The tension in Vancouver right now must be astronomical. Sunday night, the Vancouver Canucks will try to avoid becoming only the fourth team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 deficit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as they travel to Chicago to take on their arch-nemesis, the Chicago Blackhawks (Game Six, Sunday, 5:30pm, CBC). They have two chances to prevent history, but the tension should be significantly more if they have to go back to Vancouver for game seven.
If Chicago wasn’t in Vancouver’s head to begin the series, they certainly are now. That’s what happens when one team beats another by a combined score of 12-2 in 120 minutes of hockey action.
Roberto Luongo needs to simply be better as well. He had a save percentage of .786 in Game four and a save percentage of .667 in Game five. That’s what happens when you give up ten goals on forty shots. But, according to TSN, Canucks’ head coach Alain Vigneault hasn’t given up on Luongo just yet. He’s giving Luongo the Game six start.
But Luongo has not been the only Canuck off his game. The Sedin twins have been a combined -9 over the last two games.
Here are the other events I’ll be watching this weekend:
NHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinal–Buffalo Sabres vs. Philadelphia Flyers–Game 5, Friday evening at Philadelphia (5:30pm, TSN) and Game 6, Sunday afternoon at Buffalo (1pm, NBC)–With the series tied 2-2, it is remarkable how much Ryan Miller carries the Sabres. In the two games he’s won, the Sabres have given up no goals. In the two games he’s lost, he’s given up nine goals. Another interesting trend is that if the Sabres play more of a defensive mindset, they’ve been successful as well. In the two games they’ve won, Buffalo has only scored two goals. In the two games they’ve lost, they’ve scored six.
NHL Western Conference Quarterfinal–Nashville Predators vs. Anaheim Ducks–Game 5, Friday evening at Anaheim (8pm, TSN) and Game 6, Sunday afternoon at Nashville (4pm, TSN)–With the series also tied 2-2, the Anaheim Ducks might be inviting Carrie Underwood to perform during the intermission at the Honda Center tonight. On Wednesday, Underwood, the wife of Mike Fisher of the Nashville Predators, performed during the first intermission. The performance seemed to rejuvenate the Ducks, who went on to outscore the Predators 4-2 in the final forty minutes and win the game 6-3.
Saturday–8am–Women’s World Hockey Championship Semi-Final–Canada vs. Finland–TSN–Canada may have their work cut out for themselves Saturday morning in Zurich, Switzerland. In the round robin, Canada only beat Finland 2-0. Finnish goalie Noora Raty was absolutely flawless as she made 48 saves on 49 shots. In the round robin, Canada outscored its opponents 21-0. Canada’s scoring leaders were Haley Irwin of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Hayley Wickenheiser of Shaunavon, Saskatchewan and Rebecca Johnston of Sudbury, Ontario. The threesome each scored two goals and two assists in Canada’s first three games.
Saturday–10am–NHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, Game 5–Tampa Bay Lightning @ Pittsburgh Penguins–CBC–The Penguins’ unsung hero in the Stanley Cup Playoffs so far has been Arron Asham. The native of Portage-La-Prairie, Manitoba only had five goals and six assists in the regular season, but leads the Penguins in scoring in the playoffs with three goals and one assist. Marc-Andre Fleury has also been sparkling in the Penguins’ net. So far he has a 1.83 goals against average and .930 save percentage. Leading 3-1 in the series, the Penguins can eliminate the Lightning with a victory.
Saturday–11am–MLB–Tampa Bay Rays @ Toronto Blue Jays–Sportsnet–In the first start of the season for Brandon Morrow, the Jays look to get back into the American League East, as they’re 8-10, and three games back of the division leading New York Yankees. The Rays at 9-10, are red hot as they have won eight of their last ten. A major reason has been the play of Sam Fuld, who has taken over Manny Ramirez in the everyday lineup. Fuld, is batting .348 through 17 games for the Rays.
Saturday–1pm–NHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, Game 5–New York Rangers @ Washington Capitals–NBC–After missing almost half of the regular season due to injuries, Calgary native Mike Green has got back on track and has become the dynamic force on the ice like he was last year. Maybe he’s even better. While leading the Capitals’ defence, Green is the Capitals co-leader in points with 4, and the Capitals co-leader in +/- with a +3. Like Pittsburgh, Washington can eliminate the New York Rangers with a victory, as they’re up 3-1 in the series.
