Vancouver Canucks: A Series of Unfortunate Events
With Game 6 coming up on Sunday, you have to wonder if somehow, after going up 3 games to none on the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, the Vancouver Canucks have no gas left in their tank. Are they cursed? Let’s take a quick look at why we’re where we are right now.
The regular season was very good to the Canucks, winning over 50 games and claiming the President’s Trophy. Roberto Luongo and Cory Schenider shared the William Jennings Trophy for having the lowest combined goals against average for a goaltending tandem, which they received after Schenider made the 25-appearance minimum.
GAMES 1 TO 3
Heading into their series with the Blackhawks, the Canucks were pegged as heavy favorites to knock out the Hawks. And in Game 1, they made sure they were going to dictate the pace, defeating the Hawks 2-0, and Luongo picking up another career playoff shutout. In Game 2, it became much closer, even though the Hawks were unable to get an equalizer. Canucks win 4-3. Game 3 saw the series move to Chicago in front of well over 20,000 at the United Center. It started off well for the Hawks, taking a 1-0 lead, but midway through the second, the Canucks tied it, and seconds later, took the lead. Hawks would equalize less than a couple of minutes later, but Samuelsson would score the winner in the third. Canucks win another close one 3-2.
With the Hawks now facing elimination, they received some good news. Dave Bolland returned to the lineup after missing a number of games for concussion-related problems. For the second straight game, the Hawks opened the scoring, and they did it early. Salo would tie the game, but in the second period, the Hawks would take command, scoring 4 times, and one more early in the third to chase Roberto Luongo away for Cory Schenider. Schenider would allow one goal himself, although Daniel Sedin would get one back late, but it was too late. Hawks win 7-2 in a rout and force Game 5 back to Vancouver.
Unable to close it out in Chicago in Game 4, the Canucks had a second chance to do it in front of a sold-out 19,000+ crowd at Rogers Arena. But nearly 6 minutes into the game, Marian Hossa finally scores his first goal of the playoffs, and it was all downhill from there for Vancouver, as 24 seconds later Duncan Keith made it 2-0, and 6 minutes later, Patrick Kane gets it up to 3-0. Hossa and Keith would tally again in the second period to make it 5-0, which would be the final score, and the Hawks would live to fight another day. Luongo was pulled for the second straight game, having given up 4 goals.
WILL THERE BE A GAME 7?
Surely, the Canucks would love to exorcise the demon that is the Chicago Blackhawks, having only knocked them out in one playoff series (1982 Campbell Conference Final in 5 games, with Game 2 being the Towel Game), but if history is to be any indicator, they have a major uphill battle to deal with. The Hawks appear to be unstoppable now, even though they no longer have Dustin Byfuglien in their arsenal. Looks like Dave Bolland is their newest threat. And if the Hawks win Game 6 to force a winner-take-all in Vancouver, all eyes would then fall toward either Coach Alain Vigenault, General Manager Mike Gillis, or both. Whether or not their jobs could be placed in jeopardy would be left to the people to decide. Also, up for consideration, no team who has won the President’s Trophy has gone on to lose a series in which they started 3-0. And only four times in pro sports (three in hockey) has a team lost a series in which they led 3-0 (1942 Detroit Red Wings, 1975 Pittsburgh Penguins, 2004 New York Yankees, 2010 Boston Bruins). The Canucks would surely not want to be the fifth in any pro sport (fourth in the NHL) to fall victim to this stat.