SAN JOSE – This is not about a referee’s call, even if the boarding call on Daniel Sedin made in overtime of Game 4 drove two terminally polite Swedes to vulgarity.
Nor was not it about goaltending, despite the fact that Cory Schneider was not nearly good enough in the past two games.
Do not, if you are looking for a reason why the Canucks have lost 12 of their last 14 playoff games, allow calls and soft goals to cloud the picture.
This humiliating sweep is, for the Vancouver Canucks, a floor to ceiling mirror. One in which GM Mike Gillis should spend most of his summer gazing.
The San Jose Sharks were as superior to the Vancouver Canucks as this 4-0 series sweep would make us think. The score, folks, was very indicative of the play.
“We didn’t play good enough to win the series. We didn’t play good enough to win a game,” said defenceman Kevin Bieksa, moments after San Jose had earned the franchise’ first series sweep with a 4-3 win.
“We just didn’t get the job done.”
Bieksa was in the penalty box for crosschecking Tommy Wingels when Joe Pavelski scored the game-tying goal with 4:27 to play in the third period. Then he was on the ice as Patrick Marleau found a loose puck that Schneider could not, scoring San Jose’s seventh powerplay goal of the series and sending San Jose into the second round.
“I felt it hit my stick,” Schneider said of Joe Thornton’s original shot. “I thought I steered it towards the corner, and didn’t. I still don’t know what happened.”
Welcome to Canucks Nation, Cory. They don’t what happened either.
It took three games and two full periods for the Canucks to mount the kind of charge that a group of this calibre should be able to produce at will, and it was enough to turn a 2-1 deficit after 40 minutes into a late, 3-2 lead.
Alex Burrows showed up in Game 4, and was Vancouver’s best player. Alex Edler, an absolute phantom in these playoffs, made a cameo appearance to blast one home with his long forgotten one-timer.
One can only imagine we’d be heading back to Vancouver for a Game 5 today if this group had played this way from the start of Game 1. But it did not, and the answer to that is a complex one that Gillis will now study.
And head coach Alain Vigneault? The only thing he will study is a pink slip, as we expect Gillis to fire him within days.
“Their powerplay was their weapon,” Vigneault said after the game. “It caused us a lot of trouble, and gave them a lot of momentum. We just weren’t good enough.”
“Look at our lineup,” said Henrik Sedin. “This is not the way to go out. It was almost like a first-time playoff team playing against a team that’s played there before. We’re in the box too many times, in scrums after whistles. Their best guys scored on powerplays…”
This roster has somehow gone stale, and it will be up to Gillis to fix it. Which is scary, considering he built this team that has racked up six straight playoff losses at home and was totally outclassed by San Jose — to the point now where Canucks were talking about the Sharks the way opponents used to speak of Vancouver.
Have you heard this before?
“(San Jose’s) powerplay is so good right now,” said Burrows. “They’re not only good players, but they’re getting good bounces, rebounds back on their sticks and bouncing pucks finding them. Sometimes you’ve got to tip your hat to them.”
Remember when they used to say that of Vancouver?
It ended on an awful call against Daniel Sedin. One that had Henrik swearing into a bank of microphones, and Daniel receiving a 10-minute misconduct for using abusive language at an official.
The call stunk.
But alas, it did not smell any worse than the Canucks did this spring.