Outcoached. Again.

For much of the series, talk has been about how much the Chicago Blackhawks are in the Canucks’ players heads.

How else do you explain the Sedins’ play, who looked good in the first 3 games and then essentially outplayed once Dave Bolland returned? How do you explain getting outscored 16-5 in the last 3 games when a win in any of those games would have sent the Blackhawks home for the summer?

But it’s not just the players.

After watching the series build and piss away a 3-0 series lead, it’s obvious the Blackhawks are in coach Alain Vigneault’s head as well. For the third straight playoff season, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville has outcoached AV.

With a chance to sweep the Hawks in game 4, the Canucks came out with about as much emotion as Freddie Prinze Jr. does in his movies. After building a 3-0 series lead because of their physical play and an aggressive game plan, they suddenly decided to instead sit back and wait for the Hawks to take the play to them. In fact, watching game 4 last Tuesday was eerily reminiscent of watching game 4 against the same Hawks in 2009. So if it ain’t broke, then why did AV fix it?

With control of the series, AV should be forcing Quenneville to change Chicago’s game plan.

Instead, AV panicked and took Keith Ballard out of the lineup and replaced him with Aaron Rome in game 5. And when Rome crapped the bed, he came back and put Andrew Alberts in the lineup before Ballard in game 6.

So far this postseason, we’ve seen Mikael Samuelsson playing the point on the first-unit powerplay when having Alex Edler and Christian Ehrhoff there proved to be so successful in the first four months of the regular season. And of course, there’s the decision to play Cory Schneider over Roberto Luongo (which I’ll address in my next post).

For all the talk this week about sticking to their game plan, the opposite has played out. Certainly, they talked all season long about sticking to the process only to abandon the process with a 3-0 series lead. And if the coach abandons the process, then how does he expect the players to stay with it?

J.J. Guerrero

Founder and Executive Editor of Canucks Hockey Blog. Proud Canadian, hardcore Canucks fan. I would like nothing more than watching the Canucks win the Stanley Cup. Against the Leafs.

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4 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    The Canucks dominated most parts of game 6 and deserved a win for their efforts. Coach V took a massively different approach by playing the Sedins tons and forcing Chicago to react. It worked. While he lost the coaching battles in games 4 and 5, he came back and did a good job in game 6.

  2. Tom Wakefield says:

    Nice post JJ..this isn’t the first time AV’s been outcoached in the post-season, which is why, win or lose Game 7 of this series, I believe we’re in the final days of AV as coach of the Canucks. When things are unsettled you want your leadership core and your coach to be rock-solid and calm. I think his game 6 decision to start Corey Schneider was the opposite of that – a panic move that a) led to a loss b) possibly alienated the franchise goalie. Yes, the team played better in Game 6, but there is no way Vancouver should be in a Game 7 situation with the Blackhawks. I can’t help but think a different coach would have handled this series differently, and for the better.

  3. david says:

    the coach has always been outcoached by jq for the past 2 yrs now. this year is no different. put keith ballard playing the point. that ben smith goal wouldnt had happen if daniel jsut put his stick to deflect it or swat the puck away

  4. @Tom – You’re right. There shouldn’t even be a game 7 in this series. Not the way the Canucks started this series.

    I had a conversation with a Hawks fan after the game. He asked me if he thought the Torres hit was the turning point for the series. I said no. IMO, the turning point was when AV decided sitting back and playing defensive hockey was the best way to close out the series, even though the Canucks won the first 3 games playing the completely opposite way.

    @headtothenet – He did a better job of getting the guys ready for game 6… But Schneider for Luongo? Schneider was good but he was also responsible for the Canucks’ first two leads. Rome for Ballard was a head-scratcher (Rome was a -2 after his first 7 shifts), and then he followed it up with Alberts over Ballard (Alberts was the d-man who couldn’t get Hossa off the puck on the Smith’s GWG). Rome and Alberts didn’t play a lot – thank goodness – but in the meantime, they have a $4.2 million top-four defenseman sitting in the press box.

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