Archive for May, 2009

Canucks out as Blackhawks move on

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

After a long and hardfought series, the Vancouver Canucks finally fell to the young and determined Chicago team that had been written off as an inexperienced group of kids since the start of the playoffs. Having beaten Calgary in the first round, Chicago began to turn heads, and continued to do so as they tied up the series with Vancouver on two occassions, in both the second and fourth games.

The Canucks went into this series as the favourites, despite showing signs of struggle against the Hawks in the opening game, then being shutdown 6-3 on home ice in the second game. But no matter how hard they tried, or which tactics they employed, the Canucks could not solve the Blackhawks and found themselves traling 3-2 in the series as they headed back to Chicago for Game 6.

It was a sea-saw battle for 53 minutes as both teams lost and regained the lead; a number of Vancouver’s fourth-liners stepped up to keep their team in the game, Shane O’Brien especially, having scored his first playoff goal in the second period to tie the game at three a piece.

Although the majority of the Canucks made their resence known in the United Center, one integral member of the team failed to live up to the standards of not only the fans, but himself as well. Roberto Luongo, for the first time as a Canuck, let in seven goals in one game, and had this to say after the game: “We had some chances early and I made some saves, but the rest of the way I didn’t help my teammates out,” continuing, “When you let in seven goals, I don’t think that’s a very good performance.”

While the loss can’t be placed entirely on Luongo’s shoulders, it was a dissappointing loss for the team and fans of Canadian hockey as the Canucks were the last of the Canadian teams to be eliminated from the tournament. Now fans must wait a grueling four months before they can see how this team will rebound.

Canucks denied after defensive effort

Friday, May 8th, 2009

The first three games of this evenly matched Canucks and Blackhawks series has been a close strategic battle, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault likening the matchup with opposition coach Joel Quenneville to a chess match. Both coaches have been matching lines and trying to figure out the best plan to take the lead, and while there must be a winner at the end of each game, they find the series tied after Game 4 last night, proving how closely these teams have been playing.

The Canucks have been able to open the scoring in each game so far against the Blackhawks, but it has only paid off in two of them. Game 2 resulted in a terrible 6-3 defeat as the Canucks’ control of the game fell apart in the second period, but they rebounded in Game 3 with a 3-1 win on the road, looking as though they had solved the Chicago Blackhawks puzzle.

Having opened the scoring once again with Darcy Hordichuk’s goal in the second period, head coach Vigneault decided on this game’s new strategy: play the trap and focus on defense. With that in mind, the Canucks played a style reminiscent of the Minnesota Wild where they collapse to their blue line and control any offensive advances in their zone.

While the decison to play for the one-goal win seemed to be working against the offensively struggling Chicago team, a series of small slip-ups on Vancouver’s part led to a defensive breakdown, allowing Martin Havlat the opportunity to tie up the game with less than three minutes to go in the game. This would force an overtime period that the Canucks would have to adjust to offensively, having sat back and defended for most of the game.

Although Vancouver played a solid 57 minutes and generated early chances in overtime, they failed to stop Andrew Ladd three minutes into the extra frame, who put it through Luongo to take the game and tie the series at two.

Game 5 of this series takes place this Saturday, May 9th, at GM Place at 7:30 PM PST.

Update on Balsillie’s offer to purchase Coyotes

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

It was reported earlier that Jerry Moyes, owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, was removed as the authority figure representing the team and unable to continue to operate in his normal capacity, having instead the NHL act on his behalf in response to his surprise filling for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the possible purchase of the franchise by Jim Balsillie.

News has developed concerning the situation, showing that Ed Beasley, city manager of Glendale — where the Jobing.com Arena is located — would be considering new offers to purchase the team that will keep the franchise in its current home, Arizona. “I will say we are very confident that an offer will be made,” Beasley said, although his lawyer, Thomas Salerno, followed up by saying, “Our job is to maximize the value of the asset. We will sell this team to the highest and best bid.”

Does this mean that if Balsillie holds his place as the highest bidder, he will be able to purchase the franchise, despite NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s wishes that the team remain in Phoenix? We will keep you updated on this story as more unfolds.

For an in-depth look at the entire process, visit the story on Sportsnet.ca.


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