Good thing the Canucks were able to work some regulation magic in the dying seconds of Game 5 of the Western Conference final and get a favourable bounce in overtime to end the series then and there. Because if their matchup with the San Jose Sharks went on any longer, you’d have to start worrying about fatigue and injuries setting in.
Before Game 5 started, the Canucks seemed destined for a Stanley Cup. The West final was never tilted against them and since their conference is so much deeper than the East, whoever they matched up with in the final would be seen as inferior competition.
But in Game 5, Ryan Kesler sustained a lower-body injury, appearing to tweak his groin. He only sat for a few minutes and, after some tender moments, resumed flying around the ice. He scored the game-tying goal and didn’t let up on the physical side, but you have to wonder had the series returned to California and, perhaps even back to Vancouver, if Kesler would have been able to maintain his ferocity. Would an extended series with San Jose have affected his play in the final?
From the start of the playoffs, the Western Conference was favoured to house the eventual Cup winner. The only possible knock against whichever team represented the left coast was that they’d have to run a gauntlet of world-class teams and would arrive tired and banged-up.
At times this post-season, Roberto Luongo and Henrik Sedin, among others, have had their health questioned.
Knowing for sure whether somebody is injured or not is impossible to figure out, so all you can do is judge them by their play and try to pick out any shortfalls. Judging by Game 5, Luongo and Sedin are both 100 per cent.
But finishing the Sharks in five was crucial for the Canucks to ensure they get extra days of rest heading into the final. If there were lingering injuries that were hidden by adrenaline or something new picked up in the clinching win, the team can now rest with the benefit of having played fewer games in each series as they’ve gone along.
The Sedins have found their stride, Luongo has been dominant and the defence has become impenetrable, but you can never rest easy if your best player — Kesler to this point — is battling an injury.
So thank goodness the Canucks finished off the Sharks when they did, because the last thing the team or its fans want are bumps and bruises getting in the way of Lord Stanley.