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Playoff Preview? Bring It On!

What's not to like?  The Canucks rolled into Chi-Town and rolled right over the Black Hawks in a dominating 4-0 win against a team that, just 7 weeks ago, was 11 points ahead in the standings and wakes up this morning tied with the Left Coasters for 4th in the West.

The Hawks still have a game in hand, but the in the last two meetings between the two the Canucks have a 11-3 combined edge in goals. When the Hawks ran off and left the naysayers in their dust early in the year, hardly ever losing a game, they were practically unbeatable at The United Center. Prior to last night they had won their last 3 at home, but before that they couldn't beat anybody in front of those 21,000-plus rabid fans that are selling out the building every night.

Sunday's game was a huge one for both teams. If Chicago had gotten a regulation win the chances of Vancouver catching them would have been very slim, now the Canucks have “to be in their heads”, and clearly the young Hawks would prefer playing someone else in the first round.

I've said for a while now that I was actually hoping the Canucks stayed in 5th so that they would start against the inexperienced Hawks facing immense pressure on home-ice after re-invigorating their massive fan base in one of the best stories of the NHL year. I still feel that way, but that home-ice advantage might come in very handy in the 2nd round if there's an upset or two by others in the first round.

Of course, the Canucks are now only one point behind the Flames with a game in hand after Calgary plays San Jose tonight), and an April 7th match-up looming on the horizon, so taking the Division Crown and getting the 3rd seed would let them avoid San Jose and Detroit in the second round, assuming only one of the 5th through 8th seeds can win in the first round.

In an 82 game schedule there's usually a handful that stick out more than others and this win, under these circumstances, was most definitely one of 'em. Teams win when they're not at their best sometimes, but this win was one of, if not the best, 60 minute team-win of the season.

Not only did they get the huge win and two points in, arguably, the biggest game of the year so far, but the extra curricular activities early in the 3rd after Dustin Byfuglien gave roberto Luongo a blatant cheap shot to the head can only help galvanize the Boys as a group in the room.

They already felt they had a good team with all the components required, but you can't orchestrate emotions and when a line-brawl like that happens and guys show they have the gumption and desire to stick up for one another, it can have a very real effect on energizing the team, reinforcing their beliefs … a lot of this game is between the ears and to get that Boost so late in the season against a potential opponent can not be under-estimated.

The Triplets led the way with Henrik, Daniel and Burrows a combined plus-9 on their 9 points. Daniel got 2 & 1 and now has 30 on the year while Henrik dished out 3 helpers and Burrows sent his totals on his magical season to 26 goals and 21 assists, and is now 16 points and counting above his career-high.

The number one unit also happened to be on the ice when all the shananigans went off and I thought the Sedins were more than accountable considering their nature … and more importantly, the perception they have in a lot of Canucks Nation.

I've said it countless times, but they take a ton of crap and never back down … it may not be THE “tough” that us Canadians want from all our players, but make no mistake, it is a form of toughness. Daniel showed it in Dallas last week with his badly cut lip and losing a tooth, and last night he didn't give an inch as he was being challenged repeatedly with blows to his face that has to be extremely sore from the injuries. Yes he didn't do much reciprocation, but he didn't run away and hide either, knowing that Chicago would more than likely come out of it on the short-end of the penalties he stood there and took it like a man. 

Then you have Shane O'Brien and Kevin Bieksa, who are, in my mind, far and above Darcy Hordichuk in the team's enforcer rankings, going nutty in the Brouhaha and you have a team that is truly a TEAM and one that even the most pessimistic amongst us must be at least starting to admit that they just might have a chance this year.

This far into the Blog and the only time Lui's name has been typed is talking about him being cheap-shotted when he gets a shutout in a huge game? Well, he obviously got the job done and he was very good in doing it, but this was much more all the guys pulling-the-rope in the same direction than the goaltender standing on his head.

When Bobby Lou's on his game he makes everything look easy and his 26 saves, for the most part, “looked easy.” The bagel was his 7th of the season tying his career-high (after missing two months on IR), and his 18th as a Canuck in 2-plus seasions, leaving him just two shy of Kirk McLean's Franchise-best 20. His team is now 19-5-1 in the last 25 games and he has gone 18-4-1 over that stretch. He has set the bar so high that even when he's perfect he sometimes doesn't get the recognition he deserves and I am as guilty as anyone on that front … well, almost as guilty … lolz.

