Can we just get going already…
It’s been a long hard road, but we’ve finally arrived at Game 1 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. If you’ve been around since Game 1 of the regular season, good for you. You are officially a better person than any kind of bandwagoner.
It would be quite a shame to let the journey so far go to waste, so the Canucks better do the 5 things I’m about to suggest. Here are my five keys to winning this opening round series against the Los Angeles Kings.
Capitalizing on the Powerplay
Vancouver is more than likely going to have plenty of opportunities to work on the powerplay. Los Angeles took the 6th most minor penalties this season but with all those opportunities against, they’ve had lots of time to practice killing them. The Kings had the 4th best PK in the league so Vancouver bearing down when they have chances is so important.
The Canucks PP has been horrible in the stretch run but still finished 4thoverall on the season. They have the fire-power and hopefully the will-power to insert that puck behind Jonathan Quick on a regular basis.
Putting Blips Behind Them
In the first round of the 2009 playoffs, the LA Kings scored on about 39,000 straight powerplays. In the Stanley Cup Final last June, one goal against in the TD Garden meant a gaping wound in the Canucks’ flesh that bled more as time went by rather than slowing.
Hockey God forbid Roberto Luongo lets in a bad goal or should the Kings score with their 17th ranked powerplay, the guys need to keep it together.
That’s where experience comes in because most of them spent last spring on the roller coaster ride of their life feeling the up and down emotions of a lonely circus clown.
Perhaps the most annoying thing they’ll have to deal with is that stupid red light that blares in the crease when L.A. scores at home.
Monday morning saw the return of Daniel Sedin to practice. This was glorious news to the ears of every single soul in Canucks nation. I won’t say the twins NEED to be extraordinary against the Kings for Vancouver to come out of this series because of what we saw last year, but it’d do a great deal.
They both had a big series against L.A. in 2009; Daniel had 10 points and Henrik had 8 in just 6 games. Assuming Daniel remains healthy to not only start game one but remain in for the rest of the series, they could be the x-factor in moving on to round two.
AV Maintaining His Cool
Coach has to maintain his head as much as the players because should he remove Roberto Luongo from a game too soon, the Kings and potentially their fans will eat that up.
Now I’m not saying it will affect how Schneider plays in Lu’s stead but it sows the seed for Luongo to have the hockey version of a nervous breakdown. (See Games 3, 4 and 6 of the SCF last June.)
I firmly believe that if Luongo has one bad game, it would be the wrong decision to give Schneider the next start. It doesn’t matter what game it is, AV needs to stick by his main man for his and Roberto’s sanity. Bobby Lu’s bounce-back record after an atrocious outing is stellar.
We saw that just this past week after he was pulled against Anaheim and then shutout Edmonton is his next start.
To lose with Cory Schneider in net would only prove this point further and one bad game or blemish does not justify the risk of failing with your backup.
Keeping the Lights On
The chatter heard from through the grapevine this past March was about if the Canucks could flip the proverbial switch come playoff time. We saw they could do that once Chicago knocked out their best player and they won 8 of 9 to finish the season off and win the President’s Trophy like a bunch of bosses.
The switch is currently flipped and it needs to stay that way. It’s like when you leave your home and you’re supposed to turn off the lights to not waste energy.
Well, the Canucks have to keep them on for the entire series.
Don’t let up, stay in the zone and for crying out loud, don’t let anyone throw off their groove.
Maybe get a couple llamas named Kuzco for good luck.
Seriously though, forget about being green, these guys need to be blue and green, skin to bone, head to toe, dawn to dusk, breakfast to midnight snack, Magikarp to Gyarados, the Shire to Mount Doom, Arctic to Antarctica, black to white, stone mason to cobbler, or what have you!?