Down but not out: Time to put trust in Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames have been told by refs to stop the scrums and scuffles after whistles, or else face the consequences in the penalty box.

“A lot of people didn’t believe in us before the season, and during the season. Every road trip we went on was going to define as a group and as players. It didn’t matter if we came back and had won all the games. The next road trip was the same way.” — Henrik Sedin, before Game 1.


CALGARY — How hard is it to believe in the Vancouver Canucks right now after Calgary ran away with a crucial Game 3 on Sunday night? Well, no harder than it was back in 2010, when the Canucks won a Game 4 in Los Angeles that even Henrik Sedin isn’t so sure they should have.

“We were down 2-1 (in the series), in their building, and they were ahead 1-0, or 2-1 for the longest time. Lou (Roberto Luongo) made some big saves, and we come back and win that game,” recalled the Canucks captain.

“We won big at home in the fifth game, and we go back down and win late in game six. We won (the series) in six, even though we maybe should have been down 3-1 in the series.”

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That was the first round in 2010. This series versus the Flames is Vancouver’s ninth series since then. Calgary? It’s their first playoff series since 2009 — period.

The moral of the story is, yes, Vancouver had better find another level, or this series won’t make the weekend. But the Canucks realize that and they’ve done it before. So, if you’re a Canucks fan, maybe it’s time to trust these guys.

“We know how momentum can switch really quickly,” defenceman Kevin Bieksa said. “We get this one, we go back home with momentum. Our last game at home we played really well…

“Before the series, we didn’t think we’d be in control the whole series and have no pushback. On their end, I’m sure they’re feeling pretty good about themselves. That’s great for us. We’ll play a nice, solid road game, hopefully get the two points, and momentum will back on our side going home.”

Did you catch that? The “I’m sure they’re feeling pretty good about themselves” part?

That’s another crucial aspect of turning a playoff ship around. Steering the narrative.

The Canucks would have you believe that only Calgary wants to play the kind of hockey that Games 2 and 3 devolved into, after the teams took turns building 4-1 leads. They’ll tell you that Derek Dorsett only wants to protect his own guys, while Calgary will say that Brandon Bollig never starts anything. He just wants to play hockey.

So Bieksa made sure the media was aware that element was being mandated out of the series — the assertion being, of course, that the style of hockey will now swing Vancouver’s way.

“The officiating has spoken,” Bieksa said. “They don’t want anymore stuff after the whistle. They’ll be looking to take one guy, 10-minute misconducts, whatever it may be. They want to clean the series up, and I think that works to our favour.

“I think we’ve all learned our lessons.”

In fact, series manager Rob Shick did speak with Flames general manager Brad Treliving and Canucks president Trevor Linden, instructing them to speak with their coaches. Despite giving out two mulligans thus far — rescinding a game misconduct for Deryk Engelland in Game 2, and opting not to suspend Alex Burrows after Game 3 — the league says it will crack down on extracurricular violence late in games.

We’d agree with Bieksa, that the tenor of the series would change sans the post-whistle scrums. But they’ve really only occurred long after Games 2 and 3 were decided. So, like Bieksa said of Flames winger Michael Ferland, the fighting has been entirely “irrelevant.”

So too might the Canucks be if they can’t find another level on Tuesday in Calgary. But they’re OK with their situation.

Vancouver has been here before. Henrik Sedin isn’t worried.

“I’ve been a part of a lot of series’,” he said.

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