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.