Written by: Larry “The Nucks IceMan” Johnson
Nothing that I predicted in my last article came to fruition, as Vancouver shut-out Nashville 1-0. The Pred’s forgot to show up and left their goaltender, Pekka Rinne, alone to plug the leak in the dam.
Vancouver Canucks was the water waiting to break down the dam with their dominance of periods one and two. Roberto Luongo must have felt like the Maytag repair man, being the loneliness guy in town.
Luongo had all of five shots against in the first period and six in the second, while Rinne had 26 by the end of the second. The Zamboni might as well have saved the time in scrapping the Canucks zone and just do the Predators.
Obviously that was a one-off and I would expect to see the Nashville team that I wrote about yesterday, show up for game two and play their trapping/transition attacking style of game. Luongo knows for sure that he will be a lot busier in game two.
Here I thought the Canucks would have a mental letdown after the Chicago series, and they turned around and played an inspired game. Well, as much as you can against Nashville. How can you build up any animosity against Nashville? That’s something that seems to be missing from this series.
Puck possession that I have discussed throughout the Chicago series was very evident last night. In the face-off circle by the end of the first period, the Canucks had won an astounding 88 percent of those. As the Predators coach Barry Trotz said, “It was embarrassing, 3-and-22, are you kidding me?” ”When you start without the puck, that’s where everything starts”.
Seems to me I heard something similar before many years ago, only it was from the great Scotty Bowman.
Canucks played a patient game, took what Nashville game them, which was a lot of open ice in the first two periods, and continued with their physical play, although not to the extend it was against the Hawks. Both teams finished with 23 hits, which is very low for a playoff game. Kevin Bieksa led all D-men with five hits and Chris Higgins, the forwards with four.
The Sedins were doing their best to collect some points and finished with six shots apiece, but once again came up dry on the score sheet. Will Henrik ever score in the play-offs? You can’t say he hasn’t had any golden opportunities, but he like Ryan Kesler is still goal-less.
I’m not going to rant about the Sedins, been there, done that, moving on. But CBC’s HNIC’s Don Cherry was bang on. The Canucks will not win the Cup without the Sedins contributing. The cycle game is not there during the play-offs, you can see that.
What I did see from the Sedins which was a tiny bit encouraging, was that they were attempting to go to the net. The other noticeable key the opposition has done, is blanket the other one when either of them have the puck, knowing that the Sedins will be looking for each other.
If I’m the Sedins, I would start using the other winger more or the point men, then go to the net. Behind the net and the half-boards, they’re just not going to have any space to dippsy, doodle. Besides that, there’s no time, never mind no space.
It’s too bad the Canucks didn’t have a big power forward to play with the Twins at this time of the season, to create some space for them. Mikael Samuelsson is not the answer.
Luongo played a solid game last night when you consider the number of shots he had for two periods. He was really focused because many times in the past, a game with no work would not have resulted in a win. Kudos to him.
I keep saying that one of these games Ryan Kesler is going to break out of his scoring slump, now at eight games. I just wonder will that be in this series. Rinne is not going to give up many goals, so I don’t expect any high scoring games, more like what we witnessed last night.
Moving on, Saturday’s game will be a lot different, and don’t be surprised if the Pred’s dominate the game. They have a Wings Thomas Holmstrom version in Patric Hornqvist, and a fire hydrant built Jordan Tootoo, to make Luongo and the Canucks defense’s life miserable.
Pred’s D-man Shea Weber only had four hits, Ryan Suter two and Shane O’Brien two. They could all double those numbers on Saturday. The front of the Nashville night will not be a pleasant place to play in either. Already O’Brien has been taking some liberties, adding some after the whistle mauling of the Canuck forwards, notably Alex Burrows.
Those confrontations should start to intensify as the series goes on.
It’s a sunny day in Vancouver, so I’ll stop here and head out to the driving range. Talk to you soon.
Photo Credits – AP, Getty Images, Goggle Images and Yahoo Sports!
To catch all the news, updates and new articles as they occur, along with the Canucks farm team, the Manitoba Moose, you can follow me at http://twitter.com/nucksiceman (I love this tweeting because it’s like small 140 character articles).
Note: www.nucksiceman.com is now mobile friendly. From the web address on your iPhone, you can choose Options/Mobile formatted and the site will appear in its entire living colour for you to view. Check it out.
Filed under: Vancouver Canucks