Things were not easy for the Chicago Blackhawks against Nashville, a seventh seed known mainly for grinding their way into the playoffs. So I had a feeling that things would be even rockier against the Vancouver Canucks and that clearly seems to be the case.
Vancouver Canucks 5, Chicago Blackhawks 1
Canucks lead series 1-0
Simply put, Roberto Luongo is on a mission. He made 36 out of 37 saves against a team that once bewitched him while the Canucks scored by committee to dominate the Chicago Blackhawks. On the other end, Antti Niemi struggled enough to get pulled from the game, but my guess is that the team would be wise to stick with the steady Finn instead of the “Fragile Frenchman” Cristobal Huet.
Vancouver must feel great about their collective game right now. Their offense is stout because the Sedin twins deliver in the clutch while the team produces additional offense from various sources. Luongo looked like the all-world goalie we’ve been expecting to see. His coming out party seemed to be in Game 6 of the Los Angeles series and it seems that he’s carrying that confidence over against Chicago so far. Maybe Vancouver’s defense isn’t elite at this point, but it seems as if their firepower and once-again amazing goalie are painting over that hole in a wall. If their considerable strengths on both sides of the ice don’t make you feel good about them, perhaps their impressive resilience during an epic road trip will. Anyone predicting a Canucks Cup victory must feel pretty cocky tonight.
Generally speaking, putting 30+ shots on goal is a good formula to “figure out your problems” so throwing the Blackhawks under the bus completely seems a bit hasty. That being said, a blowout in their own arena might remind Chicago that nothing is going to come easy.
Especially in this series.
Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers
McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.
With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:
1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP
As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.
Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.
The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.
Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.
Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)
Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.
Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.
McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).
The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.
They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.
The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.
Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.
The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.
The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.
Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style