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If there was any indication last night of the rust of the Vancouver Canucks, it probably started to show at puck drop of the third period in last night’s game.  Although due to last minute heroics by Sami Salo, the Canucks looked to have lost the jump in their legs in the third and  allowing the Hawks come back and tie the game at three, despite  the Canucks had a 3-0 lead going into the third stanza.

The Canucks really dominated the game in the first two periods.  They dictated the pace, drew penalties, and also managed to put three goals past Nikolai Khabibulin.  The Bulin Wall looked like it was crumbling early, and the Canucks were dominating in all areas of play.   Pavol Demitra probably had his best game in the playoffs so far last night scoring on the power play and doing all the right things when he was on the ice. I believe Demitra could be a big playoff guy once he gets rolling and I’d like to see more of what I saw in Game 1 in future games of this series.

One thing the Canucks have been doing since the beginning of the playoffs is winning a high percentage in the face-off circle.  Mats Sundin, Henrik Sedin, Kyle Wellwood, and Ryan Johnson have been dominant.  They need to continue doing so and making sure their team controls the puck in order to stave off the Chicago Blackhawks.

Kyle Wellwood played some inspiring hockey in Game 1 vs the Blackhawks

Kyle Wellwood played some inspiring hockey in Game 1 vs the Blackhawks

Speaking of some of the centres on the team, I want to acknowledge the play of Kyle Wellwood last night. He played some inspiring hockey last night. He drew three penalties and on two of them he was cut. He was cut just above his eye and was stitched up between periods and then on his lip causing two double minor PP’s for his team.  Not only did Wellwood draw penalties and continued to play well in the corners, winning faceoffs, and playing good two-way hockey, he also assisted on two of the Canucks five goals. One to Pavol Demitra on the only PPG the Canucks mustered and other to Ryan Kesler’s first of the playoffs.  Wellwood was a very big factor in last night’s victory over Chicago.

There were good spots for the Hawks despite the loss. Kane potted a couple of pretty good ones. They managed to calm themselves down in the third period after taking a slew of penalties in the previous two periods.  Dustin Byfuglien really was in the faces of the Canucks’ defence last night and did a good job in front of the net and along the boards.  He also had that one amazing shift where he just won’t give up and kept the puck in the Chicago offensive zone.  Duncan Keith’s play was amazing.  He really has a good sense of where the puck is at and good anticipation.  Seabrook and Keith also ate up a lot of minutes and proving themselves to be a worthy pairing for the Hawks.   Byfuglien played a very good game.  He worked hard along the boards and made sure he had position on whomever was on him. The Hawks played a really good third period and can take that going into Game 2.

Dustin Byfuglien with the shift of his career.

This is going to be a good series. After seeing what I saw last night, I will say the Hawks and the Nucks aren’t going to take each other lightly and the bad blood from their last regular season match-up is still evident on the ice. Now that the long wait for the Canucks is over, I can see them settling into this series much like they did in round one, but look out for the Hawks, they do have enough fire power on their offense to change the tide very quickly.  We saw it all last night, and what a down to the wire game it was for both teams.

Before I end this today, I want to say that Vancouver Mayor, Gregor Robertson and Chicago Mayor, Richard Daley have a friendly wager on this series. If Mayor Robertson wins, he gets a couple bottles of red sangria, some Polish sausage, two dozen cupcakes and a case of cheese. If Mayor Daley wins, he gets a bunch of Olympic gear, chocolates and smoked B.C. salmon.  So good luck to both respective cities, our food reputations are on the line here.

This has been A View From A Broad, a not too distant perspective.

Justine Galo