Just some jumbled thoughts some 36 hours after Game 6:
– A lot of the negative attention in Vancouver seems to have turned to Roberto Luongo, the goaltender who seemingly wet himself against the Hawks each of the last two years, and there’s good reason for that. Coming into the playoffs, the Hawks’ big weakness was goaltending; the ‘Nucks’ big advantage was Luongo.
Antti Niemi laid a couple of eggs – Game 1 and the first goal of Game 5 come to mind – but, on the whole, he was solid, even keeping the Hawks in Games 2 and 6 when it seemed things could go the other way. Luongo, on the other hand, surrendered two goals in the ‘Nucks two wins, but the Hawks managed 21 in their four wins (including at least two empty netters).
Yeah, it might be a little unfair, but Luongo is the team’s captain and, likely, its best player. If wetting the bed becomes an annual pastime for him, no one will have to worry about the Sedins come springtime.
– Speaking of the Canucks, I wondered out loud earlier in the week whether, given two straight second round exits, it was time to blow the roster up. Face it: outside of the Sedins, Ryan Kesler and Luongo (and, as discussed above, the track record of Luongo is less than sparkling when it counts), there isn’t much there.
The defense is in absolute shambles – counting on Shane O’Brien and Kevin Bieksa, who Eddie O called “a solid five or six,” could be hazardous to your health – and “leaders” like Alex Burrows helped willingly piss away Game 4, commonly thought to be the most crucial game in any series. And, that’s not to mention that Mikael Samuelsson is one weird looking dude.
And, while a total roster makeover is likely out of the question, given the large Sedin and Luongo deals, you’d think there have to be some pretty significant changes coming this summer. That would be a shame, because this is an infinitely unlikeable group.
– Tim Sassone says Game 1 will be Sunday. That gives us plenty of time to talk about the Sharks. Speaking of, anyone know why Pat Foley has referred to San Jose as the “Sha-arks” (in a high, teenager-type voice) much of the last decade? I assume he or Dale Tallon slipped up in the booth one night, but I have no recollection of it.
– Sassone also believes the Western Conference finalists have the inside track to the Cup. Those kinds of statements often seem pretty funny after sweeps, and any of the three remaining teams are capable of making the Hawks or Sharks look silly in the Finals.
– Can we get a moratorium on passing the puck to the front of the Hawk net on a penalty kill for the Sharks series? It was a cute, novel play when Duncan Keith tried it last year, but Brent Sopel shouldn’t be relying on it as a way out of the zone while down a man.
– I’ll admit yelling at the television and sending a handful of profane text messages when informed that Troy Brouwer would be in the lineup on Tuesday in place of Tomas Kopecky. My anger was two-fold: Kopecky, I thought, had played pretty well with Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa and seemed to bring that line together; and, Brouwer, his understandable emotional issues notwithstanding, had been horrendous during the previous five weeks. When Brouwer coughed the puck up at his own blue line – again – early in Game 6, I briefly considered boycotting the remainder of his shifts.
But, Brouwer recovered and scored the game’s first goal on a neat set-up from Sharp. The truth is, though, that Brouwer, if he remains in the lineup, will be asked to (i) play solidly in his own end and (ii) make life difficult for Shark d-men in the Shark zone. Goals are nice, but for Brouwer, straight lines are nicer.
– Has Sopel’s strong defensive play during the playoffs guaranteed him a spot on next years team, or guaranteed that his larger salary will be moved?