Hansen, go smack some Blackhawks ass. They’ve been very naughty boys.
(Photo by Jessica Haydahl/NHLI via Getty Images)
Game Day Recon: Western Conference Quarterfinal Game 5 – Blackhawks @ Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks will try once again to close out their opening round series with the Chicago Blackhawks tonight as the two teams go head-to-head at Rogers Arena tonight. The Canucks were embarrassed in Game 4 and will want to return to the form that they showed in their two home games to start the series. And to be a whole lot less sucktastic.
Game Time: 7:00 PM PT
The Canucks were decent about 24 minutes. Then the 12 forwards and 6 defensemen lost their minds and forgot how they played in the first 3 1/3 games of this series. I said it during the game, and I’ll say it now. Roberto Luongo was NOT at fault for any of those goals. Even
hated pukish little dick talented winger Patrick Kane agreed that Luongo couldn’t be faulted for those goals. That’s right, Patrick Kane paid Luongo a compliment. So clearly Luongo is in Kane’s head.
What happened to the Canucks in Game 4 is essentially what happened to the Canucks in Game 6 of each of their last two playoff meetings. The Canucks became unglued, specifically the Sedins. They were a combined -7 in Game 4 and Henrik and probably his worst game in 2 years.
So the Canucks can take this away. The Blackhawks finally won a game in this series when the Canucks became completely unhinged and forgot how to play "Canucks" hockey. They need to remind themselves first and foremost of one of my favourite mantras: "Dance with the girl that brung ya." Look back at how you played in Games 1 and 2 specifically, and remember that when you played that way, you won.
Ok… on to tonight’s game.
It’s unknown at this point if Brent Seabrook is returning to action, although he did join the Blackhawks on the trip. I’ll assume at this point that he will be a "gametime decision". Chicago basically played with 5 defensemen in Game 4, with Seabrook’s replacement John Scott getting 8:28 of ice time. Not that it mattered with the way that the Canucks were playing. So a return for Seabrook will mean that the minutes get redistributed accordingly. Tomas Kopecky is still out and did not even travel with the team.
Most important tonight for the Canucks is the bounce back play of the Sedins. Rarely do they have off back-to-back off nights, so the Canucks will hope that trend continues. Daniel and Henrik can shut up any of their remaining critics by coming out and owning the puck. Their strength above all else is controlling the puck. They obviously had NONE of that in Game 4. With home ice and last change, coach Vigneault can get a bit more of a favourable on-ice match-up for the Sedins and Burrows. I don’t think that the Canucks need to worry about keeping the Sedins away from Bolland, because I think Bolland needs to worry about making sure his head isn’t full of cobwebs. The Sedins simply need to play their Art Ross/Hart trophy-winning style and they’ll take over the game as it goes along. It’s up to guys like Hansen and Oreskovich and Glass to hit Bolland and the guys playing Chicago’s third line any time they’re on the ice.
I personally have no concerns about Luongo or any mental letdowns that Chicago fans and media would suggest. Luongo has TWICE this year shut out the Blackhawks in Chicago and won 5 straight games against the Blackhawks. And besides, that loss in Game 4 gets hung on everyone BUT Luongo. So he parks it, returns home and moves on to stoning the Blackhawks once again.
### BREAKING NEWS ###
Brent Seabrook will NOT dress for the Blackhawks in Game 5. This means that the
useless human pylon towering John Scott will likely see time on the blueline once again. With last chance and home ice, the Canucks MUST exploit this as much as possible.
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
1. Forget Game 4. But look back at Games 1 and 2. As I said before, dance with the girl that brung ya. They know they were successful in those games. Assuming that Seabrook plays tongiht, then the only real difference in the Blackhawks lineup from Game 1 to Game 5 is Dave Bolland coming in for Tomas Kopecky. Canucks need to come out hitting and get back to playing urgent hockey. They need to smash Dave Bolland back into a dark room. I’m not saying that to be callous or a dick or whatever. The Canucks need to take the Blackhawks more physical players out of the control of the game and Bolland tops that list. He’s a rat and he’s really, REALLY good at it.
2. Win the first period. The Canucks have been money (suck it, Vince Vaughn) when scoring first and in the first period. Not just in the playoffs but this year in general. In the four games of the series, the Canucks and Blackhawks have each opened the scoring twice. The timbre of games 1 and 2 (when the Canucks opened the scoring in the 1st period) was much different than in games 3 and 4. I don’t think it has as much to do with the games being in Vancouver, as it does with the Canucks being able to control the game more with a lead.
3. Get your PP on. The Blackhawks PK has been utterly underwhelming, as expected from the 25th ranked PK from the regular season. The Canucks need to take ANY Blackhawks penalty as a freebie and they MUST capitalize on those opportunities and make the Blackhawks get behind as soon as possible, especially if the Blackhawks take penalties in the first period. And also… stay out of the damn penalty box. How about you get Kes and Burr to play 5-on-5 more often?
Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:
1. Tale of the Tape: Blackhawks @ Canucks (Canucks.com)
2. Willes: No offence to fans — the Canucks aren’t worried (The Province)
3. Canucks put loss behind them, focus on closing out series (Vancouver Sun)
5. Blackhawks Down Low (blackhawksdl.com) << SEE WHAT THE ENEMY HAS TO SAY!