Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Canucks looking uncomfortable

Categories: Boston Bruins, Stanley Cup Final, VAN vs. BOS, Vancouver Canucks

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Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo (1) and defenceman Keith Ballard (4) watch from the bench late in the game against the Boston Bruins during Game 4 on Wednesday in Boston. (Winslow Townson/Associated Press) Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo (1) and defenceman Keith Ballard (4) watch from the bench late in the game against the Boston Bruins during Game 4 on Wednesday in Boston. (Winslow Townson/Associated Press)
By Tim Wharnsby, CBC Sports

BOSTON -- Television cameras caught Mike Gillis during his team's beating in Game 4 tugging at his shirt collar as if to say the situation has become somewhat uncomfortable for the Vancouver Canucks general manager.

After narrow 1-0 and 3-2 wins by the Canucks at home, the Stanley Cup Final has been completely turned around in favour of the Boston Bruins with their 8-1 and 4-0 lopsided victories at TD Garden this week.

Where do the Presidents' Trophy winners go from here? Well, actually they should listen to their captain Henrik Sedin. If there is one thing the Canucks have proven in this playoff run it's what is momentum good for? Absolutely nothing.

"We had all the momentum coming here, too," Sedin pointed out. "Chicago had all the momentum going into Game 7 [in the first round]. Nashville had all the momentum in Game 6."

The Canucks have yet to trail in a series this playoffs, but this is the third time they have been tied. The Chicago Blackhawks won three in a row to knot the first-round series at 3-3 and the Nashville Predators had the Canucks 1-1 after two games in the next round.

The difference in this situation is that the Bruins seem to be a team on a mission after what transpired in Game 3 with Nathan Horton being knocked out of the playoffs because of Aaron Rome's late shoulder-to-head hit. The Canucks also have not been able to solve Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, who is turning in one of the best performances in playoff history.

The Canucks also haven't been as proficient without their most dependable defenceman Dan Hamhuis, who has missed the past three games with an undisclosed injury. The Sedins have slumped. So has Ryan Kesler.

The Canucks puck movement has not been in sync and their transition game has been sloppy. The gap between the forwards has been wider than the nearby Charles River. And every mistake they have made ends up behind Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.

Luongo's dependability is another area that needs to strengthen if Henrik Sedin's theory of momentum is proven correct.

It's easy to say that the skaters in front of Luongo weren't very reliable in the two games in Boston. But at times the Bruins have had breakdowns and Thomas has bailed out his teammates. Luongo needs to swiftly rediscover the form he exhibited in the West final against the San Jose Sharks and in the first two games of this series when he won six of seven games and played his best this spring.

There will be plenty of doubting Thomases (not related to the Bruins goalie) who actually believe that Canucks coach Alain Vigneault should start backup Cory Schneider in Game 5 on Friday. This was a path Vigneault went down after a couple of rough outings from Luongo in Games 4 and 5 in the opening round against the Blackhawks.

Schneider started Game 6 in Chicago, but had to pull himself after he suffered leg cramps. Luongo played well, but lost in overtime only to rebound in the seventh and deciding game to win in extra time.

Vigneault doesn't appear willing to go to Schneider this time for Game 5 at Rogers Arena on Friday.

"Lou is going to be fine," Vigneault said. "He's one of the best goaltenders in the league. We've got a lot of trust and faith in him, in his ability to play well."

If he doesn't on Friday, Gillis' collar may pop a button.