Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Canucks-Blues Series Wrap Up

At the end of the series comes the handshake, so from a Canuck fan to St. Louis fans, here is mine.

Until Easter Sunday I had no idea who the Canucks were going to play. For the longest time, the newspapers were debating if it was better to play Columbus or Chicago. St. Louis was a surprise. The surge in the second half of the season was impressive. The threat of playing a team with quick young skaters and a killer PP was not something I looked forward to.

Even though we won, I am still impressed by the young Blues team. Your team, much like LA, will soon be teams in the West that I think, will be a force to reckon with. Your team played game 4 so aggressively that it had me digging my nails into my palms throughout the 3rd period and overtime. The number of times I cursed McDonald throughout this series shows how good of a player he was.

It was awesome to see the crowd back at games cheering on the Blues, the fans really brought a great atmosphere to game 3 and 4. I have enjoyed writing with Laura from Wazzupwitchu and admit that she really had better graphics than I did.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Canucks SWEEP Series!

Canucks win! Woooo! 1st sweep in Canucks history!


Correction: 1st 7 game sweep in Canucks history.

Congrats to the Canucks.

Well played series - your special teams stepped up when ours fell flat, and that was the total difference in this series. Best of luck to you next round, whoever you play.

If you guys draw Detroit or Chicago, I will cheer FOR you.

I think that the crowd reaction after the game says it all for this season: several minutes straight of chanting "Let's go Blues!"

What an amazing season. I didn't want it to end that way, but considering that we were in last place and wound up in 6th, and considering some of our best players missed half of or even the entire season, I am VERY proud of what we accomplished. I absolutely cannot wait until next season to see what the next step in the rebuild is, with Brewer, Kariya, and Johnson back in the line-up.

We're going to be a force to recon with. The BJs are losing players to free agency, and the Preds might not be as strong. We just got knocked out of the playoffs, but I am TOTALLY pumped for next year. October can't get here soon enough for both of my teams.

Thank you, guys, for giving me back playoff hockey. I have been on the edge of my seat for three months straight. Honestly, I don't know if I could make it many more rounds. The next year can't get here soon enough.

See you in Sweden, guys. Have fun with the golf... but walk the course, ok?

Just say no.

D Day

We're playing for pride tonight. We haven't been swept since the Dallas Stars did it in 1994, and we'd really rather not be swept tonight.

Is this team young? For the most part, yes. Are they untested? As far as the playoffs are concerned, indeed they are. But what they fought through during the regular season is a testament of the skill that these boys have and what the future holds for this organization. This has been one of the best rebuilds I have ever seen (of course, I live in Atlanta, where the Five Year Plan has now become the Ten Year Plan, so that's probably a bad thing to compare it with) - it yielded massive success probably 2 years ahead of schedule. I brought my mother to the preseason Thrashers/Blues game down here, and we were right next to the Blues' bench. Mom grew up going to games and watching the Plager Bros. play, so imagine her surprise when she saw all the young kids out there. "They all look like they're 12!" was her response when she saw them, but after the game she was very impressed with their speed, their style, and just how well they played.

We're here, and we got nothing to lose. Bring it.

There's an interesting quote from Alan Muir over at SI. He draws an interesting Buffy analogy:

That's the sort of lesson that teams learn the hard way. To paraphrase the eloquently self-aware Buffy Summers, these Blues are cookie dough, and they're not done baking. The wait isn't much fun, but having the Canucks turn up the heat on this group definitely is part of the process.

At some point, these guys will be cookies. But not this year.

There's some joy to be found in cookie dough, too. So, we're five by five* regardless of if we win or lose... but let's go out there and get those bitcas good, shall we?* Especially ones who decide to trash talk players wives, or talk smack about the team in general. You don't pull the mask off the ol' Lone Ranger, and you don't mess around with David Backes.

No special teams meltdown, no line shuffles, and the crowd better sustain the pressure as much as the team does. If they score, don't be quiet, PLEASE. Don't let them deflate you like the thundersticks they're handing out. Do NOT line up at the all-you-can-eat moron bar.*

*I apologize for the Buffy slang, but when someone quotes it in SI, I feel the need to run with it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Game 3 Recap: Canucks silence the Scottrade Center

Hello Canucks/Blues fans, I forgot to introduce myself on the last post. Here's my recap for Game 3, and as a Canuck fan I can't help it be a little biased to my home team, sorry Blues fans. I normally write at Vancity Canuck or The Hockey Bay.

St. Louis Blues fans haven't had a playoff game in their stadium in 5 years. They were pumped, great crowd, I expected nothing less out of the fans. Whoever was singing 'O Canada' tried to be fancy, but instead his attempt at being fancy was a FAIL.

