Calgary Flames claim crucial series lead with victory over Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks playoff struggles continue. After a 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames Tuesday night, many Canucks fans have little hope that a comeback is even possible.

The Canucks are probably going home. Throughout recent playoff campaigns, they have struggled to score goals consistently and that trend has continued this year.

Worse still, in every one of those playoff campaign losses, a player from the opposing team successfully got under the Canucks’ skin and as a result, eliminated them.

Troubling trends

This trend goes all the way back to the 2008-09 series when Dustin Byfuglien played as a forward for the Chicago Blackhawks. Other examples include Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand in Vancouver’s Stanley Cup finals loss in 2010-11, LA Kings forward Justin Williams in 2011-12 and Sharks forward Raffi Torres in 2012-13. All these players successfully pounded the Canucks with hits, crashed the net and silenced the Canucks top lines.

This year’s example of such a player is rookie forward Michael Ferland of the Calgary Flames. This kid has been an absolute menace to the Vancouver Canucks throughout this quarter final playoff series.

He’s not afraid to throw his weight around, has explosive speed and is no stranger to starting scrums or chirping his opponents. He only has one assist to his name, but he’s averaged over 10 minutes of ice time in each of his four playoff games. The 23 year old forward was drafted 133rd overall in the 2010 draft and has proven to Flames head Coach Bob Hartley that he can play under pressure.

Ferland had eight hits in Tuesday night’s 3-1 victory and 19 hits throughout the series so far.

Moving forward

If the Canucks don’t find a way to silence Ferland in game five at home on Thursday, the Flames will eliminate them. The number one thing Canucks head Coach Willie Desjardin has to address is his team’s inability to score on the powerplay. A record of 2-12 through four games is unacceptable for any special team unit in the playoffs.

The Canucks need to find a way to convert those powerplay chances.

Regardless, Vancouver is heading into an elimination game Thursday. Since the majority of the offensive lines aren’t getting the job done, Desjardin may look to goalie Ryan Miller to provide a spark in game five.

Miller came on in relief of Eddie Lack in game four and made 15 saves and gave the Canucks a chance to launch a comeback. He may be a key factor in game five. 


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