Five reasons the Canucks can win

Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider is congratulated by Manny Malhotra and Kevin Bieksa after...

Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider is congratulated by Manny Malhotra and Kevin Bieksa after defeating the Los Angeles Kings during Game 4 of their NHL Western Conference Hockey quarterfinal playoff in Los Angeles, California April 18, 2012. (REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 4:13 PM ET

LOS ANGELES - The odds of the Vancouver Canucks coming back to win their opening series are about the same as New Year's Eve parties being the same without Dick Clark.

Only three teams in history have recovered to win a Stanley Cup playoff series after trailing 3-0, so Vancouver's 3-1 victory in Game 4 over the Los Angeles Kings hardly means the Canucks are on their way to a berth in the Western Conference semifinals.

A betting man would say the two-time Presidents' Trophy winners as the regular-season champs still are destined to hit the golf course much earlier than planned.

However, long odds are better than none, and the Canucks have a bit more hope with their opening-round series resuming Sunday in Vancouver.

Here are our five reasons the Canucks can pull off a miracle.

Faith

Yep, cue up any and all copies of the anthemic Journey hit Don't Stop Believin' because that's what the Canucks need most and received a big shot of it by staving off elimination Wednesday night.

To a man, the Canucks believed they played well enough to win the third game of the best-of-seven series, a 1-0 loss, and asserted that sticking with the same level of play would pay off.

It did.

As much as the Canucks finally had a couple of their key players become game-changers, a lucky bounce that led to the game-winning goal was a big boost. When Kevin Bieksa's point shot was deflected by Kings centre Mike Richards and into the goal in the second period and gave the Canucks the lead for good, they believed fortune finally was going to go their way.

"I think you get rewarded when you do it (properly) over and over," captain Henrik Sedin said.

The Super Sedins

Having Daniel Sedin return to the fold for the first time in four weeks after recovering from a concussion didn't just bring the Canucks one player back into the lineup. It was like giving them two.

As much as Henrik Sedin pushed to be a factor during the first three games without his twin brother, things are so much different when they're together.

As coach Alain Vigneault said, "Obviously (Henrik) was trying really hard and doing all the right things, but both of those guys together are such great players."

The twins have that mystical ability to find each other with passes nobody other than that Gretzky guy had the ability to make. They create scoring chances out of nothing.

If they start converting, watch out.

Right now, Ryan Kesler's line isn't contributing offensively for the Canucks, while the Kings' Richards trio has been a non-factor the past few games, so we've had a saw-off in that area.

If the Sedins, who are playing with David Booth, can win the head-to-head battle with the Kings line of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Justin Williams, the Canucks have the upper hand.

It's a goalie battle

Through his two games of this series, Vancouver netminder Cory Schneider has surrendered only two goals. He was good but not quite good enough in the 1-0 loss in Game 3, but was sparkling in Wednesday's victory with a 43-save outing.

His stops near the end of the first two periods in Game 4 can't be overlooked, and were just as big as the penalty-shot stop on Dustin Brown.

Schneider exudes a quiet confidence, and you can see the rest of the Canucks pick up on it.

Los Angeles netminder Jonathan Quick deservedly will get all kinds of votes in NHL all-star balloting.

However, Schneider has shown in his two games he can match the Kings netminder save-for-save, and that is a big part of playoff success.

Experience

True, it's not like the Canucks have any players who know what it feels like to come back from being down 3-0 in a playoff series.

However, this is a team full of players who have been through all kinds of battles during the post-season party. They are almost the same club that went to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals last year and added the likes of Sammy Pahlsson, who won a title in Anaheim and been through plenty of playoff games.

The Kings are at the other end of the spectrum. Most of their core players, such as Kopitar, Brown, Quick and defenceman Drew Doughty haven't won a playoff series at this level. And their experienced players, ex-Philadelphia Flyers Richards and Jeff Carter, aren't all that visible.

Immediately after winning Game 4, the Canucks were pushing talk aside of a series comeback, while saying they simply have a basic goal of winning the next game.

Sometimes, age and experience make the difference.

Homeward bound

Yes, losing the first two games in their own arena put them in a deep hole. But the Canucks have some momentum and are now going home to their frenzied fans, who will give them a boost next game.

Vancouver had an excellent home-ice record (27-10-4) during the season, and if they can get back to their winning ways at the Rogers Arena and stake a victory on Sunday, they would be riding a wave of emotion into Game 6 in Los Angeles.

Just imagine how much pressure the Kings players would be feeling if their 3-0 lead suddenly became 3-2.

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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