It's the best time of year!
The Vancouver Canucks took Game 1 in Chicago by a score of 5-1. That seems like a long time ago. In the two games since, the Blackhawks have managed to steal the momentum and get into the Canucks’ heads. Down 2-1 in the series, Alain Vigneault’s club is in need of a victory before things spin out of control.
On Wednesday, Dustin Byfuglien arrived in the series and made a statement. None of his three goals were pretty, but they got the job done as he stepped into Roberto Luongo’s kitchen. ‘Buff’ got into the heads of Luongo and the Canucks last year, and it’s working again. I actually think Luongo is having nightmares about Byfuglien!
The Canucks lost their composure late in Game 3, most notably when Alex Burrows and Shane O’Brien went after Dave Bolland and Marian Hossa in a post-whistle scrum.
It was Bolland who got into a war of words with Daniel Sedin on multiple occasions during the game. By doing so, Daniel Sedin was playing right into Bolland’s hands, as he was doing his job by getting under his skin. Daniel even challenged Bolland to a fight while yelling back and forth in the penalty box; when have you ever seen him do that?! Now it’s time for him and brother Henrik to re-focus and rekindle their magic tonight.
(This kind of sounds like last year’s second round series between these two, doesn’t it? Yeah, I think so too.)
So going into tonight, the Canucks know they need a win. They’ve been outscored 8-2 in the last four periods, and the team’s confidence seems to be shaken. Vigneault has made some lineup changes, taking out Pavol Demitra and Rick Rypien in favor of Michael Grabner and Tanner Glass. He’s also taken Mikael Samuelsson off the top line, putting Burrows back with the Sedins.
The Canucks know that Chicago will look to crash the crease and stir the pot once again. How should they counter that?? Not retaliating or taking stupid penalties. Dumb penalties have cost the Canucks against this ‘Hawks team over the last couple years, and they can’t fall into that trap again.
Luongo also has to be much better in net tonight. He gave up soft rebounds which led to goals in Game 3, and was simply out-dueled by his counterpart Niemi. Luongo has to equal his Game 1 performance for Vancouver to win this game.
Vancouver’s true colors will show tonight. Will they push back and tie the series? Or will they lie down and face elimination going back to Chicago? For Vancouver's sake, it better be the former.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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