The Canucks have talked a great deal about their depth, both up front and in the back, early in this series.
Now we know why.
Vancouver won Game 1 over the Blackhawks, 2-0, despite not getting a point from either Sedin twin or Alexandre Burrows
. They won Game 1 despite having only one guy play more than 22 and a half minutes, and Dan Hamhuis
topped that mark by one second. They won with only one forward, Ryan Kesler
, playing more than 20 minutes.
The Canucks' depth was on display Wednesday as they rolled their four lines and three defensive pairs out onto the ice like clockwork. The Blackhawks never took Vancouver out of its gameplan.
"It keeps your minutes down, you stay fresh and for us that's important," Kesler said of what rolling the lines does for Vancouver. "We want to play a high energy, high-paced game. We want to hit a lot and you need all four lines if you're going to do that."
Vancouver hit a whole heck of a lot Wednesday. The Canucks were credited with 47 hits, which is 26 more than they averaged per game during the regular season.
Their bottom six forwards combined for 23 hits and a goal, giving more credibility to Canucks coach Alain Vigneault
's plan to just roll out the lines and let 'em go instead of worrying too much about matchups.
He said the only matchup he tried to get at times was Kesler's line on the Hawks' top trio of Jonathan Toews
, Patrick Sharp
and Patrick Kane
. But, Vigneault said he tried that only about 75 percent of the time.
"I would say right now we're more interested in having a good pace on the ice, a fast pace than looking for really certain matchups," Vigneault said. "We think one of our ingredients that has enabled us to have some success this year has been able to roll the four lines at a quick pace and roll the six Ds. that has enabled us to go north-south real quick and spend more time in the other team's end."
"It's a long series and we're trying to wear them down," added Kesler. "Not intimidate them, but to know that every time we have a chance to hit them we're going to hit them. I think that goes a long way in a series."
Depth certainly does.
Depth allows the Canucks to keep their shifts short. For instance, Henrik Sedin
played 28 shifts, but only 17:11 of ice time for an average shift length of 36 seconds. Daniel Sedin
played the same 28 shifts for 16:35 of ice time, averaging 35 seconds per shift.
Vigneault said the shifts matter, not the ice time, and the Sedins were able to play "real short and hard" shifts, which is exactly what the Canucks wanted.
"If you can only play your top guys 18 minutes a night than they are going to be pretty fresh and play pretty hard instead of guys playing 23, 24 or 25 minutes," Higgins said. "It'll pay off down the road."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl