ll both have rough games again. The Canucks also can’t expect Niemi to be as shaky as he was. He very well could be, but they can’t expect that.
The trick to getting to Niemi was to take off-angled shots at him, where he threw out huge rebounds. If the Canucks can start that early and get a quick one by him, the Blackhawks may be in for another long night.
Finally, and most importantly, the Canucks have to be ready for pain tonight. Crease crashing, face smashing, bone crunching and boatloads of chatter. The Blackhawks will surely ramp up the hitting, the hurting, and general discomfort against the Canucks tonight.
For their part, the Canucks simply have to tweak what they did in Game 1, improve their discipline and dictate a 60 minute effort.
They must be ready. Ready for anything. Most importantly, they need to be ready to win.