Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Beware the Mullet

Despite the crisis over the penalty killing, once again it's not exclusively how you do on special teams that determines a series winner. As it is never emphasized in the media, the majority of most hockey games are played at 5-on-5, and funnily enough that's where series are mainly won and lost.

So, bye bye, LA and the vaunted D-crew of Drew "-5" Doughty, Jack "-5" Johnson and Rob "-4" Scuderi. We enjoyed your appearance. Please come back next year and next time wear your retros.
Butchy Boy rockin' the original look

It's now a rematch of that 1982 Towel Power series . . . I mean, last year's horror show with the Chicago Blackhawks. We all remember that, don't we?

So as we head into the Blackhawks vs. Canucks playoff version post lockout 2.0, let's look at the big questions:

Which Roberto shows up?
Roberto Luongo (of the .893 save percentage vs. LA) must be able to outplay the rookie Antti Niemi (who despite giving up this wacky goal here) was very solid with a .921 save percentage vs. Nashville in rd. 1.

Will Alexandre Burrows ever score again?
Yes, it's fantastic Mikael Samulesson is currently leading the NHL playoffs in goal scoring and that Steve Bernier seems fresh after suffering through an injury-plagued season and bagged 4 goals in rd. 1, but this rd. the Canucks are going to need Burrows' goal scoring.

Is Duncan Keith alive?
In rd. 1 the best defenceman on Chicago was the shifty Niklas Hjarmalsson (pronounced Byfuglien style as Son of Sharmal). Keith who was the NHL's second leading point getter among d-men had a paltry 2 points in the series vs. Nashville and was a -4. Then post-Olympic hangover that Luongo suffered from seems to have affected the man with two first names (or two last names, if you prefer).

Will the Nux go to the rope-a-dope?
Last playoffs the Canucks had a chance to put Chicago away. The Vancouverites were up 2-1 in the series and in Game 4 decided to sit back and defend a 1-0 lead. It almost worked as Chicago tied the game up with less than three minutes left on the clock. The Blackhawks then won the game in OT.
Total shots on goal over almost 63 minutes of hockey by the locals--15.
The Canucks then proceeded to lose Games 5 and 6 and the series slipped through their fingers.
Jacques Lemaire retired. Enough with the rope-a-dope, Coach Yogi Bear!

Can the crowd make a difference?
It sure can as we saw from Game 3 in LA. This is where the rich folks and the freeloaders who snagged the corporate ducats have to bring it. You just know the Madhouse on Madison in Chicago will be rocking and making a difference a la the days of the old Chicago Stadium. It's up to Canuck fans to stop waiting for the scoreboard to tell them to "Make Some Noise" and to rachet and clank it up to get this team to attack, attack, attack!

If last year's Byfuglien of a series is anything to go by, hang on to your hockey helmets as this year's could be even better.

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