The 2011 Stanley Cup Final will live long in the memory of Vancouverites, for all the wrong reasons. But the Canucks’ playoff run that year did have some highlights, although they’re overshadowed by the disappointing Final loss.
Alexander Edler was a part of that team that came painfully close to lifting the Stanley Cup. With the hockey world still shut down because of the coronavirus, the veteran defenseman has been reliving some of the happier moments from the team’s 2011 postseason — including the Canucks’ first-round series against the Blackhawks.
“Actually, this was a couple of weeks ago, I watched Game 7 of that series,” he told reporters in a video call Wednesday. “I’ve seen a little bit, but not much. It was kind of interesting to see that game. You know, you have all the memories from it then. There were a lot of things that I didn’t remember but then I saw it kind of came back, so it was pretty cool to watch it again.”
After surging to a 3-0 lead in the series, the Canucks lost three straight to force a decisive game. It took more than 65 minutes of hockey, but Alex Burrows finally scored an overtime goal to send Vancouver into the second round.
One reporter asked Edler if he remembered teammate Kevin Bieksa “losing his mind” during the first intermission in Game 5.
“Not really,” he responded. “He did that all the time, so, no.”
Even after rewatching Game 7, the Swede has no idea how his team let Chicago back into the series.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “We obviously were seeded No. 1 (in the West) and they kind of snuck in at No. 8, but you knew what they had done the previous years, especially against us. I think we were ready for it and we went up three-nothing. I don’t know if we maybe thought, ‘We’re gonna win this’ … The fourth win, that’s the hardest one, and they kind of came back and showed how good they are.”
As for this season, Edler, now a 34-year-old elder statesman, has been happy with how he has played.
“I think I’ve had a good season so far,” he said. “I had that injury [an upper-body injury that sidelined him for three weeks], which seems to always happen at some point. But I think I played pretty good hockey. Early on, I played a lot, and [then] my ice time went down a little bit, but not too much.”
That drop in playing time is the result of several young defensemen entering the lineup and performing well. Despite seeing the ice less than usual, Edler is pleased with the team’s improvements on the blue line.
“I think that has to do with our D corps,” he said. “It’s been better than in previous years, with [Tyler] Myers coming in and then obviously Quinn [Hughes] coming in. So I think it’s been a better balance there, and we’ve been more successful as a team. I think it’s been it’s been a good year so far.”
Even with the remainder of the 2019-20 season hanging in the balance, Edler is focusing more on the crisis at hand than any potential return to hockey.
“As much as I want to be back and to play and to fight for a playoff spot and be in the playoffs, right now we’re just trying to get through this time,” he said. “If we can start to open things up, and then players can get back to the facility and train, that’d be great. But there are more important things right now that I think everyone’s thinking about.”