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Press Round-Up Apr.30.2007

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
Courtesy of Daniel Fung


Special teams cost Canucks

They aren't so mighty after all, and had the power play been able to click in Game 3, the Canucks would have been able to prove it, writes Brad Ziemer. Vancouver outplayed Anaheim at even-strength but the Ducks had two power play goals to Vancouver's one and now lead the series by that same count.

"I thought five-on-five we were good again, but the difference was obviously special teams," [Canucks Coach Alain] Vigneault said. "Theirs were better than ours. It was a tight game and we had some chances at the end, but couldn't get it done.

"Our guys are playing hard and we have to find a way to get our power play to do what they do. You look at their goals, it's nothing scientific there. They put people at the net, they keep them there and they get their shots through and they crash for rebounds. Our guys have to understand that is how goals are scored now in the NHL. Their two power-play goals are both the same type of goals. We have to have the willingness to go to those tough areas, stay there and hack and whack at the rebounds, which we didn't do tonight, obviously."

Good not good enough

The Canucks have proved they can compete against the big, bad Ducks, now they have to get the results or else no matter how well they play, this series could still finish in five games.

"That was no five-game series,' is the time-tested moan of a thousand series losers who were oh-so-close, right up until the moment of truth in the games they lost," writes Cam Cole. "You don't get unlimited chances in a seven-game (or shorter) series, a truth that must have been felt keenly in the Canucks' room after their 3-2 loss Sunday.

Even more disappointing for the Canucks was they had ample opportunity to take the lead with numerous power plays but were only able to solve the Ducks just once with the man-advantage. Knowing how few golden opportunities come up during the course of a game, the two 5-on-3 man advantages could have been the difference in Game 3.

"I think [we let it slip away] more so when you get the opportunities we had to score on the power play," said Canucks defenceman Mattias Ohlund. "I mean, 5-on-3, we'd like to be able to capitalize, but that's a good team. The difference was they scored two goals on the power play and we scored one."


Canucks D stands tall

Despite Sunday's loss, perhaps the best development to come out of the game was the strength showed by Vancouver's six-man defensive unit at even-strength, despite still missing Kevin Bieksa from the lineup. Vancouver was, however, strengthened by the return of Sami Salo who played his first game in Round 2 after being injured in Game 7 of the previous round.

"We were really tight on their guys and really didn't give them a lot of space," said defenceman Sami Salo, who returned after missing two games with a torso injury. "I felt like I didn't miss a beat."

Vancouver was particularly dominant in the first period, surrendering just two shots to the Ducks and outchancing them 9-1. Unfortunately for the Canucks, that one chance Anaheim got they made good on. Perhaps the one Anaheim player that noticed Vancouver's defensive effort more than anyone else was Teemu Selanne who, after firing 7 shots in Game 2, was held shotless in Game 3.

"I think our heads are spinning still," Selanne said of the shot spree [in the first period]. "We wanted to be good in the first period, and God, it was ugly."

Louie has rare off-night

The Anaheim Ducks were hoping that with Vancouver's netminder being so strong in his crease, his only weakness may be when handling the puck outside of it, reports the Province. They were right, at least in Game 3. Anaheim's first goal came when Roberto Luongo gave the puck away behind the net to Corey Perry, who then found Dustin Penner alone in front of the net with Luongo out of the position.

"They got a hard forecheck and they had two guys taking away the boards," recalled Luongo. "I was trying to shoot it hard and...and it went right off my stick. It's a tough goal to give up right off the bat...I'll have to take the blame for that one."

Luongo seemed to have some difficulty with all of Anaheim's traffic in front of the net as well. Anaheim's second goal came on a scramble with three or four players right in front of him while the game-winning goal from Corey Perry came with Chris Kunitz in his face.

"What he can't see, he can't stop," said Perry. "We kept getting traffic and that's our style of game. Just go to the net and good things happen."

No early bird special

As far as starts go, you couldn't have asked for a better one in Game 3 for the Canucks. They had four scoring chances before the game was even three minutes old, and ended up outchancing the Ducks 9-1 in the first and outshooting them 13-2, writes Jason Botchford. Yet somehow, the Ducks managed to escape in a 1-1 draw after the first period and while the Canucks might have a right to be disappointed and frustrated, they know they can't dwell on the past.

"I think every start this series we've done that - we've controlled the play," Brendan Morrison said. "Then they come down and get a (expletive) goal. What are you going to do? We were right in that game, right with them right until the very end."


