Let’s hope there’s plenty more of this to come.
(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
Game Day Recon: Western Conference Quarterfinal Game 1 – Blackhawks @ Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks got their playoff season off to the perfect start with a 2-0 shutout win over their post-season nemesis, the Chicago Blackhawks.
And I liked what I saw.
Yesterday in my Game Day Recon, I asked these questions to kick off this series:
Can the Vancouver Canucks finally defeat the Chicago Blackhawks in a 7-game series? Have the Canucks off-season improvements been enough? Will the personnel losses to the Blackhawks doom them? Will the Canucks incredible regular season carry forward into the playoffs?
Well, they obviously haven’t won the series (yet, we hope), but the Canucks certainly showed their fans that they were ready for the playoffs and the Blackhawk. From the looks of yesterday, the Canucks off-season improvements (along with their mid-season acquisitions) proved to be more than enough. Their incredible regular season indeed carried forward, especially for Roberto Luongo, who had a spectacular outing stymying the Hawks offense time and time again.
One of my favourite moments from last night’s victory came right near the end of the game. A scuffle started and Dan Hamhuis gave Patrick Kane the business, ragdolling him and generally acting like a bully. GOOD. For the longest time, the Canucks gave Kane way too much latitude on the ice, letting him be creative and swift. You just can’t do that. If you take Patrick Kane out of the game with plays like what Dan Hamhuis did, you potentially limit the Blackhawks to a one-line offensive threat. Until Brouwer gets up to speed, and Bolland gets back in the lineup, the Blackhawks real offensive weapons are limited to four forwards, and three of them (Toews, Sharp and Hossa) play on the top line. If the Canucks isolate Patrick Kane, they’re going to see some real success on the defensive side of their game.
It’s hard to find fault in anyone’s game from last night. Even Cody Hodgson, who was limited to just 7:38 of play, made the most of his time, charging the net and playing a sound two-way game.The Canucks fourth liners also had a very solid game. Max Lapierre led all players with 8 hits and went 71% in the faceoff dot while Victor Oreskovich had 4 hits and 1 blocked shot. Great stuff.
All you can ask for Game #2 tomorrow is: More of the same, please.
Three Big Stats
Here are my top 3 stats from last night’s game:
1. Hits. Vancouver outhit Chicago 47-21. And a lot of that happened in the first period. Duncan Keith, Ryan Johnson, Ben Smith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Chris Campoli, Troy Brouwer, Brian Campbell, Patrick Kane and Nick Leddy all has 0 hits.
2. Times Shorthanded. The Canucks went 3-for-3 on the PK and one of those PK’s lasted only a few seconds. The Canucks were disciplined, not taking their first penalty until the second period.
3. Saves. Roberto Luongo was perfect on the night, stopping all 32 shots thrown his way. Sure, he got a little help from the posts (FOUR TIMES!) but he was also spectacular all night, while remaining calm, well-positioned and ready to battle.
Three Big Moments
Here are my top 3 moments from last night’s game:
1. Luongo’s amazing save on Brian Campbell
2. Hansen’s breakaway goal
3. Higgins’ seeing-eye tip-in goal