Game 7 of the exceedingly stressful Canucks-Blackhawks series goes tonight. With that in mind, PITB looks at seven keys to the Canucks winning this game:
1. FRANCIS SCOTT KEY – What does the famed writer of the Star-Spangled Banner have to do with the Canucks? Well, his anthem needs to inspire Ryan Kesler, the proud Canada-hating American who really seems to get a boost out of playing for his country. He hasn’t scored a goal in this series, but he was Team USA’s best forward in last February’s Olympic gold medal game, so we know he can perform in clutch situations. For the first time in his career, Kesler scored 40 goals for the Canucks this season. We’ve come to rely on his offense. A goal tonight could make the difference.
2. KEYS TO THE VIP – like the crotchhounds in Keys to the VIP, the Comedy Network’s professional league for players, the Canucks will need to score early and score often. In the regular season, Vancouver had a league-best .837 winning percentage when scoring first. In this series, they still haven’t lost a game in regulation when they get the opening goal. It will also put the home team in a pretty good spot if they can jump out to an early lead.
3. ALICIA KEYS – Like the musical superstar, the Canucks will need to do what they couldn’t do in games four and five: give a soulful performance. If they come out flat, or allow the Blackhawks to silence the Rogers Arena crowd by jumping out to an early lead or dictating the play, this one could be over in a hurry. They say home ice advantage in the playoffs doesn’t matter until game seven. Well, it’s game seven now, and it has to matter. These fans are terrified of the Canucks Fallin’, so it will be crucial to alleviate their fears by playing strong in the early going.
4. THE FLORIDA KEYS – the Canucks have taken a lot of hockey players from their trade buddies in Florida, and it will be important to get complete games from this season’s depth acquisitions like Chris Higgins, Keith Ballard and Victor Oreskovich. That said, there’s no Florida key bigger than former Panthers Roberto Luongo, who, according to shifty-eyed coach Alain Vigneault, gets the start tonight. If Luongo plays the way he did in the first three games of this series, the Canucks can win this game. If he plays the way he did in the next three, they can’t. It’s as simple as that.
5. TWINKIE - I’m sorry, that should be twin key. We often talk about how the Sedins don’t get enough respect (for instance, some people disrespectfully call them the twinkies) — well, that respect is earned in the playoffs. We often talk about how the Sedins just aren’t sexy. Well, there’s nothing sexier than leading the way in a game 7 situation (except maybe sex). The Sedins have posted an unsexy combined minus-6 rating in this series, but none of that matters if they get hot tonight. Enough talk about the Blackhawks’ stars. Let them talk about ours for once.
6. KIKI DEE – the other half of Elton John’s superduet and pop classic, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. Speaking of breaking hearts, the Canucks are on the verge of the most historic, heartbreaking playoff collapse in the history of the NHL. And speaking of Kiki Dee, tonight one key key will be the D (see what I did there?). In the first three games of this series, Alex Edler and Dan Hamhuis were the best defensemen, which is saying something in a series that features reigning Norris winner Duncan Keith. Kiki Dee‘s career has spanned more than 40 years, and if the Canucks want to prevent their cupless drought from doing the same, they’ll need Keith-besting performances from their top two defensive duets tonight.
7. BOSS KEY – this is the name of the key you have to get in order to enter an end boss’s lair in the Legend of Zelda. Video games bosses are a pain because you can often work really hard to get to them, only to discover that you aren’t strong or skilled enough to advance. Then you have to start all over. If this happens enough times, you get so practiced at all the pre-boss stuff that you coast through the game; but, pre-boss proficiency doesn’t matter if you can’t knock off Gyorg. If this sounds familiar to you, it’s because it’s effectively the Canucks season in Zelda terms. The Blackhawks have been the Canucks’ Phantom Ganon for three consecutive seasons now, and it’s time to move on to another temple.Tags: Canucks, game 7, Kesler, keys, playoffs, Sedins