Whether it’s work around the house or an essay in university, we humans have a tendency to do just enough to get by.
That mentality burned the Vancouver Canucks in their 2-1 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night, a game the Canucks were poised to win thanks to the goaltending of Roberto Luongo.
Until their own star lulled them to sleep.
Vancouver’s goal came on a classic stop-em-then-score play and the entire team seemed not just affected, but completely infected with confidence based on the play of its goalie.
But over time, the Canucks fell victim to that affliction that causes teams to pull back on the attack in favor of trying to cling to a one-goal lead that feels like a chasm of 100 goals.
The results speak for themselves.
Based on the way they’ve finished games in this series, the Canucks have to be doing some serious soul-searching right now. They coughed up a 3-0 lead in the final 20 minutes of Game 1, only to see Sami Salo rescue them late. Then in Game 2 Vancouver watched its early 2-0 lead turn into a 6-3 defeat.
Hey, maybe we’re simply not giving the young Hawks enough credit for their unwillingness to say uncle. Chicago staged a rousing comeback in its very first game of the playoffs, getting a late goal against Calgary in Game 1 of that series before going on to win in extra time. Round 2 has brought more of the same.
Whether they’re young and naïve or simply one plucky team, the Hawks clearly subscribe to the wisdom of Yogi Berra.
Going forward, Vancouver best embrace the notion that ‘It ain’t over ‘til it’s over’ because right now the Canucks seem to think it’s over once they have a lead.
Chicago, while honoring Berra’s words, did disprove the old adage that your best players have to be your best players to win the in the playoffs. The top two Hawks forwards – Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane – went pointless in Game 4 and were a combined minus-2 during a contest in which the opposition scored just one goal.
You do the math.
Realistically, Kane and Toews can’t have another stat line like that if Chicago is to squeeze out two more wins and take this series.
And while their refusal to throw in the towel is admirable, the Hawks would do well to find out what life is like when you score the first goal of the game, something they’ve yet to do in this series.
Then again, maybe that would wake the Canucks up to the fact it’s awfully tough to get by on just a goal and a goalie – even with the guy they’ve got in net.
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Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Fridays.
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