JARKKO POLO: Clinching, Clenching, VRBAWESOME!

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are just over a week away and every game’s importance is magnified tenfold. The Vancouver Canucks went into last week with quite the task: away games against the Blues, Preds, Hawks and Jets and hopefully enough points to keep Calgary and Los Angeles at bay. The results were actually surprising except for the patented two goal deficits….they made their return.

You have to love the midwest road games; early start times mean you are just leaving work when they get going so you HAVE to PVR them to see it from start to finish. I have two little girls so I’ve PVR’d 3/4 of the season anyways, and I said I never would. RIGHT. The Blues were first up and despite their record, they aren’t as good as they show. The Canucks played them amazingly well and got what they came for. Nashville was without Shea Weber and James Neal but they still managed to give the Canucks a full 65 + min. A showdown with the Blackhawks just ended up being too much for the Canucks.

Finally, the Nucks went to the ‘Peg and I really thought that game was going to end different.

Let’s see how our boys faired:

THE GAMES WE PLAYED

@ St. Louis Blues – WIN 4-1 (Who’s singing the blues now?)

RECAP: A rare game that the Canucks didn’t give up the opening goal, they played the Blues hard and proved they can hang with the top teams. I don’t believe the Blues ARE a top team but their record says they are. Shawn Matthias got back on the scoreboard this week with a tight feed from Chris Tanev to give the Canucks the opening marker. Nick Bonino and Radim Vrbata both had goals with Alex Burrows adding an empty netter and the Canucks actually owned the Blues 4-1.

Have to like that start to the week!

@ Nashville Predators – WIN 5-4 in a shootout (AWFUL REFEREEING ALERT!)

RECAP: I’m just going to cut and paste this line from another game. The Canucks went down 2-0 in the first and Nashville looked like they might have the Canucks on the ropes. Here’s where the next cut and paste job comes; Vancouver ties it up in the second and wouldn’t you know it, they go ahead too! Linden Vey and Jannik Hansen netted some huge goals to get things going and King Clutch Alex Burrows scored a shorty breakaway to tie it up early in the third. Chris Higgins would put the Nucks ahead but not before Eddie Lack let in the tying goal late.

An absolute screwjob of a call against Burrows on Paul Gaustad got him ejected along with Kevin Bieksa for one can only assume taunting, but who calls that really? The Nucks had to kill off a 5 min penalty with 4 mins and change left in the game. Eddie Lack played lights out and got Vancouver to the shootout with Vrbata and Bonino scoring the goals that won it for Vancouver.

Despite the awful officiating, it was a great game.

@ Chicago Blackhawks – LOSE 3-1 (They are who we thought they were)

RECAP: This one plain and simple was not the Canucks night. The opportunities were there and blue collar Derek Dorsett gave the Canucks hope tying the game up late in the first period, but Corey Crawford proved too much for the Vancouver offense and absolutely stole the two points for Chicago. Patrick Kane is still injured and he is a huge loss to the Hawks but man, Chicago is still an amazing team! If the Canucks make the playoffs and they should, they will have to bury their chances because the goaltending only gets better in the spring.

Eddie Lack is only so good so his defense in front of him has to make their assignments and stick to them. Chicago is a good measuring stick of what the Canucks should expect from every team. They play hard, roll four lines and have timely goaltending. We all can’t wait for April 15 but the Canucks need to fill some holes if they want to play in May and June.

@ Winnipeg Jets – LOSE 5-3 (Nail Biter Central)

RECAP: I probably made mention of the Canucks going down 2-0 in this game before the puck dropped so when it happened I could only laugh. Here’s my take from the Jets/Canucks game on canucksarmy.com:

MY TAKE

Those Canucks are still at 95 points, the Kings thumped the Oilers two nights ago 8-2 to gain some ground and they still have a BEAUUUUUUUUTY matchup on Monday so I’m guessing the Canucks take care of business today to swing things in their favour. The Jets will not lay down for the Canucks – no sir – so giving up the patented 2 goal start may not end the same way again. Canucks need this one. Need it big. 3-1 Canucks is my prediction. – canucksarmy.com

 The Canucks, true to their play, obviously came back to tie it and we figured it would be last goal wins. It almost was. Ondrej Pavelec was great and made some saves he had no business making. Henrik and Daniel both put goals in the net, Vrbata hit the scoresheet a few times and Alex Burrows did his thing late in the third to get the game close.

The Canucks lost this one but in doing so, they helped keep the LA Kings back as the Jets got 2 points they desperately needed. Sometimes you have to take one for the team and we’ll know next Sunday if it all paid off and the Canucks don’t have to face LA.

3 THINGS FROM TWITTER

FINAL THOUGHTS

Going 2-2 this week was actually a good week. Real good? Well I dunno Willie. Some lessons were learned and it looks like Ryan Miller may be closer to returning than we thought. Doubt he does factor in before the playoffs but you never know. Hopefully Zack Kassian and Brad Richardson come back soon; their presence is needed. This is the final week of the regular season and I can’t wait! Final games against LA, Arizona and the lowly Edmonton Oilers will close out the season. I predict 3 for 3 and its awesome sauce time!

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

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