Some thoughts from the NHL on TSN Panel on Wednesday night:
It's been total domination for two games of the Stanley Cup Final. The Vancouver Canucks have not scored a meaningful goal since Alex Burrows got the overtime winner in Game 2 and every part of their game is breaking down, while every part of the Boston game is great.
The biggest thing I've noticed is that Boston is able to get in on the forecheck, be very physical and be very disruptive to a very good defence crew for the Canucks - a crew that right now looks as though they are skating in sand. The Canucks are getting physically beat up on the forecheck, they're not moving pucks very well out of their own end and it's causing problems for them all over the ice.
Is it the loss of Dan Hamhuis that's the problem? Is it the loss of Aaron Rome? Absolutely. I'm sure that those are two contributing factors to it. But coming into this series I thought that one of the advantages the Canucks might have had is that they had a more mobile, more multi-talented defence, one-through-six. than the Bruins.
Based on what we saw in the two games in Boston, especially Wednesday night's Game 4, it's not even close. The Canucks defence is breaking down and breaking down badly.
Carrying The Burden
Roberto Luongo certainly played a part in the Canucks' Game 4 loss.
The very first goal that Rich Peverley scored went right between the wickets. It was a breakaway, but there was a pretty wide spot for Peverley to be able to put that puck between the pads.
The Michael Ryder goal was slightly different because someone got a stick got on it and it was a waffler, but Luongo probably should have had it.
You can't lay this defeat at Luongo's feet, but there is no question that his team wasn't getting the big save it needed from him.
There were so many other elements of the Canucks' game that was lacking, including being bad in all three zones and lacking a complete team effort, but Luongo needs to be better.
Ryan Kesler's game is a far cry right now from where it has been throughout these playoffs, when early on he looked like an odds-on favourite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Kesler tried to be a physical presence in Game 4. He delivered a lot of hits, but he also got hit a lot by the Bruins, right from the opening faceoff against Patrice Bergeron.
Every opportunity the Bruins got to take a piece of Kesler, they did exactly that. Little shots here and there and big hits have started to make Kesler look like he's wearing down.
Kesler is obviously injured to some degree. He doesn't have the same pop in his stride as we've seen over the course of these playoffs. I thought in Game 4, Boston did a good job of targeting Kesler for a lot of physical abuse.
Kesler ended up putting the puck in his own net, which can happen to anybody, but he's getting frustrated. You saw him take the penalty in the third period when the Canucks were on the power play and that shows that there is a frustration level for the team and him that needs to be dialed down.