Mats Sundin was injured with a lower body injury, and Kariya may have drawn in to the lineup. That would have meant two things:
1. The RPM line/powerplay of the Canucks was going to suffer missing the big body and faceoff wins from Sundin.
2. With Kariya in, the Blues might actually score on a powerplay
None of this happened. Vancouver still won faceoffs and were able to score. Kariya didn't play, and the Blues didn't capitalize on their numerous powerplays.

In the opening few minutes it was a little nerve wracking watching the game. The Blues looked good. Three minutes in, Backes gets a goal and it's the first time the Blues have led a game so far in the series. Ohlund takes an unnecessary penalty that the Canucks kill off. A few minutes later Daniel takes a penalty, then Mitchell gets a double minor. The Blues are on a 5 on 3 but the Canucks look good and also kill that off. It was penalty city for the Canucks with a few more handed out to them in the 1st period. The team escapes down only 1-0.

In the second, Vancouver starts fresh and look like they've adjusted to the St. Louis crowd. The refs during their little pow wow between periods must have decided to call nothing but Blues penalties in the 2nd period. McClement takes a slashing call and just like that Ohlund puts one in. McClement takes another, and Daniel puts it in, 2-1! McDonald finally figures out Luongo and gets a goal to tie up the game 2-2. Crombeen is a bit of a loose cannon tonight and takes three stupid penalties, the last one at the end of the period will start off the Canucks on the powerplay in the 3rd.

The unsung hero of the Canucks, gets his first goal of the series on the powerplay right at the beginning of the period. That's 3 freaking goals on the powerplay! But the refs decide to start calling the Canucks, and the Blues get their second 5 on 3. The Canucks and Luongo would have none of it and just SHUT THEM DOWN. Scottrade Center is relatively quiet for the rest of the period.
Backes takes a cross checking call late in the 3rd and to make it worth his while to go to the box, Backes decides to also get a roughing call. Game Over.

The Blues, who were very good on the powerplay in the regular season (ranked 8th), were not able to capitalize once in the game tonight. They had two 5 on 3's and still no dice. They are now 1 for 17 in the series, which is a little worrisome if you are a Blues fan. Kariya may have helped on the PP, so as a Vancouver fan, I was quite glad he didn't play tonight. Maybe he would ruin the chemistry on the team but if he's healthy for game 4 they may as well give him a shot, because whatever they have right now, isn't working.

We're not dead yet!

Game 3... so much pressure to win it feels like a game 7. What could possibly be in our favor tonight?

Home. 5 Years without playoff hockey in St. Louis. A city that's just as pumped about its hockey team as it is about it's baseball team. A city that deserves a better situation for their hockey team than what they've been treated to the past few years... a deafening roar that gets inside Bobby Luongo's head and just messes him up.

Wanna know something else we have? A Paul Kariya skating with the team. Will he be playing? That remains to be seen, but how much would THAT help.

Remember - we're not dead yet. Actually, we might be getting better.

Cam Janssen is suited up and ready to go. Duck and cover.

Game three...bring it on St. Louis...

37 - 254. Teams that have lost the opening two games in the NHL have gone 37-254. Teams that are up 2-0 on the series have an 87% chance of taking the series. How does that make you feel St. Louis?

I hate to break it to St. Louis fans, but it's time to stop wishing for the Luongo of the Phoenix game. The Luongo that's here now is a whole different beast. He tracks pucks, he fights off guys in his crease and pucks have been sticking to him like velcro. And he's been having a great time doing it.

While doing some reading this morning, Bernie Miklasz is saying:
"The Canucks just happen to employ the world's hottest goaltender at the moment. And they're riding him. Basking in his glory.

Yeah, you only write that stuff when your team can't score and is losing the series. There have been games in the regular season when Luongo wasn't playing like a god, and don't worry the rest of the team knows how to step it up. The Canucks have things to improve on, like tightening up their defence, and cutting down on taking stupid penalties, *cough*, Ohlund. That's what game 3 and 4 will be for.

On the topic of St. Louis writers, I would like to point out to Dan O'Neill (a GOLF columnist) that he should perhaps do a little research before submitting an article. In Vancouver we do not speak french, but if you so feel you want to include a french quote, perhaps you should make sure you are actually writing in french, maybe not say ITALIAN. It's 'Vive le difference' but I guess your mind is already on when the Blues will begin their golf season.

After the bruhaha that ensued at the end of game 2, game 3 should be a fighting affair. No instigator penalty was handed out against Crombeen, so you know Colin Campbell will be watching this game closely. Hopefully the refs will not revert back to their whistle calling ways from game 1.

So to the St. Louis Blues and their fans, bring it on!