VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Vancouver Canucks need to do the little things right to stop their playoffs from going wrong.
The Canucks will be facing elimination when they take the ice Monday night for Game 6 of their Western Conference semifinal against the Chicago Blackhawks (CBC, 9 p.m. ET), and they’ll have to improve their game to stay alive.
“We’ve played well in some stretches but we have to put a full 60 (minutes) together,” goaltender Roberto Luongo said Sunday before the Canucks boarded a plane to Chicago for what could be their final road trip of the season.
“That’s the only way we’re going to win and that’s the only way we are going to bring this series back to Vancouver.”
The Blackhawks scored twice on the power play, and used their speed and size, to defeat Vancouver 4-2 Saturday night at GM Place. The young Hawks lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 and need just one victory for Chicago to advance to its first conference final since 1995.
The Canucks don’t need to read a hockey textbook to understand what they must do better to force a Game 7 Thursday night.
“Our discipline is still nipping us in the butt,” said forward Ryan Johnson. “We all know that. It’s no secret.
“We have to start putting the team before our self pride a little bit.”
One of the keys to the Blackhawks success has been their mobile defence quickly moving the puck out of the Chicago zone. Players like Brian Campbell and Brent Seabrook have created instant offence by hitting forwards already in full flight.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said his forwards need to break up those passes. He also is frustrated his defence are not making good, first passes to allow Vancouver to gain the Chicago zone.
The Canucks also need to draw more penalties.
“We need some more time in their end and that should draw some more penalties,” said forward Kyle Wellwood, who has been limited to three assists in the series. “We think the power-play has been good enough to help us in our games.
“We’re just not getting enough of them.”
Vancouver players who usually make a difference, haven’t in this series.
Alex Burrows hasn’t scored a goal and has just one assist against Chicago. Daniel Sedin, who led the team with 31 goals during the regular season, hasn’t scored since the third game of Vancouver’s sweep of St. Louis in the first round of the playoffs.
Ryan Kesler’s goal Saturday night was just his second of the playoffs, but he also took a late, undisciplined penalty.
Vigneault said it’s time his best players start playing their best.
“Part of having playoff success is players taking their game to another level,” he said. “We don’t have enough guys right now that have done that so far.
“There still is time, and we’re banking that our guys are going to get their game to that level that permits you to win and have success. We need quite a few of our players right now to pick their game up and make sure they put their best foot forward.”
Sedin, who along with brother Daniel becomes a free agent at the end of the season, denied the Blackhawks are doing anything special against him.
“We have played the same way,” he said. “Sometimes the puck goes in and sometimes it doesn’t.
“Tomorrow we need to be better and score more goals. We can’t rely on (Luongo) all the time. We have to be better.”
The Blackhawks would dearly love to end the series at home, but know a trip back to Vancouver is possible.
“We know it’s not going to be easy at all,” said captain Jonathan Toews. “I think every game it has gotten tougher and a little more personal.
“We know it’s going to be one of those games, a battle to try and close it out.”
Dustin Byfuglien, who scored twice against Vancouver Saturday, said the Hawks won’t have much room for error.
“It’s going to be real tough,” he said. “They’re not going to let down. They are going to battle right to the end and so are we.
“We are going to have to come out with our A game and get off to a good start.”
The Canucks won Game 3 of the series 3-1 in Chicago. They led the fourth game 1-0, until the Blackhawks tied the match with less than three minutes remaining, then won it in overtime.
“There’s no panic,” said Johnson. “Our destiny is in our own hands.
“We know if we go and play our game, and play with the passion we know we can play with, we are going to force this series to a seventh game.”