Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jeff Gordon of The Hockey Guy at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
It’ll be tough for the Blues from here on out. They needed to win a game at Vancouver to have a realistic chance in this series, but they lost both.
The Canucks prevailed 3-0 Friday night, scoring a couple of classic playoff goals (Mats Sundin and Alex Burrows) plus an empty netter (Henrik Sedin). Chris Mason played well for the Blues, but not well enough.
Vancouver goaltender Robert Luongo was remarkable, robbing David Backes and Andy McDonald with especially outrageous saves….
An inch here, a bounce there and the Blues could have won this game and pulled dead even in this series. They put together offensive flurries in this games, as did the Canucks.
The Blues did a great job on faceoffs in key situations. That helped, but not enough.
The Blues frustration boiled over at the end, when the Blues dropped their gloves and got busy. The game ended with a major fracas.
Such is the nature of playoff hockey.
read on and below, watch the scrap at the end of the game…
from Jeff Gordon of Hockey Guy at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
While the Blues are asking their D-men to play bigger-than-expected roles, due to the loss of Erik Johnson and Eric Brewer, the Canucks are deep and experienced on the blue line.
The Blues will try to beat that smoothness out of them with vigorous body checking, but Vancouver has more toughness than fans may realize.
To sustain pressure in this game, the Blues will have to fly. And they can’t expect the Canucks to take as many undisciplined penalties as they did in Game 1, since that was a point of emphasis in the team’s preparations.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
After Game 1 Canucks coach Alain Vigneault complained that the St. Louis Blues weren’t just skating through Roberto Luongo’s crease and bumping into him a couple of times, they were spraying him with (gasp!) snow.
“I’m embarrassed to talk about that. It’s ridiculous. Nonsense,” said St. Louis winger Keith Tkachuk. “There is no way our game plan is to go out and try to spray their goalie. You have to stop on the puck - just in case he tries to play it.
“You can tell the game has changed over my 17-year career, when you complain about something like that. As opposed to runnin’ someone from behind or starting a brawl.”
from Matthew Sekeres of the Globe and Mail,
Curiously, during a 2-1 win in Game 1 of their playoff series against St. Louis, the Canucks did not announce a sell out as per usual. The GM Place atmosphere Wednesday was excellent, but some sections of the lower bowl may not have been too flattering on television (when the white towels weren’t waving).
Generally, the Canucks make a big deal of their consecutive sell-out streak, 257 and counting.
A team spokesman said that the video scoreboard flashed 18,630. He said loud crowd noise pre-empted a formal announcement. Another source said the Canucks did not want to announce attendance because the empty seats were so obvious.
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
After Game 1 of the Canucks-Blues Western Conference quarterfinal, there shouldn’t be any confusion over what constitutes a penalty in this series.
That’s because, apparently, everything constitutes a penalty. Lay a stick on a Blues defenceman, Henrik Sedin, off you go. Use your arm to ward off a Canucks forward, Jay McKee, and you sit in the box and feel shame. Mill around a scrum too long and you’re liable to be sent off for public loitering. And none of your lip, young man, or you get 10.
At least that’s what it felt like on Wednesday night. That’s also the way it looked as the refereeing tandem of Chris Lee and Dan O’Halloran handed out minors like they were Reese’s Pieces on Halloween night. In the first two periods of a competitive but not particularly violent postseason game there were 11 power plays between the two teams: seven for the Blues, four for the Canucks.
Now, we can argue if that’s an appropriate total for a Stanley Cup playoff game. And there was plenty of arguing Wednesday night. But it’s also pointless because these are the terms of engagement in the new NHL.
from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun,
You’ve heard teams jinx the deal by announcing the parade route before they’ve actually won the Stanley Cup.
But this has to set some sort of record.
The Vancouver Canucks open their Western Conference quarter-final against the St. Louis Blues here tonight. And defenceman Willie Mitchell already has the parade route mapped out.
“Put us on boats and take us around the seawall of Stanley Park and then end up at the Convention Centre,” said the native of Port McNeil on Vancouver Island.
“That would be the ultimate. It would be really, really cool,” Mitchell said after practice yesterday.
Hopes are high as the Vancouver Canucks get ready for their first playoff game Wednesday at home against the St. Louis Blues. If you want to cheer on your team in person, be prepared to pay. Regular price playoff tickets for the Canucks cost between $100 and $400 each—plus service charges—in round one.
On the street there is a willingness to go the see the Canucks in the post-season. But with a shaky economy, the prices are too steep for fans like this guy. “Not worth the money to me. The chances are, if you’re sitting in the nosebleed section for that much, it’s just not worth it. I’d rather watch it on TV.”
from Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun,
Luongo can’t wait for the playoffs to begin.
“I feel really good and the thing is the team is playing well defensively so it cuts the number of big saves I have to make,” Luongo said after posting his second straight shutout in Saturday’s 1-0 overtime win in Denver. “We have to build off that. Going into the playoffs, we know there are going to be a lot of games like this that are tight and any mistake could decide the game. It’s nice we have that playoff mentality already.”
Luongo seems to have had it for quite some time. He has played brilliantly down the stretch and as he prepares for his second taste of the Stanley Cup playoffs, he thinks he can draw upon some of the things he learned during his first post-season experience two years ago.
“I guess you just know what to expect,” he said. “Going into my first one you don’t really know until you really play a game how it feels. The main thing is you can’t get too high or too low. When you win a game you feel like you’re on top of the world. When you lose one you feel like you’re done. You just have to try and stay even-keeled until the series is over.”
OT victory today, the Vancouver Canucks win their division.
Also, the top five seedings in the West are set:
1. San Jose
The Vancouver Canucks missed the playoffs last season but could be returning with home ice advantage in the first round as Northwest Division champs, depending on what transpires on Saturday.
Vancouver (44-27-10) can clinch their third division title in five years with a win or an overtime loss in a 12 p.m. PT start in Denver, Colorado.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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