All season long some of us (cough cough) have been complaining that Vancouver's special teams needed a ton of help.
Somehow, in enemy territory, without Mats Sundin, and playing from behind, they finally showed up. And the timing couldn't be more perfect, giving Vancouver a dominating 3-0 lead going into Tuesday night's game.
Let's start with the PK. Probably our top guy with the man down, Willie Mitchell, took a game high 8 minutes in penalties which TWICE lead to 5-on-3's for St. Louis. The first of which was after the Backes goal that opened the scoring in the first. Not only did Vancouver's PK unit (Ohlund, Burrows and Edler) kill off the first one, but because Mitchell got tagged with four minutes for the high stick, the Canucks had to kill off about 2:20 more of a 5-on-4.
In the third, it happened again. Mitchell got careless with the stick and the Canucks were clinging to a lead. Again the PK'ers gave St. Louis nothing to work with.
Even more impressive then that is the power play. Bare in mind Vancouver was 17th in the league on the man advantage in the regular season. Tonight? 3 goals on 5 chances. Sick.
We said in the game day thread that their motto should be playing with the one goal lead. Done. We said in the game day thread that the Sedins would be given little room to make their game work and yet Daniel still scored. We said someone had to play the hero besides Luongo. Well, pick your guy: Bernier, Ohlund, even Johnson? Whatever, they all work.
With the exception of the failed 5-on-3, the Blues owned the first period. But Vancouver's PK helped them hold their ground. Give full marks to both teams for playing their guts out, but somehow the Canucks came out on top again.
A 3-0 lead in the series? Sure, the brooms can officially come out. I may be wrong, but I don't think Vancouver has even swept a team in a seven games series (last technical sweep was a five game series against Calgary back in 1992).
Still one game of hockey left, so Vancouver just needs to fend off a desperate team and milk that one goal mentality for sixty more minutes. St. Louis, conversely, has to win four straight against a team that has figured out how to beat them differently in three attempts.
Honestly, who saw this coming a week ago?
I can't sum it up much more than what Yankee has already said. Is Paul Kariya going to play in Game 4? Who cares? Had the Blues won this game it would have been a different story.
Let me throw some stats at you:
- Cam Janssen was inserted into the lineup to replace Dan Hinote. How many minutes did he play? 3:59. Yeah, that's it. Can't be much of a factor when you play that much. Our "goon" Rick Rypien played 7:53 comparatively.
- Andy Murray played the hell out of Andy McDonald and Brad Boyes, who played 23:00 and 21:34 respectively.
-Not one Blues player was a minus tonight because the Canucks scored all 3 of their goals on the power play.
-Mats who? I know the new RPM Line consisting of Demitra-Hansen-Kesler was good, but didn't end up on the scoresheet at all. When I first heard that Sundin was not playing I was concerned. however, we have been winning even when Mats does NOTHING. Has Sundin ever had it easier in the playoffs? I think not.
In Sundin's replacement, Hansen had no shots and only played 6.5 minutes. Where did the icetime go? Well....to Kesler and Burrows who played 19:39 and 18:02 respectively.
Boxscore and Highlights HERE.
-I'm still loving the teams' play in front of Luongo. It's tight. It's gold. I don't know what AV said to the boys between period 1 and 2, but the Canucks really settled down after being outplayed to hell in period 1.
-Bernier scored the winning goal on the powerplay 1:41 into the 3rd. Who was in the box for the Blues? Crombeen. "It's my own stupidity that put us down and ended up costing us the game," Crombeen said. "I didn't control my emotions enough."
What does that sound like? A young Blues team that is still LEARNING what it takes to win in the playoffs. Remember Crombeen's antics at the end of Game 2. Now he's in the penalty box when the Canucks score the winner.
That being said, the Blues are not very far off from being a dominant team, down 3-0 or not.
Final thought: I'm a man's man and all but I have to say...I really love Chris Mason's 5-hole right now.