Listening to the Vancouver Canucks explain their 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 4 was an exercise in incredulity.
It is late in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and teams want to stay positive, even after lopsided losses. But other than defenceman Kevin Bieksa, who said he has liked the team's first periods and not much else, there's some denial going on right now.
The Canucks leaned on the crutch that they had 38 shots against Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, and some quality scoring chances.
Yes, they had lots of shots. And yes, they had some scoring chances.
But much like in Game 3, when they lost 8-1, the Canucks weren't close to winning. Vast improvement is needed between now and Friday's Game 5, or this glorious chance at a championship is going down the toilet.
Some other thoughts and impressions on Game 4...
Not nearly good enough. Got to sit him down the rest of the playoffs, and hope he regains confidence over the summer, because he's also played his way into being untradeable. Chris Tanev isn't physically mature enough to matchup with the big Bruins forwards, but unless Dan Hamhuis (lower-body injury) recovers in time for Game 5, Vigneault has no other choice.
Chris Higgins and Mason Raymond
They are passengers on Ryan Kesler's line right now. Raymond's speed isn't a factor (as it should be), and his lithe frame has no chance of winning puck battles against the beefy Bruins. Higgins has scored some key goals this postseason, but he's invisible on most shifts, and his botched third-period breakaway was an indication of where his confidence is. Jannik Hansen makes more sense on the second line.
He's just a smart player who knows where to put the puck, and his imprint on this series gets deeper by the game. Missing usual winger Nathan Horton, Boston's No. 1 centreman isn't missing a beat. Krejci needs to be good for the Bruins to win.
The Bruins have outscored Vancouver 6-0 in the last two middle periods, and 8-0 in the series. That means they're adjusting better in the intermission, and bursting out of the dressing room with more fire. The last two games have been over before the third even starts.