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Press Round-Up Apr.24.2007

Tuesday, 24.04.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
Vancouver Canucks
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Press Round-Up Apr.24.2007
Courtesy of Daniel Fung

THE SUN REPORTS

Linden wills team to Game 7 victory

If this was going to be Trevor Linden's final game as a Canuck and/or in the National Hockey League, he wasn't about to go down without a fight, writes Iain MacIntyre. Playing in his 1,188th game - including playoffs - the veteran made sure he extended his NHL career and the Canucks' season by scoring the game-winning goal and adding an assist on a late empty-netter. Linden, who's tied for the team lead in playoff scoring, says the Canucks wanted to win just as badly as the fans wanted them to.

"I know how much this city wanted this," Linden said. "For us, we wanted it just as bad. I've been here a long time. I understand; I understand the heartache."

Linden, whose goal tied Pavel Bure for the franchise record for most career playoff goals, also realized just how important it was to win Game 7 knowing a loss would have made everything the team accomplished this season seem all-for-not.

"We, as a group, knew our performance wasn't good enough in Game 6," he said. "We didn't need anybody to tell us that. Personally, I wanted to play well [in Game 7] because we had 20 guys who worked so hard all year, people who supported this team all year."

Tough love pays off

After the Canucks came out flat in Game 6, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault publicly criticized many of his veterans, writes Elliott Pap. After Game 7, it seems that the veterans heard loud and clear. Trevor Linden notched the winner; Brendan Morrison's hard play in the dying moments helped set up Taylor Pyatt's empty-net goal which sealed the victory; Canucks captain Markus Naslund finished second only to Jeff Cowan with three hits. After the game, Vigneault took no credit for the motivational criticism saying in the end it was up to the team to do it for themselves and the fans.

"Players are sometimes like your kids, and you have to tell them things they maybe don't want to hear," Vigneault explained. "Sometimes they need tough love and sometimes tough love is part of being a coach. It wasn't about me challenging them. It was more about them understanding what they needed to do and they did it for the right reasons - for themselves, their teammates and the fans. It was a lot more about them than me."

Stars coach Tippett "baffled" by referees

Dallas Stars head coach Dave Tippett was less-than-thrilled with the officiating in Game 7 and he made that point clear during after the game, writes Brad Ziemer. The Stars were accessed 11 minor penalties in Game 7, including five in the second period which seemed to turn the momentum over to the Canucks. Many of the calls, the Stars felt, were inconsistent with the officiating throughout the series and were questionable.

"In the second period we took five penalties and it just changed the whole complexion of the game," Tippett said. "In the third period we come out and there's a couple of calls that I thought were questionable and we could never get the momentum back in the game. We could never get our feet under us."

Canucks capture crowds

According to the Sun news services, the Canucks-Dallas Game 6 tilt was the highest rated Stanley Cup playoff game thus far on CBC drawing in an audience of 1.545 million viewers. Those numbers beat out the 1.471 million who tuned in to watch the double overtime game between Calgary and Detroit (Game 6) on Saturday.

Barnes save and Modano post the key turning points

The hockey gods smiled on the Canucks in Game 7, writes Cam Cole. With the Canucks leading 2-1, Dallas had two gorgeous opportunities to equalize the affair: Once with Stu Barnes left all alone in the slot and a miraculous save by Roberto Luongo, and the second on a one-timer by Mike Modano that fluttered off the crossbar. Not only did it prevent the Stars from tying the game, those two plays seem to effectively suck the life out of the Dallas squad.

"I thought it was in," Barnes said. "[Jeff] Halpern and [Joel] Lundqvist made great plays behind the net, got it out to me and I got a good shot away. I thought ... but the guy made a helluva save. Same thing with [Modano's]. It hits the bar. You do everything you can to get the thing in the net, and it's tough."

Roberto Luongo, who was brilliant all night once again for the Canucks, admits he was lucky on those two shots.

"I was just lucky enough to see it and get a piece of it," said Luongo, who was less lucky than great on the Barnes save, but was completely beaten on the Modano shot, until he heard that happy sound of rubber on iron. "I heard it ping, but I didn't know if it was ping-and-in like the first goal. I just looked around and the puck wasn't in the net, so I just got up as fast as I could. I waited such a long time to get in the playoffs and I definitely didn't want it to end tonight."

