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X's and O's - WCQF Game 3

by Jeff Angus / Vancouver Canucks
Game 3 played out much like Games 1 and 2 through the first 40 minutes.

The two teams played a very even game without much in the way of odd-man rushes of prime scoring chances on either Cory Schneider or Antti Niemi.

Alex Burrows cut the San Jose lead in half with a second period tally. At the time, the goal was huge for the Canucks, who were hoping to get back into the game (and the series). However, they couldn’t generate any more offense from it. Vancouver surrendered three consecutive third period goals (including two in the span of nine seconds), and they now face a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 series deficit.

Back to the Burrows goal. He and the Sedins haven’t been on the score sheet as much as expected through the first three games, but they have been the one consistent Vancouver line in terms of sustaining pressure in the offensive zone and creating chances. San Jose’s defense (coached by Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Robinson) has done a phenomenal job stifling any and all Vancouver attacks.

Let’s look at what went on to create the first Vancouver tally from Game 3 at the Shark Tank.

The goal:

A great pass and an even better shot.

Daniel wins a puck battle along the far boards, and as per usual he knows exactly where Henrik is on the ice. Daniel fires a perfect cross-ice pass to his brother.

Henrik stays onside (barely) to receive the pass, and Burrows goes about as wide as he can to draw the Shark defender over to him. If you watch the Sedins and Burrows rush the puck up the ice, this is generally what they do. Henrik (and usually Daniel) will stick close together in an attempt to isolate an opposing player in a 2-on-1 situation, while Burrows goes as wide as he can to draw the other opposing defender away from the Sedins.

Henrik rushes the puck into the zone against Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Everyone knows he is going to pass the puck, but he does a good job of pushing the defense deep into the zone nonetheless. Vlasic plays this pretty well – he has a tight gap on Henrik, and he almost manages to deflect the puck away when Henrik pulls the puck back to his forehand.

Henrik makes a fantastic play by quickly changing directions and bringing the puck to his forehand, narrowly escaping Vlasic’s outstretched stick.

Henrik zips over a perfect pass right onto the tape of Burrows’ stick. Burrows is still pretty wide here for a one-timer, and he has to take the pass across his body, too (it isn’t a true one-timer in the sense that he can really step into it, as he is on the left side of the ice and is a left-handed shot).

Three Sharks stick to Daniel, as they know that he is usually the recipient of Henrik’s passes. Not this time, though.

Let’s go back to the beginning of the play. As soon as Burrows sees that Daniel has control of the puck, he takes off. Daniel uses his feet to shield the puck and gain control of it – it is quite obvious that soccer has influenced the Sedins, as they use their feet/legs quite a bit when protecting the puck. Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk is another player who obviously has a background playing soccer, as he does many of the same things as well.

This gives you an idea of how wide Burrows has skated at the San Jose blue line – he isn’t even in the frame right now. You can go back and watch almost any Sedin/Burrows goal that has been generated off of the rush, and you will find him in this exact spot (or you won’t, as he so rarely appears in the camera).

Vlasic really couldn’t have played this any better. Henrik has about a foot of ice to work with, and he quickly gets the puck over to Burrows. There are only a handful of players in the world who can make this type of move and pass together.

You can’t really see the puck here, but it is just above Niemi’s outstretched blocker. Burrows gets a lot on this shot considering its incredible difficulty level. Not only is it a one-timer, but as mentioned above, he takes the pass across his body, and he has Sharks all around him.

This was an all-world goal by the Canucks, and unfortunate for them that it couldn’t turn the tide in this game or series. It took two great passes from Daniel and Henrik and an even better shot from Burrows to pull off. San Jose has played near-perfect defensively through the first three games of this series, and Vancouver’s top line was better than near-perfect on this goal.

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