For the second game in a row the Canucks failed to put away the Black Hawks when they had the chance, and they have no one to blame except themselves.
In Game #1 they were very lucky to win after giving up a 3-goal lead in the third period, while last night they couldn't capitalize on an early 2-goal lead and were then ventilated for 5 straight before losing 6-3 to a Chicago team that seems to have the once-vaunted Canucks' 5-man team-game completely befuddled.
Serious props must be thrown Chicago's way as they have clearly been the better team through two games and could easily be up 2-0 heading home for Tuesday's game … even with the series tied at 1-1 it feels like they are ahead.
Saturday's game just felt like a continuation of the 3rd period of Thursday's affair when the Hawks came at the Canucks in waves; their speed, skillz, physicality, stretch-passes and getting to the net to cause confusion were all far superior to anything the Canucks could muster up. For most of this game it was Men-Against-Boys-like, and Chicago is the youngest team in the NHL.
This was a must-win for Chicago and now the tables have turned completely as another loss in Game #3 would provide, perhaps, some serious momentum that would be impossible to overcome for the Canucks, and may lead to a short series.
Hard to believe a team can lose just their first game of the post-season and things can look so bleak, but they do, you can just feel it. Coming in the Canucks' mentality was to just play and not worry about the other guys, but now they must do some very detailed analysis of what the young Hawks are doing and how to counter it or things will be over before they know it.
Losing Sami Salo to injury is very significant, but they have depth and everyone just needs to step-up … it doesn't matter, no excuses.
They had 3 great chances to make it 3-0 last night, just like they did in Game #1 to make it 4-0, and they couldn't convert … it doesn't matter, no excuses.
They were on the wrong end of one of the worst calls I've ever seen in the playoffs when Kevin Bieksa was blamed for Dustin Byfuglien purposely falling down so he could run into Roberto Luongo … it doesn't matter, no excuses.
Alex Burrows, Mattias Ohlund, and Ryan Kesler were on the ice for 1:30 of 5-on-3 against with Ohlund hurting from blocking a shot and Kesler playing without a stick for a good 30 seconds before surrendering the tying goal … it doesn't matter, no excuses.
None of that matters. What matters is that as a team and as individuals they need to take the challenge head-on and start playing the way they are capable of … Chicago is very good, but not that good.
Through this roller-coaster season the Canucks have responded pretty well to adversity and the Leadership Group of this team is far superior to previous years so they can do it, but it remains to be seen if they will.
We all thought they had received their wake-up call in Game #1, but apparently all the talk afterwards was hollow (“we'll be better”) and in reality, they just were repeatedly hitting the snooze button to stop the alarm going off … well that snooze button is officially broken now so they have no choice but to get out of bed and go to work like the rest of us.
A new best-of-5 series begins on Tuesday and if the Canucks want to have a chance at partaking in the real Desserts that they are striving for they'll have to spit out what the Hawks have served them up so far and and start acting like they want it.
The Grades …
A … Johnson
C+ … Luongo, Ohlund, Edler, Salo, Kesler, Bernier, Rypien
C … Bieksa, O'Brien, Henrik, Daniel, Burrows, Wellwood, Raymond
C- … Mitchell, Sundin, Demitra, Hordichuk
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Written by Mark Gage