Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Canucks' celebration muted

Categories: Nashville Predators, Second Round, VAN vs. NSH, Vancouver Canucks

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The Vancouver Canucks celebrate their 2-1 win in Game 6 against the Nashville Predators, on Monday in Nashville, Tenn. (Mike Strasinger/Associated Press) The Vancouver Canucks celebrate their 2-1 win in Game 6 against the Nashville Predators, on Monday in Nashville, Tenn. (Mike Strasinger/Associated Press)
By Tim Wharnsby,

There was way more merriment in the stands at the Bridgestone Arena than in the Vancouver Canucks dressing room following the series finale. Yet, it was the hometown Nashville Predators whose season just ended.

The game had finished and the series was over, but most of the 17,113 loud and proud fans stayed to send a message of appreciation to their players. "Go Predators go, go Predators go," they chanted over and over and over again as captain Shea Weber led his teammates to the middle of the ice to salute the fans by raising their sticks in unison.

Underneath the stands the Canucks took extra time before they opened up the dressing room to reporters. Maybe, they needed a few minutes to exhale a collective sigh of relief after they survived the pesky Predators. Maybe, they didn't want anybody outside the team to know they were more relieved than anything to have avoided a second seven-game series this spring.

Nothing has come easy for the Presidents' Trophy winners.

"We had to work our tails off for every inch out there," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said.
"They threw everything at us," Canucks MVP of the series Ryan Kesler said. "They never gave up. They are a well-coached team and it took everything to beat them."

The biggest reason for the lack of a celebration, at least according to Kesler and his teammates, was they wanted to deliver a message to their next opponent in the Western Conference final, whether it will be the San Jose Sharks or Detroit Red Wings, that they are not satisfied with finally getting past two rounds for the first time in 17 years.

"We have bigger things in mind," said Kesler, who had a few stitches still evident from when a puck hit him in the chin in Game 5. "We're not going to be satisfied with anything but [the Stanley Cup]."

The Canucks have hardly been the dominant team we saw in the regular season. In fact, they have looked rather ordinary in the playoffs. They have blown leads. They have found it difficult to close out teams. There have been far too many nail-biters to instill confidence to their already jittery fans.

"It was not artistic, but who cares we're on to the next round," Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa said.

The play of Bieksa and his shutdown partner Dan Hamhuis as well as Ryan Kesler's dominance have been positives for the Canucks in the first two rounds. But sloppiness from defencemen Alex Edler and Christian Ehrhoff are disconcerting as has been the rather uninspired play from captain Henrik and his brother Daniel Sedin.

Daniel scored his first goal of the series in the finale. Henrik chipped in an empty-netter in Game 4. But the twins have distanced themselves from the regular-season exploits that has seen them win back-to-back Art Ross Trophies.

If the Canucks want to get by the Sharks or Red Wings, the Sedins will have to show up in the next round. But until the West final begins, likely on Saturday at Rogers Arena, the Canucks are content to let Nashville do all the celebrating it wants to honour its hockey club because the Canucks season has been extended, and as Bieksa stated, that's all that counts right now.