Conference Finals typically mean a rise in intensity of play of all the teams that are still playing hockey mid May. Teams, coaches and players feel like they are coming closer to the Grail and itâ€™s visible in every puck battle, shot and save. Yesterday night was no different as we witnessed a very close, hard fought battle between the San Jose Sharks and the Vancouver Canucks.
San Jose played a solid road game until the third period, when Vancouverâ€™s speed just took over. Once again, Roberto Luongo didnâ€™t look like a 5 million plus goalie. His mishandling of a pass led to one Sharks goal and his flair for embellishing things was once again there for all to see. I fail to see why a top goalie (not elite, but top) has to act in a way that not only humiliates him, but his team and the game of hockey as well. That third period showed what the Canucks are capable of when in full flight (and with a somewhat recuperated Henrik), but the game also showed what SJ could do relying solely on their goaltender who almost single handedly stole the win. Now, if they can raise their level of play to match the kind of hockey they played against Detroit (better PK, less breakdowns in the D zone, crease crashing) I can see them winning the series.
Canada came through the gate a bit slow and sluggish. They managed to escape the first period tied at 1, but as the game progressed with chances equaling out by the midway point, Canada began to come alive and pounded the Fins with shots from everywhere being both unpredictable and a deadly force on every shift in the third period.