Saturday, May 02, 2009

Game #1 Canucks 5 - Chicago 3 - Game Notes

From the better late than never file...

Aided by powerplay time, the Canucks were the better team for most of the game on Thursday, that was until the third period where they blew a three goal lead. Everyone could see it coming. As soon as the Blackhawks got one you knew they were going to get right back in it and the game would go down to the wire. Sure enough, Darcy Hordichuk took a bad penalty which gave Chicago the opening they needed. Fortunately, Sami Salo saved the day with the winning goal at 18:47 of the third. On to the game notes...

  • Heading in, the key to this series was going to be the ability of the Canucks to stay out of the box and to kill off penalties like they did against the Blues. In game one the tables were turned as it was the Hawks who had trouble staying out of the box. Fortunately for them they managed to do a very good job on the PK and kept themselves in the game. The Canucks on the other hand failed to put the Hawks away as they scored only once in nearly 13 minutes of powerplay time.
  • The reasoning behind having Hordichuk in the lineup is certainly understandable, but after game one Vigneault should seriously reconsider his options on the 4th line. Hordichuk's penalty wasn't a "dumb" play, it was just a symptom of his shortcomings. The guy simply doesn't have the wheels to be an effective forechecker. The Canucks should take advantage of the quality of Ryan Johnson's play and dress Taylor Pyatt on his wing. Chicago's 4th line plays a fair amount and the Canucks are probably better suited dressing a 4th line that is capable of playing up over 10 minutes.
  • One positive (or negative depending on how you look at it) for Vancouver is that Roberto Luongo was not at the top of his game A.K.A Superman Mode. Don't get me wrong, he was very good, but you could tell that he wasn't quite as razor sharp as he was against the Blues and in the final week of the season. I expect he will be better in game two now that the long layoff is behind him.
  • Speaking of the much talked about layoff, the Canucks responded pretty well as they had their legs fairly quickly and didn't look sloppy.
  • Kyle Wellwood continues to be a big factor for Vancouver. He now has 4 points in 5 games and has done a great job anchoring the third line. Credit should also be given to his linemates, Bernier and Raymond, who have also been playing very well.
  • Ryan Kesler had one of his best games of the playoffs finally getting on the scoresheet. It had been a slow start offensively for Kesler
  • Mats Sundin was back in the lineup and looked as he has for his entire tenure with the Canucks. Slow, at times a defensive liability, but also great on draws and dangerous with the puck and dangerous behind the net. When it's all added up, the Canucks are still a better team with him than without him. The Globe and Mail is reporting that Sundin is suffering from an MCL sprain.
  • Sami Salo's return was definitely a welcome sight. The Canucks best all around defenseman ended up with the game winner, but was also a calming influence to the blueline.
  • Finally, the Canucks dominated in the faceoff circle winning 63% of the draws. Expect this to play a key role as the series continues.

Some other notes...

  • In an interesting bit of news Jeff Cowan, yes the Brabarian, is back with the Canucks. Obviously he won't play unless there are some injuries up front, but it's nice to have a little more physical depth up front.
  • The Manitoba Moose opened their second round series against the Grand Rapids Griffins with a 2-1 victory Friday night. The Canucks don't look to be getting Moose reinforcements any time soon.
  • Cody Hodgson continues his great year as earlier last week he was named the OHL's most outstanding player, ahead of John Tavares. Unfortunately, Brampton looks to have met their match in the OHL final as they trail the series vs Windsor two games to none. Should Brampton be eliminated I believe Hodgson can join the Moose or if not, you will see him in Vancouver (although not likely in the lineup).
  • Oh, and in case you didn't already know, Ryan Kesler was nominated for the Selke trophy. Obviously he's not going to edge out Datsyuk or Richards, but it's nice to see Kesler get some recognition.

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