Another team-effort win over the Blues in St. Louis puts the Canucks up 3-0 series lead in the first round of the 2009 Playoffs. This marks the Canucks as the first team in the entire league to capture 3 wins this playoff season. Statistically, very very few teams have ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit to take a seven-game series, across all professional sports. But if you ask anyone in the Canucks dressing-room, they will tell you that nothing has been won yet…not even this series.
It was another tight-checking game, as it always is in the Playoffs, but this one started out with the Blues playing a tremendous first period. St. Louis came out flying, and outshot Vancouver 12 to 5 in the first 20 minutes. An early goal by David Backes gave the Blues a 1-0 lead enter the first intermission. However, by escaping 5 minor penalties, of which one of them is a 5-3 powerplay, the momentum was shifting back to the Canucks by the end of the period.
Vancouver then bounced back in the second period outshooting the St. Louis 13-7, and staying out of the penalty box in the entire middle-frame, while scoring two powerplay goals. A point-shot from defenseman Mattias Ohlund and an ugly poke-through by Daniel Sedin standing in front of the net, gave the Canucks a short-lived lead, only to be tied-up by a beautiful one-timer from Andy McDonald six minutes later.
The rough-stuff at the end of the second period gave the Canucks a powerplay entering the third period, which was capitalized by Steve Bernier 1:41 in the third session. That will proved to be the winner, although the Canucks didn’t actually enjoy any smooth-sailing in the third, especially during another 5-3 powerplay by the Blues during the 7-minute mark.
At the end, timely powerplay goals, excellent penalty-kills, tight-checking defensive play and again a tremendous effort by Roberto Luongo were enough to silence a full-house of 19,350 St. Louis fans at Scottrade Center. If the Canucks are able to secure another win on Tuesday in St. Louis, this will be the first-ever series-sweep for the Vancouver Canucks, since the change to the current seven-game playoff series twenty years ago.
Of course, it will not be easy, or even likely, since the Blues despite lacking production from their specialty-team, has played three very very good games so far. Andy McDonald, in particular, has been just sensational. With Mats Sundin out of the line-up, due to a Lower-Body (Groin) Injury, the Kesler-Hansen-Demitra line has yet to provide any evidence of secondary scoring. However, with the overall “agitating” style the entire Canucks roster is playing, the team may not need a whole lot of goals, if they can get an early lead and then play solid defensively to close out this series.
Evidence of trash-talking by frick and frack on Backes:
Game 4 prediction:
The Blues will most likely bounce back with a tremendous game, it will be even more physical than it has been so far. If the league doesn’t penalize David Backes for his late-game head-shot at Henrik Sedin, the game will really be out of hand on Tuesday. St. Louis has a young team, and they may lack confidence right now, but they have a lot of energy to compensate. If Paul Kariya returns for this possible-final game of their season, the Canucks will have a much tougher time than they did so far in the past three games. Look for Luongo to face this challenge, as he always plays his best hockey when it counts the most.
I think this series will drag on to 5 games, with another win next Friday at home to finish out this series. The team should still be able to take a few days off waiting for the results of their next round opponents. Hopefully there won’t be a lot of injuries for Vancouver when this series is over.