Canucks Quiet Critics

The Vancouver Canucks' double-overtime win in Anaheim on Friday night quieted critics, but the team knows it will take more to silence them.

Written off by many after being dominated by the Ducks 5-1 in Game 1 on Wednesday night, the Canucks tied the series on Jeff Cowan's sharp-angle shot 7:49 into the second overtime.

Oddsmakers have made Anaheim -145 money line (NHL Odds) favorites for todays game, the over/under has been set at 5 total goals (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 58% of bets for this game have been placed on Vancouver +125 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

``Our guys got really fired up by everything that was said about the big, bad Ducks and how they were going to stomp all over us, and nobody gave us a chance because we had a depleted lineup,'' coach Alain Vigneault said. ``Nobody gave us a chance before the series started and nobody gave us a chance after the first game.''

Injuries to top defensemen Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo only added fuel to critics, who claimed the team didn't have a chance against Anaheim.

To a man, the Canucks insisted they weren't listening to their doubters after the Game 1 blowout, but that didn't change the importance of coming back to Vancouver for Game 3 on Sunday night with the best-of-seven series tied at one game apiece.

``It was a bit of psychological situation,'' said veteran Trevor Linden, who assisted on Cowan's game-winner and has scored or set up four of the Canucks' five winning goals in these playoffs.

Linden said the Canucks ``came out with a better edge'' in Game 2 after being badly outclassed in the opener, but knows they'll need to find another level as the series goes on. Just as the Ducks weren't surprised the Canucks bounced back, Vancouver expects more from Anaheim in Game 3.

``From our standpoint, we can execute at a higher level,'' coach Randy Carlyle said after the Ducks practiced in Anaheim before flying to Vancouver Saturday. ``We turned the puck over way too many times. I wouldn't say they were unforced errors, I think they did a better job of putting pucks in areas and putting pressure on us.''

Roberto Luongo had something to do with the Ducks not being rewarded in Game 2, making 43 saves to temporarily end talk of his 0-4 record and lackluster statistics against Anaheim this season. Luongo made 19 - and many of his best - saves against Anaheim's power play, and if there was one area the Canucks were looking to improve going into Game 3, it was discipline. Vancouver gave the Ducks' playoff-leading power play nine chances and two goals in the first game, and seven more opportunities in Game 2.

``We're taking too many penalties still,'' said Brendan Morrison. ``If we can keep this series five-on-five we feel we have a really good chance.''

It also wouldn't hurt if they figured out their own power play, which is 0-for-12 in this series, 3-for-50 in the playoffs, and has become a momentum killer.

``What's frustrating is hearing it from you guys every day,'' said Morrison. ``The only way to quiet people down is to score on it.''

To do that they'll have to solve Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who had stopped 73 of 75 shots before surrendering the first playoff overtime goal of his career.

``We were expecting them to bounce back and they did,'' said Giguere, who had his NHL record of 197 minutes, 15 seconds without a playoff overtime goal ended when Cowan's shot somehow found a hole between his skate and the near post. ``If we want to be successful, we're going to have to match their intensity.''

The Canucks may also have to overcome more injuries on defense.

Bieska skated by himself and Salo practiced Saturday, but shutdown defenseman Willie Mitchell, who missed stretches of Game 2 after a colliding with Ducks defender Francois Beauchemin, wasn't on the ice. Defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick, who came in to replace Bieksa, also missed practice, so the Canucks called up Yannick Tremblay from the AHL.

``As far as I know Willie is going to be fine,'' said Vigneault, continuing a postseason trend of calling every injury a flu bug. ``Fitzpatrick right now is a little bit under the weather so we're not quite sure what's going to happen there. All those guys are going to be game time decisions.''

by: Gary Roberts - theSpread.com - Email Us

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