Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Maybe. The Canucks' Alexander Edler can stand along that wall chipping pucks from now until the sun goes dark and perhaps never hit that stanchion again. Kevin Bieksa might stand out at the blue line until the earth stops spinning and never have that puck come out to him as if on a silver platter. It was a once in a lifetime coincidence of circumstances that led to Bieksa's series-winning shot from the blue line that bounced and skittered into the back of the net with everyone -- including Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi -- looking in another direction.
None of which would ever have happened without the gritty work of the Canucks in the last 29 seconds of a 2-1 game they seemed destined to lose. Ryan Kesler, who sustained an injury in the second period of the game, yet returned, won a face off against Joe Thornton (and words cannot describe what a game he had, leading the team in shots, blocking two shots, winning ten of 18 draws, all while playing with a separated shoulder). It gave the Canucks a last chance in the San Jose zone. As Edler and Alexandre Burrows were maneuvering the puck at the top of the zone, Kesler worked himself to the front of the net between Shark defensemen Dan Boyle and Douglas Murray, and in front of Niemi. Edler sent the puck to the net -- a hope and a flutter of a prayer -- as the clock ticked down under 20 seconds in regulation time. But he got the puck through, or at least close enough where Kesler could get his stick on it to deflect it down and under Niemi's arm, and into the back of the net.
Lots of pixels will be devoted to the events in the last few seconds that led to Bieksa's game winner sending the Canucks to the Stanley Cup finals. Some folks might see it as luck. Well, maybe. But the Canucks made their luck with the work they did to get to that thrilling, if bizarre end.