Here are a few things about the Canucks and Blues of which you might not be aware:
• This is the third time Vancouver and St. Louis have met in the playoffs, with the Canucks emerging victorious — barely — on the previous two occasions. Both previous meetings, in 1995 and 2003, were also first-round matchups — and both went to a deciding Game 7. In 2003, the Canucks rallied from a 3-1 series deficit, scoring 13 goals in the final three games after scoring just four times in the first four games.
• No team was hotter than Vancouver or St. Louis in the second half of the regular season. The Canucks went 23-7-2 (.750) in their final 32 games while the Blues went 25-8-6 (.718) in their final 39 contests.
• A big part of the big finish for both teams was the fact that their respective goaltending situations were stabilized. For Vancouver, Roberto Luongo came back after a two-month injury layoff and returned to his rightful place — and righteous play — in net. For St. Louis, Chris Mason started the final 38 games — yeah, that’s right, 38 frickin’ games in a row — and was perhaps the best goalie in the West in the second half.
• Things got a little prickly last summer when new Canucks GM Mike Gillis tendered an offer sheet to Blues winger David Backes, who was a restricted free agent. (Remember how blustery then-Anaheim GM Brian Burke became when then-Oilers GM Kevin Lowe signed away RFA Dustin Penner from the Ducks a couple years ago? It might be legal, but it’s also a good way to make enemies.) St. Louis, with its hand forced, matched the offer and retained Backes — and then, a week later, tendered an offer to Canucks winger Steve Bernier, forcing Vancouver to likewise pay more than the team expected. In the end, maybe Gillis did the Blues a favour — Backes scored a surprising 31 goals in his third season and he’s locked up for two more years.
• Both the Canucks and the Blues concluded the regular season with 1-0 shutout wins over Colorado. Coincidence? Of course. But you can bet there’s at least one more 1-0 game in the immediate future for these two teams.
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