May 152009
 
May 142009
 
May 132009
 
May 122009
 

By NHL standards, Dan O’Halloran and Mike Leggo officiated a good game last night. Like Colin Campbell’s disciplinary decisions this offseason, the officiating was horribly inconsistent. If Colin Campbell is the ringleader of NHL justice, then his referees have a done a good job of following him.

Considering the importance of last night’s game, it was one of the worst officiated games I’ve ever seen. From my point of view, it seemed like Dan O. and Leggo didn’t know how they wanted to call the game. At times, they would let a lot of things go; at others, no. They didn’t have a standard, and watching the game, I had no idea when a penalty was a penalty and when it wasn’t.

Alex Edler and Ryan Kesler were hammered with late hits and there were no calls. Rick Rypien hit Ben Eager against the boards and Ryp received a minor; the Hawks scored on the ensuing powerplay. Kesler was high-sticked and Roberto Luongo was whacked with a stick and there were no calls. Meanwhile, Shane O’Brien had a ticky-tack hook called on him; the Hawks scored the winning goal afterwards.

I’m not blaming the Canucks’ loss on the officiating, but certainly, the lousy officiating didn’t help. To be fair, Rypien and O’Brien probably deserved their penalties; but just as much, the Blackhawks deserved to be called on theirs too. As fans of the game, what we look for is consistency and there was none of that last night.

But then again, this is the NHL where consistency – especially in disciplinary-type incidents – doesn’t seem to be part of the vocabulary. Just in this year’s playoffs, we’ve seen different consequences for similar actions. Carcillo and Cammalleri laid out similar head shots off the faceoff, but only Carcillo was suspended. Lucic and Backes last out similar head shots during a scrum, but only Lucic was suspended. Brashear and Eager took out opponents with similar late hit to the head, but only Brashear was suspended. Scott Walker sucker punched Aaron Ward, a suspensionable offense according to the league’s own rules, but the league then turned around and rescinded the suspension.

At times, it almost seems like Colin Campbell and his crew spin the wheel to decide what punishment to give. Last night was no different. I’m not saying the Canucks would have won otherwise – I’ve already admitted the Blackhawks were the better team in this series – but they at least deserved a fairer chance.

May 122009
 

I’ve defended Luongo all season. There are people that are saying that I’m completely out of line for what you’re about to read, there are people saying that were it not for Luongo, we would never have gotten where we were. There are people that say it was the defences fault and that he is not to blame.

When the regular season is done, it’s gone. What happens in the regular season means nothing. It’s over. Don’t believe me? Look at the San Jose Sharks. Slam dunk case. ln an elimination game, all stats go out the window. Nothing matters but the final score. It doesnt matter how Luongo played to get to where we were, all that mattered was how he played in Game 6.

I’ve seen the tears before. We saw the tears from him when he cost us the elimination Game 6 against the Ducks, we saw the tears when we missed the post season and he blamed himself last year, and again we see the tears this year when he blames himself for letting in 7 goals. Count it – 7 goals. What gives me the right to come down on him? The fact that he spited Canucks fans by strongly implying he wouldn’t resign with us when his contract was up because we weren’t a contender.

“I think we have a team with a chance to win the Cup. At the end of the day, the only thing that’s going to enter my mind for the [contract] decision is winning. That’s why I play. I’ve played 10 years in this league and haven’t had much success. I think I’m deserving of having a chance to win the Cup, and hopefully that comes with Vancouver.”

The fact that when the game that mattered most came around, he was no where to be seen. When everything is on the line, you need your best players to be your best players. There’s no doubt that everyone came to play last night, except Luongo. He was fantastic in the first 5, maybe 10 minutes. After that it’s like Cloutier was back in net. The Canucks upped their shot totals, they had their powerplay click, their penalty kill was alright, and on a night where they managed to fix most of the problems they’d been having all series, the one part of their game which was usually their cornerstone, collapsed.

At the end of the day I’m not in Luongo’s head. I don’t know what was going on, and why he came up with the performance he did. He was inconsistent all series, and certainly didn’t live up to the billing he earned in the first round and the second half of the regular season. The man who’s supposed to be our captain, the man who’s supposed to be our leader and come through in the clutch picked a horrible time to have his worst game of the entire 82 game regular season and their 10 game post season. Dont give me the “He’s human, he makes mistakes and has bad games too excuse.” Nobody makes those mistakes with their backs against the wall.

