Canucks fans are sitting twiddling their thumbs because of their early ousting of the St. Louis Blues, but it’s time to figure out who the Canucks want to face in the second round and hop on someone else’s bandwagon in the down time. That or we need to convince Gary Bettman to have a mini series with the Bruins while we kill time till the second round.
When you look at the potential matchups out there for the Canucks in the second round, assuming the Ducks upset the reigning President Trophy winning Sharks, the Canucks are going to be facing the winner of the Chicago/Calgary series. Now I know everyone’s immediate instinct is to hop right to supporting the Blackhawks because it’s been clear in recent years there’s not many teams that hate each other like the Canucks hate the Flames, and the same goes for the fans of those teams. But, we should honestly be cheering for the Flames in this series and hope they pull it off. Now you want to know why don’t you?
The Flames had one of the worst road records for teams that made the playoffs. The Canucks have one of the better home records for teams that made the playoffs. The Canucks are 17-1-1 in their last 19 starts at GM Place and if the Chicago/Calgary season is any indication, the Flames road woes continue as they dropped the first two games at the United Center.
Still not convinced? Looking at Calgary’s lineup I’m not convinced they’re at 100%. They finished the regular season having to dress only 15 forwards against Edmonton, and with the cap trouble they had themselves in at the end of the season it’s clear that Calgary hurt themselves in the last few games and needed more time than they got to get themselves in true playoff shape. Calgary slipped and slid from their perch atop the Northwest division to finish the regular season in 5th and Vancouver did just the opposite. The Flames have been struggling to play a full 60 minutes. Just look at their last game against the Blackhawks when just in little over 9 minutes they managed to blow a 4-1 lead and give up the tying marker with under 20 seconds left in the period.
You still think it would be better to cheer for Chicago don’t you? One of the most important reasons the Canuck want to face the Flames in the second round is all about geography. A trip to Calgary is only across one border, it’s only across one time zone, and let’s face it, there are so many transplanted Vancouverites there it’s as close to a home away from home as the Canucks will ever find. Aside from the absolutely fantastic hockey, passion and energy we could expect from playing them, one of the biggest advantages to us, especially having come of this long 10 day break, is the fact that the Pengrowth Saddledome is just a few hours away. We saw what a toll the series against Dallas took on the Canucks two seasons ago, by playing a series which is quite literally on our back door, we’re setting ourselves up very nicely if we make it to the next round.
If the Canucks draw Calgary, the Redwings draw the Ducks. The winner of that series is going to have flown back and forth across the country and the winner coming out of our series is going to be a lot better off for wear and tear if we play the Flames instead of the Blackhawks.
So while our hate for the Flames runs stronger than the blue that runs through our veins, it’s in the Canucks’ best interest to put on their best fake smile and will the Flames to victory. Against a tired Flames squad with a banged up core and a less than stellar “star” goalie, the Canucks couldn’t ask for a better opponent in round two.