All For Naught.
(Photo by Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Image)
How does the saying go? A day late and a dollar short. Well the Vancouver Canucks were 1 win late and about 20 goals short.
And the off season now begins with nothing to show for it but 15 playoffs wins and a city on the mend, both physically and mentally.
When the Vancouver Canucks won the first two games of the series, a couple of things were clear to most fans and media. 1. The series was going to be a lot closer than many first thought, given how tight those 2 games were. 2. It was going to be nearly impossible for the Canucks to lose 4 of the next 5 games.
Then Game 3 happened, and both those points were proved fatally wrong.
Not only was this series strongly in Boston’s favour after their first win, but it was evident to many that the Canucks got lucky to win those first two games and they were going to need to be even luckier to pull off this series victory. Hindsight is always 20/20 but after an 8-1 pummeling, it was pretty evident that the Canucks would be in trouble.
As the series moved on, the Canucks took a continuous beating from the tougher, more physically imposing Bruins. And the injuries for the Canucks started taking their toll. The normally speedy, energetic Canucks looked a step behind for the final 5 games of this series. The Bruins simply wore them down and gave them no room to work their normal magic. The forwards could not penetrate the wall that playoff MVP Tim Thomas had erected in front of the Bruins net. The league’s most potent team offensively in the regular season were held to just 8 goals in 7 games. The defense looked confused and slow, unable to handle the Bruins’ constant, grinding forechecking. The Canucks special teams looked anything but, as the Bruins had a response for anything and everything the Canucks gave them.
Based on this, you would have thought the Bruins had swept the Canucks. And if not for Roberto Luongo’s heroics in games 1 and 5, this series would have easily been finished in 5. And therein lies the dichotomy of Roberto Luongo… Shifting from playoff saviour and big game puckstopper to a panicked, nervous, mentally fragile reclamation project. Do you fault Luongo? Or blame him? The truth is that you do both, and you accept that this is what you have with Bobby Lu – a real-life Jekyll and Hyde in blue and green.
In the end, the Canucks could not overcome their injuries, could not score against a brilliant goalie, and could not rely on their goalie to rob them 4 wins. And the Boston Bruins were all too capable of taking advantage of a Canucks squaD that came up a day late and a dollar short.
But I don’t want to make it seem like the Canucks simply lost this series because they were hurt and tired. Hell, that’s every team in the NHL playoffs. But it got to a point with the Canucks where they couldn’t manage being both hurt and tired against a highly opportunistic, balanced, well-coached Bruins team. And that falls on coaching. There were absolutely no successful adjustments made to counteract what was happening on the ice. There were no changes to a power play that couldn’t score and allowed 3 shorthanded goals. The tweaks made to the defense in the absence of the injured Hamhuis and suspended Rome were questionable, at best. And worst of all, there was no attempt at all to change up the offense to deal with a Bruins defense that obviously had their number from the opening puck drop in Game 1.
And the Bruins were full value for their money. They were dominant in all four phases of the game: offense, defense, goaltending, and special teams. They are worthy Stanley Cup champions. Quite frankly, Tim Thomas could have let in 18 goals in this series, not 8, and the Bruins still would have likely won the Stanley Cup.
The GOOD and the BAD
What was GOOD in this series:
- Tim Thomas
- Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Mark Recchi
- Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg
- The Canucks 3rd line
- Roberto Luongo in Games 1, 2 and 5
- Kevin Bieksa
- Ryan Kesler, despite being torn apart
What was BAD in this series:
- Roberto Luongo in Games 3, 4, 6 and 7
- Alex Burrows’ antics
- The Canucks special teams
- Christian Ehrhoff, Andrew Alberts and Alex Edler (except Game 5)
- Chris Higgins, Tanner Glass and Victor Oreskovich
- Alain Vigneault and the Canucks coaching staff
The Canucks tank ran dry… Dry of goals, dry of timely goaltending on the road, dry of bounces and luck. You have to work to get luck, and the Canucks didn’t and couldn’t work hard enough to overtake the Bruins.
And so it leaves the Canucks starting their 41st NHL season once again as the bridesmaid, not the bride.