Apr 222012
 

The odds are still stacked against them, but you can’t help but feel the collective confidence boost around Canucks Nation after the Canucks’ Game 4 win.

After all, the offense finally managed to put 3 pucks past Jonathan Quick, the first time since Game 2 of last year’s Stanley Cup Finals they scored 3 goals in one playoff game. After going 0-for-14 in the first three games of the series, the powerplay finally broke through with 2 powerplay goals. And despite the manufactured goaltending controversy, Cory Schneider was huge, making 43 saves, including a Dustin Brown penalty shot that could have tied the game in the third period.

Now at home for Game 5, can the Canucks continue to break down the Kings and get themselves back in this series? Here’s the chatter around the Smylosphere:

Apr 212012
 

Arielle and Clay

The Vancouver Canucks may be down but they’re certainly not out of their first-round NHL Western Conference quarterfinal playoff series with the Los Angeles Kings. Despite the Canucks’ victory on Wednesday night, they are still behind 3 games to 1.

With Game 5 Sunday night at Rogers Arena, the Canucks should be able to feed off a loud and raucous crowd. It’s time for Canucks fans to unite and get the behind the blue and green!

I brought in my good friend – the lovely and talented Arielle Tuliao – to help me express this notion in song.

Canucks fans:  Don’t Stop Believing!

Apr 192012
 

I don’t know about you guys, but I was full of questions all day long. Could the Canucks do it? Is starting Cory Schneider the right move? Will one extra Sedin really make that big a difference? The answers to all those questions wouldn’t come until the 2nd period but when they came, they were all yes.

The Wonderful Wonder Twins

I’ll be honest. I thought Henrik was doing okay without Daniel. He was working hard. He had to think more but he was setting up everyone he could and taking shots. And then Daniel came back and I remembered what I was missing. 19 minutes (each) of blind passes, beautiful set-ups and a beauty of an insurance goal. It took a period for the spark to catch fire, but Daniel’s return ignited virtually the entire team. The passion was back. And most importantly, the powerplay was back. And unlike the Flyers-Pens series, you can’t blame tonight’s outcome on LA’s goaltending. Quick was solid. The Canucks weren’t given any easy goals, so they went out and got the hard ones.

Number 35 Is Number 1. Deal With It.

I’ve said all season long that the Canucks have two #1 goalies. Unfortunately we don’t have two nets to put them in at the exact same time so someone has to sit on the bench. When Schneider was announced as the starter in Game 3 and again in Game 4, Lu-lovers were angry. They had reason to be. Lu was solid in Game 1 and 2. We will never know the exact reason Alain Vigneault replaced him. Maybe AV feels the team has more confidence in Schneids. Maybe AV himself has more confidence in Schneids. Maybe he just flipped a coin. Here’s the reality of it – you shouldn’t care. Because it worked.  Schneider was incredible tonight. He kept the score 1-0 while his teammates found their mojo. He stopped 43 shots, including a penalty shot. He deserves to start the rest of this series.  Does it suck for Luongo? Yes. And I feel bad for him. But not bad enough to mess with what’s working and risk a chance at a Stanley Cup. Thankfully, I think AV feels the same way.

It’s Not All Redheaded Saviors

The still have problems to fix. Even Sedin Wonder Twin Magic can’t improve David Booth’s output. Although he assisted on Kevin Bieksa’s goal, he still isn’t scoring. And then there’s Mason Raymond.  Completely whiffing on checks is his new hobby. I guess falling down got old. Why he goes for checks at all instead of lifting the stick I’ll never know. He was the goat on the Kings’ only goal. Then he gave the puck away about 3 minutes later. Yes ladies he’s cute but if he’s on the bench instead of the press box next game we’re in trouble. Last but not least, the beast that’s inside Ryan Kesler is still in a coma nap. We need to solve a few of these issues pretty quick. I don’t think it’ll take the Kings 3 games to figure out they need to shut down the twins.

 

Apr 182012
 

Because it’s do-or-die time, because it’s time to leave everything on the ice and give it 110%, here are some of today’s links around the Smylosphere:

Apr 162012
 
Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

Where to begin? I’m dazed and confused right now. I’m devastated. I’m lost as to exactly what I can say that will make any sense of this for any of you because it’s just ridiculous to think the Presidents Trophy winners are one game away from elimination. But here’s what small thoughts my brain could wrangle up on Game 3 of the Canucks-Kings series.

You want a controversy? I’ll give you a controversy!

When AV announced Cory Schneider was starting, heads exploded all over the internet. I don’t understand why Canucks fans think this our BIG controversy right now. We have 2 starter goalies. I’d venture to say Schneider’s performance tonight along with Lu’s in Games 1 and 2 prove that. Accept it and move on.

