THE CANUCKS ARE DONE

I would like to revise my previous prediction of Blues in six and make it Blues in five.

I just don’t think the Canucks have enough time and space to turn it around for this series. It’s clear that they haven’t figured out how to play against the Blues. They played well for the first period, but an unlucky bounce and a lapse in defensive coverage saw them go down by one by the time the third started.

In that critical third period, I again didn’t see the desperation and intensity that I thought they needed. To his credit, it seemed Linden understood what was needed. He nearly tied it with a great shot from the blue line and he went to the net hard a few times. Unfortunately, his play didn’t seem to rub off on any of his teammates.

When the Canucks desperately needed a goal, they found a way to surrender two. Afterwards, they said all the right things about coming back and playing better, but their words seemed hollow. The series may be technically 3-1, but the Canucks have already mentally lost the series.

It will not be an easy off-season for the Canucks this summer. It will seem long and there will be many questions to be asked. It was believed that the series against the Red Wings taught the Canucks what a team needed to be playoff performers. Evidently, there were no lessons learned.

Many will say that the first game was when the Canucks basically lost the series. I have a different view however. In my mind, the Canucks lost the first round of playoffs when they failed to win in Phoenix with just a handful of games remaining in the regular season. In that game, the Canucks were in full control with a 3-1 lead against the Coyotes. Maddingly, the Canucks played uninspiring hockey for the rest of the game and let the Coyotes tie it up. If that wasn’t bad enough, in overtime, Bertuzzi had a clear breakaway in which he shot the puck wide.

Had the Canucks won that game, either in regulation or in overtime, they would have won their division and would have faced the Wild instead. No disrespect to the Wild, but the Canucks would be in much better shape against Minnesota.

Instead, the loss of focus in Phoenix signalled a beginning to a downward spiral which will mercifully end in Vancouver on Friday night. How will the fans react? Will they boo or will they cheer? What changes will be made over the summer? Who will be the scapegoat for the terrible end to the season?

It will be a long and unrestful summer for the Canucks and their long-suffering fans.

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