Power Play City: The Canucks find a 3-1 lead in San Jose.

We are all well aware of the importance of scoring on the power-play; we watched the Hawks all year. There was even an added sense of importance to the 5 on 3, thanks much in part to coach Q's comments about not winning games when those opportunities go without production. Well, incase you missed today's Western Conference Final game, or the last, I can tell you that it all boiled down to power-plays and especially 5 on 3's. Game 3 saw 55 minutes of penalties handed out, while today's game had 22 (a fair amount). But, 8 of Vancouver's 10 minutes of penalties came within the first period and SJ could not muster a single goal. The orange men brought some luck in game 3, but some bad juju for game 4.

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I find it kind of interesting that I really have no impression of how these 2 teams stack up when 5 on 5. Since the Sharks refused to show up in the first 2 games to play hockey and these past 2 games have been without much even strength play, your guess is as good as mine. Today's 3rd period ended with the Sharks taking the only 2 penalties and still out-shooting the Nucks 17-3 (not bad). They put together an impressive push and scored 2 goals, but it was not enough to win back the game that should have been theres by the end of the first. The score would end at 4-2 even after the Sharks outshot Vancouver 35-13.
I give a lot of credit to Vancouver's special team's play. SJ has to stay out of the box to have any chance at making this a 3-2 series on Tuesday. While short-handed for half of the first, the Nucks did an outstanding job of keeping shots from the perimeter and not allowing too much traffic in front of Luongo. I give this to their aggressive PK's, something I like to preach about. Their constant movement keeps the attackers on their toes and helps to direct their opposition's play. They set themselves up for victory with tremendous penalty killing, plain and simple.
Vigneault placed a lot of blame on the officiating in game 3. Duh, when does he ever look at himself or his team's performance? Well, that same officiating delivered 3 consecutive 5 on 3 PP's to the Nucks in the 2nd period of game 4. I can not recall another time when I saw such an occurrence. All that it took was 3 beautifully set-up shots in which the blast was too much for Niemi to handle. He faced something like 6 shots during the first 25-30 minutes of play until Kesler delivered a hell of a shot after a nicely placed pass across the ice on the first 5 on 3 for Vancouver. 2 more well placed and hard shots from the outside after cross-ice passes on the following 5 on 3's landed Vancouver with a 3-0 lead.
And that is all she wrote. Marleau and Thornton have been playing some impressive hockey lately, but they did not have enough juice to bring this one back within reach. Add to the fact that Luongo was obviously having a good night. In the end, not converting on PP's was the demise of SJ. They had this game in their hands, the chance to even the series which would have made for some interesting hockey in the NHL. 2 series tied at 2 a piece would have been nice. 
It has begun to look like this year was made for the Canucks. It has also occurred to me that the Blackhawks were the team that came a Sharp-shot away from ending that season.

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  • Game was over after the first period. When SJ doesn't score on the PP it was only a matter of time. I wouldn't say the refs delivered the 5 on 3s, HH, two of them were no-brainer calls that we've seen all too often. Too many men and puck over glass. Everyone knows that when your the PPs are lopsided that eventually things will even out. I just wish they'd let the players decide. Too many tacky calls both ways.

    I, too, have thought a lot about the fact the 'hawks

  • If you are Doug Wilson and if the Sharks do not come back, what do you do to improve your team next year? He went out and got the Stanley Cup caliber goalie, but it didn't solve what has been a problem for that team for awhile which is defense. He tried to get Hammer, sorta, and with the year Hammer had here it's no guarantee that he would have turned things around for SJ. The Sharks have some size, they have some snarl and they have top goal talent. Yet they are still getting picked apart for every mistake that they make, and they are making quite a few. There might be some food for thought about our team in that.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    Vegas, we could trade Campbell for Doug Murray straight up, lol, though I don't think that's the type of defense you're talking.

