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Posts Tagged ‘stanley cup playoffs’

Winds of Change in the Air

Heading into Wednesday night’s Western Conference Game4 between the Canucks and Kings in Los Angeles, things were looking rather dire and foreboding for the road team.  Fresh off a frustrating 5-3 loss on Monday in a game where it seemed even the NHL itself was against them, things looked even worse what with an injury to D-man Aaron Rome and with Dr.Evil himself Gary Bettman in attendance to put out any conspiracy theory fires before the game and to tell all who would listen that there are never any problems in the NHL…EVER…not steroids, uninterested markets, or fixed games…’no way, not here’ said the commish.

The Canucks headed into this game desperately needing a win and a penalty kill.  They found both, but not before the LA Kings scared the bejesus out of them and their fans by scoring on their first 2 power plays.  It really was more of the same for the first two periods as the Canucks looked the lesser team..unable to kill penalties or win battles for loose pucks at either end.  The Canucks were not able to get their shots through the Kings checkers or complete passes with the Angelinos clogging all the passing lanes.

Then, something happened.  Something…somehow..changed.  One could almost feel the air become still..then start to change direction…a different feel.  The Canucks were able to kill off not, one but TWO STRAIGHT LA power-plays!  Suddenly, their legs felt lighter, they seemed to skate faster, suddenly getting to loose pucks ahead of the now hesitant Kings.  In fact, other than the Kings tying goal in the third, I dare say the Canucks carried the play and owned just about every shift for the last 10 minutes of the game…something we haven’t seen since Game1.  Yes, the Canucks were skating stronger, with more vigour, asserting themselves shift by shift, reminding themselves that they were the best third period team in the league with 11 third period comebacks.  Yes, they suddenly seemed themselves.  It was as though the fog that was covering them through games two and three and the first two periods of Game4 was lifting and they could complete more than one pass in a row, they could get a shot to the net, they could get to a rebound, they could cycle the puck in the offensive zone, they could make a few very key saves,  and they could score three goals in the third.

It was certainly a big difference from what we had seen earlier.  What a difference a period makes.  Now, the Canucks seem to have gotten their game back, have tied the series, regained home-ice advantage, and now carry the momentum heading into the, now, best of 3 series starting Friday at GM Place in front of what should be a revitalized crowd.

It was beginning to look as though the Canucks were starting to slip into, perhaps, another playoff disappointment where they hadn’t shown their best.  At least now, no matter what happens from here on out, the Canucks have had their say in this series, they didn’t go quietly, and they spoke with a voice so loud that not even Gary Bettman, Mike Murphy or the league itself could silence them.

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Rollercoaster season sees Canucks fight injuries; score heavily.

The 2009/2010 regular season comes to a screeching halt after seeing the Canucks deal with all kinds of adversity and successes, expectations and disappointments, highs and lows, and one of the NHL’s highest total of mangames lost to injury.  Still, they persevered, and once the dust settled they found themselves repeating as Northwest Division Champions, 2nd in league scoring with Henrik Sedin leading the way as the Art Ross Trophy winner, a 1st round match with the young and dynamic LA Kings, and a lot of questions to be answered.

Will the team’s depleted defense keep them from reaching their potential?

Will Luongo shake off the post-olympic cobwebs and regain his masterful form in time to keep the Canucks rolling?

Will the Sedins continue rolling and light up the other team’s goaltender?

Can Kesler and Burrows continue to get under the skin of their opponents while continuing to put up points?

There’s a lot that needs to be answered going into Thursday’s playoff opener at GM Place.  It all depends on which Canucks team shows up.  The Canucks have shown that when they are interested, they can beat anyone in the league as evidenced by wins over Chicago, Detroit, San Jose, Washington and Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh.  They’ve also shown their ugly side with inexplicable losses to Columbus, Carolina, Edmonton, and the Islanders.

Their first round opponent, the LA Kings, provide the Canucks with a serious competition.  They are young, fast, and physical.  They have depth at forward as well as on defence and have been overlooked by many around the NHL as this year’s “one-hit wonder”.  In my opinion, this team is for real.  They will give the Canucks all they can handle and meet the Canucks hit for hit and shot for shot.  The Canucks will need to be disciplined and stay put of the box as much as possible and they will need to have the better goaltender.  If Luongo is Luongo, the Canucks will win this series.  If we see the same Luongo we’ve seen since after the Olympic break, things may not go as well for the Canucks.

All in all, I expect this series to be very entertaining and well-played.  I expect that the Canucks will defeat the Kings in 7 games (as long as the refs stay out of the way).

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