Score. Score score score score score. And then again. Score. Just like that.
(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Game Day Recon: Western Conference Semifinal Game 3 – Canucks @ Predators
The Vancouver Canucks find themselves in a familiar position – Tied 1-1 in a second round series and headed into enemy territory for Game 3. At least this time around, the enemy territory isn’t the United Center. But the Canucks face a daunting task in getting one of their best weapons into gear – their offense.
Can the Canucks’ guns start firing against the Predators stifling defense and their rock-wall of a goalie?
Game Time: 6:00 PM PT
Both teams are having a lit of trouble scoring on Vezina-nominated goalies. I don’t think that’s much of a surprise for the Predators score-by-committee style offense. But it is a suprise and a concern for the Canucks, who finished first in the regular season in team offense, and first in the powerplay.
As a result of the sputtering offense, coach Alain Vigneault is mixing up his lines a bit to try to kickstart the offense and get some pucks past Pekka. Based on the lines rolled out at practice yesterday, Burrows appears to be returning to the top line with the Sedins. Burrows has been an Energizer bunny on the ice in the last 3 games, and Mikael Samuelsson (who is clearly hurt) is not creating enough space and opportunity on the ice. The Sedins will benefit from Burrows’ tendencies to get dirty and fight for space in front of the net. From the practice lines yesterday, Chris Higgins would take over for Burrows on the second line with Kesler and Raymond. Raffi Torres would be bumped up to the third line, so it appears that Samuelsson is being demoted down to the fourth line and will be joined by Cody Hodgson, who will see his first action of this series. Odd man out looks like Victor Oreskovich. So it’s certainly a shake-up of the lines, but all these moves put players where they have played before, so it’s not upsetting the apple cart too much.
The lone exception, of course, is for Samuelsson, who now sees himself in an unfamiliar position. But let’s face it. It’s his 1G 1A -2 and only 15 SOG in 9 GP along with some incredibly uninspired play that has led to this move. Canucks fans hope that this demotion will kick him in the ass, much like the Swedish National Team snub he got last year and seemed to light a huge fire under Samuelsson last season and into the playoffs. Samuelsson was the Canucks leading scorer in the playoffs last season with 8G 7A 15Pts +7 in 12 GP. Samuelsson’s top-line countrymen are not faring very well in these playoffs, and that is just as big a concern. Daniel and Henrik are a combined -6 through 9 GP so far and have seen their offense evaporate in the last 5 games. So the thought here is that Burrows will spark the twins back into their rhythm. Let’s hope so.
And can we please stop about Luongo? PLEASE?! Luongo and Rinne have virtually identical stats through the first two games, yet Luongo is still getting chirped about not being a big-time goalie. Enough with this. The goal that was scored on his was a bank shot that he couldn’t see after stopping all previous 34 shots he actually faced. It was an utter fluke goal that he couldn’t see. This series is all, and I mean ALLLLLLL about getting the offense – the league’s BEST offense – to score more than 1 goal per game. In fact they’ve scored only 2 goals in nearly 8 periods. THAT’S NOT GOING TO WIN YOU GAMES, CANUCKS.
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
1. Score first… in the first. The close out the game. The Canucks haven’t scored a goal against the Predators in either of the 1st or 3rd period. The 3rd period was the Canucks bread-and-butter during the regular season, with 100 GF. That’s 1.22 goals per 3rd period, so the Canucks should be at approximately 2 and a half total goals in the third period (I know that’s impossible) – but they have NONE.
2. Go at Rinne. I’m not an advocate for steamrolling goalies. I think that’s a dirty, chicken sh*t play. But the Canucks aren’t getting anywhere near Rinne. They are not making life difficult for him at all. He’s obviously an all-star goalie, so the Canucks are going to have to start making him work for his saves. They need to have someone standing 3 inches from the blue paint at all times. Raffi Torres, you’d be perfect for this, cuz you’re an a**hole.
3. Use your speed. The Canucks aren’t getting powerplays because they aren’t getting the opposition chasing them. They need to move North-South as fast as possible tonight and then get Rinne moving across his net. Enough with taking shots from the blueline on every rush. First of all, no one hit the net last game, so that’s not working. Use your speed and keep skating. Get close. Within 15 feet. THEN pounce on rebounds.
Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:
1. Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Predators (Canucks.com)
2. Canucks shake up lineup for Game 3 (The Province)
3. It’s Sedins’ time to get Canucks going … and they know it (Vancouver Sun)
4. Canucks/Predators Preview (Yahoo! Sports)
5. Canucks @ Predators Game 3 Preview: Why Not? (On the Forecheck) << SEE WHAT THE ENEMY HAS TO SAY!