Everyone was freaking out after the loss to those predatory Nashville Predators in game three, putting the Hawks in a 1-2 hole. Immediately after that loss, the magnetic doodle board on my fridge read "Hawks in 6!" (click for dated proof)
Cub fan that I am, I wondered if I might have just jinxed them... but I trusted in my Hawk faith. So, after yesterday's series-clinching victory, I celebrated not only the Hawks moving on to the Vancouver Canucks for round two, but the fulfillment of my cocky prediction. It was sweet.
All in all, the Nashville series provided all that is fantastic about NHL playoff hockey; the unmatched intensity, shifts in momentum, dazzling plays on both sides of the puck, spectacular goaltending, and the immense drama attached to every goal scored. It would have been a great series anyways, but its a lot easier to admit it with the Hawks advancing over an inferior team that they had to beat.
Although its hard to narrow it down to only three players, and its encouraging to see Toews (8) along with Hossa, Sharp, and Kane (7 each) leading the way in points, my three stars for the series (neglecting to recognize any player from the losers), would have to be:
3rd Star- Antti Niemi
2nd Star- Brent Sopel
1st Star- Patrick Sharp
3 goals (1 game-winner, 1 powerplay), 4 assists, and lead the team in shots (19). He carried the team early on in the series when the offense appeared to be struggling.
So, now its onto everybody's favorite Gold Medal goalie Roberto Luongo, the Sedin twins, Ryan Kesler, and the rest of the Vancouver Canucks. Granted the Canucks are arguably better than the team the Hawks defeated in round two of last year's playoffs, notably due to the addition of ex-Red Wing Mikael Samuelsson, but I predict a repeat of last year's Hawks' victory-- especially considering the home ice advantage the Hawks did not have last year.
The Hawks have dominated Luongo before, and though I'm sure this series will only further the growing intensity of this excellent budding rivalry, I predict the Hawks again eliminating these silly Canucks in a less-intense six games. Look for a repeat of Luongo's not-so-rare tears this year... but first let's enjoy the memory of last year's series against Vancouver:
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Tags: Antti Niemi, Brent Sopel, Chicago Blackhawks, Daniel Sedin, Henrick Sedin, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Mikael Samuelsson, Nashville Predators, NHL, NHL Playoffs, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Predictions, Roberto Luongo Crying, Ryan Kessler, Series Wrap-up, Vancouver Canucks