About half way through the third period of game three, I finally figured it out. I finally realized what Willie Desjardins was up to. And it’s not a good sign.
There’s been much talk about Desjardins’ line deployment, especially the lack of ice time for the Sedin line, and I think now I know why…
Desjardins has bought in to the idea that you need to counter physical play with physical play of your own. The more Calgary cranked up the hitting on Sunday, the more he threw out his own physical players. Unfortunately those physical players are not his best players.
Heck, some of them aren’t even his most physical players. At 5-on-5, Kevin Bieksa played the most of any Canuck skater in the third period, but just barely more than Chris Higgins, who was on the ice more than the five other defensemen!
Desjardins let Hartley dictate the style of play. After gooning it up at the end of game two, the Flames came out banging and hitting in game three. You don’t respond to that by hitting back. You respond to that by playing your top, skill players even more.
The Sedin line was actually out there mostly against the Stajan-Ferland-Jones line. And they had their way with them.
Heck, they had their way with everyone they faced, but my point is that for all the attention given to Ferland and his big hits, the puck was in the Flames end for the majority of the time he was on the ice. Not only that, it’s not like you had to get the Sedins away from him to protect them. I don’t recall a single one of his
uncalled charging penalties big hits being against the Canucks’ top forwards.
So here you have the Hartley with the last change deciding he wants a possession sinkhole of a line out there against the Sedins and what do you do? Well, what you should do is give Hartley the match-up he wants, because eventually it’s going to pay off. What you shouldn’t do is decide to make this a rough and tumble series because (a) that’s not the Canucks’ game, and (b) that is exactly the kind of game Hartley wants.
Hartley wants it to be about lots of hitting and big checks and physical play. He wants to throw the Canucks off their game. He wants Desjardins to respond and give Bieksa and Sbisa to have more ice time. Nothing favours the Flames like a 3 or 5 alarm fire:
Seriously, it’s like a fire drill every time those two are out on the ice.
And Desjardins walked right into the (fire) trap.
Ugh. If I wanted to see somebody blow lines this badly, I’d go on a road trip to Vegas:
You don’t fight fire with fire. You douse it with water or you suffocate it of oxygen.
The Canucks need to get some ice cold water in their veins to maintain their composure in the face of Calgary’s physical pressure, and/or to exhaust the heck out of Calgary players that are used to playing 10-12 minutes a night, and leave them gasping for air. If Hartley wants them out there, go ahead and give him more rope.
So forget the fire. The Flames may have a lock on on fiery desire. But as the hate continues to grow in this series, what’s important is icy cold composure. As noted hockey analyst, Robert Frost, once said:
FIRE AND ICE
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