Courtesy of Daniel Fung
THE PROVINCE REPORTS
If you ask Kevin Bieksa, he can tell you the exact moment he knew Roberto Luongo was going to have a season for the ages, writes Jason Botchford.
Louie goes for rare hat-trick
"Training camp," Bieksa said with a grin.
After shattering many Canuck records this season, picking up the team's Molson Cup Trophy and MVP Award, Roberto Luongo now has his eyes set on three major NHL awards: The Hart (league MVP), the Vezina (top goalie), and the Lester B. Pearson (MVP as selected by players).
Canucks Coach Alain Vigneault, who himself was nominated for the Jack Adams Award for coach-of-the-year, said despite the lack of early results from the team, he could clearly see Luongo's game was rounding into form at around Christmas time, just when the team went on a tear.
"When I went home at Christmas, we had just lost three games in a row, and I told my friends, We're going to win 10 games in a row here real soon," Vigneault said. "It was just by how he was playing.
"He was playing really well [leading up to the Christmas break], but we weren't scoring a lot of goals. You could just sense he was closing in on getting his game to that other level, which he's done for us since Christmas."
Spectator Canucks cost them the game
Leading 2-0 after two periods, the Canucks appeared to be on their way to tying the series at 2-2 heading back to Anaheim. Instead, they now sit on the verge of elimination, and one has to wonder how or if the Canucks will be able to rebound, writes Ben Kuzma. The worst part seemed to be the fact the Canucks seemed to completely change their game in the third period, inviting the Ducks to storm back.
"We sat back too much and took penalties, and a 2-0 lead going into the third, you thought we could keep it going and keep it simple and still go after them," said a frustrated Markus Naslund. "But we sat back and invited them into the game, and only have ourselves to blame. We don't have many choices now, we have to bounce back and there's room for improvement."
Canucks lose Cowan
The Vancouver Canucks got some terrible news prior to Game 4 when they learned energy winger Jeff Cowan needed knee surgery and would likely be lost for the season, reports Jason Botchford.
Cowan, who emerged as an emotional sparkplug and surprise scorer for the Canucks, joins a growing list of injuries to gritty Canuck forwards including Ryan Kesler, Matt Cooke and Rick Rypien. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault believes, however, that the Canucks should view injuries as an opportunity and not a setback, particularly for the likes of Alex Burrows and Josh Green who will be asked to step up their game in the absence of Cowan.
"We need them to do more," Vigneault said. "Injuries are part of an NHL season and they're part of the playoffs. It's an opportunity for other guys to be heroes and other guys to get the job done."
THE SUN REPORTS
Home ice has not been kind to the Vancouver Canucks in the playoffs, and it got even worse on Tuesday when Vancouver gave up a 2-0 lead and loss 3-2 in overtime, writes Elliott Pap.
"I don't think disappointment is the word," muttered Canuck netminder Roberto Luongo. "It's more frustration. When you are up 2-0 in the third, you should close them out."
The Canucks now face the unenviable task of needing to win three in a row against the Ducks to stay alive in the playoffs, although if there's a silver lining, it's the fact two of the next three games will be on the road. The Canucks have a 3-2 record on the road, but a 2-4 at General Motors Place and 3-10 in their last thirteen playoff games at home. The Canucks can perhaps also take some inspiration from their first round opponent, the Dallas Stars.
"We can only look at what happened in the last series," Luongo said. "Dallas was down 3-1 and they won a big game on the road and then went back home and won again."
Magic dust depleted
Leading 3-1 in their Western Conference Quarter-Final series against the Dallas Stars, the Canucks proceeded to drop two games in a row and found themselves down 1-0 in Game 7 before eventually finding a way to win. After the game, Trevor Linden quipped there was no "magic dust" that they could magically sprinkle around whenever they needed it. Even if there were, they are surely out now, says Iain MacIntyre.
"If that magic dust ever existed, the shaker is surely empty now, after the Canucks could not defend a two-goal, third-period lead Tuesday when their season likely depended on it, and they instead lost 3-2 in overtime against the Anaheim Ducks," writes MacIntyre. "This team, noble for its work ethic and resilience and timeliness and, mostly, its goalie, looks to be out of charm and luck and all the other things teams need to go deeper into the National Hockey League playoffs than the second round."
If there was any more to this luck theory, it's that despite the belief the Canucks outplayed Anaheim in both Games 3 and 4, they dropped both games and are now down 3-1 facing elimination.
"Everybody could see both these games we should have won," Canuck winger Jan Bulis said. "We just let it slip away. It's always a tough thing, going into the third period with the lead. They just took over the game."
THE LA TIMES REPORTS
Improbable win has Ducks on verge of Western Final
The Canucks had the early jump and had the heavily favoured Ducks on the mat, but lacking the killer instinct, David allowed Goliath to score a haymaker and the rest was history as the Ducks won the game 3-2 and now have a stranglehold on the series leading 3-1.
"It will rank among their most improbable wins in their postseason history," writes Eric Stephens. "Roberto Luongo was hot in goal and Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison had given the Canucks a 2-0 lead as the Ducks fought through their mistakes."
Despite being down 2-0 however, the Ducks knew if they were able to get one goal, then perhaps they could get a few more bounces to go their way.
"Obviously we were talking after the second that we wanted to be a little bit better in the third," Selanne said. "If we get one, you never know what's going to happen."
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER REPORTS
Ducks waste no time in overtime
After sitting around for the first 40 minutes, the Ducks weren't about to waste any more time in the extra session, writes Dan Wood. Ducks winger Travis Moen scored just 2:07 into overtime as the Ducks overcame a 2-0 lead to take a 3-1 series edge.
Moen, who sounds like more like a plumber than a hockey player, said after the game even he didn't know he managed to net his third goal in the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"This is the biggest goal I've ever scored, definitely," Moen said. "I didn't get too much on it, but it kind of had eyes. It's all kind of a blur right now."
THE RIVERSIDE PRESS-ENTERPRISE REPORTS
Specialty teams could still factor in series
From robust to feeble to emaciated, all in a span of a couple of weeks. That's how Press-Enterprise Jim Alexander views the Canucks power play. In fact, as he has observed, the Canucks anemic power play has been an "obsession" of sorts not only amongst the team but Canuck fans as well.
"You think I'm kidding about the obsession part? The team's marketing slogan is, We Are All Canucks.' Trust me, it ain't hype," writes Alexander. "Bartenders, cabdrivers, shopkeepers and newcast anchors have all been searching for answers [for the power play woes]."
For a while in Game 4 it didn't seem to matter however. The Canucks went up 2-0 after two periods on even-strengths goals by Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison, only to see Anaheim reply with three even-strength goals of their own in the final 22:07 of the third period and overtime. But in regards to Vancouver's power play, maybe they've overlooked the key reason to its' struggles - perhaps it's just the Ducks PK being that good. With potentially three games remaining in the series, it's likely this clash of PP vs. PK will factor in heavily.
"As this series moves back to Anaheim for Thursday's Game 5, the power play/penalty kill conundrum may yet be the deciding factor in the series," writes Alexander. "It's the classic chicken-or-egg question, which is more responsible, the Canucks' inefficiency with the man advantage or the Ducks' skill?"