Almost to a man, the Canucks talked at length about playing more physically after getting beat in Chicago in Game 2. As the saying goes – talk is cheap.
That the Canucks lost 5-2 and now trail 2-1 in their Western Conference Semifinal series against the Blackhawks was bad enough. That the Blackhawks won by bullying the Canucks around at GM Place should be cause for serious concern.
To be fair, the Canucks, at times, generated some excellent pressure and scoring opportunities, only to be thwarted by Antti Niemi. However, for the most part, the Blackhawks threw their weight around, outworked the home team, blocked shots, and won the puck and positional battles when it mattered the most.
It’s not like the Canucks didn’t know what was coming to them. Everyone knew that the Blackhawks would simply crowd Luongo’s crease and then throw the puck at him. Still, all of Chicago’s goals came from within a couple of feet of Luongo, and all were scored on second or third chances.
How do you explain a Dustin Byflugien hat trick? How do you explain a goal scored by one of THREE Chicago players camped on the left side of Luongo’s crease and the lone Canucks defenseman (Bieksa) standing idly by on the right side? How does Dave Bolland get to Daniel Sedin without any sort of push back from the rest of the team? And most importantly, how does Luongo get repeatedly run over seemingly without any impediment from the guys in front of him?
Shane O’Brien going after Marian Hossa and the Chicago bench late in the third period doesn’t count. Neither does Kevin Bieksa confronting Byfluglien after the game was over. At that point, the damage was done, and in my own opinion, only sends the message that they are now a frustrated bunch.
Considering what was at stake, tonight’s performance was quite possibly the most embarassing of the Canucks’ postseason. In the last couple of games, the Blackhawks increased their intensity and level of play; the Canucks couldn’t match it. If the Canucks want to win 3 of the next 4 games, this can’t happen. They can talk all they want about learning from last year’s loss to this same Blackhawks team but as another saying goes – actions speak louder than words.