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Where There's A Will

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
You got a pretty good idea of what was to come in Game 1 of the Canucks-Ducks series based entirely on the anthems at the Honda Center.

The singer was fast - man, did she motor through O Canada and the Star-Spangled Banner - and she bore a remarkable resemblance to the girl who plays Ugly Betty.

The Ducks were fast. And the Canucks were, well, ugly, in the opener of this second round series. But as so many of the Canucks pointed out in the aftermath of Wednesday's 5-1 loss to the Ducks, it really doesn't matter the final score in any particular playoff game. A loss is a loss - and in this case, it's just one loss in a best of seven affair which Anaheim now leads 1-0 with game two set for Friday.

From the Canucks standpoint, Wednesday's main concern couldn't have been so much the end result as the process by which it was achieved. Thursday's priority has to be to make the necessary adjustments to find a way to counter the Ducks' speed. To that end, the Canucks have to take advantage of their first time in 10 days that they haven't either played a game or traveled. You have to go back to the Monday between Games 3 and 4 in Dallas to find the last time the Canucks had the luxury of staying in the same city and not go through the grind of either playing or flying.

Some would argue the Canucks didn't do a whole lot of playing while the Ducks were flying in Wednesday's opener. And certainly the absence of Sami Salo and Kevin Bieksa - two of the team's most mobile defensemen -- severely hampers the Canucks' ability to ground the speedy Duck attackers. It also hurts the Canucks' breakout and won't make it any easier to improve on a power play that has fizzled so far in the playoffs.

One game against the Ducks gave the Canucks a pretty good glimpse of what they're up against as things get tougher on the long road to the Stanley Cup. Reason for concern? Yes. Time to panic? Far from it.

That said there has to be a mounting anxiety in the Canuck locker room about the lack of goal-scoring from the guys who are expected to put pucks in the net. Sure, the team may be missing two key defenders, but from here, it sure looks like all of the Canucks leading goal scorers are still suiting up for these games.

Daniel Sedin, Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison simply have to find a way to score some goals. It's great that Jeff Cowan scored his first career National Hockey League playoff goal on Wednesday. It's not so great, however, that he has now has more goals than Daniel, Naslund and Morrison combined in the past eight games.

Daniel Sedin has gone seven games without a goal and has just one in his past 13 now. Naslund has also gone seven without scoring and has just one in his last 11 games. And Brendan Morrison - oh boy, Brendan Morrison - he has yet to score in the playoffs, has gone a dozen games without a goal and has just one in his last 18.

The droughts don't come as a newsflash to the players. They know they're struggling and they also know they're counted on to produce - particularly at this time of the year.

Only 11 times all regular season were both twins, Naslund and Morrison all held off the score sheet on the same night. It's already happened five times in eight games in the playoffs including Wednesday's opener against the Ducks. The Canucks managed to win game four of the last series without a point from those key guys, but they're 1-4 now when that happens. If it continues to occur, summer will arrive far too soon.

But that's what playoff hockey is all about. You play the games one day and then making the necessary adjustments the next. It couldn't have been easy for Dallas to go through four periods of overtime only to lose the series opener against the Canucks. What did the Stars do? They regrouped and bounced back with an airtight effort in a 2-0 win in Game 2 to even the series. So it can be done and it must be done.

The Canucks would do well to enjoy a relaxing day in Anaheim - practice hard and go have some fun in the California sun. Oh, and they should probably steer clear of Thursday night television. There's a new Ugly Betty on. But hopefully the Canucks got all the ugliness out of their system on Wednesday and will be ready to roll when Game 2 starts on Friday.

Jeff Paterson is a Team 1040 broadcaster and a regular contributor to the Georgia Straight. E-mail him at
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