Thursday, April 17
May 19, 1:51 PM ET
Weight continues to trouble Canucks
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Although Doug Weight has
turned his attention to defense in the playoffs, his reward is the
offensive lead in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Weight has a playoff-best seven points -- three goals and four
assists -- through five games of St. Louis' first-round series
against Vancouver. But his biggest contribution to the Blues' 3-1
lead is shutting down the Canucks' top line.
"It definitely helps to get some offensive production, but
really we've just tried to be really responsible defensively,''
So far it has worked. Weight has teamed up with wings Dallas
Drake and Martin Rucinsky, and defenseman Chris Pronger and Barret
Jackman, to check top Vancouver forwards Markus Naslund, Brendan
Morrison and Todd Bertuzzi.
The Canucks' trio, which combined for 119 goals and 272 points
in the regular season, has managed just one goal and three assists
in the playoffs. They were even split up at times during a 4-1 loss
in Game 4.
At the other end, Weight, Rucinsky and Drake have combined for
six goals and nine assists, including the last three goals in the
victory Wednesday night. Game 5 in the best-of-seven series is here
"We've been religious in what we're trying to achieve and when
we do get a chance fortunately for me my wingers are burying their
chances,'' Weight said.
Now the Blues have a chance to bury the Canucks, who face
first-round elimination for the third straight season.
But Naslund isn't conceding the series just yet. Vancouver has
rallied from a 3-1 deficit before -- in 1992 against the Winnipeg
Jets and in 1994 against the Calgary Flames -- and the Canucks'
captain thinks it can happen again.
"I don't get a feeling that anyone has given up,'' said
Naslund, who scored his first goal in Game 4. "We know it's a
tough task to come back from 3-1, no doubt about it.
"But if we win here we go back and get another shot at beating
them in St. Louis, which I think we can do. Then, hopefully we can
finish it off here again. I see the possibilities.''
To extend the series, Vancouver will have to produce more
offense. After finishing second to Detroit in the regular season
with 264 goals, the Canucks have been outscored 14-4 by a Blues
team that has dictated all aspects of the game.
St. Louis has used strong back-checking pressure from its
forwards to shut down the neutral zone, cut off the passing lanes
and eliminate the forechecking that characterized Vancouver's
potent regular-season attack.
"The toughest thing for us is not scoring goals,'' Morrison
said. "It's something that we've been doing all season long and to
have it completely taken away, completely dry up is frustrating.''
Even the Canucks' power play, third in the regular season, has
been held to just three goals on 30 chances -- including an 0-for-6
performance in Game 4.
"There's not a lot of room out there five-on-five, and we've
got to take advantage of our special teams and we haven't been able
to do that to this point,'' Morrison said. "We have to find a way
to provide more offense.''
Don't expect the Blues -- who have won all six series in
franchise history when taking a 3-1 lead -- to change anything for
"We're going to try to do the same things we've been doing,''
Weight said. "They had a great season and they're not going to lay
down. The hardest game is the one to close them out.''
Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo missed the final two periods of Game 4 after being slashed across the wrist by Cory Stillman. Salo didn't practice Thursday and is questionable for Game 5.
Mellanby expected back
Forward Scott Mellanby didn't travel with the team after missing Game 4 with the flu, but is expected to play in Game 5.
Mellanby flew to Vancouver on Thursday, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported in Friday's editions.
"Mel's in flight," Blues coach Joel Quenneville said Thursday to the newspaper. "He should be able to go."
Mellanby didn't travel with the team after Game 4, but his equipment did in case he would be ready to go Friday night.
-- ESPN.com news services. The Associated Press contributed to this report.