Final Monday with Murph
Cactus Club: In your opinion, what was the cause of the Canucks inability to play a strong game at home after such a solid home record during the regular season?
Murph: I believe the Canucks ran into a team that didn’t allow them to get into a rhythm at home. The Blackhawks are a great transition team that press in almost all situations and that forced the Canucks on their heels more that they like. Vancouver’s players allowed the Hawks to frustrate them a bit and that led them to be impatient. Mostly I am speaking about game six so far because everyone knows that in games three and four the Canucks just lost their minds. They got so wrapped up in wanting to show that they could play tough and with an edge that they lost sight of what made them such a good team all season. A lot of people had problems with the ref’s calls in Vancouver’s first two home games of the second round, and while I can’t say I liked all the calls, the Canucks should have recognized the zebras were calling things tight and they shouldn’t have put themselves in a position where the refs could make a call.
Cactus Club: Do you see any restructuring for next season and if so, in what area?
Murph: It’s clear the biggest changes to this team will be on the back end. Defensemen under contract for 2010-2011 are Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Sami Salo and Andrew Alberts. Throw in the fact that Shane O’Brien is a restricted free agent and you have five d-men from last season that should be back (for the record I think the Canucks should re-sign O’Brien). I know he caused more headlines than a 5th defenseman should but there is too much upside there (at a good price) to let him walk. Willie Mitchell will not be back. And this has nothing to do with his health. In fact, Mitchell’s concussion problems may be the only reason that he would come back. By this I mean that he’s going to have to probably accept a short term deal at not much money to prove he’s okay next spring — and let’s hope he is — and that would be the only scenario I could see the Canucks bringing him back. The Canucks bottom-six forward group will also see some restructuring as Ryan Johnson and Pavol Demitra will almost certainly be gone.
Cactus Club: With 4 teams left and a couple showing incredible resilience, whose your pick to win it all?
Murph: First off I believe the winner will come from the west. Although seeing how crazy things have been in the east so far I wouldn’t put it past either Montreal or Philadelphia somehow running the table. I guess my pick has to be Chicago. Deep forward group. Awesome big three defensemen. Tremendous special teams and a goalie that is proving he can win in the postseason. I know the Sharks are proving some non believers wrong this postseason, but I’m not one of them. I just don’t get the sense that their forwards are ready to go the distance. As for the East, Philly’s goaltending worries me but probably not as much as their physical style worries opponents. The Flyers mash guys all game long at that will wear on teams. So I guess I’ll say Chicago and Philadelphia in the final (I am biased because I hate the Habs and I always want to see the team that beats the Canucks go all the way) with the Hawks winning because of the speed and skill they showcased versus the Canucks.
Enjoy the summer everyone and enjoy some of Nigel’s new Sangria while you’re at it (it’s awesome)!