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Ranking the Most Emotional Playoff Series in Canucks’ History: #25 to #11

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The waterworks are starting to build in part two of our list.

Naslund celebrates goal
Markus Naslund #19 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his goal against the Minnesota Wild in game five of the 2003 Stanley Cup Western Conference Semi-Finals at General Motors Place on May 5, 2003 in Vancouver, Canada. The Wild defeated the Canucks 7-2.
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images/NHLI

If the lack of Canucks hockey has numbed your passion for the game, perhaps a scroll through this list will make you remember why you fell in love with the game in the first place.

This is the second part in a series where I’ve been ranking the emotional pull of every playoff series in Canucks history. Enjoy the flashbacks, highlights, and let us know if you agree or disagree with how we’ve ranked these series.

25. Canucks survive small scare to beat Kings (2010)

The result: Vancouver beat Los Angeles 4-2 in the Quarterfinals.

What Happened: This was a tight match-up on paper between two teams that finished with more than 100 points each during the regular season. That played itself out early in the series, with each of the first two games going to overtime.

The Kings briefly had a 2-1 lead in the series, but the Canucks took over after that, winning each of the next three games to move on to the Semifinals.

Emotional Pull: Six Mikael Samuelsson goals out of 10 (He actually had seven in the series).

24. The Lidstrom Goal (2002)

The result: Detroit beat Vancouver 4-2 in the Quarterfinals.

What Happened: The eighth-seeded Canucks were up against the mighty Detroit Red Wings. Nobody thought they stood a chance, until they went into Joe Louis Arena and won the first two games of the series.

Of course, the momentum completely shifted with Nick Lidstrom scored a goal from center ice on Dan Cloutier in Game Three. The emotional pull from this series stems from what could have been if that goal never occurred. Would the Canucks have pulled off the upset against the eventual 2002 Stanley Cup Champions?

Emotional Pull: Six Lidstrom slappers out of 10.

23. Canucks sweep Flames for first ever series win (1982)

The result: Vancouver swept Calgary 3-0 in Division Semifinals.

What Happened: It took until their 12th NHL season for the Canucks to finally win a playoff series, but they did so in convincing fashion against and underwhelming Calgary Flames team.

Tiger Williams had two game-winning goals, including the Game Two overtime winner. However Richard Brodeur was the star of the series (as he was for most of the 1982 Canucks playoff run), after stopping 103 of 108 shots in the three-game sweep.

Emotional Pull: Six King Richard fist pumps out of 10.

22. Kesler dominates Nashville (2011)

The result: Vancouver defeated Nashville 4-2 in the Semifinals.

What Happened: This series will always be remember for Ryan Kesler’s dominance. It was never really in doubt with the Canucks taking Games One, Three and Four. That was only amplified by the fact that Kesler had five goals and 11 points in the series, when no othe Canucks player had more than five points.

Emotional Pull: Just watching this highlight pack can make you remember that you used to love Ryan Kesler. That’s emotion, baby.

21. Gretzky dummies the Canucks (1993)

The result: Los Angeles defeated Vancouver 4-2 in the Smythe Division Finals.

What Happened: We bounce from Kesler’s dominance for the Canucks (yay!) to Gretzky’s dominance against the Canucks (ugh). The Great One posted six goals and 13 points in six games to lead the Kings to victory against the Canucks.

This series loss hurt for a couple of reasons. This was actually the best regular season performance of the Quinn, Bure and Linden era as the team finished with 101 points. They were just coming off of an emotional series win against the Jets, and they had a chance to put the Kings on the ropes in Game Five at home. Instead the lost in double-overtime before losing Game Six on the road in L.A.

Emotional Pull: Seven angry fist shakes at Gretzky out of 10.

20. Two overtime losses to Calgary sinks Canucks (1983)

The result: Calgary defeated Vancouver 3-1 in Division Semifinals.

What Happened: The Canucks entered the 1983 playoff with hopes of another magical run. Unfortunately, Brodeur’s magic ran out, as he posted a .849 save percentage in the series.

Nonetheless, this match-up was close, but overtime wins by Calgary in Games One and Four were the difference in the series.

Emotional Pull: After the miracle run from the year before, this was a hard loss to swallow. Also, you can’t argue that yet another 1980s brawl doesn’t rile you up just a bit.

19. President’s trophy winners choke against LA (2012)

The result: Los Angeles shocks the hockey world, defeating Vancouver 4-1 in the Quarterfinals.

What Happened: Yeah seriously, what happened?

The Canucks went into the 2012 postseason with hopes of getting back to the Cup Finals. After a dominant regular season, those hopes were swiftly dashed after they went down 3-0 in their series against the Kings.

Emotional Pull: The Kings were clearly a team of destiny that season, but this loss still hurts.

18. McLean, Bure & Linden dominate Dallas (1994)

The result: The Canucks defeated the Stars 4-1 in the Semifinals.

What Happened: After ripping through three tough losses, let’s revert back to an emotional win here on our list.

There wasn’t a ton of drama in this series, but the 1994 Canucks further gave ammunition to the idea that they were a special team in their win over the Stars. Linden and Bure combined for 10 goals in 10 games, and Kirk McLean had a .940 save percentage to carry the Canucks to the Conference Finals for the first time since the 1982 Cup run.

