Psst. Rich Clune? Agitating... you're doing it wrong. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
As a Canucks fan, we've learned over the years not to get too far ahead of ourselves. The NHL history books are littered with stories of early and untimely demises. But after last night, I really don't care. I defy the ghosts of Canucks past.
That game was pure and utter domination.
More after the jump...
Where in the hell do you start? Well the most obvious point would be the Regicidal Maniac himself, Mikael Samuelsson. After the guy has a career best season despite missing 8 games, he comes out and gives the Canucks exactly what they acquired him for: A steady and dangerous offensive threat with Stanley Cup playoff experience. He and the Sedins are becoming unstoppable, and that seems to have the Kings in panic mode, and Garry Valk of Sportsnet Pacific had it bang on last night when he said the Kings did nothing but try and draw penalties all night. I suppose on one hand you can't blame them, but it couldn't have been more clear last night that one team is starting to establish itself as the better one in this series.
There were suggestions that Terry Murray had outcoached Alain Vigneault in this series, but last night's victory makes that seem a bit ridiculous. The Kings' focus was on attempting to draw penalties, running Roberto Luongo and trashtalking the Canucks every opportunity they could. Excellent coaching strategy. In my opinion they even waited too long to start a fight, and after Cowboy Shane won a decision over Wayne Simmonds, Rich Clune (yeah, we never heard of him either) decided that after a game of looking like an unhinged jackass, he was going to instigate a fight with Rick Rypien. After Clune's asinine behavior last night, his shoulder separation after getting beat the fuck down by Rypien was beautifully karmic.
From Roberto Luongo's best performance of the playoffs, to one of the best 4 line games the Canucks have played all season long, this was the game many of us had been waiting for. This Canucks team had shown signs of greatness when placed against some of the NHL's best. And with the pressure of potentially heading back to LA down 3-2 this team responded bigtime. And who they got big games from was remarkable indeed. Steve Bernier with 2 goals. Pavol Demitra was a whirling dervish all night, and picked up his second in as many games. One of Kevin Bieksa's finest games since his return from injury. And Andrew Alberts. A steady, solid game, no penalties, and most notably: an assist to go with his +2. That was the kind of game that the Canucks were expecting to see out of Andrew Alberts when they acquired him. Sure, he has to keep that up, but he didn't look out of place at all last night.
After the game Murray said that O'Brien acted 'like a clown'. Vigneault's response? That famous smile and a playful 'I don't care'. There are discussions that the Kings will dress Raitis Ivanans in response for Sunday's game. There's some brilliant strategy, we can't score 5 on 5, so let's dress our enforcer. No points and a -8 for the year? Yeah, that's what we need to beat the Canucks. Rick Rypien says you're next, bitch.
Okay, gloating aside for a moment, there's still lots of work to do. The Kings will need to come up with some kind of response that is going to be able to handle a confident Canucks team looking to shut the door and burn that cardboard castle to the ground. My advice to Terry Murray? If you're more worried about Shane O'Brien than Mikael Samuelsson, the King is already dead, baby.
All I want for Christmas is my
two seven front teeth...
Seven. That's the number of teeth Eric Belanger had yanked out of his head last night (including one he removed by himself on the bench) after a high stick from Marc-Andre Bergeron of the Canadiens. Nasty stuff, and another reason why the NHL's highsticking rule needs to be looked at as well. You must be in control of your stick at all times, unless you're in the follow through of a shot or pass, when it is then ok to decapitate your opponent. Good grief... So who's to blame in the Capitals loss last night? Symeon Varlamov? Alex Ovechkin? Alexander Semin? @Archluke? How about a combination of a poor team effort on their part and a brilliant road game from the Habs and a huge bounce back performance from Client Jaroslav Halak.
The Sabres staved off elimination with a 4-1 win over the Bruins that saw a whole lot of nasty at the end of the game, Zdeno Chara picking up the instigator and automatic 1 game suspension from the NHL, which they later rescinded. Stop me if you've heard this one, but once again... wrong! Chara is playing with a full face shield and has no business getting into fights with that obvious advantage. Why is it so damn hard for the league to do the right thing?
The Coyotes magical run appears to be in jeopardy without their leader, as the Shane Doan -less Phoenix squad lost 4-1 at home to the Red Wings. Their play in the last two games speaks volumes about how important he is to the team on the ice and in the room. They're in tough heading to the Joe for Game 6.