This is an easy game to write about.
Let’s see here, out of nine periods so far in this series, the Vancouver Canucks have outplayed the Chicago Blackhawks in seven of them, but when you go 0-for-8 on the power play, and your penalty kill and goaltender don’t shut the door, you’ll never win a series five-on-five.
Case in point: Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo couldn’t control his rebounds, and they ended up in the back of the net, while the penalty kill had two scored against them, and the Canucks power play went O-for en route to a 5-2 loss, and trail the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal, 2-1.
When you’re No. 1 line doesn’t score at home that tells you either the opposition goaltender is on his game, or the checking line has shut them down.
Chicago netminder Antti Niemi was definitely better than Luongo, and Canucks coach Alain Vigneault couldn’t find a 'Hawks line that didn’t check Daniel and Henrik Sedins into oblivion.
Two own goals were scored by Canucks defensemen—Kevin Bieksa in the first, and Alex Edler in the third—which tells how the night went.
The Canucks tried to play more physical, but ended up taking themselves out of plays by taking undisciplined penalties, and making it easy for the 'Hawks to kill off the penalties with not enough traffic in front of Niemi nor shots on net, followed by slow puck movement in the attacking zone.
As far as stopping Chicago's Dustin Byfuglien goes, it’s pretty clear that Vigneault is losing it. You neutralize a player by putting out a D-man that is physical and big enough to handle Byfuglien, and that’s Andrew Alberts. I'm still waiting for that matchup.
As far as Byfuglien being physical, he’s the biggest non-fighter. He almost never drops his gloves, and makes sure he never ends up with anyone but a Sedin-type player, because he knows a Rick Rypien or Kevin Bieksa would mop him up.
Notice at the end of the game, Bieksa challenged Byfuglien, but he never dropped his gloves.
He’s the same player he was in the WHL, when he played for the Prince George Cougars—he ran at the small guys, but couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag when challenged by the big boys.
The other way to neutralize him is by making him pay every time he takes a goalie interference penalty, and the Canucks failed to do so. It wouldn’t take too many power play goals to fix that.
But I’ve said enough about a nobody, so let’s move on.
The Canucks need to get back to playing disciplined hockey, without letting frustration enter their play, because the refs will clamp down sooner than later on all that goalie interference that Chicago gets away with.
Also, the Canucks need to take a page out of the 'Hawks playbook, and crash the net, and Niemi will be there for the taking.
The bounces inevitably change over the course of a series, but no team survives a three-game losing streak. So with the Canucks at two, need I say more?
This series will be settled by special teams, tough and disciplined play, and goaltending.
But unless Luongo can excel in all three, this series is over.