Saturday, April 30, 2011

O'Brien's Predators regroup for Game 2

Lookin' Good Shane
In what Iain McIntyre and Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun called 'the closest blow out I've ever seen', the Canucks took Game One by the slimmest of margins (1-0), and opened their second round series against Nashville on a winning note.

Game Two should see this series pick up, and a safe bet would be that we will see more scoring.  Heck, it can't get any lower.  Pekka Rinne was at the top of his game on Thursday's opener, and Roberto Luongo was solid as well.  The Canucks did in fact carry most of the play, and while most of the media felt the Canucks would have an emotional let down, they also should have considered that a let down from the amazing level of play they had in Game 7 would still probably be enough to push them over the top in the opener of their second round series against the new opponent.

Game 2 will probably be a bit faster out of the gate, as both teams spent the first 5-10 minutes of Game One feeling each other out.  Expect Nashville to reduce the number of neutral zone turnovers, and to crank up the physical play.  Vancouver meanwhile will be hoping for more of the same, but with a bit more finish and a bit less Finnish (Rinne).

Many in Nashville felt that Game One was the worst game the Predators played all year, so Canucks fans should not assume this will be an easy series.  Simply check out the highlights below, and when you see Keith Ballard catch Ryan Suter by surprise and knock him into New Westminster, you can get a sense of where the Preds heads were at for Game One.

On the other hand, if you're a Canucks fan, and you're worried about the lack of scoring, consider what the guys over at Kurtenblog came up with to explain the lack of goals. Good goaltending!  The goals will come, probably.  Chicago's Corey Crawford and Nashville's Pekka Rinne have simply played outstanding games.  However, if there's anything the Canucks could do to improve their chances, it might be to make Rinne move a bit.  He's a big guy, and as the Chris Higgins goal suggests, if you get him to move laterally, you may have some success - even if the refs don't see it at first.

It wouldn't be a Canucks playoff game without some odd officiating as well.  Heck, even Nashville writers are defending the Keith Ballard "clip" on Jordin Tootoo.  Ballard's great checks may no longer be 'hip' with the NHL, but fans certainly enjoy them, and they're pretty darned effective.

With Game Two on tap for Saturday night at 6pm, expect a few more goals than last game, and a better Predators' squad than the one we saw Thursday.  Pressure will mount for the twins and Kesler to break through on the score sheet, and you have to believe the power play will click eventually for them.

Brief aside - have you noticed the Canucks have not had more power plays than the opposition once in eight games so far?  EIGHT!  Didn't know that was possible.

If the Vancouver Canucks take a 2-0 series lead, the Preds may be in tough, as you'd figure they'd have to take both games back in Nashville to make it a series, unless they watched the Blackhawks and are trying to lull the Canucks into a sense of comfort.  After all, who cares about momentum right?

Well, maybe Nashville wants to lose both games to avoid the O'bligatory O'Brien celebration at the Roxy?


  1. hahaha hadn't seen that other O'Brien pic before. Priceless!

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