THE PROVINCE REPORTS

Luongo changed the team

Given the lack of recent playoff success for the Vancouver Canucks, including blown leads in the last three post-seasons they have been involved in, one could understand why "the faithful approach occasions such as Monday night the way a man approaches a proctology exam," writes Ed Willes.

But while visions of past goaltenders fishing the puck out of the net might still be etched in the minds of Canucks fans, it was Roberto Luongo who made sure Canuck fans wouldn't have repeated nightmares.

"He's changed the team," said captain Markus Naslund. "I think we would have struggled to make the playoffs without him and that says it all.

Luongo, who's participating in his first career NHL playoffs, admitted he got caught up in all the emotion of the night in which he seemed to dispel past playoff disappointments by leading the Canucks to a Game 7 victory.

"I was just trying to soak it all in," Luongo said when asked what was going through his mind in the final seconds of the win. "I got a little emotional there. I didn't shed a tear, but my eyes got a little watery."

Birthday boy Willie Mitchell had a banner series

Willie Mitchell had a huge sign with tons of signatures from Vancouver Island residents at the end of the Game 7, but a huge part of the reason the Canucks were able to book a trip to Disneyland had to do with his play.

"Mitchell was probably the best Canuck after you know who in the series against Dallas as he ran his lifetime record in Game 7's to 3-0, two of the wins coming at GM Place, the last one as a Minnesota player in 2003," writes Tony Gallagher.

Mitchell's teammates have also taken notice, particular goaltender Roberto Luongo who arguably works closer with Willie when he's on the ice than anyone else.

"It's great to play with a guy who takes so much pride in the defensive part of the game, blocking shots and doing the things that aren't flashy," said Luongo. "He's great on the penalty kill, plus he's great at keeping guys loose in the room."

And while Mitchell and his teammates are set to head out to Anaheim today, Willie didn't forget to thank his fans from Vancouver Island for the banner and the good wishes as his team is about to take on the Anaheim Ducks in Round 2.

"It was great having all that support," Mitchell said. "From what I heard CHEK TV took this sign all the way down through the Island to Victoria getting signatures of support for me and the team and then brought it over here and I had a pretty good look at it, although I couldn't pick out any signatures. But I would like to say thanks' to everyone for doing something like that and I'll see them for fishing season later on, but not just yet."

Rollercoaster of emotions

Taking the time to soak it all in at the conclusion of the series, his first playoff series win ever, it seemed Roberto Luongo never wanted the moment to end, writes Jason Botchford.

"I think I've been through every emotion possible [in this series]," Luongo said. "I've been happy, sad, frustrated, disappointed and, at the end, exuberant with joy. That's what the playoffs are all about. You have to be strong mentally to go through things like that."

Knowing how close the series was and that it could just as easily have been the Dallas Stars advancing, Luongo made sure to acknowledge his counterpart at the other end.

"It was Turco who had the mind-numbing stats, including his 165:45 shutout streak. But it was Luongo who finished up with four wins," writes Jason Botchford. "He went to Turco after the final buzzer and told him he did a helluva job, he played a great series and it could have gone either way. I told him to keep his head up.'"

Salo says he'll play

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Sami Salo left the game with 12 minutes left in the third period after being upended and crashing to the ice, reports the Province. He appeared to grab his shoulder although he said after the game he was suffering from a lower body injury.

"I'll play Wednesday," Salo said.

The Canucks open their series against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.

THE LA TIMES REPORTS

Ducks looking to shake off cobwebs

The Ducks only found on Monday night who their second round opponent would be, and it appeared the uncertainty of their opponent had an adverse affect on their workout on Monday morning reports Lonnie White. After 10 minutes, the practice "began to get sloppy" according to Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. And while the Ducks coach is sure to do all he can to get his team ready for the Canucks on Wednesday, he knows it will be up to his team to motivate themselves.

"I know that it will be my responsibility if something doesn't work but in reality, the players have to push themselves also," said Carlyle. "They share in the responsibility, to motivate themselves, to continue to stay focused and to work extremely hard. In the playoffs, you can't afford 30 seconds lapse or a minute lapse because that can cost you a hockey game."

