River City Moose Report - Second Round Edition

As we all bask in the glow of the big 4-2 victory yesterday in Game 4, the Canucks return home to try and close out the pesky Predators tomorrow night.  What a fantastic feeling it is to be a Canucks fan right now, as this team just seems to have grown so much this season, and even a bit moreso since dispatching the Blackhawks in Round 1.  One of the coolest things about watching this Canucks team from Winnipeg is seeing how important some of the ex-Moose have become.  

Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler are all major pieces of the Canucks core, and all of them spent time down here in Winnipeg with the antlers on their jerseys.  Arguments could be made that Jannik Hansen, Mason Raymond and even Cory Schneider belong in that group, and current role players like Cody Hodgson, Alex Bolduc, Rick Rypien, Victor Oreskovich and a number of others have spent time on both rosters.  It is very encouraging to know that our farm system is churning out quality hockey players, and that the Manitoba Moose play an integral part to the process.

Speaking of the Moose, Game 5 goes tonight (8:30 ET/5:30 PT) between the Manitoba Moose and the Hamilton Bulldogs at the MTS Center in a series that is currently tied at two apiece.  After losing the first two games in Hamilton quite handily, the Moose have stormed back and taken last two games and now look to head back to Hamilton with the series lead.  Listen to the game live on CJOB here.

 

What makes these two wins even more impressive is the fact that the Hamilton Bulldogs had absolutely owned the Moose this season.  After taking the first two of the 8-game regular season match-ups in October, the Moose dropped the final 6 encounters, including the final two home games of the regular season that cost them valuable points and home-ice advantage.  And after dropping Game 1 (4-1) and Game 2 (4-2) in Hamilton to start this series, an 8-game losing streak against the Bulldogs was staring them right in the face.  

The Moose, however, have proven resilient during these playoffs.  After already storming back from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Lake Erie Monsters in Round 1, the Moose came home and held serve in both Game 3 (5-4 win) and Game 4 (2-1 in double OT) to show Hamilton that they won't be an easy out.  So now we have an all-important Game 5 that goes tonight at the MTS Center, and it should be a beauty as they are opening up the upper deck to fill the barn.

  • The double-overtime winner in Game 4 was a beauty, as Jordan Schroeder laid out a nifty saucer pass to Mario Bliznak, who roofed the one-timer past Drew MacIntyre at the 11:54 mark of the fifth period.  The goal can be viewed here on Moose TV - you will need to select the video from the collection on the right.  It appears that Schroeder has woken up, as he scored his first goal of the series in Game 3 and then set up the winner in Game 4.
  • Eddie Lack stopped 43 of 44 shots in game 4, and Mario Bliznak had a goal and assist to lead the Moose to victory.  Guillaume Desbiens added the other goal.
  • While Game 4 was a low-scoring affair, Game 3 was the exact opposite with 9 goals scored.  It also featured the turning point of the series, as the Moose trailed 2-1 with less then a minute to go in the 2nd.  However, the aforementioned Jordan Schroeder scored at the 19:25 mark to tie it up, and then something amazing happened.  Hamilton forward Ryan White took an interference penalty at the 19:59 mark, and with 1.9 seconds left on the clock the Moose scored on a bang-bang play.  Marco Rosa won the draw and Sergei Shirokov hammered it home before the buzzer.  The teams traded 4 goals in the third period, but the Moose took the 5-4 victory.
  • The top line of Sergei Shirokov, Marco Rosa and Jason Jaffray each scored a goal, and the trio combined for 7 points in Game 3.  Mark Flood added two helpers, while Alex Bolduc opened the scoring for the second time in the series.
  • Game 2 started off well as Kevin Clark scored 2:43 into the game, but Hamilton responded with 4 straight to put the game out of reach.  Chris Tanev managed to score one in garbage time, but the Moose lost 4-2.  Tanev assisted on Clark's goal to finish with 2 points in the loss, and Lack stopped 27 of 30 shots.
  • Game 1 also started off well as Alex Bolduc scored 5:10 into the game, but it was the only goal the Moose could muster as once again the Bulldogs reeled off 4 straight goals to win 4-1.  Travis Ramsey and Mark Flood assisted on the Bolduc goal, while Lack stopped 33 of 37 shots in the loss.
  • Marco Rosa is tied for second in AHL Playoff scoring with 15 points (5 goals and 10 assists) in 11 games, while Sergei Shirokov is tied for 12th with 9 points (6 goals and 3 assists).
This again could potentially be the final Moose home game in history, but I said the same thing during Game 5 of the opening round the Moose came all the way back to prove me wrong.  Maybe they can do it again, but with Games 6 & 7 (if needed) going in Hamilton this Sunday and Monday, this is a huge swing game in this now best-of-3 series.  I will be heading down to the MTS Center to  so follow me on Twitter (arby_18) for live updates from the game. Hopefully the Moose can pull this one out, as playoff hockey in Winnipeg is always a blast and this playoff run doesn't seem to be over just yet.  Go Moose Go!
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