As Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie puts it so accurately, the Canucks are facing their first real adversity in this year’s playoffs.
“It’s not so much that the Canucks lost a playoff game, because even they probably didn’t think they would go 16-0 to the Stanley Cup and win it all that way…” McKenzie said “…but it’s how they lost that game in Game 2 against the Chicago Blackhawks. For this team, the wheels completely came off. They had a 2-0 lead and it fell apart, and this was a team that had all the answers before.”
Adding the fact that they will probably head into the third game in Chicago without one of their best defenseman Sami Salo, the Canucks will have to start playing desperate hockey against a young Blackhawks team with all the momentum on their side. The statistic shows that the Canucks are 12-game above .500 with Salo, and 5-game below without. Will this be the downfall of the Canucks, in this year’s playoffs??? A year when the team has shown such promise for finally capturing their first-ever Stanley Cup.
Maybe it’s a bit too early to say, as the series are still tied at 1-1. The Canucks have shown that they can be very effective on the road, and perhaps if they can pull out one win in Chicago, they still have a decent shot at eliminating the Blackhawks in 6 or 7 games.
But what worries me the most is team confidence. Vancouver just doesn’t seem to have much against Chicago at this very moment, as in both games they enjoyed an early-lead, only to be tied by a talented and resilient hockey team. The Canucks got lucky in the first game, but not so lucky in the second game. Immediately after the second game, I wondered if I am Alain Vigneault, what am I to say to the team to boost their confidence, and prepare for the next game?? But I find it difficult to motivate them, since the team knows they can score against Chicago, but they will have to play a perfect 60 minute hockey game if they want to maintain any lead.
Is it possible to play a perfect 60-minute hockey game for 3 more games???
You can almost feel that the team knows that they can’t protect any lead against the Blackhawks. Look at the second period in the game 2, the team came out knowing that the Blackhawks won’t just go away, they knew that, but they just can’t doing anything to stop them. Lack of confidence results with mistakes and turn-overs, too many even for Luongo’s magic goaltending. It’s getting to their heads now, and that is something that won’t just go away easily.
It’s good that the team will get an extra day off before game 3, hopefully the team can settle down and go back to the basics. I mean, a lot of people will agree that the Canucks is still a great hockey club with speed, skills, grit and experience, even without their star defenseman Salo. They absolutely have what it takes to defeat the Blackhawks, they just have to start believing againg.
The next game will be the most crucial game of the season for the Canucks. If they can win one in Chicago, they know that they can afford to lose a game 4, and come back to Vancouver to regroup. But if they lose game 3, the team will be tested on something foreign for the first time this season, and that is trailing in a playoff series. Who know what that might do to the team psyche??!!!
So, let’s hope they win this next one, and if they don’t I’m off to buy shaving cream after the game.