Weathering the storm is a vulnerable tactic to take, and it is exactly what the Nucks did tonight. Vancouver held their ground during Chicago's explosive 1st period. When the first intermission should have displayed a 2 goal lead in the Hawk's favor in the least and a 3 goal lead being totally plausible, Vancouver only had to battle back from a 1 goal deficit. They had the chance to do that thanks to their goaltender. No question about this one, Luongo was the difference. In fact, the Hawks are now outshooting Vancouver in the series and still find themselves in a deep dark hole. His job might have been on the line and he responded.
Getting the job done in Chicago proves problematic for the Hawks. Blackhawks trail 3-0 in Vancouver series.
I am not sure the Hawks have it in them. Sure, Kane should have had a few tonight, at least 1, but he failed to find the holes. No way they should lose this game. I easily place this game in the Blackhawk's hands when all was said and done. Troy Murray stated that he felt Vancouver deserved credit for winning this game, and I do give them credit, but in the end I feel the Hawks inability to cash in on prime opportunities (the achilles heel of the season) was the nail in the coffin on this series and the year.
This was a good game played by the Hawks in many ways, but also hard to watch in others. Maybe for the first time this season, they played somewhat physical and didn't look uncoordinated in doing so. They controlled the puck for the first time in the series, but made some pretty clumsy passes in the process. They generated chances on the power-play, however could not convert during the dreaded 5 on 3 power-play. Many players had great moments, and then there were some not so great ones that followed. I liked the intensity, but it lacked determination.
Vancouver took a lot of penalties. I felt vindicated by many of the calls because, incase you haven't noticed, Vancouver has been getting away with murder so far. Seeing the swing in officiating gave me the sweet smell of a Hawks win, but again, Luongo had other things to say. Plus, the Hawks entered this game shorthanded due to a couple casualties in the series (due to some of Vancouver's liberties) and the killer injury to Bolland. Bolland does happen to be a possible go for game 4, but I have to wonder if it is worth the gamble at this point. Just let the guy rest.
Entering the game without a couple of key players had me guessing about the likely hood of a Hawk's win. Then Toews came out of the gate flying and I thought he just might carry this team back into the series. He ended with 2 points and a hell of a game if I do say so myself, but in the end it was not good enough. The Hawks count on his contribution to get them going, but they didn't answer it tonight. It cause me to wonder just how much the "core" players have left. Especially Toews who has been counted on throughout the back half of the season. The choices made by Q to play his key players over and over might be meeting its doom at the beginning of the playoffs. Did you not feel the anguish of Kane as he just didn't have anything to give in terms of goal scoring? Energy plays a large role in finishing on plays. A lack of it kills your concentration.
One of my consistent gripes about this team thus far has been directed at Keith. Way too talented for the efforts of the whole season, he just hasn't had it. And yet he plays a ton of minutes. Is someone watching a different game than me? He might have scored on the PP, but he also allowed a Nuck's goal and was on the ice for another after that. -1 is where he ended the night. I say this with utter conviction, "It will be a huge mistake to let Campoli go in the offseason." I think he is the best defenseman on the team right now, next to Seabs and he is not distributed ice-time accordingly. Campoli is a plus 3 in this series and his play backs it up. Don't even get me started on Campbell.
Speaking of Keith, I think that the moment when he allowed Sedin to score sums up the Hawks season and this series. Outplaying the Nucks up to this point, a puck sliding across the crease goes right past Keith's stick and finds Sedin's who not at all forcefully knocked it home. If there was any drive, any intensity in these guys to win the game and go deep into the playoffs, Keith would have been on the ice or at least down on a knee refusing to allow that goal.
It is just not there. I think the Hawks proved their ability to skate with these guys (maybe out-skate them), even a few men down, but that seemed like all they wanted to do. I do give credit to Vancouver for staying in this game and then finding a more comfortable flow, but the Hawks allowed it first. A shame, because their captain gave a valiant effort. No word on Hossa still.
With so much to dissect about this game, I feel I should leave at that. A comeback would be amazing to watch, it sure would send Vancouver into a tizzy, but it is so highly doubtful.