Emotional Pull: For the first time in a long time, this series win made us feel that this Canucks team could actually win the Cup.

17. Canucks lose three overtime games to Chicago (1995)

The result: Chicago sweeps Vancouver 4-0 in the Semifinals.

What Happened: After defeating the favoured St. Louis Blues in Round One, the Canucks were potentially on their way to another magical run to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Their next opponent was the Chicago Blackhawks, who were once again the favoured opponent.

Despite the sweep, you can’t help but feel like this series could have gone the other way. The Canucks had a 1-0 third period lead in Game One before giving up the tying goal and losing in overtime. In Game Three, they held a 2-1 lead in the final minute before Murray Craven scored the tying goal for Chicago, with Chris Chelios scoring the winner in overtime.

By the time Game Four came around, it was yet again a similar story. The Canucks led 3-2 in the third period before Jeremy Roenick tied it. Chelios would bury his second straight overtime winner to complete the sweep.

Emotional Pull: After winning four of their last five combined playoff series, confidence had to be high in the market. To see that confidence quickly dissipate after four straight losses was soul-crushing.

16. Vancouver loses to Chicago...again (2010)

The result: For the second year in a row, the Blackhawks defeated the Canucks 4-2 in the Semifinals.

What Happened: It was the rematch between two teams who had one of the best rivalries in the NHL. Once again however, this one didn’t go the Canucks way as they suffered yet another crushing loss at the hands of the Blackhawks.

Emotional Pull: This was a hard series to rank. On the one hand, it hurt the fan base just as much, if not more, to lose to Chicago for the second year in a row. On the other hand, the Canucks presented less of a challenge to the Blackhawks in 2010 compared to 2009. Chicago took a 3-1 series lead and then dominated Game Six.

15. Naslund leads the Canucks to epic comeback against St. Louis (2003)

The result: Canucks come back from down 3-1 to beat St. Louis 4-3 in the Quarterfinals.

What Happened: After two straight first-round playoff defeats, it looked like the Canucks were bound for a third-straight first round exit. They were down 3-1 in the series against a veteran Blues team who had stars such as Doug Weight, Keith Tkachuk, Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis on their roster.

However, the Canucks pulled it together with convincing wins in Games Five, Six and Seven. They held at least a three-goal lead in all three of those games, even though they let the Blues creep back in during Games Five and Six. Captain Markus Naslund led the way with four goals and seven points.

Emotional Pull: It had been eight years since the Canucks last won a playoff series in 1995 (ironically, against St. Louis). This was a win that ignited the fan base once again.

14. The Bertuzzi Curse (2003)

The result: Canucks blow a 3-1 series lead and lose to the Wild 4-3 in the Semifinals.

What Happened: There were certainly some painful losses in the West Coast Era (spoiler, this wasn’t the most painful one, in my opinion). However, going up 3-1 against the underdog Minnesota Wild, only to allow 16 goals in the next three games en route to a surprising second-round exit was certainly painful.

Emotional Pull: Eight cuss words out of 10, mainly directed towards Bertuzzi and Dan Cloutier.

13. Canucks come from down 3-1 to beat Jets (1992)

The result: Vancouver defeated Winnipeg 4-3 in the Division Semifinals.

What Happened: Prior to this triumph, the Canucks had not won a playoff series since 1982 against the New York Islanders. That changed in dramatic fashion against the Jets in 1992.

After going down 3-1 in the series to the underdog Jets, the Canucks flipped the script and completely dominated Games Five through Seven, winning those three games by a score of 21-5.

Emotional Pull: After watching the last three games of this series, you probably thought the Canucks were going to win 12 straight Stanley Cups.

12. Miracle Run 2.0? (1995)

The result: Canucks defeat St. Louis 4-3 in Quarterfinals.

What Happened: If there’s one team the Canucks have had continued success against in franchise history, it’s the St. Louis Blues.

That continued in 1995 despite the fact that the Canucks went 18-18-10 in the shortened regular season, and they went up against a Blues team that was the third-best team in the NHL.

However, these two teams were evenly-matched in this close, back and forth series. Eventually, the Canucks were victories in Game Seven which gave fans the lingering thought, could they return once again to the Stanley Cup Finals?

Emotional Pull: As you read above, some brutal overtime luck against the Chicago Blackhawks meant that they didn’t go on another miracle run, but the emotional lure of that possibility, plus the fact that this was a hell of a series, means this match-up ranks highly on our list.

11. Underdog Canucks get swept by Islanders (1982)

The result: Islanders sweep the Canucks to win the 1982 Stanley Cup.

What Happened: After surprising the hockey world to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Canucks didn’t have much left against an Islanders team that was in the middle of winning four straight Stanley Cups.

That being said, the Canucks put up a fight in this series, despite the sweep. Game One was a bloodbath and a close game, one that they lost 6-5 in overtime. Perhaps if a bounce in that game goes the other way, we’re talking about a different series.

Emotional Pull: I almost thought about ranking this lower, since the Canucks were so heavily outmatched against New York. However, that miracle run was emotional in the sense that after the Canucks finally won one playoff series, they went to rip off two more. There was a sense of euphoria and belief among fans, even if they were outmatched.

That Canucks squad were a gritty underdog who was easy to cheer for, making the loss no easier to swallow.