WATCH: There was no third-period comeback for the Canucks last night. Game 5 goes in Vancouver on Thursday, and as Grace Ke reports Canuck fans are worried – but they aren’t ready to throw in the white towel quite yet.
VANCOUVER – With the Vancouver Canucks’ season on the line, head coach Willie Desjardins has decided on his starting goalie for Thursday’s must-win Game 5 against the Calgary Flames.
That doesn’t mean he’s willing to share the information.
The Canucks practised at Rogers Arena on Wednesday afternoon, a day after a 3-1 loss in Calgary put them down 3-1 in their Western Conference quarter-final with the Flames.
Eddie Lack started the first four games of the series, but allowed three goals on seven shots in Tuesday’s first period before getting the hook in favour of veteran Ryan Miller, who stopped all 15 shots he faced.
“Obviously we’re disappointed,” said Lack. “But there’s a new day today, new possibilities and we’re just looking forward to (Thursday).
“I want to play and I felt like I’ve been good at home, but it’s not up to me. Whatever the coach’s decision is going to be I’m going to be behind it 100 per cent.”
Miller signed on to be the Canucks’ No. 1 goalie in the summer and held the job until he suffered a knee injury in February. Lack carried the load the rest of the way and has played in 25 of Vancouver’s last 27 games, while Miller’s only action prior to Game 4 was a start in the regular-season finale.
“Not ideal circumstances,” Miller said of having to spell Lack in relief. “I didn’t want to have to come into that kind of a pivotal game. I would have liked to see a tight score there, but the coach was looking for a spark for the guys. Eddie’s performed really well in the series so far.”
No matter who gets the nod from Desjardins, the Canucks will have to raise their game another notch in order to avoid elimination in front of their fans.
“It’s got to be a group effort. I think your leaders are always a big part of it, but I think belief at this time of year is always the most important,” said Desjardins. “If you believe that you can win then that’s what drives you to play hard and keeps you going.”
WATCH: Jay Janower talks to Kevin Bieksa following Tuesday night’s heated game four against the Calgary Flames.
A lot has been made about Henrik and Daniel Sedin’s ice time in the series, and Desjardins conceded that his balanced four-line approach might need some tweaking with the season on the line.
“You’ve got to adjust to the situation. What brought you here doesn’t count. It’s what happens now that’s important,” said the coach, before adding later: “One sign of a good team is not to panic and totally change everything, but at the same time you have to make adjustments when you need it.”
One modification that needs to be made is getting more shots through after Calgary blocked 29 of Vancouver’s 70 attempts in Game 4.
“It’s the biggest one so far and we’ve just got to come out and play hard,” said Henrik Sedin. “We can’t change too much. There’s a few things we’ve looked at where we can make some adjustments, but overall we’ve got to trust that we’re doing a lot of things well and trust the process.”
The Canucks have lost 13 of their last 15 playoff games dating back to the 2011 Stanley Cup final, but Desjardins is confident his veteran core help can force a Game 6 in Calgary on Saturday.
“They’ve been down 3-1 in a series and come back, they’ve been up 3-1 in a series and lost,” he said. “They know at 3-1 the series isn’t over.”
Notes: The Canucks announced forward Alexandre Burrows is done for the series after he left the morning skate prior to Game 4 and was taken to hospital. Desjardins said Burrows remains in Calgary, but added the injury isn’t serious. … Canucks forward Sven Baertschi, who was acquired from the Flames this season and has spent most of his time with the Vancouver organization in the minors, has been recalled from the AHL. He skated on the second line with Radim Vrbata and Nick Bonino on Wednesday and looks likely to be inserted into the lineup for Game 5.