Written by: Larry “The Nucks IceMan” Johnson
This series ran like the PNE roller coaster with a plate full of highs and lows, surprises and disappointments.
For the game’s intellectuals, some coaching tactics, and just down home, good Canadian entertaining hockey for the rest of the fans.
Who knew the Canucks’ penalty kill would be so atrocious that it just about cost them the series? Or that it would do a 180 and change the outcome of the series?
Some players went missing, others raised their level beyond expectations, and others showed you why they are the keys to this team.
Roberto Luongo showed the fans and doubters (me included) in Game Six why he gets crowned with the term “greatness” at times, showcasing a season’s worth of highlight saves in one game.
He also showed that it’s not all about the stats, but when you make the key saves, that determine the outcome of the game.
If this is a sign that Louie is about to go on one of his rolls, then like I’ve said many times before, ”It’s all about the timing, baby!”
Coach Vigneault made some on-the-fly game decisions that help jump-start the Sedin line, as Alex Burrows went out and Mikael Samuelsson went in.
His adjustments during the game to get the Sedins away from the Kings’ checking was a brilliant move. He would roll them out after a brief rest, sometimes matching them up with the Kings’ second and third line.
After Pavol Demitra started to show some life, he was moved to the second and third line to help add some scoring punch.
Mason Raymond, who has played just about all year on the Kesler line, was sent back down, then brought back up.
Whoever was playing well was going to be paired up with the lines set duals.
There were a number of them, such as Pavol Demitra starting to play like it was the Olympics again.
Bobby Lou piecing together some consistency in Games Four through Six.
Samuelsson leading the ‘Nucks scoring with seven goals and four assists.
The Sedins coming through in the clutch. They showed they could raise their play when it matter most, with both contributing big time.
Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler, and Sami Salo, along with the rest of the defense playing strong games. All were plus players—yes, even Andrew Alberts—with a group total of plus 18.
Alex Edler played his best game of his career in Game One and ended up leading all D-men with a plus 7, which was a humongous bonus, considering he finished the regular season with a minus-1 and was inconsistent at best.
But the player that surprised me the most was Steve Bernier, because I don’t think anyone saw that coming.
This has to be the best that Bernier has played since his first game as a Canuck against the Calgary Flames (regular season) over two seasons ago.
He was much quicker, just like I remembered him in training camp, allowing him to not only arrive but deliver his checks.
Some of his hits were missile-seeking destructive types, and over the series, wore down the L.A. recipients.
He has also added four goals (can you believe that?), and created utter chaos in front of the LA net setting up the screen. That in turn, helped kick-start the ‘Nucks’ power play and third line.
Alex Burrows not scoring until the last minute of Game Six into an empty net. Not that he didn’t give it his 100-percent effect. Everyone knows he brings it night after night.
I guess the expectation bar goes up after you have had two back-to-back seasons with a total of 63 goals.
But don’t you worry about Burrows, because he will show up for Chicago.
Mason Raymond also finished with one goal for the series, but it was the way that he played that should be a concern. Back in 2008-09, he got into a pattern of being a one-dimensional offensive player.
He would use his speed to fly down the wing, try to beat the defender along the boards, get rubbed out, and turn over the puck.
Part of the reason that he had a breakout year this season is, because he would change that pattern up and go to the centre of the ice or take it to the net.
With his speed, he is able to get in on the fore-check, finish his check, and cause turnovers. When he gets back to playing like he did earlier this season, that line will be a handful.
The Entertainment Factor
Hey, what more could you ask for?
Two, count them, two OT games, two third-period, come-from-behind wins, and one offensive-statement game (7-2).
The next series is going to be a war, so buckle up your chin straps and get ready to enjoy.
I will critique the matchup in a couple of days.
Hurry up with this next series already!
Filed under: Play-off Games