I like Elliotte Friedman’s (CBC) take on the Vancouver Canucks’ 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks last night.
Question No. 1: What do people around the NHL think of the Canucks?
Answer: A really good, potentially great, team. Definitely have the ability to win the Western Conference, if not the Stanley Cup.
Question No. 2: What else do they think?
Answer: An easily distracted group that beats itself through paranoia and a thin skin. A team pre-occupied with “conspiracies” against them and a perceived lack of respect.
That’s why last night’s Game 5 victory in Chicago was monumental. That is what the Canucks can be. That is their potential.
When Dustin Byfuglien high-sticked Shane O’Brien, and got nothing, they didn’t whine or fall apart. Same when Andrew Ladd ripped open the defenceman’s stitches. Same when David Bolland wounded Daniel Sedin with a slash to the ankles. And again when Ben Eager whacked Christian Ehrhoff late in the game.
They weren’t baited into stupid penalties. They didn’t lose their cool at verbal taunts or teammates being compared to “Dumb and Dumber” characters. For two years, all of this has worked for Chicago against Vancouver. Roberto Luongo looked lost. Others behaved embarrassingly. Even the Sedins lost their cool.
Not last night.
During the post-game show on Team 1040, they mentioned, numerous times, that the Canucks won because they played Canucks hockey. They controlled the puck and let the Blackhawks chase them around. And when they ignored the verbal taunts and the dirty whacks, the Blackhawks got frustrated.
If the Canucks want to extend this series to Game 7 and their playoff run past this round, they need more of what they did in Game 5. I have no doubt in my mind that the Blackhawks will come out bigger and dirtier in Game 6, and the Canucks will need to dig deeper and grow even thicker skin. It’s clear now that, when it comes to playing Chicago, composure is key.
Sticks and stones and all that.