The Vancouver Canucks have the unfortunate distinction of being the first team to be eliminated from the NHL Playoffs, and to make things even worse they were swept. San Jose smelled blood in the water from the start of the series and took full advantage of a Canucks team that seemed more like the 6-seed na less like a dominating 3-seed.
But the Canucks are done and fans are waking up this morning in British Columbia wondering just what went wrong to cause this epic meltdown.
Two major factors can be pointed to and blamed for this mess and neither of them pertain to goaltending on the Canucks side of things. But while we’re on netminders, San Jose’s Antti Niemi was a key cog in the machine that destroyed Vancouver’s Stanley Cup dream. Niemi was the x-factor in this series and it looked like things would come down to how well Niemi could put a clamp on the Canucks top lines and smother their bottom two.
As for the third and fourth lines, Niemi held up well and fought off some close games to keep the Sharks alive. He wasn’t completely flawless in his approach, but his netminding was being touted before the series as the type that could swing things in favor of the Sharks.
That’s exactly what happened.
But while Niemi is without a doubt a star here for the Sharks in this series and a crucial reason why the Canucks are the first team eliminated, more of the blame needs to be place on the absent play of the Sedin twins. Despite being the Cancuks two best players and the leaders at the top of the roster, neither Daniel or Henrik Sedin came to play in this series and that’s ultimately the reason Vancouver got swept.
Maybe they still would have lost the series, but the horrible play by Daniel and Henrik Sedin is what led to the ugliness of the ousting. Neither brother scored a goal in any of the four games and they only grabbed a couple of assists when things were all said and done. Look no further than Daniel Sedin’s third period to see just how frustrating this series was for Vancouver and the Sedin’s.
When the Canucks needed goals from the Sedin’s, Daniel was busy taking himself out of the game with a 12 penalty minutes with little over that left on the clock. Daniel grabbed a 2 minute penalty for boarding and quickly picked up a 10-minute game misconduct for abusive language.
You can try and blame Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider all you want, but the Canucks did not lose this series on goaltending. The Sedin’s and the top two lines for Vancouver were their bread and butter but rather than show up and give the Sharks a battle, they rolled over and were non-factors when their team needed them most.