May 122009
 
May 112009
 

It’s hard to sum up an entire season in one post, so rest assured that Richard, Alix and I will do our best to offer our thoughts in a series of them over the next few days.

*****

I was optimistic this morning because I sincerely thought the Canucks had what it took to compete with the Blackhawks and force a Game 7. I was optimistic because, in this biggest game of the series (heck, the biggest game of the season), I expected Roberto Luongo to be at his best. The Canucks competed alright and they did a lot of good things. I didn’t, for one second, expect them to lose or for Lui to let in seven goals (including four in the pivotal third period) in the process.

This post isn’t to lay blame on Lui solely for the loss, though surely there will be many questions about that in the next little while. (I thought at least three of the Hawks’ goals were a direct result of bad plays and poor defensive coverage, and another one was off a defender’s skate, but again that’s a discussion for another day.) In this post, I just want to first give credit where credit is due – and the Blackhawks deserve credit for being the better team in this series.

The Blackhawks had a response for everything the Canucks threw at them. Believe it or not, they actually trailed the Canucks at some point in every single game in this series, and with the exception of Game 3, they came back every time. They were tough and resilient as they were fast and skilled. They beat the Canucks on even-strength and on the powerplay. They beat the trap and played the run-and-gun when it suited them. As much as we said that this was as complete a Canucks team as we’ve ever seen, Chicago played that much more of a complete game. It hurts to admit it, but really, they deserve full marks for moving on to the Western Conference Final.

So congratulations Chicago. Good luck in the next round and Go Wings Go.

May 112009
 

It’s over. It’s not the end of the world, but for the next couple of days it’s certainly going to feel like it. Everyone predicted what they thought the game would be like, we all hoped for Game 7, the only 7 the Canucks saw tonight was on the score sheet. The final score Blackhawks 7 – Canucks 5.

This was a night that saw almost everything you could think of in a game. Horrible refereeing, enourmous hits happening all game long, beautiful goals, run and gun hockey, a hat trick, some fabulous goal tending, some not so fabulous goaltending, a ceremonial faceoff, a bit of blood, incredible passing, dekeing, a comeback, some scrums, and after not scoring a single goal all through the regular season and through the first 9 playoff games – even Shane O’Brien scored.

It’s hard to pin the fault on anyone yet, and the taste of bitter is still fresh. The game saw a furious pace in the first period which produced beautiful end to end action with barely stoppages in play. Again though, the Blackhawks everytime they were down came back. As you look at the ending tallies, the Blackhawks came back from deficits in this series 11 times.

At the end of the day it was too many, to not enough. The 2008-2009 Canucks season has ended and now we look forward to next year. We look forward to a better year, some great prospects in Hodgson and a Moose playoff difference maker for this year Alexandre Bolduc and put away the towels and jersey’s until October.

Blog Song: Tears Don’t Fall – Bullet for my Valentine

May 112009
 

In this series you can look at stats and claim that Henrik has been the best forward, but best is a relative term. Their best hasn’t been good enough, and that’s why the Canucks are down in the series. Daniel hasn’t done anything of mention so far, and Burrows who’s our new first line winger has been silent.

Tonight, backs against the wall, this is where teams are made. You don’t become legends, or go down in history, without facing adversity. The Canucks have been with their backs against the wall before. When they were sitting in 11th they faced a whale of a task just to get into that 8th and final playoff spot and their resurgance vaulted them into 3rd.

Luongo has been inconsistent at best this series, and the Sedins and Burrows have played well below par. Bieksa badly needs to redeem himself, and Sundin still needs to elevate his play. Sundin was heralded as this playoff icon, so far we’ve seen flashes of what he can do, but the consistency is lacking. The defence needs to lock down completely, and the Canucks need to find a way to get as many pucks on net. They’ve been outshot all 5 games in this series so far. It doesnt matter where you shoot from, if you get the puck on net, good things happen. We’ve seen it before, it happens. But in this game, it doesnt matter who comes to play, who says what, or who does what. At the end of the day, the only stat that matters is the final score.

This is one game. This is where Canucks fans find out if this is our year. This is the game where for 60 minutes Canucks fans will be sitting on the edge of their seats fulfilling every pre-game, in-game, and post-game superstition and game ritual they can. And when tonight is over, after the cards have been dealt and the victor determined, if there is a Canucks game on Thursday, they’ll do it all again.

May 112009
 
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