As they eagerly await the outcome of the Blackhawks-Predators series, the Canucks can take heart in knowing that they've advanced by virtue of several factors that weren't in evidence earlier in their series with the Kings: Vancouver's top players performed in crucial situations, the special teams delivered and goaltender
On all fronts, give coach
The Canucks, led by their top trio did just that. Vigneault did his part by moving winger
Against that backdrop, the Canucks got outstanding goaltending from Luongo in Sunday night's Game 6 clincher, especially in the first half when the Kings were at their best. He finished with 30 stops, and his desperation reverse-pivot, barrel roll glove save in the second period with the Kings leading 1-0 defined his performance.
The Canucks tied it at 1-1 shortly after "the save" on
In the end, literally and figuratively, it all came together, just as Vigneault confidently predicted that it would, with his goaltender, stars and special teams all rounding into top form. Now the Canucks sit poised for a conference semifinal repeat match with Chicago. Of course, the Blackhawks must yet vanquish the gritty Predators, but if they do, a Canucks-Blackhawks rematch will be the best series on the next docket.
The Canucks remember vividly the scene in Chicago last spring as they were eliminated in a wild 7-5 loss. In fact, they looked poised to take a 3-1 series lead before giving up a late goal that tied the game and then losing 2-1 early in OT. Luongo went from potential shutout to collapse. He and the Canucks never recovered, falling three times in a row in bowing out in six. In all, the Blackhawks netted 23 goals against the Canucks, and Luongo took the final game performance personally.
So, the Canucks are surely seeking a measure of redemption if they should face the Blackhawks again. As defenseman
For their part, the Blackhawks seem to have a certain swagger against Luongo.
To which Luongo responded, "If he has a book on me, good for him."
Well, Luongo backstopped Canada to gold over Kane and the Americans, but the exchange reported on February 27 by the AP is evidence that memories run long and hard on both sides. Meaning, of course, a Canucks-Blackhawks series will likely include plenty born of bad blood and a percolating rivalry.
Perfect for playoff hockey.