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4 Thoughts after the Blues tie series with Canucks 2-2

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The Best of Three begins on Wednesday night.

St Louis Blues v Vancouver Canucks - Game Four
Brock Boeser #6 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates a second period goal by J.T. Miller #9 (not shown) against Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues in Game Four of the Western Conference First Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 17, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

We’ve been accustomed to such nice things in Vancouver.

Well, at least in the short term.

It’s easy to forget that the Canucks went six games without a regulation loss until tonight. Thanks in large part to the Core Six, this team looked like they were ready to tangle with the league’s best.

Those jaded feelings of euphoria came crashing back down to earth tonight. I try to cling onto those faint feelings of optimism, but I won’t promise that my thoughts tonight will make you feel better about those Canucks.

Canucks can’t always rely on the PP to win

We all love the Canucks PP, but they were bound to go at least one game where they didn’t score a power play goal.

Unfortunately, on the night they went without a power play marker, St. Louis registered two of their own goals with the man advantage. Lopsided five on five play aside, that was the difference in the game tonight.

I wouldn’t go as far to say that St. Louis has magically figured out the Cnaucks ever-changing power play. Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson will put in the homework and improve moving forward. Chances are they’ll rebound here later in the series.

This isn’t the refs’ fault...completely

Did the referees make some calls that infuriated Canucks fans tonight? Absolutely.

However, you can’t pin this loss on the refs.

The special teams battle is huge in the playoffs. Tonight, the Canucks had their opportunities on the power play and failed to convert, going 0/7 with the man advantage while registering eight shots.

St. Louis, on the other hand, went 2/5 while putting 13 shots on net.

This was a rare night where the special teams performance didn’t swing in the Canucks favour. Can they reverse that in Game 5?

Piss poor performance from Virtanen

I hate to pick on the birthday boy, but it’s fair to wonder if we’ve seen the end of Jake Virtanen in these playoffs.

(Apologies to my buddy Tanbir Rana)

Tonight, it felt like any offence or momentum quickly dissipated whenever the puck was on Virtanen’s stick. He was even gifted an opportunity alongside Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson, but he failed to do much of anything with his opportunity.

Many across Canucks nation were calling for Adam Gaudette in Game 4. It didn’t happen, but I’d be surprised if he doesn’t find his way into the line-up for Game 5.

Which depth player will step up...for either team?

I’ve been constantly mentioning that I don’t think the Canucks can win this series if they continue to lose the five-on-five battle.

The funny thing about that though, is that both teams seem to have only one line that can score at evens.

The Lotto Line stepped up for the Canucks in Game 3, and they delivered a goal tonight from J.T. Miller in the opening minutes of the second period. However, it was all about St. Louis’s top line of David Perron, Ryan O’Reilly and Jaden Schwartz tonight.

Those three absolutely dominated at five-on-five, even though they were only rewarded with one goal from O’Reilly. According to Natural Stat Trick, their line had seven scoring chances on the night. No line on either team had more than two scoring chances.

Aside from the top line on either team, there wasn’t anyone who really stood out. Whichever depth player stands out in the coming days with a dominant performance or a big goal could help decide the winner of this series.