Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tough Day at the Office: Round Two Game Five: Nucks/B.hawks

By Lisa Ovens

Blackhawks lead the series 3-2

Oh to be a hockey fan in Vancouver during the playoffs! The roller coaster ride continues after the 4-2 loss last night. It was very apparent to me Canucks fans were still harboring some anger after the overtime loss in game four, and many of them were present in the crowd at GM Place. I’ll get to that stuff in a moment.

There were a few things I liked about the game: the anthem singing was fantastic, and set a very positive tone for the first period. Rick Rypien delivered some heavy hits when he activated his “hit switch”. I felt Mats Sundin played a very good game, and to see him score such a beautiful goal in the second period was a very sweet moment. The fans erupted after that one, and I know Sundin critics must have smiled and high fived anyone available during the celebration. If there’s one moment Mats could use to up his game to another level for next time, that goal surely must be it. He could call it the “I still got it” goal. Seize it Mats, take it and run with it as best as you can.

Now, onto the not so good...Alex Burrows paid some attention to B.Hawks goal tender, Nikolai Khabibulin, but chirping at him is not the kind of attention I’d like to see. The Canucks can beat this guy, but they have to take the shots to do it. I believe it was Wayne Gretzky who said “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” The shots on goal were 31-21 in favor of the B.Hawks. Khabibulin isn’t the better goaltender in this series, and the Canucks should be throwing everything, including the kitchen sink at him.

Kevin Bieksa, our delightfully, hot headed, pineapple juice drinking defenseman, needs to tone it down sometimes and last night he had me on my feet yelling “BACK OFF BIEKSA!!!” during the after whistle scrums. We just don’t know where the whistles are going to be next time around so he needs to reel himself in and channel the heat elsewhere, like ooh I don’t know, scoring a few goals because he was the Canucks highest scoring defensemen during the regular season, and they need scoring to win this series.

The ice. I bring this up because I saw lots of slips and falls last night, and I think they ought to check the ice, especially the ice in the Canucks offensive zone, to the right of the B.Hawks bench. (In other words I am looking to see a game seven, folks ;o) I called Pittsburgh Penguins correspondent, Jan Snyder to get her take on ice issues and she said, “Yes, the ice at this time of year...they are saying the ice in Washington is slushy, the ice in Pittsburgh is sticky.” In which I responded with “Then I guess our ice in Vancouver is too slippery – hahaha!!”

The good old hockey game. Perhaps it was a mixture of referee confusion and the Canucks mistakes, but the crowd in GM Place did not hide their feelings during the second and third periods. Is this a case of “we’ve heard far too much good call, bad call, and no call critiques in the sports media that we’ll snap at anything the moment confusion sets in”?

What I mean by confusion is the where are the whistles confusion, and if whistles have been firmly placed in the zebras’ pockets, will they stay there, or will they suddenly re-appear in the last ten minutes of the game?

The collective behavior of 18,630 people in one of these types of games, is an experience, and to quote Seinfeld’s George Costanza's line “The Sea was Angry that day my friends.” But instead of “an old man trying to send back soup in a deli”, one guy chucked a cup of beer onto the ice. And then another guy throws one and another and so on and so on. This is what happens when the passion for the team and the game can truly get the better of people. To say this city is desparate for a championship is an understatement.

The Chicago Blackhawks have plenty to bring to the table every night under the watchful eyes of the legendary Scotty Bowman. But on Monday night for Game Six, the Canucks are going to bring a new attitude: they’re on the road, they are healthier than the Calgary Flames were, and they’ve got nothing to lose. And if they play their cards right, the Canucks will be another win closer to the Western Conference Final.

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