    I don't know about Wilson's future if (when) the Sharks lose again in this round. There's something wrong with the make-up of this team, and I think you may see some big changes.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    I think Wilson is very possibly on the block if the Sharks lose this year. Two back to back trips to the WCF without success is not going to look good. On the one hand, I would think, they've been there twice now and they gotta be close. But after looking at how stacked the Hawks were last year and how stacked the Nucks are this year, the Sharks don't look like that kinda team.

    I've wondered a couple of times what if Wilson found a way to keep Campbell or made Hammer and offer sheet of 4mm last year? On the plus side, Wilson does not have those cap hits. On the downside, his team is about to be eliminated from the WCF. I think Wilson is going to have a tough summer.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    I agree, you have to wonder about the make-up of the squad. Not only the last two trips to the WCF, but the two or three years prior too, were playoff meltdowns. Then again, you look at the Canucks and they have basically rebuilt their third and fourth lines and added Hamhuis on defence. They're as deep as the 'hawks were last year now, and have the right mindset/focus, IMO. I could see this during the regular season, though I hoped it was only smoke and mirrors. All that to say, I think the mental aspect of the game is not right for the Sharks. There's too many that have been there and done this before and they can't seem to clear that hurdle. It has little to do with the personnel, just their mindset and the memories of the previous beatdowns. This is why I think there needs to be some serious personnel changes made for that team in order to move along.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    Yeah, that says a lot right there. Especially in a cap world, third and fourth lines are crucial. In the Hawks third line, they had quality shutdown and from the fourth line, they had a revolving cast of characters who not only played their asses off when they got the ice time, but they also stayed positive when scratched.

    but you can't ignore that mental aspect either. What if the Hawks beat Vancouver in seven, especially after the Nucks went up three games? They would be where the Sharks are today. Good as the Hawks were last year, they caught some lucky breaks as did the Nucks on Sharps chance to win it.

    As a side note, anyone want to start a pool on where Andrew Ladd jumps ship to? If I was Doug Wilson, I'd bury Heately and Eager both in the AHL and go after Ladd, Brent Sopel and maybe even Fraser for his fourth line.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    Ouch, Heatley is what, an 8 million cap hit. Tough one to swallow. Eager, well, he has a decent skill set and for some reason Q, or Toews, was able to keep him in line last year. I don't have much of a problem with him. Yeah, he loses it easily and he's not the same after the concussion, but he can still play in my books. BTW, who owns the Sharks anyway?

    As for Ladd, well, it wouldn't surprise me if he signed on close to home out here in Vancouver. I've read through other blogs, he didn't get along all that well with the captain of the 'hawks so, resigning in the windy city, even if there was the cash, doesn't seem realistic based on that. Somehow, I think Carolina might fit the bill for him as well.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    LOL, ouch indeed. But, look at Huet and Campbell. Campbell is not a bad player, he simply makes to freaking much for what he does. Huet had a bad stretch and was never going to work out and Stan didn't waste anymore time on him. What happened with Huet is probably going to start happening more often.

    I didn't know that about Ladd, he seemed pretty effective even if there was something between him and Toews. As for Eager, yeah, he can still play but seems to need to be on a short leash. He had his moments on the Hawks, but even here I felt kind of like he was a guy who could hurt you when he was having a bad night. maybe the concussion did do something to him.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    Yup, Heatley's buyout would be 12 million amortized over six years. There was an line in the paper this morning about him. He's three years into a 45 million contract and has scored five goals in 30+ playoff games with the Sharks and the Sens.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    Wow. Yeah, the announcers must have read the same paper because the mentioned it right as Vancouver was scoring their first goal. After the goal was scored, I think they forgot they were talking about that and neve went back to it.

    Going into the third 1-1. I'm thinking the Nucks wrap tonight if Kessler is good to go.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    First there were the two green guys up in Vancouver. Now, orange and teal dudes in down SJ...Please "NO MAS,NO MAS" On a hockey note, I find it telling which team the Nucks have had the most trouble this post season. Go Hawks!

    BW

  • In reply to beaverwarrior:

    I give the one fan in Vancouver credit who "Put em on the glass" for Eager

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