Saturday–2pm–MLB–Atlanta Braves @ San Francisco Giants–FOX–In a fantastic pitching matchup, Tim Lincecum gets the start for the Giants and Tim Hudson gets the start for the Braves. The Giants are 10-8 to start the year, while the Braves are 9-12. Lincecum is a two-time Cy Young Award winner (2008, 2009), while Hudson is a three-time All-Star, who led the American League in wins with 20 in 2000 as a member of the Oakland Athletics. This past year, Hudson was the National League Comeback player of the year. He went 17-9 in 2010 after missing most of 2009 with Tommy John surgery.
Saturday–5pm–NHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, Game 5–Montreal Canadiens @ Boston Bruins–CBC–Home ice advantage? Not in this series because the road team has won every game. Last night in Montreal, it was the inconsistent Michael Ryder who came up huge, scoring two goals and an assist (including the overtime winner) in Boston’s 5-4 win over Montreal to tie the series at two apiece. Keep one stat in mind. In the Bruins’ history, they have never come back from a 2-0 deficit to win a series.
Saturday–7pm–MLB–Boston Red Sox @ Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim–Sportsnet–Two teams with the third and fourth highest payrolls in the Major Leagues take to the field in southern California. The Angels, at 12-7, currently lead the American League West, a half game up on the Texas Rangers. The Red Sox struggled out of the gate, but have won six of their last ten, and are 7-11. The Red Sox won the first game of the four game series 4-2 last night on an Adrian Gonzalez double in the eleventh inning. Two pitchers who have struggled will be starting. Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Red Sox has an earned run average of 6.43 and Ervin Santana of the Angels has an earned run average of 5.26.
Saturday–8:30pm–NHL Western Conference Quarterfinal, Game 5–Los Angeles Kings @ San Jose Sharks–TSN–The San Jose Sharks are in the driver’s seat, leading the series 3-1. Last night at the Staples Center, Ryane Clowe of Mount Pearl, Newfoundland is showing why many are considering him to be an elite power forward. Clowe, at 6’2″, 225 pounds, scored twice as the Sharks beat the Kings 6-3. Clowe now has seven points in the series. As Heatley, Marleau and Thornton continue to not have the same success in the playoffs as the regular season, it has been the performances of Clowe, and rookie Logan Couture, that have put the Sharks up.
Sunday–11am–MLB–Chicago White Sox @ Detroit Tigers–WGN–In a matchup of two teams with losing records in the American League Central, the 9-10 Tigers host the 8-11 White Sox. John Danks (0-2, 25 K, 3.00 ERA) gets the start for Chicago and Max Scherzer (3-0, 23 K, 4.30 ERA) will start for Detroit. Offensively, you have to be impressed with White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko. At 35, he is batting .320, with four home runs and fifteen runs batted in.
Sunday–1:30pm–NBA Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, Game 4–Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks–ABC–With the Celtics leading the series 2-0, it looks like the Celtics will be in an excellent position to sweep the series. Two top Knick players–Amare Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups– are doubtful tonight with injuries for Game three. So far in the playoffs, the Celtics have been led by Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo who are each averaging more than twenty points a game.
Tags: adrian gobzalez, alain vigneault, anaheim ducks, arron asham, atlanta braves, boston bruins, boston celtics, boston red sox, brandon morrow, buffalo sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, chicago white sox, detroit tigers, haley irwin, hayley wickenheiser, john danks, logan couture, los angeles angels of anaheim, los angeles kings, marc-andre fleury, max scherzer, michael ryder, mike fisher, mike green, montreal canadiens, nashville predators, New York Knicks, new york rangers, noora raty, paul konerko, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, rajon rondo, ray allen, rebecca johnston, ryan miller, ryane clowe, sam fuld, san francisco giants, San Jose Sharks, tampa bay lightning, tampa bay rays, tim hudson, tim lincecum, toronto blue jays, Vancouver Canucks, washington capitals, women's world hockey championship