Canucks face must-win in Windy City
Vancouver needs a win in Chicago on Monday night to force Game 7
No amount of clichés can sum up what the Vancouver Canucks need to do Monday night in Chicago.
The only Canadian team remaining in the Stanley Cup playoffs is one loss away from elimination, as they face the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center for Game 6 of their NHL Western Conference semifinal (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 9 p.m. ET).
"I know a lot of people are going to write us off, but we believe in this locker-room that we can win," goalie Roberto Luongo told the Canucks' official website.
"We're going to come out Monday, and we're going to play the hardest game we've played all year, and make sure we put our best game on the ice and bring this back here."
"Our destiny is in our own hands," added forward Ryan Johnson. "We know if we go and play our game, and play with the passion we know we can play with, we are going to force this series to a seventh game."
Need to play a full 60 minutes
After a 4-2 loss in Game 5 that saw the Blackhawks score a late go-ahead power-play goal, the Canucks recognize they need to make some changes to stay alive in this series.
"We've played well in some stretches, but we have to put a full 60 [minutes] together," Luongo said.
In Game 1, Vancouver almost squandered a three-goal lead, but held on for the win. In Game 2, the Canucks gave up a two-goal lead and lost. They led most of Game 4, 1-0, but Chicago tied it up late in the third and won in overtime.
Canucks players agree that penalties are costing the team.
"Our discipline is still nipping us in the butt," said Johnson. "We all know that. It's no secret.
"We have to start putting the team before our self-pride a little bit."
Star players need to step up
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault says his forwards need to cut off the breakout passes that have been so effective for Chicago, whose defenders have been hitting the forwards to move the puck quickly out of their defensive zone.
The coach also says it's time for his best players to start stepping up.
Ryan Kesler has scored only two goals during the playoffs, Alex Burrows has been held to one assist against Chicago, and the team's leading goal scorer, Daniel Sedin, hasn't scored since the third game of Vancouver's first-round series against St. Louis.
"Part of having playoff success is players taking their game to another level," Vigneault said. "We don't have enough guys right now that have done that so far.
"There still is time, and we're banking that our guys are going to get their game to that level that permits you to win and have success. We need quite a few of our players right now to pick their game up and make sure they put their best foot forward."
The Blackhawks, meanwhile, are striving to advance to the conference final for the first time since 1995.
"We know it's not going to be easy at all," said captain Jonathan Toews, who has seven points in the playoffs. "I think every game it has gotten tougher and a little more personal.
"We know it's going to be one of those games, a battle to try and close it out."
Game 7, if necessary, is Thursday night in Vancouver.