Thursday, April 16, 2009

Game #1 - Canucks 2 - Blues 1 - Game Notes

The Vancouver Canucks opened their 2009 playoff drive with a solid 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues in what was a penalty filled affair. The Canucks took the lead mid way through the first and after killing a 5 on 3 Blues advantage they were never really in danger of losing the game. On to the game notes...

  • Willie Mitchell was arguably the best player on the ice. He was outstanding in the defensive zone, the highlight being the huge penalty kill in the first period. Mitchell was excellent at boxing out players in front of the net and was a force all night.
  • Led by Mitchell, the Canucks defense as a whole was top notch. The Blues never threatened outside of power play opportunities. The Canucks kept them to the outside and there were no second chances.
  • Roberto Luongo was named the first star as he was on top of his game. Great rebound control and he was tremendous at following the puck through traffic (something his counterpart had some trouble with).
  • Even though they got a goal, the Canucks power play was not very good. They struggled moving the puck up ice and getting into the offensive zone. They were also an abysmal 4 for 13 on faceoffs. Special teams are going to decide this series, the Canucks power play must be much better.
  • Steve Bernier had a great game, playing a large role (literally) in both Canuck goals. It looked like he may have tipped Salo's goal, either way his presence in front of Mason was a key to both goals.
  • Anyone hoping that Mats Sundin could magically flip a switch when the playoffs started is probably... well it ain't happening. Sundin looked slow and was not particularly effective.
  • The CBC HD broadcast was top notch, especially the great 5.1 audio which really captures the atmosphere of the building. It's a nice treat to have the A team calling Canuck playoff games. Milbury and Hrudey were very good as usual. The only downside to CBC's coverage was the awful "I-desk". We really don't need to see some goof typing away on a laptop.
  • Darcy Hordichuk serves no purpose in the playoffs. He just isn't good enough to play.
  • There were many questionable calls in the penalty filled contest, the worst of which was that awful charging call on Rick Rypien.
  • Speaking of penalties, the Canucks have to be much more disciplined. They cannot afford to take penalties like the one Ryan Johnson took at the end of the first. I specifically pointed out the Sedins taking offensive zone penalties a few weeks ago and sure enough an offensive zone penalty put the game in jeopardy.
  • Mason Raymond had a strong game finishing with 4 shots on goal, although he did fail to pick up Boyes on the penalty kill.
  • Other Canuck standouts included Sami Salo, Kyle Wellwood, the Sedins and of course Ryan Kesler.

Overall it was a very solid effort by the Canucks. They got the job done on the PK and when there was finally some 5 on 5 play in the third, the Canucks stepped it up and had a dominant period to close out the game.

Game #2 goes Friday at 7:00pm

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