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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Canucks Almost Ready For Stanley Cup Run

This past Thursday the Canucks beat the Red Wings in a shootout and subsequently broke the 23 home wins in a row streak that the Wings had accumulated—it was an all-time record streak. Daniel Sedin scored with 15 seconds left in regulation to take it to overtime, an OT that the Canucks dominated. In the shootout Burrows was the only goal-scorer. This victory was a big accomplishment for Vancouver but I believe that they still need to do more and I will discuss that below.   

In a previous article (“Canucks – Scheider, Luongo & The Red Wings”) I presented the following analysis, and after reading it we shall talk about the shots on goal in Thursday’s game.

“RED WINGS PROBLEM

Vigneault and his staff need to get together and spend a lot of time examining tapes and working with the team so that they can play a lot better against the Red Wings. Unless the Sharks play the Red Wings in the playoffs and beat them for the third straight year, the Canucks are likely to face the Wings, and that would be a problem because the Wings are out-shooting the Canucks by a wide margin every game. Here are the results of the first three meetings in the regular season between the Canucks and Wings, and also the date of the fourth meeting. By the way, I am aware of the strength of the Blues this year but both the Canucks and Red Wings have been successful against them thus far.

Game 1:  October 13, 2011. Vancouver at Detroit and the Wings won 2-0. The Wings had 37 shots on net while the Canucks only had 25 shots.

Game 2:  December 21, 2011. Detroit at Vancouver and the Canucks won the game 4-2 but Detroit had 40 shots on goal as compared to Vancouver’s 25 shots.

Game 3:  February 2, 2012. Detroit at Vancouver and the Wings won the game 4-3 in a shootout. Detroit had 43 shots on goal while the Canucks once again had 25 shots (for the third game in a row against the Wings).

Game 4:  Will be played February 23rd in Detroit.   

As I stated, that is a huge difference in offensive output between the two teams. It has been the great goaltending of Luongo and Schneider that have kept them in these games. It will be interesting to see if the Canucks make some changes before the next game against the Wings in February.”

THURSDAY’S (FEBRUARY 23RD) GAME

You can see that Thursday’s game was extremely important despite just being a regular season game. Vancouver had to turn things around in the “shots on goal” category because it generally reflects which team controls the play and wins. In this game the Canucks actually did out-shoot the Red Wings 36 to 31, and the Canucks controlled the first period, part of the third, and dominated in overtime. This win was huge because the Canucks were on the offense much of the time and gained confidence; however, I must mention that Pavel Datsyuk did not play in the game (recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery) so the Canucks still need to try to control a game against the Wings when he is in the line-up. But, that will not occur this year unless the teams meet in the playoffs—and there is a good chance that it will happen. The win this past Thursday was also important because the teams are battling for the top spot in the league and the Presidents Trophy; and, the Presidents Trophy is important because it gives the winner home ice advantage throughout the playoffs; and, the team also gets a $350 000 cash prize.

Question:  Did the Canucks look at video and consciously make changes for Thursday’s game or was it a letdown on the Red Wings part? Whatever the case, I believe that the Canucks need to do more work regarding the Red Wings by carefully examining other teams who have been more successful against the Wings including the Blackhawks, Sharks, Islanders, Blues and Flames. Canuck coaching staff must take the time to do this and make any necessary adjustments so that they can be applied in the playoffs if need be. If they don’t then the team is going to have to rely too much on luck to beat the Red Wings.  

This year the Canucks have beaten the Bruins, Blackhawks, and now the Red Wings so all of that helps them have confidence for the post-season; and, they just might meet all three of these teams in the playoffs this year. The Canucks should make it to the Western Final and could go back to the Finals and even win the Stanley Cup. They learned some valuable and hard lessons last year, including how bad it feels to lose a Cup that they should have won.

TJ Stanley