Monday, May 10, 2010

Boys to Men

The Vancouver Canucks came out men last night and what a great thing to see. Bieksa was on fire, Lou was fantastic and everyone got involved in last night's victory over the Blackhawks in order to stay alive to play another game. The talking was kept down to a minimum, the pushing and shoving still occurred, but one name that wasn't heard very often, to the great relief of many? Byfuglien.

This was a victory, though, that was mired by many injuries for the Canucks and many non-calls for both sides. The officiating for this game was just terrible and even the commentators couldn't help but deduce that certain calls were missed deliberately. It did seem that certain things were missed, others were let go, and some things were ignored entirely to make up for the things that they missed. It's like the cheating that we all do in our regular lives, when we make one mistake on one thing and try to make up for it by doing the next thing perfectly.

Refs and linesmen are human and they're not going to see everything, even with more of them out there. There are going to be one or two things that get missed along the way and some questionable calls will be made. That's all fine and well, but during the playoffs, I think we all expect better than that.

The slashing in the hands was called for some of the most minor taps, while the complete bulldozing of certain players was ignored. How is that justifiable? Maybe because it's easier to see a slash on the hands than it is to see slash through skates (strange no tripping call on Toews for example in the first period). And that's to say nothing of poor O'Brien, who got no call on the high stick that left a trail of blood coming out of his forehead.

True warrior that he is, though, he went to the locker room, got patched up and was back out on the next shift. You'd think this guy was a robot by the way he got hit and came back so fast. And then that nasty shot by Eager in front of the net to the newly stitched O'Brien, right up in that place where he'd been gushing blood? Not cool, Eager. That should have been an unsportsmanlike.

There were more injuries to this lineup as well, with the loss of Sami Salo. This guy's been a major factor in Vancouver's wins and his loss is serious to this bench. The Vancouver defense has been depleted and the remaining guys are picking up the slack. They've done a good job so far, but they're going to get tired if this series goes any longer and when you're tired, that's when mistakes are made. The defense came out in a major way in this game with a few goals, but how much can they rely on that? They're overstretched and something will have to be done.

Lou was fantastic in this game and better still, he was quiet. Keeping quiet, focusing on the game and being able to get a good read of the plays are the keys to winning for Lou. The defensemen have done a great job of keeping the lanes clear and not jamming in front of the crease, and this has made it possible for Lou to keep them in the series. And special credit to Burrows, who knocked one out in the third and made a save himself. He can do a lot if he just keeps his mouth shut and plays.

The same goes for the entire team. Great potential, as long as it comes with great discipline.

The Canucks may have won this battle, but they may still lose the war. It will take all that they have to keep themselves in this series and they can't afford to lose more men. Everyone will have to step up their game and keep quiet.

Quiet confidence should rule this team. It works. It separates the boys from men.

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