After the Vancouver Canucks’ 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Apr 25, there are still questions that linger about how ready the Canucks are for the challenging postseason ahead. No longer the best in the league, the Canucks will have an uphill battle when they challenge against very formidable opponents in the Western Conference. The Chicago Blackhawks have proven their worth as the top squad of the season. I repeat, of the season.
They’ve taken the President’s Trophy from the Canucks’ mantle now. Good accomplishment, but that was the regular season. The Canucks made a good impression by beating Chicago 3-1 in what was supposedly a “nothing” game. It’s safe to say that Corey Schneider has proven he’s ready for the big time in this upcoming playoff. Despite the offensive arsenal that the Hawks have, the youthful & inexperienced defence core seemed to have hold their own. It’s only a matter of time before Kevin Bieksa can return to support Schneider. And the Sedin brothers seem to have found their rhythm. Their only opponent is time which is running out on them if they don’t do something about making a long push in the postseason.
Duck Dark Horse
One of the dangerous teams in the West could very well be the Anaheim Ducks. They haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 2007 and they’re itching to get back into the Final. The 7-3 drubbing that the Ducks handed the Canucks in the season opener is still fresh on many minds. This is a team that’s stacked with Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, and the ageless wonder Teemu Selanne. This is a team with so much offensive weapons that can explode at anytime.
Believe the hype? The Cup could stay in California this year…
How can the Canucks beat the Ducks? Only one thing – Schneider. He earned his first shutout of the season against the Ducks in their home opener. Anaheim has good backstoppers of their own in Jonas Hiller and Victor Fasth, but don’t have Schneider’s intensity to stop everything. His five shutouts and .927 save percentage this season should be worthy of a Vezina trophy nomination. If Vancouver can at least keep up with the Ducks and at least protect them against the onslaught, they might have a chance to beat the Dark Horse…or Dark Wing Ducks.
No matter. Vancouver needs to simply win, or win the game “ugly.” Gone are the days when you can call the Canucks a finesse team like they were in 2011. Every other team knows how to beat the Canucks with their high powered offence (Chicago, Anaheim, St. Louis, Detroit), aggression (Los Angeles, San Jose) and intimidation (everyone in the West). With the addition of Derek Roy and the return of Ryan Kesler and hopefully Bieksa, the playoffs could be the right time for the Canucks to turn this shortened season around.
Sidenote #1: Luongo’s Legacy
If Thursday night’s game is Roberto Luongo’s swan song in Vancouver, let’s take a look at his accomplishments backstopping the Canucks for the past seven seasons.
One Olympic Gold Medal (for Team Canada)
Hey, at least that’s something. If Schneider’s down for the count, there’s always Lou for backup.
Sidenote #2: Grumpy Duncan
Some notable remarks from Duncan Keith after the Canucks victory when was asked by TEAM 1040’s Karen Thompson about his slash on Daniel Sedin after his goal:
Karen Thomson: Well, it looked like maybe there was a penalty that went undetected. You seemed a bit frustrated.
Duncan Keith: Oh, no, I don’t think there was anything. I think he scored a nice goal and the ref was right there. That’s what the ref saw. We should get you as a ref maybe, eh?
Karen Thomson: Yeah, maybe.
Duncan Keith: First female referee?
Karen Thomson: I can’t skate, though.
Duncan Keith: Can’t play probably either, right?
Karen Thomson: No (laughing).
Duncan Keith: But you’re thinking the game like you know it? Yeah, see ya.
Opinions about this post-game vary from sexist to terrible questioning on the part of Thompson. A local reporter made a good point about this interaction. Reporters may butcher the athlete after a bad game and vice-versa. It’s the nature of the business. You could say it’s second nature; it’s part of the game. Most reporters have never laced skates in a professional league to understand the pressure that players go through. Certain lines of questioning, especially the wrong lines of questioning, can set players off and ruin the player-reporter relationship.
Is there a resolution? No, because both parties chose to move on past this interaction. And so should everyone else.
A former novice/atom player, timekeeper and fan of the game, Peter has lived and breathed hockey throughout his life, covering hockey happenings in Edmonton, Vancouver, and currently in Saskatchewan. He is now a contributing writer for the Hockey Writers.