WCF Game 4 Review

Sami Salo celebrates his second goal of the game, and his third point in less than two minutes. Or maybe he just really enjoyed Bridesmaids.
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Having spent Sunday afternoon watching one odd-duck of a hockey game, I went and saw Bridesmaids – which, for what it was, was pretty awesome. Perhaps it was the fever that had broken only that evening, but I couldn’t help noticing a major similarity between the Canucks 4-2 win, and the new Kristen Wiig vehicle.

You know in every genre of film, how, often times the main character has a special talent or skill that they’re ignoring? We’ve seen protagonists from Rambo to Meg Ryan’s kids-book-store owner in You’ve Got Mail letting their particular talent – be it killing bad-guys, or something more mundane like salsa dancing or arm-wrestling – go to waste. Usually this talent-paralysis is a drag on a characters work or relationships, and is caused by some nagging issue that needs to be sorted through. Towards a film’s climax the character works it out, and uses their skill to redeem themselves – or get their groove back, as it were.

What has always amused me about these types of scenes, and characters – is that the necessary adjustment is so bloody obvious to the audience watching. Kind of reminds you of putting Sami Salo the “#finnishmacinnis” (TM Ryan Lambert) on the point in 5-on-3 situations – doesn’t it?

In Bridesmaids, it’s baking. Kristen Wiig’s character is a prodigy at making cupcakes and delicious things, however, she hasn’t done it since her bakery closed down. Clearly, you’re unhappy in your life because you’re not doing what you love, Kristen! Damn it, how can it possibly be so difficult to make the necessary adjustment! I was cracking this joke to a friend when it dawned on me, that’s exactly what I was yelling at my TV during Friday’s loss, except at AV, and about Sami Salo playing the point 5-on-3.

Call it a blessing, call it an act-of-god, call it blue-line depth – but the reminder that Sami Salo is a specialist in 4-on-3 and 5-on-3 situations was forceful on Sunday. The Canucks had scored only one 5-on-3 all season long on 9 attempts (and their one conversion was in the waning days of the regular season). They’d missed on 6 5-on-3 chances in the postseason going into the second period on Sunday. Obviously these are small sample sizes, however, I’d posit that Salo was the missing ingredient causing the leagues top power-play team to perform at a rate under 7% with the two man advantage.

Now I think the penalties were, for the most part, legit (I thought the too many men was borderline, teams regularly get away with worse, but it’s an automatic penalty) yet I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team get 3, 5-on-3’s in a row. To capitalize on all three of them so efficiently within ninety seconds was incredible, unlikely and devastating for the Sharks.

The Canucks will look to improve their record with a chance to eliminate an opposing team to 3-4 when Game 5 goes Tuesday night in Vancouver.

Three Big Stats

1. 15 San Jose – 12 Vancouver; the total number of scoring chances each way in game 4 (via Coppernblue). San Jose out-shot Vancouver by a tally of 35 to 13, and attempted 74 shots to Vancouver’s 31 – clearly, San Jose carried the territorial play (+32 team corsi), however, this advantage didn’t yield a plethora of quality scoring chances. The Canucks defense, for the most part, came through – and limited San Jose to just 10 chances 5-on-5 and only 5 chances on the power-play. Most impressive: the Canucks were only out-chanced 5-3 in 10 minutes of time short-handed (sure all those three chances came on Raymond’s breakaway attempt in the first, but still, good stuff). 

2. 2 goals and 3 assists. That’s the total production so far this series from: Pavelski, Setoguchi, Dany Heatley and Ryane Clowe. Coming into the series, the Sharks forward depth was supposed to be the potential difference maker. That hasn’t been the case so far, as several of San Jose’s most important players have been silenced by Luongo and the Canucks D. The Sharks are going to need more than Thornton, Boyle and Marleau (all of whom have played very well) pulling on the rope if they hope to stave off elimination tonight.

3. .857 – Antii Niemi’s save percentage this series. .857 – but that’s terrible you say, I thought Niemi was the the Finnish Chris Osgood! You’re right he is, and San Jose’s D isn’t good enough to protect him. That being said, I think Niemi has been better than his save percentage indicates, certainly he was very good in game 1 and I thought he acquitted himself reasonably well on Friday also. Still .857 isn’t going to get it done, especially against when the Sedins are on fire like they have been this series.

Three Big Moments

3. Let’s go with the Ballard reminder to Jamie McGinn that gravity is, indeed, a cruel mistress. This hit gets bonus points for counting as sweet revenge for the borderline Rome hit and the totally clean Ehrhoff hit. What fun!

2. Salo’s second goal, and the Canucks third. Salo skates well outside of the offensive zone and gets a running start at the puck. You’re far more likely to see this sort of wind-up at a "hardest shot" skills competition than in-game, but it worked well – his shot blasts right through Niemi and puts this game out of reach.

1. What can you say about this five-hole feed to Burrows for the tap in? If only Henrik Sedin could do this sort of thing in the playoffs…