Thursday, April 14, 2011

Canucks Take Game One 2-0

The Vancouver Canucks opened their 2011 Stanley Cup drive with an impressive 2-0 victory over the Blackhawks. The Canucks took it to Chicago early, dominating in the hit department while adding a couple goals. The Hawks got it together in the 2nd period, but Roberto Luongo was outstanding, posting his second career playoff shutout. On to the game notes...

  • The big story of game one was obviously Roberto Luongo. His huge save off Brian Campbell late in the second was both an amazing stop and a key save at a critical time. The Blackhawks had played a strong period, but in the end had nothing to show for it. It's a totally different 3rd if Chicago gets within one.
  • Luongo was outstanding, but he was also pretty lucky. Chicago hit a lot of posts and misfired on several chances. Sure, the Canucks also had their share of posts and close calls, but Vancouver needs to tighten up the defensive coverage. Eventually some of those bounces aren't going to go their way.
  • Much has been made about the Canucks' physical play and their whopping hit total of 47 (almost half of which came in the first period). While it's nice to rack up the hits and punish your opponent, the Canucks may have been a little too aggressive. There were a few occasions where they got caught out of position after going for the big hit. There were also a few missed open ice hits that could have resulted in penalties or suspensions had they connected. Not saying they shouldn't be physical, just that they need to make sure they're on the right side of that fine line.
  • Despite their aggressive approach the Canucks did a great job of staying out of the penalty box and when they did take a penalty the PK was outstanding.
  • It's clear that this is no where near the same Chicago team as the one that won the Stanley Cup last year. Beyond Toews, Kane, Seabrook and Keith there's just not a whole lot there. The only way Chicago can win is if those 4 guys dominate. They all played well in game one, but it wasn't enough. If the Canucks can keep Toews and Kane off the scoresheet this series will be over quickly... if they don't Chicago is still very capable of winning the series.
  • Unlike Chicago the Canucks are oozing depth. The depth on the blueline is arguably unprecedented in the salary cap era and Vancouver has all 4 forward lines contributing (a lot like the Hawks last year).

It's only game one, but as a Canuck fan you have to be pretty happy with your team's performance . Sure they were a little too reliant on Luongo and they got some lucky breaks, but you have to be good to be lucky. The Canucks took it to Chicago early and forced them to play from behind all night. Perhaps the most encouraging thing to take from game one is that Vancouver can be a lot better. It's early, but the Stanley Cup dream is alive and well.