Canucks vs. Predators Game 6: Five things to watch for

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis, right, collides with Nashville Predators left wing Blake...

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis, right, collides with Nashville Predators left wing Blake Geoffrion during the third period in Game 5 of their NHL Western Conference semi-final hockey playoff game in Vancouver, British Columbia, May 7, 2011. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)

, Last Updated: 4:10 AM ET

Those questions again

Until they win a series — maybe even until they win a Stanley Cup — the Vancouver Canucks will be asked time and time again whether they possess the killer instinct to be a championship team. The Canucks didn’t exactly let off the gas in their 4-3 loss to Nashville Saturday night, which extended the series, but were guilty of a couple of ill-timed mistakes which proved very costly.

It’s probably a good thing they’re getting out of town for a couple of days considering the expectations in Vancouver, as well as the hand wringing from their fans. However, if they drop another game, the Canucks will feel that heat.

Kesler could use some help

The Conn Smythe Trophy talk surrounding Ryan Kesler is well deserved, but will require the Canucks win the Stanley Cup to come to fruition. The centre, who has the sandpaper in his game to be a super-pest as well as the skills to be a game-breaker, has done his share of late. The two goals on Saturday have him on a roll with five goals and four assists in the last four games. The others on the team haven’t exactly been pulling their weight, and must change that for a championship run.

Something to build on

The Predators deserved to win Game 5 in Vancouver. They caught the lucky break with David Legwand’s second goal to tie the clash 2-2 early in the second period and for the most part controlled the tempo and the play until the final buzzer. The plucky Predators still must fire more pucks on net for Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo to handle, but that was a solid game in all facets for the team that was grossly outplayed for almost all of the first four outings.

We’ll see whether they can continue to keep pace with a more talented Canucks crew.

A “D” grade for the defence

Christian Ehrhoff and Alex Edler usually are the Canucks blueliners who see the most ice time, but they haven’t been deserving of it lately. Sure, they racked up some points in the Game 4 win, but in Saturday’s clash were both minus-2.

The one goal against was a weird and fluky play, but the game-winning goal was a turnover deep in the zone and then a missed chance to clear the puck from harm’s way. Edler is the more complete blueliner and likely still feeling his way back from the injury that sidelined him for a big chunk of the season, but should be better. The good and bad in Ehrhoff’s game have been on full display.

More Sedin struggles

Not only is Nashville’s Joel Ward outscoring the superstar Canucks forwards this series, twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin are having a nightmarish time in their defensive zone.

In Saturday’s game, Henrik was minus-3 and Daniel was minus-4. They’re both minus-7 in the playoffs. It’s likely not fair how much of the team’s struggles are pinned on the two, but they’re really having a tough go of it this series.

The Predators deserve plenty of credit for that with the job they’ve done taking away time and space from the talented twins, but there comes a time when star players must step forward and make a positive difference. They have yet to do that.

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca
twitter.com/RandySportak


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