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.
People love star athletes because they can do amazing things. Even so, people also often love to see the occasional moment of weakness.
Aside from the occasional injury hiccup, Sidney Crosby‘s been as advertised after being a super-hyped No. 1 overall pick. He has that “Golden Goal,” two Olympic gold medals, a Stanley Cup ring and plenty of individual accolades.
Not many people expected the Capitals-Penguins series to be over in five games, but there’s a chance that could happen before the end of the week. After their 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, the Capitals are one loss away from being bounced from the 2016 playoffs.
The Capitals failed to take advantage of the fact that Kris Letang was suspended for Game 4 because of his hit on Marcus Johansson in Game 3. Letang is now set to return for Game 5 which makes Washington’s task even more difficult.
“We didn’t take advantage of it,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said, per NHL.com. “One thing I said to the guys coming into this, and we talked it about it yesterday, was when Kris got his suspension, is that they’re going to rally. Their whole team, their forwards are going to come back. They talked about they didn’t play their best game (in Game 3) and now they have Letang out and everybody had to step up on their side, and I thought they did.”
If you look back at the regular season, the Capitals were head and shoulders above the rest of the Eastern Conference and the league for a good portion of the season. Washington finished 11 points ahead of second place Dallas in the league standings and it looked like they had the team that would finally take them over the hump.
Although things look gloomy, it’s important to realize that the series is far from over. Many NHLers would tell you that the fourth win is always the hardest to come by in a best-of-seven series, and by no means is anyone expecting the Capitals to wave the white flag.
“Whenever you lose a game, it’s obviously an opportunity missed, but it had nothing to do with them missing some of their players,” said Caps forward Jay Beagle, per NHL.com. “We’re looking forward. Our back’s against the wall and the most important game of our lives is coming up.”
Game 5 goes Saturday night in Washington.
PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice
The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.
Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.
With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.
Trevor Daley, traded to Blackhawks for Sharp & Johns and to #Pens for Scuderi (who was flipped to LA for Ehrhoff) played 28:41 in G4 W.