It wasn’t all on Roberto Luongo, but he will wear the yoke of the Vancouver Canucks game seven defeat Wednesday like the ancient mariner did that big bird – for a very long time.
All of Vancouver’s big guns fired blanks the whole series. Their powerplay was outscored, 5-2, by the Bruins’ penalty killers. The Sedins were minus four in the 4-0 final loss.
There is lots of blame to go around, but meltdowns in Boston and the juxtaposition of Tim Thomas’ award-winning play will pin most of that blame to Luongo’s lanky frame.
The officiating didn’t help. After a game one in which infractions were whistled as tightly as in any regular season contest, the parameters, for what were penalties, were severely relaxed as the series moved along.
It gave Boston all the opportunity it needed to hold its own, and more, with the faster Vancouver roster.
The re-organized rule enforcement also seemed to buffalo the Canucks.
The harder they tried to stay disciplined, the chippier the bigger Bruins became – until eventually it seemed the Canucks couldn’t figure out a game plan and the Bruins imposed their will.
One can never say the referees totally decided the outcome, but they had an impact. In game six, the non-call on Boychuk for the textbook hook and the hit that broke Mason Raymond’s back and the non-call on Marchand for throwing four punches at Henrick Sedin’s face, because he, “felt like it,” – with referees right there, spectating both incidents – cannot but have had a negative impact on the Canucks’ collective psyche.
Regardless, what we found out during these playoffs is that the Canucks’ very high level of regular season play is all they have – and it wasn’t enough against teams, particularly the Bruins, that had an extra gear. In this Vancouver now looks like the promising bridesmaids in San Jose.
As in San Jose, as well, it is difficult to imagine the Canucks can make that next step without a thorough re-configuration of the team.
The Canucks, like the Sharks, have a fairly talented lineup. Like San Jose, too, minor fixes are unlikely to make enough difference – so Vancouver fans, like San Jose fans, should settle in for a protracted run of, “almost,” good enough play.
At least the Habs, Flames, Oilers, Winnipeg Whatevers and Leafs have nowhere to go but up.