May 082009
 

It’s hard to fathom that one play might prove to be the difference in the Canucks’ Western Conference Semifinal series against the Blackhawks. Willie Mitchell’s attempted clear of the puck with under 3 minutes left in the third period and the Canucks nursing a 1-0 lead was intercepted by Marty Havlat; Havlat then scored to send the game to OT and Andrew Ladd scored in OT to win the game and tie the series.

But while it’s true that Willie’s play led directly to Havlat’s goal, I think the Canucks had it coming. After Darcy Hordichuk scored midway through the second period, they suddenly got away from what made them successful in these playoffs. They sat back on a 1-0 lead and spent almost the entire last half of Game 4 at least 60 feet away from Nikolai Khabibulin. Seemingly, their approach to the game changed – instead of playing to win, they started playing not to lose.

In Game 3, the Canucks did a very good job of the former. Yes, they placed an emphasis on their defensive play and controlled the tempo of the game, but when given the opportunity, they also challenged the Hawks. When they had the puck, they actually tried to do something with it instead of giving it up faster than Paris Hilton does in a Vegas club full of douchebags. Because the Canucks took some smart chances on offense, they forced the Hawks to play defense. Because they forced the Hawks had to play defense, they also kept the puck away from them and stalled their offense.

I thought the Canucks would have that figured out by now. In Games 1 and 2, they sat back on leads, gave up the puck (and thus scoring opportunities) too easily, let Roberto Luongo do all the work and it cost them. In Game 1, they built a 3-0 lead and sat back; the Hawks then scored 3 third period goals to tie it up. In Game 2, they built a 2-0 lead in the first 7 minutes of the game and sat back; the Hawks then scored 5 unanswered goals.

I don’t doubt that the Canucks need to play good – scratch that, great – defense to succeed in the playoffs, but they can’t forget the offense part either. It’s called playing not to lose, and when teams that play like that, they generally lose anyway.

  • http://www.sportsandthecity.com eyebleaf

    Last night was just brutal.

    Hopefully, lesson learned. The team cannot sit back like that. There’s no way they can expect to win a playoff game in which Hordy is the only guy scoring. They’ve got to take the game to the Canucks. This series was 2 minutes away from effectively being over.

    Game 5 is going to be crazy.

  • http://www.sportsandthecity.com eyebleaf

    Last night was just brutal.

    Hopefully, lesson learned. The team cannot sit back like that. There’s no way they can expect to win a playoff game in which Hordy is the only guy scoring. They’ve got to take the game to the Canucks. This series was 2 minutes away from effectively being over.

    Game 5 is going to be crazy.

  • http://www.sportsandthecity.com eyebleaf

    And, of course, I mean take the game to the Blackhawks. FAIL!

    Go Canucks!!!!!1

    This is Sundin’s time to shine. Come on Mats…

  • http://www.sportsandthecity.com eyebleaf

    And, of course, I mean take the game to the Blackhawks. FAIL!

    Go Canucks!!!!!1

    This is Sundin’s time to shine. Come on Mats…

  • http://www.canuckshockeyblog.com J.J. Guerrero

    After game 3, I thought for sure they’d learnt their lesson. *sigh*

    I think Botchford said it best in his Province piece this morning – it was a game only 2007 could love. And the Canucks didn’t make it out of the second round either.

    I actually don’t know why they chose to play the way they did because, unlike 2007, they have some good depth in the lineup this time around.

    Here’s hoping for a better Game 5.

  • http://www.canuckshockeyblog.com J.J. Guerrero

    After game 3, I thought for sure they’d learnt their lesson. *sigh*

    I think Botchford said it best in his Province piece this morning – it was a game only 2007 could love. And the Canucks didn’t make it out of the second round either.

    I actually don’t know why they chose to play the way they did because, unlike 2007, they have some good depth in the lineup this time around.

    Here’s hoping for a better Game 5.

  • http://www.juicynights.ws Ramzi

    first of last night was disspointing, but not as heart breaking as the game again SJ back in Jan! I think they were testing how far they would go with this style… i think the major problem were the forwards were simply not sharp! Having said all that no one expected it to be a 3 – 1 series lead… they did their job and took one game from Chicago!

    Now they have home ice advantage and i’m leaning towards them winning! because with that syle of game the hawks barely beat them, And in the playoffs there is no such thing as momentum, momentum is created during the game at hand!

    Bottom line they won’t beat Luongo twice in a row and i doubt he’ll go 1-2 for the remainder of the series…

  • http://www.juicynights.ws Ramzi

    first of last night was disspointing, but not as heart breaking as the game again SJ back in Jan! I think they were testing how far they would go with this style… i think the major problem were the forwards were simply not sharp! Having said all that no one expected it to be a 3 – 1 series lead… they did their job and took one game from Chicago!

    Now they have home ice advantage and i’m leaning towards them winning! because with that syle of game the hawks barely beat them, And in the playoffs there is no such thing as momentum, momentum is created during the game at hand!

    Bottom line they won’t beat Luongo twice in a row and i doubt he’ll go 1-2 for the remainder of the series…

%d bloggers like this: