Apr 292011
 

I think it said a lot about how Canucks fans anticipated this series that much of the pregame chatter still focused on the team’s round 1, game 7 win against the Chicago Blackhawks rather than round 2, game 1 against the Nashville Predators.

No, game 1 against the Preds won’t soon be talked about as an instant classic, but from the Canucks’ standpoint, it was an effective performance. What they may have lacked in emotion – at least relative to how much they played with in game 7 – they made up by dictating the pace of the game and controlling most of the play. They had numerous scoring opportunities – quality chances – and really, had it not been for Pekka Rinne, the Canucks may well have blown out the Preds.

The Hero

Chris Higgins. For the second time in these playoffs, the “consolation prize” in the Marty Reasoner sweepstakes scored the game-winning goal for the Canucks. He also scored the game-winning goal in game 1 of the first round against Chicago.

The Goat

Patric Hornqvist. A 21-goal scorer in the regular season (2nd on the team), Hornqvist was held in check for most of the game and took 3 minor penalties.

The Numbers

  • 70. The Canucks won 70% of their faceoffs in the offensive zone (19/27) – a big reason they dominated play and were able to create so many scoring opportunities.
  • 11:12. Keith Ballard played a good game. He literally bowled through Ryan Suter in the first period to create a couple of scoring chances by himself. He also had a great hip check on Jordin Tootoo in the second period even though referee Marc Joannette called him for clipping. Despite that, he only had 11:12 minutes of ice-time. Meanwhile, the top-4 of Hamhuis, Bieksa, Ehrhoff and Edler all played more than 22 minutes. With Bally’s reduced ice-time and 2 penalties, why do I have a bad feeling Andrew Alberts will be reunited with Aaron Rome for game 2?
  • 14. After leading the NHL with 3.15 goals per game in the regular season, the Canucks are averaging almost a full goal per game less – 2.12 goals per game – in their first 8 playoffs games. This ranks them 14th out of 16 playoff teams.

The Next Time

Some finish would be nice. Despite outchancing the Preds by a wide margin, Nashville was still a lucky bounce and a Mike Fisher third period breakaway from tying the game up.

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