From where I see it, this is the Hawk's series. The Canucks have dominated for 1 period, and controlled about 2 more periods, while the Hawks have dominated for 6 periods (not all coming from the last 2 games), and have controlled another 3 to 4 periods out of 15 total. The remaining periods fall somewhere in the middle. Game 2 could have gone in the Hawks favor with a couple of helpful bounces and game 3 was the Hawk's to lose in my opinion. Basically, Vancouver is lucky to still have a game lead in the series.
A Canuck Fan's Nightmare, the Blackhawks are back!
Don't poke the beast. You say it a thousand times, but people just keep pushing it. The Canucks had control, they had everything to win, but they had to poke the beast while they were at it. Cheers to the Hawks for using this poke as inspiration to tear Vancouver apart, piece by piece, because like I said in the title, we have now entered Vancouver's worst nightmare. There could be no greater victory for the Hawks and no greater loss for the Nucks than what is transpiring right now.
Let us breakdown last nights wonderful performance, shall we. I have to start by giving humungous props to our goaltender. Yet another year in a row, a rookie goalie is outshining Luongo, and boy did he have a spectacular game last night. The score might cause you to miss the fact that the Nucks outshot the Hawks 36 to 26, and Crawford stopped every single shot. Many were outstanding saves from my book, but none more important than the early ones.
The next thing I want to point out is how many shots the Hawk's defense blocked. I swear that I will punch the next "Blackhawk's Fan" who says negative things about my buddy Hjammer, the man is a warrior, gives his body for the team like no other and try playing along side "Mr. Scardypants" Campbell on most nights. Needless to say, the Hawks played outstanding defense, cleared the slot, took some big hits, cleared the zone and killed penalties like a composed team. Hjammer had a lot to do with that.
It all started with defense, and we all knew it would have to be the difference maker in this series. I never thought it would be at the result of losing Seabrook, but I guess something had to ignite the fire. With Seabrook out many have feared the worst for the ability to manage player's ice-time. However, It honestly does not get any better than last night in that department. Keith was at a comfortable 23 minutes, while Scott was able to play almost 12 and we still shut out the Nucks. This is huge going into game 6. Campoli has been great with the added pressure, this guy is a keeper.
Crawford may have set the stage, but finally number 81 stepped up to claim it. I honestly found his first goal to be really weak on Luongo's part. Not making that save could have been the difference. Either way, Hossa earned this win through hard work and finishing shots. Has he now learned how getting the puck off the ice can lead to better production? I sure hope so.
I really don't want Johnson's enormous play in the first period to go forgotten. Keith's goal would not be if not for the intense efforts by the former Canuck. His defensive stability and unwillingness to give an inch set-up Keith to blow Luongo away. It reminds me of all the little things that caused this game and the last game's outcomes. Winning the battles will win you the war.
Like I said in the last post, Dunc Norris is back. Nice to be reminded just how good he can be. Not only has he produced offensively in the past 2 games (racking up as many points as Daniel Sedin in this series) but his defense was big as well. He saved Crawford from a few tough ones early in the game. Welcome back Keith!
I thought the officiating was a bit weak in this one. Once again Vancouver got away with murder more than a few times, while the Hawks got called on a couple weak ones. That interference call on Frolik was about as bad as they come. Then Toews' head gets ripped off a few minutes later and all that comes of it is a minor. I think Vancouver's play is complete horse-crap and is a real stain on the league right now. Besides Kessler, the Sedins and Samuelsson, the team can use some time in the corner with the dunce cap on.
Power-play goals were huge last night. The tide has turned on the odd-man situations with these teams. Now Chicago has the dominating PP and PK, while Vancouver seems lost in their own heads. The score might have ended 5-0, but the Hawks still missed a bunch of other prime chances set-up by great plays. Toews was the focus of a few tic-tac-toe plays that could have easily ended in the net. Sharp had 2 breakaways that could have added insult to injury. One coming off of a ridiculously amazing centering pass from (I think) Leddy. Can I offer some advice, something I thought every pro would know? When you are showing shot from the blueline in, making a move is probably your best bet. If Sharp would have tucked it to his backhand, he would easily be on top for points in this playoff round.
How about Leddy on that one rush? Gaining ground on the attacker and then knocking him off the puck without causing a penalty. This was a world class play right there. Also, Campbell rocked someone really hard. I don't remember who it was, but the situation must have been just right. The stars were aligned and the wind was blowing in just the right direction for Campbell to physically destroy another (and cleanly too).
Going back to the officiating, how in the world did the Hawks not start the 3rd on the power-play? After watching Brouwer get elbowed to the head, and then get attacked by Bieksa and Lapierre, I thought for sure we would have a man advantage. Looking back I notice that Edler was not called for the elbow to Brouwer's head. WTF? Then, early in the 3rd, Kane gets cross-checked and slashed in the same 3 seconds without a call. Seriously, WTF?
Last thing before I part ways and start gearing up for the next game. The Hawks had guys camped out in front of Luongo all night. Apparently it doesn't even have to be a guy as big as Big Buf, Ben Smith works just fine. The Hawks looked like a well oiled machine, doing everything just right. Every part was functioning the way we expect and the result is an ass whipping. There is elite talent on this team, and everyone is now taking notice. Keep it up, and make history boys. Go Hawks!
Things are not looking to good for the Nucks.