by Tyler Rowe
I think the feelings of Vancouver Canucks fans have pretty much been summed up by Kevin Sorbo’s inability to read a script. I could probably end the post right here (alas, I could go on and on). We all know the statistics on teams coming back from a 3-0 deficit. The Leafs did it in 1942, the Penguins did it in 1975, and the Flyers did it in the 2010 Eastern Conference finals on their road to a game-6 cup loss to the Blackhawks. That’s three times ever. That’s not enough times. You might be particularly disappointed if you had launched a Canucks blog a few months ago and were counting on a long playoff run to help build momentum.
The denizens of the wet coast were told the same thing all year—the playoffs are all that matters. Sure, the club managed a President’s Trophy in the process, but the team did not play with the murderous focus that characterized the 2010-11 campaign. They’d been there, and done that last year, and this year they would be ready to win just one more playoff game. Here they are now, on the brink of being swept by the eight-seed, unable to get the puck into the net enough, playing undisciplined hockey, firing pucks into the stands from the defensive zone, getting questionable efforts from pillars of the team like Edler, Bieksa, and the great
Greg Louganis Ryan Kesler.
Daniel Sedin is still injured (though he has been flown to LA for practice and could play in Game 4), but I have to think that, if firing on all cylinders like we thought they would be, the current roster would be enough to do one of the following against the L.A. Kings: score at least three per night, or let in less than three. That seems simple enough, but has proven tougher than simply walking into Mordor. Last night’s effort was the best of the three to be sure, but was typified by too many shots into the crest on Quick’s sweater, an all-too-appropriate sheild: wretchedly black and silver like the Kings’ robotic hearts.
Alain Vigneault has been doing… fine behind the bench. While the defensive pairings haven’t been the way I’d like to see them (2/3, 23/6, 8/4), he was put in the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation of picking a starter in net for game three, and I’m sure the media will kill him over his Game-4 decision either way. If he starts Luongo, he’ll face criticisms over not having the guts to ride the goalie with the better stats. If he starts Schneider, he’ll suffer the slings and arrows of not going with his #1a, uh… #1. And he’s probably going to be slammed for not switching up his offensive lines enough too. Why didn’t he try Kassian in front of the net on the first PP? Why didn’t he mix things up on the Sedin line more? All ironic beefs for a coach who changes it up more than the T-1000 in a mental hospital.
Perhaps the fates of the other so-called contenders will soothe me. I had New York, Boston, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh in the east, and Vancouver, St. Louis, Chicago, and Nashville in the west; if Washington keeps being a big old pest, Phoenix keeps it up, and Pittsburgh doesn’t become imbued with the spirit of ’75, that would make me 4 for 8 in round one. For some reason, I feel like I could sleep better knowing that both of my predicted finalists (Pittsburgh and Vancouver) and two other legitimate contenders were out straight from the get-go. Nobody wants to be lonely.
On a personal note, I haven’t written an article for Smug Nation in 12 days because I was graduating from college and had to insure that I didn’t choke that one away, and much more importantly, a member of my family to whom I was very close lost her battle with cancer last week. Those events have put hockey into perspective, and I’ve been able to deal with these three playoff losses with a lot more detachment than I could have last year (after Game 7 of the finals last year, my friends had to take me out to the park to play Frisbee because they couldn’t find any other way to console me. We didn’t find out about the riot until much later than most). But nevertheless, not just for a fan of the blue and green but for a fan of hockey, I feel like we’re all a little poorer right now, knowing that in all likelihood our Canucks will be stopped before they ever really got started. The road to redemption has instead become the Road to Perdition, but without the killer direction and cinematography (seriously Staples Center, learn how to light your arena for a hockey game).
There is still one game left. And with any luck there will be a game after that, and if there’s a game after that one, anything is possible. So perhaps this morose diatribe will be for naught, ships will be righted, and the Vancouver Canucks will be in the history books for being the fourth club in NHL history to erase a 3-0 deficit in a playoff series rather than being the only #1 seed to get swept in the first round. If not, I’ll be a little bummed, but I’ll be fine. The summer is coming, there’s still seven more weeks of Game of Thrones, and life does indeed go on. But I’ll still be a bit disappointed.