The Canucks have been beaten soundly over the last three games, outscored by 11 goals; the coach pulled the putative starter in two of those games, inserting him in the third just in time to lose; that starter didn't start the last game in what is widely called a "panic move by the coach"; that same starter clearly has Blackhawks on the brain, making mistakes against this team he simply doesn't make otherwise; a player called the heart and soul of the team and a major trophy candidate has no goals when his team needs him the most; the team captain, likewise; one of the top two defencemen only managed 2 minutes of playing time before being injured (yet again)...
So why am I optimistic about tonight's game?
The simple reason is this: the Canucks played better. It's that simple. And it starts, oddly enough, with a change of starters and continued with Salo's injury.
Calling Schneider's start a "panic move" is odd at best and thoughtless at worst: if a coach wants to shake up his team, pulling the goalie is one clear message that no one on the ice can miss. The team wasn't playing well enough - to be charitable - over two games, so it was time to shake them up. And it worked.
Vancouver played their best game of the series on Sunday, pressuring Chicago in all three zones, not sitting and waiting for the Blackhawks to carry the play, not trying to sit on a lead, finding and holding their and not being too stupid in their play. And they did it into an overtime game playing five defencemen for the vast majority of it.
The two goals Schneider let in during play? Rookie mistakes by a rookie goalie - he did well enough for most of the game, but he was surprised by the constant level of preparedness you need. He was also well protected by a team that knew there was a rookie between the pipes and carried the play well away from him, something they have to remember to do tonight.
If the Canucks play tonight like they did on Sunday, we win. It's that simple.