The final game of this 6-game roady goes tomorrow in Minny against the always-tough-for-the-Canucks Minnesota Wild and with a win there's a good chance that we'll wake up and see our team in 3rd place in the West come Wednesday morning.

Whoever the Canucks meet in the first round I like their chances, however after yesterday's game I really, really, hope what we witnessed yesterday was a Playoff Preview.


No regular Grades today … this team-win deserves nothing but an A+

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In response to “Playoff Preview? Bring It On!”

  1. Dan Rakusan Mar 30 200911:46 am


    I would be shocked to see Chicago beat the Canucks in the playoffs, assuming Vancouver played like last night… They simply out-muscled and out-hit the Hawks.I like what the Hawks bring to the table in terms of youthful skill, but I'm not sold on their ability to endure a physical series. In my books, this is really the only matchup that would heavily lean in Vancouver's favour, as I believe the rest of the West is on more equal footing… For some reason, Chicago kind of reminds me of the Senators about 8 years ago. Loads of skill, but maybe a bit thin on grit…

  2. Scott Simmons Mar 30 20091:30 pm


    couldn't agree more with your grades gage….fun game to watch, nice to see bieksa and SOB snapping… the chicago goons tried to intimadate our “soft euro's”… im hoping CHI slips a little and drops into the 5 spot so we can play them in the 4 spot..i predict a first round upset by columbus over calgary too so thats pretty much best case scenario..

  3. Mark Gage Mar 31 20093:30 am


    Chicago has toughness and grit but not enough of it from their star players, imo … more than anything I think it is just the fact that so many of the best players are so young and that inexperience would make tha Canucks the favourite starting on the road or at home.With Lui in goal and everything else including depth and balance at all positions I hoenstly think the Canucks match up well with any team, but obv Chicago looks to be the most favourable.

  4. Mark Gage Mar 31 20093:40 am


    So Scott, you like my Grades because you agree it was a team win or you just don't like my regular individual ones??? lol … J/KChicago doesn't have to slip much to get to #5, that's for sure, and it could be Calgary they are facing and Columbus for the Canucks quite easily too w/ Calgary losing again last night.SOB said yesterday that “if you're going to push one of us around you're going to have to push all uf us” … exactly what I was talking about in this Blog and how they would get an emotional lift from all that crap that went on in the 3rd … you can't force it, which makes it all the better when it happens.Canucks in 1st place in the Division with a win tonight … another huge game.

  5. Kassim Kamani Mar 31 20099:53 am


    Hard to imagine a win puts us in the lead today, sorry to nitpick, but we only have one game in hand on the flames after calgarys game last night.

  6. Mark Gage Mar 31 200911:34 am


    No worries Kas, someone has to keep me honest … actually I saw I was wrong about that last night but forgot to change it … thanks.Just saw some interesting stats on the noon news … in the month of March Burrows has the most goals in the league (11), Burrows and Mitchell have the best +/- (13), Henrik has the most points (18), Daniel 2nd most (17) and Kesler 3rd most (16) … WOW18 points for Henrik … no idea why the smiley comes up there, tried 3 times to fix it and it won't change!

  7. Kassim Kamani Mar 31 20091:03 pm


    its because of the bracket after the 8, its the shortcut for that smiley. ugh here i go again, Burrows has 11 goals in march, but still damn impressive and probably still most goals in league

  8. Mark Gage Mar 31 20093:00 pm


    LOL … I did that off the top of my head as I never wrote it down … when I first saw it on the screen I thought I'd never remember all of that then I was fixing the “2 games in hand” and it popped into my head and I quickly wrote it down on paper to post … 5 stats and 6 names and only one wrong? At my age I'll take that!

  9. Mark Gage Mar 31 20093:55 pm


    Hawks down 2-0 in Montreal

    1. Dan Rakusan Mar 31 20097:21 pm


      Hawks down 2-0 in Montreal

      Hawks are trying to avoid Vancouver. The way they played tonight, I honestly wouldn't be shocked to find out that was the plan… They left that game with a lesson…Better to play Calgary if possible for the Hawks. Kipper is tired, the team is disjointed all of a sudden, and Vancouver is coming together very well…Man, I'd hate for Sundin to win a Cup this season, although I have no beef with the Nucks taking one. I actually cheered for them in (I think) 94 against the Rangers – my new team…Go figger!

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