I could probably just post this pic and leave it at that. I mean really.
I deserve a slap in the face for questioning his addition to the roster for today's game. This was like "Return of the Jedi," or a "Rocky" movie or, well, you get the point. Did someone play a montage before the game started or something, because it started exactly how it ended, with explosiveness. It was Bickell who got me leaping off of the couch first, although a standing ovation for Bolland had fans in the UC cheering slightly earlier. WTF Bickell, where do you pull these goals out of? A true force of nature on this first one, Bickell gave the necessary start to what proved to be a wonderful evening for Hawk's fans everywhere.
The Canucks tied the game slightly, very slightly later on a goal that deflected off of Johnson and then Campbell (who was 4 feet off the side of the goal). It was terribly weak and the rush of Bickell's goal faded away with it. This came off of a Bolland penalty, and Keith followed up with a really dumb penalty of his own. Vancouver started to show signs of taking the game away and running with it, but that soon wained as the Hawks battled back physically and offensively.
The period ended with a shot from Bickell's stick that almost fell behind Luongo, but what might have mattered more was how Luongo ended up with the save. After losing control of it, he fell back in an awkward manner and might have pulled something in the process. Did it play into the ridiculous 2nd period, I don't know, but it rocked all the same.
The Hawks would score 4 goals in the second period leading to a 5-1 lead. Of the 5 goals scored, Bolland would have points on 4 of them. 3 assists (huge heads up hockey) and 1 goal, not to mention neutralizing the entity known as Sedin. A true Canuck killer and a Sedin destroyer. Seriously, you have to question why he wasn't cleared for play earlier. Side note: I have always found the first game back to be easier than the second game from a "vacation."
The second period started with a Campbell opportunity to redeem himself for technically scoring the Vancouver goal. On this chance he rattled the post. This was also set-up by Bolland and his dominating line. The Hawks got a power-play, looked good, but ended without production.
Coming off that momentum, Campbell gets another chance to make up and he buries it top shelf behind a screen by Toews and off a wonderful Kane pass. Not a few seconds later BAM! Nail in the coffin to this one. Keith drives a beautiful set-up home off of a pass from Frolik in the corner. From here on out the Hawks took it to the Nucks who seemed to just get more lost as the game went on.
Vancouver's forecheck all but disappeared, their neutral zone movement was well, neutralized and it didn't seem like Vancouver was the President's Trophy winners anymore. Finally waking up, Chicago dominated like a team who was defending the Cup. Many things happened. Vancouver looked to fight back for a moment, missed opportunities on both sides occurred, a big one from Toews, and a few other things. The most important thing that happened was that the Blackhawks supported and played a great team hockey game.
The result was a Bolland goal. Off of pressure from Bickell, Bolland picked up a giveaway on a bad change by Vancouver, walked in and picked his low corner. Where has this been you might ask? I don't know really. Vancouver stopped playing hockey and Chicago started playing smart. Recognizing and reading plays, winning battles in the corners, hitting their passes, shooting to kill and leaping to a 5-1 lead on a Frolik breakaway goal. Also off of a head's up play by Bolland. The Nucks are really lucky that Bolland was not around for the first 3 games. Really, really lucky.
In true fashion of this season's ups and downs, the Hawks show just how explosive they can be after leaving us all dumbfounded a game earlier.
For some reason Luongo came back into the net for the 3rd. This might be the lucky charm the Hawks have been looking for in this series. I can not for the life of me understand why he would return. Possibly hurting physically, and most likely mentally at this point, it is a lose - lose situation for him to stand between the pipes after being blown away in the 2nd. A Sharp BLAST would send him back to the locker room, but not right away even. He left a few minutes later (really weird). The goal was scored on a PP, which was the result of a frustrated Vancouver team. The shot was belligerently hard and fast. Calling it a blast is an understatement. He got number 2 later, on another PP.
Jump to late in the 3rd, Vancouver has 5 guys in the penalty box, obviously showing some composure concerns and the Hawks were relentless right back. Let the Shenanigans begin. Penalties here, penalties there, a few game dismissals, and the Hawks win 7-2.
The Hawks had 26 shots in the first two periods and I thought they played a strong physical game to boot. Maybe for the first time this year. Penalty minutes ended at 61 for the Nucks and 37 for the Hawks. The next game proves to be interesting.
Taking it one game at a time, lets relish in this night's game. I am super jealous of a couple friends who were at this one live and in person, but I digress. The Hawks got a huge win, avoided the sweep in high style and sent a statement heard around the league. Now we look to the next game. Heading back to Vancouver will prove much more difficult. I hope the Hawks take their triumphs with them. They might be trailing in the series, but they are outshooting and outscoring the Nucks in it as of now. If you take bounce away from the Canucks and give it to the Hawks in last game, and even series it is. Just trying to show the glass half full.
Many questions for Thursday night. Will Seabrook be back? He will be a huge difference if he is. Will Bolland be as successful? I sure hope so. Will Hossa be a factor? Not likely.
I hope this was Keith's awakening. He played great tonight after a questionable start and built on his strengths as the game progressed. This momentum would be nice to have in Vancouver.