For the first three games of their series with the Chicago Blackhawks, the Vancouver Canucks looked like a team ready to exorcise all of it’s recent playoff demons in the first round. They led the series 3-0, winning all three tightly-contested games. Roberto Luongo was playing the way Canucks fans had hoped he could in the playoffs, and they were getting points from the Sedin twins. All was well.
Then came Game 4.
The Blackhawks used a second period blitz to wipe out any hope of a Canucks sweep. Luongo gave up six goals before being shown the gate and getting this taunt from actor Vince Vaughn in what has to the coolest sports photo in a long time.
Game 5, it was more of the same. Luongo once again gave up a bushel of goals and was yanked (this time without any celebrity taunts), while the Vancouver fans either headed for the exits, or stayed to voice their displeasure with the home team.
Tonight, the Canucks take their third stab at ending the Blackhawks reign as Stanley Cup Champions. But, in the course of a week, this series has taken a 180 degree turn. The Sedins have been MIA the past two games, and Luongo is facing the same criticisms of failed playoff campaigns past. The Hawks are getting goals from their two Patricks (Kane and Sharp) and Duncan Keith is looking like the player he was last season.
Is it hyperbole to say that tonight is the biggest game of Luongo’s career? I don’t think so. Win tonight and everyone is happy. A loss, especially a loss like the past two game, and Canucks coach Alain Vigneault will be incessantly asked about putting in Cory Schneider until Game 7 starts.
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