Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/20/14
Westbound and Down

Well this was unexpected.

After 10 months of patiently waiting for a shot at redemption, the Vancouver Canucks surprisingly find themselves on the brink of elimination. Like the Pittsburgh Penguins, the cup favourite Canucks have found themselves in an 0-3 hole with very little answers.

I have no idea what happens from here, but I should point out this week is the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking. Man that iceberg looks a lot like Jonathan Quick, doesn’t it?

If you’ll remember, the Vancouver Canucks lost three straight in round one last year and the knives were once again out for Alain Vigneault and the core of this team. The Canucks slayed that dragon and moved on to more exciting high-stake losses in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Yet, only three teams have ever come back from the 0-3 hole. It’s up the Canucks now to decide if they want to become the fourth.

Here then is the Love Em/Hate Em for Game 3, join me if you will in gleaming silver linings from this thunderous raincloud.

Love ‘Em

1. It’s Not Over

This isn’t postmortem time quite yet. Remember the Canucks had a 3-0 lead on the Chicago Blackhawks at this point last year despite the ‘Hawks playing very well. That series was decided in Game 7 overtime.

The Vancouver Canucks have to run the table and they have to find a goalscorer in the process. Two years ago when the Canucks dispatched Los Angeles in the first round, Mikael Samuelsson had the hot hand to overcome the horrible penalty kill that threatened to eliminate the Canucks.

Samuelsson of course is in Florida now after the David Booth trade. He has three assists in two playoff games while Booth is pointless.

Dustin Brown has been killing the Canucks on the scoresheet while the Canucks have nobody established as an offensive force after three tries. Either someone up front gets red hot or the Canucks go into the summer in desperate need of a natural goalscorer.

2. Corey Snyder

The move to start Cory Schneider was a purely tactical move to jump-start the Vancouver Canucks, yet goaltending was the least of the concerns over the first two games. You could have started either Schneider or Roberto Luongo and the results would have been the same.

Last night was a perfect example. There’s not a single goaltender who can win you a game when you don’t score any goals.

Yet give credit to Schneider for playing magnificently and giving his team a chance to win. CBC’s third star of the game was magnificent, including a fantastic stop off Dustin Brown on a first period 3-on-1.

Just don’t think about the fact it may have been his finale as a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

Canucks vs. Kings Love 'em & Hate 'em. Face the facts. Maybe the Canucks need Ice Girls to win...

3. Twin Peaks

Credit also Henrik Sedin for calling the hit by Dustin Brown (hey there’s that name again!) legal. The blessing and the curse of the Sedins is that they are Lawful Good through and through and genuinely uninterested in any of the physical stuff that Philadelphia and the Canucks’ current bosom buddies in Pittsburgh engaged in earlier in the day.

It’s idealistic but it seems to clash with the reality of playoff hockey, especially this year where it’s starting to resemble the Hunger Games. Much of the force from the Brown hit was due to Henrik having no idea Brown was coming. He’s simply trying to play hockey.

Like Brad Marchand speedbagging Daniel Sedin (RIP) last year, the twins have an innocence to them where they believe in the good nature of people.

Unfortunately this is hockey and that belief will only get you fans sitting behind your bench with a shirt that reads ‘SEDIN SISTERS – 2 GIRLS NO CUP’.

Hate ‘Em

1. Dustin Brown!

I hate you Dustin Brown. You’re singlehandedly destroying the Canucks’ playoff chances like you were Roberto Luongo. 

You’re the reason this series isn’t 2-1 for either team. You’re the player who is one win away from having to decide to accept the key to Edmonton or Calgary first. You’re the guy who’s probably delaying his captaincy from being given to Mike Richards by at least another half year.

So what I need you to do is stop.

If Brown had Keith’d Henrik with his hit, I would be drunk in a corner somewhere right now. As it is, he’s doing all he can to drive four daggers into the heart of Vancouver.

2. Shoot, Miss, Repeat

The Vancouver Canucks’ playoff offensive strategy two years running has been shoot from the perimeter and plug for the rebound. Does it work? I guess, if you aren’t facing a well-coached cohesive defensive unit like Los Angeles or Boston.

The results so far speak for themselves: good goaltending + good defense = points shots and harmless wristers.

When Mike Gillis arrived in Vancouver, his mandate was initially to outscore opponents. Somewhere along the line, this morphed into trying to outcheck opponents in a throwback to the Nonis era and offensive creativity seems to have died completely.

Take for instance the powerplay where the drop pass entries are telegraphed so clearly they’re setting up more goals against than goals for. Yet, they keep trying it. It’s almost admirable as a testament to never giving up if it wasn’t a warning to the dangers of not adapting to your environment.

The Canucks are plugging away but the results just aren’t coming. Maybe it’s puck luck but it has the Canucks on the verge of being the first ever President’s Trophy winners to be swept.

So why does there appear to be no plan B?

3. Is This How It Ends?

Not with a bang but a whimper?

It's time for the Pacino speech.

No, it’s not over and the build-up to Wednesday will feature inspirational montages on Youtube of the Al Pacino speech from Any Given Sunday but you know how those two games linked ended.

Let’s just say the chances the Canucks go no further than a couple more games is greater than the chance of a miracle comeback.

Can’t say I ever thought this team would be on the brink of total disaster just a week ago.

There’s two long days between Games 3 & 4, and perhaps the extended break can cool some of the momentum the Kings may be enjoying.

At the least, let’s hope Mike Richards and Jeff Carter use the days off for some premature celebratory parties.

Anything to swing this back in the Canucks favour.

This might be the end but the Canucks are still alive and to hear them talk post-game they only consider it a flesh wound.

Can they do it? All it takes is a win and a win and a win and a win.

Wouldn’t that be so Vancouver??

How do you like dem apples? NWSB on Twitter.

I guess finding inspiration in Boston wasn’t really that attractive of an idea for the boys. #canucks

— Josh Hall (@vancan19) April 16, 2012

Doesn’t matter which goaltender you start if the team can’t score, #Canucks throw up another goose egg. #GameSeven

— Kevin Vanstone (@FlyingVHockey) April 16, 2012

Let me brake it down for you #Canucks fans We WON THE PRESIDENTS CUP. AV not the problem! LUONGO not the problem. Losing DS A MAJOR Problem

— Northwest SportsBeat (@NWSportsBeat) April 16, 2012

was it over when the germans bombed pearl harbour?

— Richard Hodges (@prfctsoundforvr) April 14, 2012


© Richard Hodges for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

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Post tags: 2012 NHL playoffs, Alain Vigneault, Cory Schneider, Daniel Sedin, David Booth, Dustin Brown, Henrik Sedin, Inspirational Al Pacino Speeches, Jonathan Quick, los angeles kings, Mikael Samuelsson, Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

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