Back in the early '90's - when we were all smelling the Teen Spirit - I played on a premiere soccer squad for my county and age group (or maybe they were lying to make us feel good). I laugh when I look because, besides speed, I brought very little to the team; the coach would play me as a fullback or sweeper with the simple plan to ensure no one ever got between me and our goalie. Not surprisingly, some guys eventually got by me for crucial scores in close games and I would be furious at, well, everything. I remember my coach stressing those losses are more important than winning: own your embarrassment, recognize your mistakes and demand a better performance on the pitch the next day.
You see the horse I'm beating here: that is what Vancouver must do in game four. This is far from rocket science - these are professional athletes afterall - but my concern is that bad habits find their way back into their game. Respect their mistake of mailing game three in far before it was over. Recognize poor decisions made that score possible. Meanwhile their opponents were still hungry with five goals on the board, getting production up and down their roster. Never satisfied, never stopped. Both were pinned at opposite ends of the hockey spectrum.
The forwards need to get back to what brought them here: sound puck management and shot selection. Boston has done a good job of forcing Vancouver skaters to pass or try the low percentage shots and no one is beating Thomas on those (except maybe Thomas). What happened to keeping him moving and guessing, especially on their now 1-for-16 PP; you realize Henrik Sedin doesn't even had a shot on goal in this series yet? They may be winning the series, but Vancouver has only be in the lead for 17:07 in three games. Ideally Vancouver has to grab the lead and throttle the game into a rhythm they can dictate. But to do so they need great efforts all around including on their depth, meaning Raymond, Torres, Hansen and Higgins have to factor into the scoring. All four have the wheels to force the Boston D into an error. The rest of the attention should fall on a huge rebound game from the Vancouver defense (simply plays, simple transitions and simple dumps), now including the one and only Keith Ballard who has the unlikely chance to justify his patience and cap hit all in the span of a few games. Luongo hasn't lost consecutive games in over a month of this playoff grind, but we'll no doubt need some jaw droppers before tonight is over.
It's all about momentum. It won't be easy, but nothing the Canucks do is. Step up and snag it back.
The highest compliment that you can pay me is to say that I work hard every day, that I never dog it.
- Wayne Gretzky
#99 is #99 for a reason. Leave it all out on the ice and they'll be fine. Effort and probably some puck luck means a chance to head home for a date with history.
Now more than ever: Earn This.