Shades of 2003

This wasn't just any other playoff game for Jean-Sebastian Giguere, writes Mark Whicker. It was more like a day in the mines. After being bombarded by Canuck chances all night, the Ducks manage to escape a potential blowout thanks in large part to the Ducks netminder who, at least for one columnist, showed signs of the Jiggy' who led the Ducks to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2003.

"For this night he was a mythical playoff goalie, just as he was in 2003, when he played at historic levels to take the Ducks to the final Game 7," writes Whicker. "This was a 4-year-old DVD come to life."

Despite taking a backseat in celebrity status to Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, Giguere's playoff numbers have been impressive, giving up only six goals in five playoff games with a 4-1 record and save percentage of .955. Giguere wasn't taking all the credit after the game, noting his forwards in front of him managed to turn the game around after the first period in which they were thoroughly outplayed by the Canucks and managed to escape with a 1-1 tie.

"I thought we turned it around, had a real good second period and started pressuring them," Giguere said. "We had to play through a lot of things tonight, get through a lot of adversity."

5-on-3? No problem.

When a team gets a 5-on-3 man advantage, chances are they'll score. But don't tell that to the Anaheim Ducks defenders, writes Dan Wood. After allowing only six goals on 33 5-on-3 power plays in the regular season, Anaheim has not allowed a 5-on-3 goal in four situations in the playoffs. The Ducks held the Minnesota Wild off the scoreboard on a full, two-minute 5-on-3 during Round 1 and have held the Canucks scoreless on three, two-man advantages so far in this series.

"Any time you kill of two five-on-threes, a lot of things are going right for you," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "It doesn't hurt to have your goaltender make the big stops and now allow rebounds. A big part of the success of any penalty killing is if your goaltender can smother the puck and not allow second and third whacks at it."


No panic in Ducks

After facing a barrage of Canuck chances in the first period, one might expect the Ducks to be even more tense coming out for the second period. But in the face of adversity, in particular at one point with Vancouver on a 5-on-3 power play with Anaheim's two top defencemen (Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer) in the box, the Ducks were able to stay compose themselves and escape the first with a 1-1 tie, reports Eric Stephens.

"It's important to stay calm," Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere said "We've faced this kind of situation before in the season where the other team might have dominated the first period. We have a lot of experience in this dressing room. There's no need to panic."

Anaheim might not have had the opportunity to win had it not been for the outstanding effort of Giguere, something that Ducks' coach Randy Carlyle noted after the game.

"[Vancouver] had a lot of chances and Giguere made some big stops at critical times," said Carlyle.

Coach wants more from Selanne

Teemu Selanne was held shotless in Game 3 and hasn't done much since Game 1 of this series, something that does not sit well with Ducks' head coach Randy Carlyle, reports Helen Elliott and Eric Stephens. Carlyle accused Selanne of not chasing after the puck and was, instead, waiting for it to come to him.

"He was circling," Carlyle said, "I told him. He was circling and he wasn't stopping on the pucks. In playoff hockey, a lot of situations you get yourself into, you've got to stop and get pucks. Any loose pucks, you've got to stop and go get it. I talked to him on the bench about it. He should his head at me. That's the way it is."


Questions abound for Ducks

The Ducks were lucky to come out of Game 3 with a victory, and they know it. Despite the early pundits suggesting this series would be over sooner rather than later, "[t]he reality is that this is turning into a more competitive series than many outside British Columbia expected, one in which momentum is only as good as your most recent shift," writes Jim Alexander.

Still, in Game 3, the Ducks managed to hold off the Canucks attack and, thanks to Giguere and Anaheim's second line, came out with a 3-2 victory. It wasn't without questions being asked afterwards though, none bigger than the ones surrounding Anaheim's top line. Teemu Selanne, Chris Kunitz, and Andy McDonald combined for only four shots (two apiece from Kunitz and McDonald) and had few scoring chances. For this Press-Enterprise writer, it begs the question of what could happen if the Ducks team truly gets in sync. Or more to the point, what if it doesn't?

"The Ducks are the better team and should win this series," writes Alexander. "But the sports landscape is littered with the remains of favored teams who let an underdog stay around longer than it should."

And as the Ducks should realize by now, these Canucks underdogs have teeth, potentially sharp ones if they can ever discover their power play.

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