Tonight also proved what the real controversy is: our talented, trophy-heavy team can’t score goals. We have a Hart Trophy winner, a Selke Trophy winner, an Art Ross Trophy winner and several clutch scorers and we just got blanked. Other than Burr and Hansen, our goals this series have been scored by Edler and Pahlsson. 4 goals in 3 games. No Kesler or Henrik goals, obviously no Daniel ones. But other clutch players like Higgins and Lapierre aren’t netting anything either. And Booth and Raymond… don’t even get me started.

Canucks fans, get your knickers in a knot over THAT. The fact that Vigneault can pick between a redheaded American who stops 3-on-1s or an Italian-Canadian who stands on his head is a luxury not a controversy.

Did we trade one too many puzzle pieces?

I honestly do not believe missing Daniel Sedin is having this big an effect. That is because, in the past playoffs, the Sedins together have been quite easily controlled. Last year players like Kesler took the playoff lead. Burrows slayed the beast known as Chicago. Bieksa and his stanchion-rific goal got us through San Jose. Lapierre and Torres scored clutch goals against Boston. So although it would be easy to say Duncan Keith ruined our playoffs chances, it would be erroneous.

I do think though that management may have tinkered one too many times with the winning machine. Dumping Samuelsson, Hodgson and picking up Booth, Kassian, and Pahlsson might have seemed like good ideas but did it tilt the balance? This game alone Booth fanned on a pass, missed the net and lost the puck. Pahlsson took a dumb penalty and then, after shoving Dustin Brown into the corner, thought his work was done and left Brown to get up, take a pass and nail the back of the net. Kassian gave a puck right to a King and made no physical impact. We may have traded ourselves out of contention. That said if someone would offer us a bag of magic beans and a unicorn for Edler and Raymond right now I would take it. Even if the unicorn can’t skate it would be a step up.

Let’s hear it for Hammy

I want to make sure that, even if this is all over in two days, the valiant efforts of Dan Hamhuis do not go unrecognized. He was the best defensemen out there tonight. He hip checked like a king. He took shots. He pinched pucks. And for the second time in two games Hammy was our real back-up goalie, blocking shots like a boss. Hamhuis wants this. Let’s put him in net and make Luongo and Schneider Hank’s new wingers and see where that goes. After all, we only have everything to lose.

All we can do now, Canucks fans, is believe. Believe that our team paid special notice to how the Blackhawks marched their way thru us to a game 7 last year. Believe Ryan Kesler will find the back of the net. Believe Mason Raymond won’t fall down. Believe Booth will get his mojo back. Believe whatever alien life form has been occupying Edler’s body will get bored with being a blonde and give him back to us. Believe, Canucks fans. Believe.

Apr 152012
 
Darryl Sutter, Los Angeles Kings

Photo credit: The Globe and Mail

We all know the numbers. After losing the first 2 games at home, the Canucks trail the Kings 0-2 in this Western Conference Quarterfinal Series with the next 2 games in La-la land. The odds of coming back from a series deficit as such is small. Only 16 of 99 teams have lost the first 2 games at home of an NHL first round series, and then come back to win it.

It’s a steep climb, but it’s not impossible. The Carolina Hurricanes did it against the Montreal Canadiens in 2006, and the ‘Canes went on to win the Stanley Cup that season. Ditto the Boston Bruins, who did it last season, also against the Habs.

Alix pretty much hit it in the head when, after Game 2, she tweeted, “Of course the universe would make us look to Boston for inspiration. LOL.”

Unfortunately, the Canucks aren’t playing the Habs, but let’s not lose hope just yet. Certainly, things are still sounding pretty optimistic around the Smylosphere:

Apr 152012
 

Were you a little nervous when the Canucks dropped Game 1 to Los Angeles? Did you pee a little when Dustin Brown scored his second shorthanded goal of the night?

It’s all fair, you have every reason to be a little worried.

The Vancouver Canucks managed to not only lay one giant egg in Game 1, they managed to make it even worse in Game 2. Sure, the shots were in favour of the Canucks in the second game, but surrendering two shorthanded goals is like a splash of ice-cold water on your genitals (or for the ladies, the um… ladies).

Either way, nothing feels good right now. What was expected to be a lengthy playoff run may become a one week house party which ended because your parents came home from the Neil Diamond concert early.

But if you’re pooping bricks, at least take solace in the fact the Canucks don’t seem to be. They’re at least putting on a brave face and telling the media they’re still confident they can turn the drowning ship around.

First, Henrik Sedin (via The Province):

“If we were in a hole like this a couple years back, I wouldn’t be as hopeful as I am right now. We’re playing well enough to win games.”

And also, Kevin Bieksa:

“We played, 5-on-5, the majority of the game in their end (on Friday). They got two Grade-A chances 5-on-5 is what I’m being told. That’s pretty good. If we can continue to do that over the series, we’ll be in good shape… For us, it’s 2-0. It’s not insurmountable. It’s just being in a game down 2-0, we know we can come back. We’re capable of it. We have to go out and do it.”

Talk the talk, yes. To go out and do it is quite another. So while fans may be losing hope, the most important thing is the players still have their confidence.

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