Is it really better to lose 5-0 and know you haven’t played close to your best game, then play well and drop a crush 2-1?
JT Miller had none.
“I’m never really hard to say it,” began Miller, who had a 17:35 shot on goal on the ice in the Vancouver opener, 5-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. . “I probably would have preferred to play a good game and lose 2-1.”
They will have the opportunity Tuesday night, these Canucks, to prove that they won’t just be killed on the road along the Golden Knights’ path to another appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. The puck delivery is at 9:45 p.m. ET / 6:45 p.m. PT on Sportsnet.
“I think our team is really excited to play them again,” Miller said. “I think we need to be confident in our game and get off to a good start. We want it to be a long, hard streak, and we don’t want it to be easy for them. We just have to respond. ”
That’s the way playoff hockey plays out, isn’t it? One team pushes, the other pushes back, and the battle escalates until one team simply cannot find an answer. They shake hands and this team goes home and starts figuring out how to get to the level of the team that knocked them out.
Vancouver had that answer in its qualifying round against Minnesota and even claimed back-to-back wins after letting the St. Louis move up their first-round streak with back-to-back wins. Now they’re being tested again by a Vegas team that brings more of everything than the Wild, or even the Blues brought to the previous series.
“Their team is a challenge,” said head coach Travis Green. “They went to the final two years ago and suffered a tough loss last year. We will have to raise our level of play from the first game. ”
Much of his job will be as a psychotherapist, with a bit of Hockey 101, as he puts together a game plan that works for his team, while also convincing them that they can compete with a Vegas team that won first. match for fun.
“The X’s and O’s part, after a game we always talk about different things in our game. I think we have to play better, bring our best game to the table. It starts right there, being ready to play tonight and try to tie the series, ”said Green, who will need more Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, who combined for zero shots and a minus eight. in the first game.
“It’s easy to analyze and say this guy didn’t have a photo, this guy didn’t have a photo. They’re not just our best players, ”Green defended. “Our whole team… we have to improve our game throughout our roster. Sometimes you don’t get a point or a shot, and that doesn’t mean you haven’t played well.
In Vegas, the Canucks drew the tournament’s best team, a club that has gone 8-1 since the season resumed. Where some clubs (St. Louis, Edmonton, Pittsburgh) never found their game after the break, Vegas head coach Peter DeBoer deserves credit for finding the secret sauce that has his team on top of their shape.
“We were well before the break,” DeBoer began. “We were playing really good hockey for a good four to five weeks before the break. Even though we had a four month break, we felt good about our game. We got back there quickly once we got to the camp.
“It helped get guys in town, but it goes further. It was the motivation of the guys in town and it was because of the belief before the break that we had a chance this year.
On the 40th anniversary of the defection of his father Peter and his uncle Anton from Czechoslovakia to join the Quebec Nordiques, Vegas center Paul Stastny was asked how he knew this Vegas team was capable of doing. a long playoff series.
“The chemistry inside the locker room. The 31 guys we brought here, it seems like we’re all clicking on and off the ice. Pete has done a good job determining the roles for everyone, and everyone is involved, ”said Stastny, 34, who is expected to pass his dad’s 977-game mark in the NHL next season. “In the playoffs, everyone has to step up. Since Pete’s arrival, we’ve changed a few things about the system, on the ice. When it comes to making it happen, you start to believe it.
“That’s why we have confidence in our team. We try to set the tempo the way we want to play.
It’s a pace the Canucks are going to catch up with, starting tonight.