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER REPORTS

Unfamilliar foes

The Anaheim Ducks haven't gotten much chance to know the Vancouver Canucks. The teams met four times in the regular seasons, two of Anaheim's victories came back in November, "before first-year coach Alain Vigneault molded the Canucks into a legitimate force," writes Dan Wood.

"We didn't really see them when they played their best hockey, but we know they're a good team," Ducks centre Samuel Pahlsson said. "The last half of the season, they were probably one of the best teams out there."

While they might not be too familiar with the Canucks, the Ducks are also well-aware of the man in the Canucks crease who has turned heads during the first round.

"[Luongo] is kind of the X factor for them," Ducks defenceman Chris Pronger said. "He holds them in a lot of games if they're being outshot. The shots could be 50-20, and it might be 1-1. You have to take advantage of the chances you have."

THE LA DAILY NEWS REPORTS

On the injury front

Samuel Pahlsson, the centre on the Ducks' shutdown line, left Monday's practice after skipping workout on Sunday, reports Elliott Teaford. Pahlsson however, declared himself fit to play when the second-round series begins.

Former Canuck Brad May sported a cast on his right hand last week but did not break it when he punched Minnesota's Kim Johnsson in Game 4 of their quarter-final series. May is in the midst of serving a 3-game suspension and will be eligible to return for Game 3 in Vancouver.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS REPORTS

Record-setting performance not enough

Marty Turco's shutout streak lasted for 165:45 before Henrik Sedin's marker in the second period effectively snapped it. The mark beat out Ed Belfour's Stars franchise record by 50 seconds. Despite the record setting performance and the overall stellar performance of Turco in the series effectively silencing all his critics, the Stars still couldn't find a way to exorcise their playoff demons completely as they bowed out in round 1 for the third straight season, writes Mike Heika.

"I just said I'm sorry," [Stars Captain Brendan] Morrow said [to Turco] after a 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series. "He gave us a chance, and we didn't get the job done for him."

The Stars are confident that with Turco's playoff demons behind him, they'll be able to bounce back come this time next year.

"Hopefully, a lot of those questions got answered about him in the playoffs and he won't hear about them next year," Morrow said.

Same ol' same ol'

Once again, the Dallas Stars have managed to tease and disappoint, writes Jean-Jacques Taylor. Taylor, the writer who in yesterday's paper guaranteed a Stars victory, was not only disappointed in the loss but the way in which it occurred.

"There's no shame in playing your best hockey and losing, but that's not what happened in Game 7," writes Taylor. "The Stars succumbed to the pressure. What else do you call five penalties in the second period? That's when the Canucks seized control of the game, outshooting Dallas (26-11) in the final two periods."

Taylor appears to also be concerned about the future direction of the franchise and the support that owner Tom Hicks will sink into it, criticizing the owner for not attending Game 7 instead taking in a Texas Rangers baseball game instead.

"The Stars owner has a new toy in his Liverpool soccer team and he's focused on developing the area around the Rangers' baseball stadium to create new revenue streams before the Cowboys' new stadium gets up and running," writes Taylor. "No one really knows where the Stars rank on Hicks' priority list. We're about to find out."

THE FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM REPORTS

Morrow sorrow over letting Turco down

The Dallas Stars were angry about many things on Monday night, writes Tracey Myers. Angry about not being able to get their offence going; angry about taking 11 penalties; and angry about once again bowing out in the first round.

But perhaps the most disappointed Star was Brendan Morrow, the courageous Stars' captain who grabbed his team by the throat after Game 4 and led them to within one game of pulling off one of the biggest upsets in Stars history. After the game, Morrow appeared most disappointed in letting his goaltender down.

"Basically, just sorry," Morrow said. "Again, [Turco] gave us a chance to win and we didn't get the job done."

Despite the valiant effort and the record-breaking performances by Turco, it did nothing to diminish the frustration in the Stars' goaltender either after the game.

"I don't care if people don't understand me," he said. "I've always been a team guy, and I wanted this team to do well. And I don't think things changed this year."



Canucks.com would like to thank Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and their respective staff writers for sharing their thoughts and opinions throughout the first round.