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?