Poise. Some athletes have it, some don’t. As for a few players on the Vancouver Canucks, they haven’t shown that they have it, at least when they play in Boston.
Roberto Luongo, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin are the top-three players on the Canucks in terms of talent: Daniel Sedin scored the most points (41-63-104) in the regular season, earning him the rights to the Art Ross Trophy in a few weeks; Henrik, who plays on a line with his brother, was not far behind (4th overall, 19-75-94). Luongo also posted great numbers in the regular season: a 2.11 GAA (2nd), a .928 save% (3rd), and 38 wins (T-1st) and is a finalist for the Veznia Trophy (which he will lose to Tim Thomas).
And it’s not like they haven’t done well overall in the postseason; well some of those players at least: Henrik is 2nd in points behind David Krejci and Daniel is T-3rd (20), although their +/- hasn’t been great (Henrik a -7 and Daniel a -5). Luongo, on the other hand, hasn’t lived up to expectations. He was yanked twice in the Chicago series that almost ended in disaster (games 4 and 5) and was pulled in favor of Schneider for the Game 6 starter. And we all know how poorly he’s done this series, on the road at least. He started the series off great with a shutout and then a 2 GA performance. Then, in Boston, in all went downhill: EIGHT goals against in Game 3 (apparently, Luongo wanted to stay in the game), and four goals against in 20 shots in Game 4 before finally pulled early in the 3rd. Then, in the last game, he let up three goals in just eight shots (8:35 in net) before getting the cane yet again. What do all these numbers add up to? A GAA on the road in the finals of…get ready….8.05, and a save% of… .773.
How can one play so well at home (2 SO, 3-0) during the finals and then just not even show up for the road games? Is it possible that Roberto Luongo does not actually make the trips to Boston, but rather, has the team employ a homeless man that looks like him to play in his stead? Did he hear that Boston doesn’t have a seawall and just decided, “eh, screw it”? Of course, you can’t put all the blame on Luongo, it seened like the team in front of him gave up after giving up a few goals on the road. Seriously, it looked like they stopped trying after the first period in those games. Whatever the case, Luongo will start in Game 7, which, given his recent home performances, is probably the right decision.
Then you have the Sedins. Great talents, and they played well for the first three rounds in the Western Conference, but haven’t really done much in the finals (1-3-4 for Daniel, 1-0-1 for Henrik, with three of their points coming in Game 6 when the game was over). But let’s put their numbers aside. Let’s put aside the fact that they’ve spent more time on the ground, presumably after a weak dive. Where are the spines of Daniel and Henrik? As I mentioned in my previous post, in Game 4, pest Brad Marchand jumped off the bench, intentionally bumped into the Sedin (I forget which one), who was lined up for the draw by the Bruins bench, and proceeded to give him a couple of whacks with his stick. And what did Sedin do? Nothing. Just took it. He didn’t even react. That was curious.
And then, late in Game 6 with the game already decided, I saw something I never thought I would see in a hockey game — a playoff hockey game: Marchard grabbed Daniel (I had to look up their jersey numbers to know which one it was) by his jersey, and then for no apparent reason, started to jab him in the face with that hand (which he definetely shouldn’t have done). Not just once or twice, but SIX TIMES. And again, what did Sedin do? ABSOLTELY NOTHING!!! He doesn’t even look at him!!! Really, Daniel? You wear a letter, and you’re going to let a little shrimp like Marchand bully you with only a few minutes left in a game that’s decided? I guess he was trying to draw a penalty? But who cares at that point, show a little self respect and send a message for the final game of the series, that you aren’t going to be bullied like that! It reminded me of one of Sean Avery’s many shenanigans, but done totally wrong.
The three Canucks players mentioned here have embarassed themselves in their three road games this series. Lucky for them, Game 7 is in Vancouver, where at least one of them has performed well so far. But why can’t they perform in Boston? Is it something mental? Is the city of Boston their weakness or is it finals games on the road in general? I would think a player with some mental fortitude would at least show something in every game and at least show up and show that they want to be there, regardless of location. It brings into question their poise, ability to perform when the going gets tough, and ability to perform in the biggest games of their careers.
Game 7 will be tight and low scoring, as have all the games have been, which thus far have ended in Vancouver’s favor. Luongo will show up and put on a performance. Tim Thomas will show up and put on a performance. As cliche as it sounds, it’s going to come down to who wants it more. As much talent as some of these players have and as well as some of them have performed, look for a grinder to score the game winner, someone who is more renown for their hard work ethic rather than scoring prowess, as has been the case in the past few SCF Game 7s. The Sedins have an opportunity here, they can erase the image they’ve created here in the finals of being soft and lacking poise by being the hero. If the Canucks lose, they will be the target of blame and possibly ridicule for years to come. And lucky for them, it only takes one to clear both of their names, because everyone outside of Vancouver assumes they’re the same person anyway.