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Getting Dirty

Saturday, 21.04.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
Vancouver Canucks
If Marty Turco was an NFL quarterback, his jersey wouldn't even have to be thrown in the wash with the rest of the muddied and bloodied shirts after game six.

Like a pivot who stands in the pocket and slings bombs at will without being sacked or even hurried, Turco cruised through his second consecutive shutout.

The Canucks had 21 shots on goal in their 2-0 game six defeat, but much the same as the shutout losses in games two and five, the Canucks rarely put bodies into the dirty areas.

The game plan coming into the Canucks' second of three chances to eliminate the Stars, was to get ugly, score some gritty goals and get onto Turco's front porch as much as possible.

It didn't happen.

It was all crickets and kindly tiding at the Turco household Saturday evening.

Even with Sami Salo finally finding some space at the Canucks blueline to unload his cannon, there was never enough Vancouver traffic in or around the blue paint to deflect pucks, swat home rebounds or cause a commotion.

The Canucks lacked the lunch bucket work ethic needed to battle through the Dallas checks and put rubber marks and playoff stains on Turco's jersey. The closest they got to the Dallas netminder was skating by him on the way to the dressing rooms.

"We generated four scoring chances in the game," said a visibly perturbed Alain Vigneault. "In the last two periods we got three shots from our forwards. One from Bur [Burrows], one from Green and one from Pyatt. It was not a good game on our part to say the least."

Before this chess match of a series started, the Stars knew they'd have to beat Roberto Luongo with deflections, rebounds, screen shots and ugly efforts. Up to this point of the series that's what they've done.

Dallas have kept their feet moving relentlessly in the offensive zone and have done all they can to get the puck off the perimeter and into the scoring zones behind Canucks defenders. It's safe to say the Stars have had the mighty buzz while the Canucks have had the harmless fuzz.

"Our top players right now are being outplayed," said Vigneault. "Not just as far as the game that they're putting on the ice but as far as the work ethic and the dedication and the commitment that's needed."

Much has been said about the Canucks lack of playoff experience - but that's not to say they don't have veteran players who've been around the block and know what it takes to gut out a victory in a grueling seven game series.

Players like Trevor Linden, Brendan Morrison and Markus Naslund have been in this playoff position before and they all know they'll have to make things much more difficult for Turco and the Dallas defence in game seven. It'll be their last chance.

"Urgency is the key because they're working hard," said Naslund. "They're getting in on their forecheck a lot better than we are and we've got to start doing that."

The head coach had one final warning for his Vancouver players during his game six post game press conference. It was a shot across the bow that could be heard from Dallas all the way to the ports of Vancouver.

"The players who have played for the Vancouver Canucks the longest are not bringing their A game to the table," said Vigneault. "That's why we lost.

"If we bring this type of game and effort on the ice, I don't like our chances. As much as I think Roberto is a great goaltender, we need a lot more than that."