Canucks and Beyond

Game #2 Anaheim vs Vancouver

04/27/2007 at 12:50pm EDT

Jerseys

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Do we not own vintage road jerseys? Can we please wear them? I don’t know the exact stats, but our numbers are much better in those things—hell, we just won Game #7 in those jerseys.

We’ve got two colors; one of ‘em should work. Please don’t blow off such a valid superstition when us fans have shamelessly embraced some truly insane ones, all to help this team.

Goaltending

Luongod’s record against Anaheim might give one pause—he’s never beaten them. One national sports writer—taking a break from his horse racing, rodeo and golf coverage—even produced an article yesterday declaring what sounded like The End of the Luongo Legend. (Rubbish, which I briefly countered here on KK yesterday).

Luongo figures out teams with repetition, having produced better stats against every team he’s played, at every outing. Granted, this team is taking more repetition than most, but he’s getting to see them every other day now. He made some brilliant saves in Game #1, despite his more mortal looking play otherwise. He’ll get much better.

More important than that however, is that he’ll guide (threaten?) his defense better. New defensive pairings combined with losing two of the best that play in front of him in Salo and Bieksa last game, made for too many screened shots. If he can see the shot, he usually stops it. (Which brings us to the ‘defense’ problem, which I’ll get to in a moment.)

Offense

No disrespect to J.S. Giguere—he’s gone further in the playoffs than the Canucks ever have, that’s for sure—but he’s one hell of a lot more beatable than Marty Turco. He gave up two (that I recall) wide open nets to Canucks standing in front of him with the pucks on their sticks. Unfortunately for us, those same Canucks were like deer-in-headlights at the prospect of an easy goal that night, so the weakness wasn’t exposed. But Giguere frequently seemed slow moving side to side throughout the game—it’s a potential bright spot.

On the Dark Side, we have Pronger and Niedermayer, two guys better seen after being run over by a bus, unless they play for your team. But the scoring opportunities were there in spite of them. Keep fighting through the defense, get pucks on net and STAY in front of the net to pick up rebounds.

P.S. Jannik Hansen is expected to be back. I think that’s for the best. Not sure why he was left out on Wednesday, frankly.

Defense

Luongo’s mantra all season long has been “Clear the assholes in front of me, including yourselves, and I’ll stop the damn puck.” In Game #1, the Canucks forgot this First Rule of Luongo. Here’s hoping they’ve tightened up their defensive play tonight. With new players having to blend into the lineup, this is a coaching issue as much as anything else.

It doesn’t hurt that Sami Salomight be coming back, too. His bout of

influenza

... errrr… back spasms… seem to be receding. He skated yesterday and that previous link suggest they were hoping to see today how his body responded to that workout. The AP reported that he skated “gingerly” in his Thursday skate; the CP report sounded more optimistic, noting that he skated 20 minutes by himself and also for part of the team practice. Wait and see time.

One way or another, the situation is what it is. If they make changes to how they play the puck in front of Luongo, and even better, create turnovers in the neutral zone before Kunitz, McDonald & Co. turn the Canucks into lunch meat, it can only be an improvement.

Special Teams

PK: Stop taking retarded penalties. Cowan’s goal on Wednesday was followed 27 seconds later by a too-many-men call against Vancouver, where the Ducks promptly tied the game. Wtf?

PP: Not as awful looking as for the majority of the Dallas series, but they seem irrationally intimidated by Giguere. I just don’t get that. Shoot the puck more and good things might happen.

Conclusion

The work ethic is everything with this team. Without a play-or-die effort, the Canucks won’t have success given the odds against them. But after a day of rest and regrouping, I bet we’ll see noticeable improvements in their game tonight.

Regardless, it’s bound to be stressful to watch. For fans, I recommend yoga breathing exercises, or booze. You know which one I’m going with.

Go Canucks!

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