Written by: Larry “The Nucks IceMan” Johnson
Maybe teammate Jannik Hansen said it best in reference to Ryan Kesler, “If only all of us could play like him.” “If we could, this would be an easy play-offs.”
With that, the Canucks packed quickly, to make the long trip back to Nashville for game six on Monday. Mainly due to the fact that they cannot put teams away in elimination games (1 in 4 tries). Who knows what sort of performance the Canuck followers (players) will display. At least we do know that Kesler will show up.
It’s not farfetched to state that Kesler has been a one man show. Since his first goal in the play-offs in Nashville, he has posted 5G, 3A in three games. Meanwhile his followers have scored seven goals combined in five games.
They are Chris Higgins (2), Raffi Torres (1), Henrik Sedin (1 – empty net), Christian Ehrhoff (1), Alex Edler (1) and Alex Burrows (1).
Last night, Daniel Sedin (-4) and Henrik (-3) were a combined +/minus seven. That minus seven is what Christian Ehrhoff, Daniel and Henrik Sedin have in common and that number also is the worst in the play-offs.
Unless the Sedins’ have come down with an undisclosed virus or injury, this has to be the biggest collapse of any impact Canucks player/s in their play-off history!
But I saw two things that the Canucks did poorly last night. First, they were not patient and did not stick to the style that had shut down Nashville’s scoring in Nashville. Secondly, the down low poor play of the defense in their zone. Although the Canucks limited the Predators to only 23 shots, it was the quantity of mistakes and quality of the shots that were disturbing.
These were high percentage scoring opportunities that they gave Nashville, due to the fact that the Canucks defense kept coughing up the puck. At some point those end up in the back of the net and three of those did, along with a lucky bounce off of Alex Edler’s glove.
Edler has all but collapsed in this series, just like he did against Chicago, and last season’s play-offs against the Los Angeles Kings and Blackhawks. He had all-world performances in each of those game one’s, and then played very poorly in the rest.
This series, his last three games have been a plethora of giveaways, poor reads, bad decisions, futile stick checks, and just about anything a D-man could do to play ineffectively.
Alain Vigneault has not stood behind his statement in regards to the Canucks defensive group. That the best players would play. Otherwise, Edler would be sitting in the press box.
Why Edler gets a free pass is beyond me. And this has nothing to do with that fluke goal off him either.
I would have to say that with this series Vigneault’s job is on the line, if the Canucks do not advance. His coaching and lack of moves, bowing to his loyalty towards certain players, looks like total disregard for the team.
Now very possibly he knows that the Sedins are injured or suffering from something that has zapped their performance, but he could still make a change that may help this team. And I repeat – by splitting them up.
The other change would be to either sit Edler or play him with Keith Ballard or Andrew Alberts, as the fifth/sixth D-men, and move Sami Salo up with Christian Ehrhoff. At least Salo has a more calming influence on his partner, than Ehrhoff (-6) with Edler.
Edler was not alone though. All of the other D-men including Kevin Bieksa, were guilty of mistakes and giveaways.
As for Roberto Luongo, he cannot be faulted for Predators’ David Legwand’s fluke goal, but he has to do better than two goals on his first six shots! That stat even got worse as the third goal was on 13 shots. Is there something about Luongo and the pressure of fifth game eliminations?
When you look at how the Canucks led in the face-off circle – 62%, Hits – 31-22, SOG – 34 and in total directed 64 shots at the Nashville net, it boggles the mind.
It seems that the team that has scored the first goal in the play-offs, is the winner in a high percentage of those games. Canucks need to score the first goal in Nashville.
My rant is over, as Monday comes quickly and the expectation once again, that the Canucks will eliminate the Predators. One goal will be the difference and another 3-2 win for the Canucks in over-time.
Footnote: Stated by the media as a lower body injury, it looked to me that Mikael Samuelsson has re-injured that groin the way that he twisted. What this will do is allow the power play to have D-men at each point. A left and right hand shot for each unit in Christian Ehrhoff (L), Sami Salo (R), Alex Edler – L (if used) and Kevin Bieksa (R).
Ryan Kesler was 81% in face-offs, led with six hits, four shots and two goals last night against Nashville. Simply amazing!
Photo Credits – AP, Getty Images, Goggle Images and Yahoo Sports!
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Filed under: Vancouver Canucks