Friday, May 04, 2007

Ducks send Canucks packing

2007 Western Conference Semi-final - Game 5
Ducks 2, Canucks 1 (2OT)
Anaheim wins series 4-1

That's all she wrote for the 2006-07 version of the Vancouver Canucks, a team that rode its defensive system and unreal netminding just about as far as you can go (especially when your team scores about as often as the salmon native to their homeland).

How anaemic was the Canucks' offence in these playoffs?

Vancouver played 861:55 minutes over 12 games, had a 4-5 record, and scored 21 goals. The minutes played figure equals out to 14.4 games — a number that gives you a sense of how the team's six overtime games added to the strain placed on the roster.

Factoring that in, Vancouver's goals per 60 minutes played figure was just 1.46.

The Canucks scored 2.6 goals per game during the regular season, which was tied for 21st in the league, and the biggest falloff came on the power play, which dropped from a 17.2-per-cent success rate to just 6.6 per cent in the playoffs.

And while it's difficult to blame that kind of a drop off on just one or two players, you have to look in the Sedin twins' direction on this one.

After all, Danny and Hank posted a combined 17 goals and 52 assists on the power play during the regular season — this on a team that managed just 70 goals with the man advantage all year. In the playoffs, the first postseason in which they were counted on to play first-line minutes, the twins had just three power-play points, one goal and two assists, on the team's measly four goals with the man advantage.

Thirty-two per cent of Vancouver's goals in the regular season were on the power play — a contrast from the just 19 per cent in the postseason.

That's really a shame, but not all that surprising. What's unfortunate is that Robert Luongo's ridiculous performance fell by the wayside, and I doubt any other netminder with a 1.77 goals-against average and .941 save percentage after Round 2 has ever been eliminated.

As for Anaheim, well, the Ducks are really going to have the benefit of some R&R going to Round 3 after winning two fairly routine five-game series. Randy Carlyle and company will be sitting back, relaxing in California with their fingers crossed the next few days, hoping that the Red Wings and Sharks continue to pound each other into submission.

And, if it should happen to be San Jose that advances, the Battle of California will mean an immensely easier travel schedule than any Pacific time zone team has ever experienced en route to the Stanley Cup finals.

I expect that'll make quite the difference.

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At 1:50 AM, May 04, 2007, Anonymous ken said...

Look at the shots tonight: 63 for Anaheim, 27 for the Canucks. That sums up the entire series in one stat.

At 2:01 AM, May 04, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Except it doesn't. Vancouver with some lucky bounces could of been up 3-1 when they were the better team in both games in Vancouver.

Tonight their best player by far was their goalie and he gave them the chance to win and if it wasn't for a lame call on the first ducks goal could of had a shut out. Reminded me of a play I used to use in the NHL 94 video game by smashing into the goalie and scoring in the empty net.

At 9:48 AM, May 04, 2007, Blogger PPP said...

Unfortunately they used all of their lucky bounces against the Stars to get up 3-1.

Their goalie was the best player by far in all of their games which is the only reason that they got so far.

It was a good run for a team that was overmatched from the start of the playoffs. Naslund and Morrison should be moved and some real help for the Sedin sisters would help move the offence from a two-player job.

At 11:13 AM, May 04, 2007, Anonymous Daniel said...

Smashed in to the goalie=being pushed into goalie? How about Vancouver doesn't get the lucky OT winner in game 2. Don't be so sour, it goes both ways.

At 12:40 PM, May 04, 2007, Anonymous Dennis Prouse said...

Yeah, because all kinds of teams will be lined up to take Naslund and his $6 million salary. Ditto for Morrison, the $3 million a year penalty killer. Sadly, the Canucks are stuck with both of these guys for 07-08, severely limiting Nonis's ability to find some scoring help in the free agent market. Get ready for more of the same next season, Canuck fan -- tight checking, great goaltending, and scoring by committee.

The Sedins had a great regular season, but disappeared at playoff time, giving all their critics a fresh round of ammunition. These guys simply have to develop some sandpaper to their game, and show up at critical times. Nine points between the two of them in 12 playoff games -- that is miles from being acceptable, especially for players who were point a game guys in the regular season.

At 12:42 PM, May 04, 2007, Anonymous Seneca said...

"I doubt any other netminder with a 1.77 goals-against average and .941 save percentage after Round 2 has ever been eliminated."

Well... there was a certain bloke with 3 shutouts whose team was still eliminated in the first round. Luongo's struggle to keep a low-scoring team within striking distance for every game was not the only one of its kind.

At 1:52 PM, May 04, 2007, Blogger Kel said...

A report from Sweden revealed that the Sedins played with a stomach flu a day before game 5. The reporter asked their dad whether they'll play for Sweden if Vancouver lost game 5. He said it's unlikely given that they both are playing with a stomach flu.

Link in Swedish

At 1:55 PM, May 04, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Their play was certainly retch-ed.

Your link's not working Kel, but I've heard the Sedin sickness reports here in Toronto as well.

At 3:20 PM, May 04, 2007, Blogger Kel said...

I copied the link from a message board, and here's a different link (in English)

Sedins sick throughout this series

At 4:09 PM, May 04, 2007, Anonymous Daniel said...

Michael Jordan sure didn't let the flu keep him down in the playoffs. Hell, look at Cheechoo, you think his knee isn't messed up? If you step on the ice, your ability to use any sickness or injury as an excuse is over. Either play, or don't play.

At 4:27 PM, May 04, 2007, Blogger Kel said...

Do you realize what's a flu and what's a stomach flu? The difference between coughing and throwing up?

I'm sure the Sedins wouldn't have played if the Canucks were healthier ; they already were using two callups that never played in the regular seasons. I wonder if the Canucks actually could dress 12 forwards if the Sedins or their doctor decided they couldn't play. I believe even Santala and Rypien are injured

At 5:34 PM, May 04, 2007, Anonymous ken said...

>> Except it doesn't. Vancouver with some lucky bounces could of been up 3-1 when they were the better team in both games in Vancouver. <<

Except it does. With "lucky bounces" any team could do anything. With the right number of "lucky bounces" the Leafs would be 40-time repeat champions.

And it's "could HAVE" or "could'VE" -- not "could OF".

At 5:54 PM, May 04, 2007, Anonymous Orange Orangutan said...

Luongo and a couple of the defensemen were the only ones who really showed any heart or signs of desperation in this game. Were the other Canucks even in the building for the first two periods?

I would have thought that the team veterans - Naslund, Morrison, Smolinski, could have mustered more than a mail-it-in performance. But I suppose that's been the story the entire post-season for the team. Seriously, how did they expect to win when Morrison has a grand total of one goal in the playoffs, the Sedins' scoring touch dried up and they ended up a horrendous -13 (combined), and Naslund, even though he showed some signs of life intermittently, is merely a shadow of his former dominating self?

It's too bad, because the defense corps and the franchise player displayed truck loads of determination and heart throughout the playoffs. They just needed the forwards to chip in - and they couldn't manage to do it.

Anaheim was clearly the better team, but they showed plenty of signs that they are mortal and can be beaten. Had the Canucks had a pulse at the forward position, the series could have been radically different.

On the other hand, the Canucks seem to have a solid foundation to structure a team around. Luongo showed that he is a franchise player, and the defense is very good. Unfortunately, they have too much salary tied up in Naslund and Morrison. But, if the cap goes up next year, Nonis may have a chance to add a piece to the scoring puzzle.


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