Saturday, April 16, 2011

Canucks Finally Win a Game 2 Vs Chicago

It got interesting late, but the Vancouver Canucks managed to hang on to a 4-3 lead and win game #2 for the first time in the past three series against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Canucks had another dominant opening period, once again scoring first while hitting the Hawks hard and often. The Canucks never lost the lead and responded every time Chicago scored or gained momentum. The Canucks' stars were better than the Blackhawks' stars and the Canucks dominated the special teams game. Without a few Luongo miscues this game may not have been close. On to the game notes...

  • Roberto Luongo was brilliant in game one, but for whatever reason he wasn't nearly as sharp in game two. All three goals on their own merits weren't terrible - they can all be explained away - but their totality showed a lack of focus or sharpness from Luongo. The first could have been played better by every Canuck involved in the play, but 9 times out of 10 Luongo either blocks that pass or is ready to push off and make the save; The second came off a routine D to D pass that jumped over Edler's stick. Stalberg quickly shot through Edler and Luongo didn't pick the puck up in time. In game one he makes that save; The third was simply a poor rebound; In the past these types of goals have snowballed, let's hope Luongo can put game two behind him.
  • Chicago had only two powerplays, but the Vancouver penalty kill was dominant nonetheless. Chicago failed to register a shot on goal while the Canucks had a few shorthanded chances. Alex Burrows was tremendous, both in his own end and applying pressure up ice.
  • Chicago got a good push from their secondary players, but their big four struggled. Toews and Kane both played over 20 minutes, but had just two shots between them. Brent Seabrook struggled while Duncan Keith played nearly half the game and was a -2. The Canucks have done a great job shutting down the big 4, while Quenneville - playing from behind all series - has been forced to play them at every opportunity. We'll see how much of an effect last change will be when the series hits Chicago.
  • Their are a few clich├ęs which always come to fruition during the playoffs. One of those is "never give up a goal in the first or last minute of a period." Chicago did both in the second period of game two.
  • Average shift time for Canucks skaters ranged from Ballard's low of 31 seconds to Dan Hamhuis' high of 47 seconds.
  • The Canucks actually lossed the faceoff battle in game two, winning only 20 out of 50 draws. Most concerning is that Vancouver's right handed centres (Kesler and Lapierre) were a combined 4 for 12 in the defensive zone. Canucks will need to be better in Chicago where they don't have the advantage of last change.
  • Mikael Samuellsson missed the game with what the Canucks call "the flu"... cough, cough, bullshit. It's obvious to everyone that Samuellsson is still battling through an injury or two. Either that or Torres' "food poisoning" is actually the flu and it's spreading around the team.
  • If Samuellsson can't go in game three Cody Hogdson may keep his spot in the lineup when Torres returns. Hogdson played pretty well in 10:22 picking up an assist and a couple shots on goal. Unfortunately he was also on the ice for two Chicago goals. It will be interesting to see how he handles his defensive duties in the pressure packed atmosphere of the United Center. Without last change his ice time will be limited, especially if it's a tight game.
  • Finally what can you say about Alex Edler. Just returning from back surgery and it looks like he didn't miss a game. 22:12, a goal, 2 shots, 2 blocked shots and 4 hits, including a gamesetter against Kane early in the first. He was also huge during the final minutes as the Hawks were pushing to tie. Best all around defenseman to ever play in a Vancouver uniform and he's only 24.
  • Despite Luongo's struggles, Vancouver once again showed that they are the better team this year. It's going to be tougher in Chicago, and the series certainly isn't over, but Vancouver looks like a team on a mission. It's hard to imagine a scenario where this team loses 4 of 5. Game three goes Sunday at 5:00 (CBC) in Chicago.