With the outstanding play of Tim Thomas in Game 1 and a final score of 1-0, the question of whether the Canucks are worried about their lack of offense on Wednesday night is a legitimate one. This is a team prided on its ability to score: It has two Art Ross Trophy winners and a 41-goal scoring second line, defensively-oriented center. So, are they?
The short answer is no, and why would they be?
The long answer is, well, longer. And certainly less arrogant.
For a snippet, look no further than the Sedins, those ever predictable sources of tact and diplomacy: “We were too stationary tonight,” said Daniel during the postgame media scrum. “And if you want to move the puck, that’s too easy to defend [against].”
Henrik was more to the point—more attached to reality.
“We're not going to score every game, but we looked better than we did in a lot of games where we haven't scored.”
In process, there is a firm difference between offense and production.
On Wednesday night the Canucks generated plenty of the former and just barely enough of the latter.
It gave them an edge in the only stat that mattered (the win column) and a source of encouragement for the lead up to Game 2.
“We didn't shy away from the tough areas, and we didn't stop making plays," said Henrik of the Canucks night.
“We did have some Grade A scoring chances,” echoed Daniel. “There easily could have been a few more goals."
He’s right, there could have been. But some nights this team doesn’t need them.
Heck, some series, this team doesn’t need them.
Hardly the stuff of legend. But hardly the stuff of impotence either.
In that series, they landed an average of 31 shots per game and were stonewalled by Pekka Rinne, arguably the league’s most meteoric goaltender.
They were held to less than two goals three separate times in that series, and they won two of those games.
That’s right: 50 percent of their series wins over Nashville came on the backs of three measly goals.
For some teams, that’s a good period.
For this team, it meant ‘halfway to the Western Conference Finals, thank you very much.’
(Ask the Boston Bruins if they’d be happy with keeping this team to under two goals three separate times in this series, and they’d each be mining the memory bank for their ring size.)
The common denominator of this swagger in the face of periodic offensive failure is Roberto Luongo, who, with his band of merry defenders, can keep a game tight and stifled in their own end as long as is needed, and with seemingly minimal effort or exhaustion.
The forwards go to work up front, relentless machine that they are, knowing that they’ll get their chances and that their style of play is aggressive but responsible and high-percentage, conducive to offense.
With Luongo behind them, the risk of blowback is often close to zero.
It’s a combination which has worked for them all season and it’s the reason they scored more goals and allowed fewer goals than any other team in the league.
It’s a dynamic potential, a depth of style akin to their depth of lineup.
Some nights, the Sedins are magic, and Ryan Kesler runs quiet. Other nights, Kesler is possessed, and the Sedins are mistaken for the sides of milk cartons. On another, Jannik Hansen might feed Raffi Torres, who ends a game with 18 seconds left in regulation.
Some nights the offense clicks and throttles a game early. Some nights it lags, and the backend has to shut the door, or close it just enough for everyone to squeak back in later.
To be truthful, arrogance or not, it hasn’t really seemed to matter this season, or this playoffs, with this team. Whatever combination of variables the game can manage to muster and throw at them, this team finds a way to win.
And more often than not they don’t have to look far or very hard to get it.
Are the Canucks worried about their lack of scoring in Game 1?
No, they’re not.
Why should they be?