GAME TIME: 4:00 PM PST (Yankee finally gets his rest!)
THE EVER-FEISTY, SLEEPLESS ENEMY: St. Louis Game Time
After the fiasco at the end of Game 2, this one promises to be another violent affair. Or does it? The refs put their whistles away mostly in Game 2 (especially in the first) and only called 4 minors against each team before the final horn blew. Then all hell broke loose. You can almost bank on Colin Campbell and his merry henchmen having their radar on this game and the refs calling it tight once again. It's a damned shame.
Period 1 of Game 2 was one of the best Canucks-NHL periods of hockey that I've seen in quite a while. The Canucks are going to have to play physical and smart, because the Blues are going to crash and bang immediately, especially being at home and trailing in the series.
The Blues continue to be stymied by the greatness of Roberto Luongo but know what they have to do get pucks past him: Traffic. They started putting bodies in front of him a bit more in Game 2 but you know they will be very aggressive in front of Lou tonight. Roberto knows it's coming.
"I saw their interviews after the game," Luongo said. "They're going to try and get some traffic. It's going to be up to the D-men and myself to make sure we get good box outs ... It's part of the game.
"Sometimes you have to fight through it and hold your ground. But it's not going to get me off my game, that's for sure." (Via The White Towel)
Just how aggressive they'll be is the question. I expect it to be problematic and I hope the Canucks keep their cool.
Is there any chink in this Canucks team's armor? Can they even be stopped in this opening series? A Hawks fan at Second City Hockey mentioned to me tonight that teams that go up 2-0 win the series 87% of the time. Mirtle has a piece up that says, historically, teams that go up 2-0 won their series eventually to the tune of 202-21.
Speaking of percentages, power plays have not been much of a factor in this series yet. The Canucks are 4th best with a 90.9% kill rate. The Blues are 5th at a 90% PK efficiency.
For a team that does nothing but travel, I'm sure Vancouver doesn't want to have to fly back to the Midwest if they don't have to. But this is obviously a must-win for the Blues. St. Louis have been proving people wrong all year and will have the home town behind them. If the Canucks take Game 3 I will praise their character and resolve because this one is gonna be tough.
- Are we going to see more from Mats Sundin after he got that 14 game goal-less drought monkey off his back?
- When will Line 3 be rewarded with a goal for their insanely intense efforts? Steve Bernier is continually coming to practice early to work on his shots in close.
- I can't find the link now, but Alain Vigneault expects Taylor Pyatt back soon, but is not giving an exact timetable for that, obviously. I hope the Pyatt Riot is hanging in there.
- They're down, but don't expect them to quit.
-Erik Johnson has been skating with the Blues, even in practice and hopes to play "this year still." May that not happen!
-Paul Kariya will practice with the Blues today for the first time in a long time, but will not play in Game 3. Works for me.
-Some Blues fans want Cam "The Freak" Janssen to be inserted into the Blues lineup to teach the Canucks a lesson. That is not likely to happen.
- The home game will be the first for St. Louis fans since 2004.
- Demitra has nothing but positives to say about Tkachuk.
- A Blues fact that Canucks fans will like:
Only one team in the Blues' 42-year history has fought back from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series and won. That was in 1972 when the Blues lost the first two games to the Minnesota North Stars but came back and won the conference quarterfinal series in overtime in Game 7. Since then, the Blues are 0-8 when trailing 2-0 in a best-of-seven series. -St. Louis Today.com.