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One Game

Monday, 23.04.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
Vancouver Canucks
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One Game
One game. One win.

That's what it's come to for the Vancouver Canucks Monday night.

Forty-nine times during the regular season, the Canucks won one game. Toss in the victories earlier in this series and that number goes up to 52. Fifty-two times this year the Vancouver Canucks found a way to win a hockey game. And now they need one more.

Can they do it? Absolutely.

Will they do it? That's up to them.

But before they can get the one win they need, they need a goal - and one goal may very well be all they need in Game 7. But more than the goal the Canucks are going to require to extend their season are all the little things that go into creating scoring chances.

And perhaps more than anything else, the Vancouver Canucks have to find a way to open the scoring. At playoff time, it's so easy to drown in a sea of statistics about one team's ability to do this while another team has shown a penchant for doing that. Most people would tell you that you can throw the numbers out the window heading into the seventh game of any series. Toss most of them, but hang on to these ones:

The Vancouver Canucks were 34-6-4 during the season when they opened the scoring. They are 2-0 in the two games of this series that they've found a way to score first. The team that scores first in this series has won five of the six games and the team that has opened the scoring in the 2007 playoffs has won 32 of 40 games (80%).

The Canucks haven't scored in the past seven periods. They've opened scoring just once in the past five games. They have just one first period goal in this series and that came way back in Game 1. They haven't had a lead since late in Game Four and prior to that it was the third period of the series opener. They've led for just over eight minutes of the past 21 periods of hockey. And as a result, they're in the pickle they're in.

Far too often in this series, it seems the Canucks have been comfortable playing it safe, keeping it tight and waiting for the chances that have rarely arrived. The only period the Canucks have outscored the Stars in this series is overtime. The Canucks have been outscored three to one in the opening periods and three to two in the second periods. The best the Canucks have been able to do in the first six games is generate 11 first period shots on Marty Turco - they've done it twice and once was in Game 1 when the managed to open the scoring.

The Canucks have to arrive at the rink ready to throw everything they've got at Turco. And if they don't score, then somehow find a way to bring even more. Don't wait to unleash the urgency. Leave the Stars seeing stars right off the hop.

Give Roberto Luongo a chance to play with the lead. Give Dallas something to think about and plant a seed of doubt that perhaps its valiant comeback bid will fall a goal and a game short. And most of all give the terrific hockey fans of Vancouver a chance to do what they so desperately want to do - go Cup crazy for their Canucks.

But for that to happen, the Canucks have to show up, step up and leave every ounce of everything they've got out on the ice. Based on the past couple of games, there should be plenty of fuel left in the tank.

When that first puck hits the ice just after 6 o'clock Monday night, every player wearing a Canuck uniform has to be prepared to skate through, not around, his Dallas opponent. Every Canuck has a day to think about things like the commitment, dedication and desire needed to win and what he can do to contribute to the cause.

It doesn't get any better in sports than the seventh game of a playoff series. Canuck fans aren't ready for the hockey season to end. There's no doubt the 20 players in Canuck uniforms feel that way too. But they have to come and out and prove it on Monday night.

One game. One win.

The opportunity is right there for them. And we all eagerly await an answer.



Jeff Paterson is a Team 1040 broadcaster and a regular contributor to the Georgia Straight. E-mail him at jeff.paterson@team1040.ca