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The odyssey isn't over yet


Andrew Bucholtz

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(Note: You can find this post with embedded videos here. I'll also be live-blogging Game Two at <I><a href="http://www.canuckpuck.com">Canuck Puck</i></a> and at <a href="http://www.sportingmadness.ca"><i>Sporting Madness</a></i>. Puck drops at 9 p.m. Eastern/6 p.m. Pacific. Come join me then!)

After the Canucks' <a href="http://www.nucksmisconduct.com/2010/5/2/1454607/sunday-morning-coffee-we-came-in">5-1 demolition</a> [<b>Kent Basky</b>, <i>Nucks Misconduct</i>] <a href="http://trevorpresiloski.com/2010/05/playoff-postscript-canucksblackhawks-wait-what/">of Chicago</a> [<b>Trevor Presiloski</b>, <I>The Internet Trashcan</i>] in Game One, it would have been tempting to conclude that Vancouver's going to win this series in a romp. In my mind, that conclusion would be wrong, though. These teams are very even; they were second (Chicago) and third (Vancouver) in the Western Conference standings this year, and second (Vancouver) and third (Chicago) across the league in goals for/game, averaging 3.27 and 3.20 goals per game respectively. Defence was a little more uneven, but in favour of the Blackhawks: Chicago was sixth in the league in goals allowed/game (2.48) while Vancouver was 12th (2.66). There isn't anything in those numbers to suggest that we'll have a whole series of walkovers.

Fortunately, most of the Canucks' writers out there <a href="http://canucksarmy.com/2010/5/3/gdrc-gm-2-canucks-blackhawks">are</a> [<b>Cam Davie</b>, <i>Canucks Army</i>] <a href="http://canuckshockeyblog.com/?p=3599">keeping</a> [<b>Richard Loat</b>, <i>Canucks Hockey Blog</i>] <a href="http://benchedwhale.com/2010-articles/may/canucks-vs-blackhawks-game-2.html">perspective</a> [<b>Dani Toth</b>, <i>Benched Whale</i>]. This is still going to be <a href="http://canucknation2.wordpress.com/2010/05/02/first-game-easy-the-rest-dont-count-on-it/">a tough series</a> [<i>Canuck Nation</i>], especially considering that the Blackhawks are claiming <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/hawks-taste-humble-pie/article1554329/">to have underestimated Vancouver</a> [<B>Gary Mason</b>, <i>The Globe and Mail</i> before Game One. They won't make that mistake again.

Something else to keep in mind is that Chicago <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/globe-on-hockey/sekeres-canucks-watch-list/article1555161/">actually controlled the first 10 minutes of play</a> [<b>Matt Sekeres</b>, <i>The Globe and Mail</i>] in Game One and was the better team in the first period, despite heading into the intermission down by two. The game turned into a rout, but it wasn't necessarily always going to be one. A few bounces one way or another and the story of the series so far would have been very different.

This series reminds me of part of <b>Homer</b>'s <I><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odyssey">Odyssey</i> (no, not the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homer%27s_Odyssey_%28The_Simpsons%29">Simpsons' episode</a>!), which is why I used the music video I did above. Many know that it took <b>Odysseus</b> 10 years to return home after the 10-year Trojan War, but it isn't as well-publicized that he almost made it a lot sooner. Early in Odysseus' journey, he and his men stayed with <b>Aeolus</b>, master of the winds, who gave Odysseus a bag containing all the winds that he could use to get home to Ithaca more quickly. They were nearly there when the crewmen opened the bag while Odysseus was sleeping, thinking it contained gold; all the winds were instantly released and they were blown all the way back to the land of Aeolus.

The same fate could befall the Canucks if they're not careful. Game One proved that they can play with and beat the Blackhawks, so their goal is visible. It would be easy for the players to lose sight of the overall mission and become consumed by greed like Odysseus' sailors, though, neglecting team objectives in favour of attempts to rack up individual statistics. That could be calamitous, and blow them right back where they started. We'll see tonight if they're able to remain focused on the task at hand or if they'll be tempted to let the winds out of the bag.

<b>Prediction: Canucks 3, Blackhawks 2</b>

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