Canucks looking to turn things around in Chicago
Ryan Kesler has that look of a man who is tired of talking about what his team needs to do in order to bounce back from its first loss in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
CHICAGO - |
"When you have a loss and you sit on it for two days, you're going to be champing at the bit to get back on the ice," Kesler said. "We're ready to do that (Tuesday)."
There's no hiding from it, though, particularly the way in which the team dropped a 6-3 decision to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday in Game 2 to tie this Western Conference Semifinal series. The teams resume activity on Tuesday for Game 3 of this best-of-7 donnybrook at United Center.
In addition to Kesler, Mats Sundin has also struggled to find the score sheet this postseason. The two have connected for one goal in six playoff games. Pavol Demitra, who will be a game-time decision on Tuesday with an upper-body injury, also has just one goal.
"Our record is good and Pavol and Mats have been a big part in that success," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "Having said that, I do think we need more from those guys, especially 5-on-5 and I'm hoping that will start (Tuesday)."
Kesler, who had 26 goals and 59 points in 82 regular-season games, has also been pushing a little more to regain his form this postseason.
"Every time you're on the ice, it's a five-man unit and everyone has assignments and everyone has a role," Vigneault said. "When one player has a tough time assuming a specific role, it affects the timing of the other guys. Ryan also needs to get back to being gritty because that's part of his game."
Kesler, who had 72 hits and 70 blocked shots during the regular season, has 13 body checks and 12 blocks in the playoffs. It's interesting to note, however, he has just one hit and three blocks in two playoff games against the Blackhawks.
"It's tough to say," Kesler said. "Their defensemen are not easy to hit and make it tough to get in on the forecheck. We've played a lot of penalty kill and power play in this series so it's tough to get in the game when there are so many penalties. I don't think it's the physical element that's a problem, it's mental and whether or not you're into the game."
Kesler enters Game 3 confident he and his teammates will rebound.
"I think defensively, we need to be a lot better," Kesler said. "We gave up way too many chances, not just as a line, but as a team and I think everybody needs to be better and we know that. I just think we're going to get our goals against this team, we know that. It's not a fact of scoring goals, it keeping goals out of our net. When you score three goals in a playoff game, you expect to win and shouldn't be giving up six goals so we'll tighten up defensively (on Tuesday)."
That won't be an easy task against the second-highest scoring team in the playoffs this spring as the Blackhawks are averaging 3.75 goals a game -- second only to the Detroit Red Wings (4.00). Vancouver, behind the stellar play of goalie Roberto Luongo during his team's sweep of the St. Louis Blues in the opening round, ranks sixth in goals-against average in the playoffs at 2.33. But the team has allowed nine goals in two games against the Hawks.
"We're not even close to playing our best hockey," Kesler said. "We gave up 3-0 and 2-0 leads and I don't know what kind of hockey that is, but it's certainly not the type of hockey we pride ourselves on. We're going to turn that around and change that (on Tuesday). We pride ourselves on defense and we're going to try and win Game 3, 1-0 or 2-1."
Vigneault feels his team needs to do a better job playing 5-on-5.
"(Chicago) has done a good job against most of our lines 5-on-5," he said. "They use their speed to their advantage and they don't give you much, so our guys are going to have to find a way to fight through that. I think our power play has been good and our penalty killing has been good, but 5-on-5, they've been the better team and it's happened in spurts -- the third period of Game 1 and then the last 30 minutes of Game 2 at home. We have to put together a better 60-minute effort and I know we can do that and I expect them to do that."