The mental game

As fans we get to see both the physical and the mental side of hockey. They phsyical side is one thing, but the mental side of the game has an impact that grows exponentially at times. It’s something that can affect the psyche of the home or the away team, and it’s something that can turn on a single play. It’s driven by adrenaline, it’s amplified by luck, and it’s the most fragile of factors in any game at any point in a series.

After the roller coaster game last night the mental game becomes more important than ever. The Canucks have seen just how hard the mental game is through their recent penalty kill trouble. There comes a point where the penalty kill becomes more of a mental battle than something controllable that the players can deal with. With more and more Kings powerplay goals going in you could see the Canucks deflate more and more with each power play goal against and you could see them panic. Then they killed a penalty. Then they scored a key goal. Then they won the game. All of a sudden things have changed.

The Canucks game four was a roller coaster emotional and mental affair for the players and for the fans, but as things changed in that game, so changes this series. The Canucks biggest mental obstacle was the penalty kill, their second biggest obstacle the road game. They Canucks head home in a 2-2 series, they’ve managed to settle their penalty kill, and all of a sudden the emotions are positively charged and the Canucks head home to familiar territory.

The Canucks managed to win a see-saw affair which was the hardest thing they’ve had to do so far. Winning that back and forth affair all of a sudden puts them in the right mindset to take on game five. The series goes back to Vancouver putting home ice advantage back in the Canucks court and they now have three chances to win two games. The Canucks have been a force to be reckoned with at home and with the benefit of the crowd behind them, a Luongo that’s making the big saves when he has to, and a tie game to start things from square one, this series is theirs again to win.

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