April 20, 2009
Blues fading to blackSt. Louis on brink of becoming St. Losers
By TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA
VANCOUVER -- It's been a great series to watch. But why hasn't it been a series?
Why is it over before it begins? Why are the Vancouver Canucks up 3-0 on the St. Louis Blues?
Two words? Roberto Luongo?
Two teams? Vancouver's special teams?
Two tougher twins in Daniel and Hendrik?
Yes. Yes. And yes.
It was all of the above and more as the Canucks won Game 3 here last night with three power-play goals while their penalty kill held against two five-on-three situations.
But to St. Louis Blues coach Andy Murray, who doesn't take away from what the Canucks have done, what's happened here is what hasn't happened.
"We just haven't played yet," he said. "We haven't been good enough.
"We've had over five minutes of five-on-three and we haven't been the kind of threat you have to be against this goaltender.
"People who haven't seen us won't know, but we just haven't played yet. Our two staple areas are power play and penalty killing. They haven't got the job done for us."
The Blues are 1-for-17 on the power play so far in this series. Worse, they've only had 21 shots.
They've had three five-on-threes - two last night - and failed to score on any of them.
"A lot of players can play better. We've been too individualistic. We're not playing hard enough on the puck," added Murray, who says he's asking for his team to show the hockey world their identity before this ends.
"I asked our players if the series was over yet. I don't think anybody believes that.
"I think this team proved this year that they are capable of doing something special. That's what it would take now."
The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders are the only teams to have come back from 0-3 deficits.
And if there's a special team in this series, perhaps about to become Canada's Team in short order, it's the Canucks.
Yes, this is about goaltending. Yes it's about special teams. Yes, it's about tougher twins.
But as much as anything, it's about experience and will.
"We expected them to come out strong," said Luongo. "We knew we'd have to hang in there early and take over in the last 40 minutes."
It was Alex Burrows who got to the meat of it.
"St. Louis is one of the hardest-working teams in the league. We have had to match their work effort.
"Roberto won Game 2 and the special teams was the difference tonight, but what's making it all happen is how hard we're working."
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said you have to play playoff hockey in the playoffs.
"Our guys are taking a lot of cheap shots. The best way to respond to that is by scoring power-play goals. We scored three of them tonight. There are a lot of ice bags in the room.
"When it comes to the five-on-three, obviously goaltending is the big thing, probably the No. 1 thing.
"But it's about competing. We're playing against a team that competes. Our identity since I've been here is that we're a team which also competes very hard against you. In playoff hockey, will is what it's all about. Will is very important."
And when the Sedin twins buy in, then you've got something.
"The Blues think that being extra physical and even extra dirty on them, that it's going to take away from their game," said Vigneault.
"The twins don't back down. That makes them play harder and better."