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2011 NHL Playoffs: Vancouver Canucks-Chicago Blackhawks Game 2 Preview

Andrew EideCorrespondent IApril 14, 2011

The Canucks still can improve as they try to knock out the 'Hawks
The Canucks still can improve as they try to knock out the 'HawksRich Lam/Getty Images

Game 1 of the Vancouver Canuks and Chicago Blackhawks first round NHL playoffs, in Rogers Arena Wednesday night, was everything we love about the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

The crowd was loud and the white towels were waiving.

The Canucks rode that atmosphere to a dominant first period.  They out-hit, out-shot and out-scored the Chicago Blackhawks, establishing a 2-0 lead after twenty minutes.

It looked as if the Canucks were going to breeze through the defending champs after all. 

However, what happened in the next forty minutes should give the Canucks some pause. 

This series is far from over and the Canucks need to improve in some areas if they are going to reverse the trend of the past two Blackhawks playoff series.

The Blackhawks settled down and in many ways controlled the play for the remainder of the game. 

In the second and third periods, they out shot Vancouver 25-20.

When the two teams meet again on Friday, Vancouver will need to recapture the intensity they displayed in the first period. 

During that twenty minutes, it didn't appear that Chicago deserved to be on the same ice. Yet the Canucks couldn't get the dagger goal they needed to put the game away early.

The Canucks did not draw many penalties in Game 1 and will need to do a better job of that.  One of the weaknesses on this Blackhawks team is their suspect penalty killing. 

Vancouver failed to score in Game 1 and will have to draw and take advantage of power plays in game two.

Another area Vancouver can improve on is in the face off circle. Vancouver had been one of the better face off teams during the season and was merely average in game one.

There were several times that Chicago won key face offs in the Vancouver zone.  This is an area where Vancouver will miss the injured Manny Malholtra and they need to win those draws more consistently.

Vancouver also needs to keep the pressure on Crawford.  In the first period, they were firing pucks often and from everywhere at Crawford.  This seemed to rattle him early and then Vancouver seemed to abandon this strategy later in the game.

On the plus side, the Canucks played a very steady and methodical game.  They never seemed to panic and their tremendous depth was on display.

The Sedin twins were shut out of the score card, although did generate a number of chances, and Vancouver was able to get scoring from the second and third lines. 

As key as the secondary scoring is, Vancouver needs to get the Sedins clicking as well. Chicago likes to play the match up game and if they are getting burned by two or three lines they will get run out of the series.

Last night, in an effort to get back in the game, Chicago Head Coach Joel Quenneville rode his the Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane line all night.  If Vancouver can force those guys to log the amount of ice time like they did in Game 1, it will pay off later in the series.

Vancouver also must continue to keep the Blackhawks out of the crease like they did in Game 1.  The past two years, Chicago has jammed so much traffic in front of Luongo he probably saw those red and black sweaters in his sleep. 

As the Canucks prepare for Game 2, they should feel confident they came out and got a big win. 

But, they have some areas to clean up if they wish to keep the momentum going.  Gaining a 2-0 lead in the series will be huge as the teams head back to Chicago this weekend.

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