Always such a pivotal point in a series, Game 4 offered the Canucks the opportunity to tie up the first round series and make it a best-of-three. Well, it didn’t go quite as planned and Vancouver will have to win their next three games to take the series, starting with tonight’s matchup.
Game Time: 7:00 pm
There are a couple of words that you hear only at this point in the year. During the playoffs, you’ll hear people say “brink” and “stave/stave off elimination” enough to compensate for the lack of use throughout the rest of the year. Unfortunately, those words now apply to the Vancouver Canucks, as they are on the brink and will attempt to stave off elimination tonight in Rogers Arena. The game day interviews will be replete with clichés, but it all boils down to just winning the next game. Hopefully, the Canucks can find a way to do just that against the Flames tonight.
1. Miller Time
— Irfaan Gaffar (@sportsnetirf) April 22, 2015
After Eddie Lack struggled in the first period of Game 4, Ryan Miller entered in relief of the sophomore Swede. Miller played well, not allowing a goal, stopping 15 shots, and making several impressive saves.
There are a lot of ‘ifs’ surrounding the Canucks right now, but if Ryan Miller can come in and make a difference in net, there will be a number of people ready to circle the wagons and claim some new-found confidence. Miller lost his opportunity to start the series because of injury, but he now has the opportunity to make the series his. We’ll see what he can do with that opportunity.
2. Baertschi In
Many thought this would have been a headline attributed to Tuesday’s game with the confusion surrounding the Burrows and Richardson injuries, but Brandon McMillan filled in admirably and Linden Vey made his playoff debut. Looking for a spark in the offensive zone, Willie Desjardins has confirmed that Sven Baertschi will start Game 5 on a line with Nick Bonino and Radim Vrbata.
— Hockey Central (@SNHockeyCentral) April 22, 2015
Baertschi will have an opportunity to exact a measure of vengeance on his former team after a less than amicable departure at this year’s trade deadline. The 13th pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft scored 2 goals in 3 games for the Canucks this year, with both goals coming in the last game of the season against the Edmonton Oilers.
Fans, teammates, coaching staff, and well… everybody associated with the Canucks are hoping he can provide a spark that is so desperately needed at this point in the series. No doubt #svengeance will be trending in the Vancouver area tonight.
3. Burrows Out
The Canucks released that Alex Burrows would be out for the rest of the series earlier today. It’s a big loss for a Vancouver team that is struggling mightily to put the puck in the net. While Burrows only had two assists in the first three games, he was noticeably one of the best Canucks through those early contests.
— theScore (@theScore) April 22, 2015
Both Jannik Hansen and Radim Vrbata saw some time with the Sedin twins on the top line, though the majority of that ice time went to Hansen. Without Burrows, there is an even larger degree of pressure on Henrik and Daniel to carry the offensive load for the Canucks. Three goals in the last 2 games is not good enough if this team wants to at least make this a respectable series.
As mentioned, Alex Burrows is out for the balance of this series. Linden Vey will be a healthy scratch, and Brandon McMillan will likely slot in for the injured Brad Richardson.
Here is how the Canucks lined-up at practice on Wednesday:
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Hansen|
It doesn’t get much more desperate than this. After making the playoffs in a year that many expected would be a rebuilding process, the Canucks are faced with elimination at the hands of a team nobody expected anything of up until they punched their ticket to the postseason just weeks ago. The youthful exuberance of the Flames has translated to wins and the methodical execution of the “experienced” Canucks has failed to establish itself outside of Game 2. It’s a grim picture, but I can’t imagine Vancouver going down in such a fashion once again. Call me a hopeless optimist, but I think Ryan Miller stonewalls the Flames and Baertschi records his first career playoff point in a 3-0 win.