Apr 262011

Why not?  I guess Canucks fans will truly never suffer enough.

After a mostly dominant game, the Canucks get both a penalty shot opportunity and a late 3rd period power play (with Duncan Keith the Hawk going into the box) and not only did the Canucks not put the game away, but they surrendered a short-handed goal to tie the game and extended it to overtime.

Jonathan Toews with an amazing individual effort to beat two checks carrying the puck to the goal after a Canucks neutral zone giveaway.  The sequence started with Toews losing a neutral zone draw to Chris Higgins.  Toews got the puck from Seabrook and drove hard towards Luongo, dishing to Marian Hossa whose shot was stopped, but rebounded to a falling Toews for the put-in.

Duncan Keith’s attempt to stop an Alex Burrows breakaway on the opening shift of the period resulted in a Burrows penalty shot that Crawford stopped.  Burrows also drew the late period hook that sent Keith to the box for the Vancouver power play that the Blackhawks’ captain turned the tables on.

Corey Crawford has been nothing short of incredible.  He’s stopped 34 of 35 shots he’s faced.  12 of those coming in the third period.

Chicago really has no business extending this game to overtime.  A fact the Rogers Arena crowd recognizes as they went eerily silent after the Hawks’ short-handed goal and the Canucks inability to respond afterwards.  Some anxious moments ahead in Vancouver.

Shots going into OT are 35-31 in Vancouver’s favor.  The Canucks are outhitting Chicago 40-17.

The Blackhawks have yet another life in this series.  The Canucks mentally must be reeling.


Apr 262011

Second period was all Corey Crawford.  This game could easily be 3-0 at this point.  Crawford stopped 15 Vancouver shots in all to keep the score 1-0 through forty minutes.  His biggest save was one he absolutely needed to make after turning the puck over behind his goal.  With the Hawks on the power play (Jannik Hansen in the box for tripping Sharp), Crawford was trying to ease a dump in to a retreating Duncan Keith.  Keith was being hounded by Mason Raymond and Crawford didn’t lay the puck out far enough behind the goal for Keith and Keith overskated it and Raymond had an easy takeaway.  Keith really had no chance on the play.  Raymond then moved out front but Crawford turned his chance away.

Crawford’s two other huge stops came 39 seconds apart, both on Henrik Sedin, the second a goal line stand with a little help from Marcus Kruger who has been good in his role tonight.

The Blackhawks appeared gassed by the end of the period.  Vancouver didn’t let up at all coming out for the second, continuing to put the heat on Chicago in all zones.  The Hawks defense have little time and space in the offensive zone and the Canucks are effectively clearing their zone.  The Canucks appear to be tireless.

Vancouver continues to out hit the Hawks, 13-7 in the second period and out shot Chicago as well, 15-6 and 23-18 now overall in the game.

The Rogers Arena is reacting vociferously to every perceived non-call, with an obvious slant towards the home team.   Not unexpectedly the officials are trying to stay out of this game and a very reluctant to call anything.  That said, there’s been no rhyme or reason to the two penalties they have called, versus what they’ve let go.  Still, it has the feeling each team will get a power play opportunity in the third period.

Marian Hossa had a nice steal in the Cancucks’ zone seven minutes into the second, but aside from that, he’s been laregly invisible tonight.  Jonathan Toews was better in the circle that period and is everywhere but he’s missing a gear as has been the case most of the series.

Coming into the game, for those who have followed the Hawks all year long, the very least you wanted to see was another strong Crawford performance.  So far they’ve seen it.  Crawford is main reason Chicago even made the playoffs and its a crime he wasn’t one of the Calder trophy (rookie of the year) finalists.  The worst thing that could happen at this point would be for Crawford to wind up being the game 7 goat.  Through two, Crawford’s again been the Hawks best player by a wide margin.

Twenty minutes to go in regulation. Game 7. Vancouver leads 1-0.


Apr 262011

As expected, both teams came out flying early.  Vancouver had a lot of jump and more speed than the Hawks, who were on their heels by the end of the opening period.

Alex Burrows put Vancouver on the board first, for the only goal of the period.  Ryan Kesler got a pass from Mason Raymond at the Chicago blue line and drove tight and hard wide around Duncan Keith, who went for the bump and stopped moving his feet.  Kesler held to the goal line selling the stuff attempt before backhanding a pass into the low slot to the oncoming Burrows.  Corey Crawford had no chance.  Nick Leddy was in front but unable to stop the pass.  Burrows did a good job a leaving himself proper separation space as Leddy was where he needed to be.

Vancouver reverted back to the pace they set in games 1-3 of the series.  The Canucks were credited with 13 hits, to the Blackhawks’ 3.  Keep in mind these are Vancouver’s hometown official scorers.  The United Center is home to some pretty liberal stat keepers itself, but the Canucks were the decidedly more physical team in the opening twenty.

Joel Quenneville’s lines started out:

Viktor Stalberg – Jonathan Toews – Patrick Kane
Ben Smith – Patrick Sharp – Marian Hossa
Troy Brouwer – Dave Bolland – Michael Frolik
Marcus Kruger – Ryan Johnson – Fernando Pisani

Niklas Hjalmarsson – Brian Campbell
Duncan Keith – Nick Leddy
Chris Campoli – Brent Seabrook

By the midway point of the period, Smith had moved up to the Toews line and Stalberg to the Sharp-Hossa line.  The fourth line had a really nice shift, pinning the Canucks deep for a good 30 seconds cycling and winning the battles along the walls.  Pisani was brings up the rear as far as ice time so far (2:11, 3 shifts) which is already 2x the amount of ice time the guy he’s replacing, John Scott, had in a 75 minute game 6.  Seabrook and Keith are together at times too.  Keith, and the tandem of Hjalmarsson and Campbell are the ice time leaders.  Probably Campbell’s best period of the series.  Hawks have been poised under intense pressure.

Vancouver is killing the Hawks in the face off circle.  65% to 35%.  Toews is 0-3 vs Henrik Sedin and 1-3 vs Ryan Kesler.  Sharp is 3-4 vs Sedin.  Bolland is 2 for 7 overall.

Hawks held the shot advantage 12 to 8.  Luongo has been sharp early.  The Rogers Arena let out one big collective sigh of relief when Luongo stopped his first shot early, a long wrister from Frolik.

The officials are letting a lot go, but Brent Seabrook managed to get called for cross-checking at 16:21 to give the Canucks the only power play so far.  Vancouver picked up 3 shots during the man advantage and several other close attempts as they were all over the Hawks in those two minutes.

Despite the Vancouver goal the Blackhawks hold a 14-10 goal advantage at 5 on 5 play in this series.   Granted, the differential was created in two Chicago blowouts, but that’s something to be encouraged by if the referees keep the whistles in their pockets as you’d expect in a game 7.


Apr 262011

By Rich Lindbloom

“Well you can tell by the way I use my walk,
I’m a woman’s man, no time to talk,
Music loud, and women warm,
I’ve been knocked around since I was born…”
– The Bee Gee’s

Warning: The following piece may contain disagreeable and highly objectionable material to those offended by the pulsating sounds of “Disco Music.” If you were in attendance at Comiskey Park on July 12, 1979 for Steve Dahl’s infamous “Disco Demolition Night,” I urge you not to read this. That was the night Dahl and his “Insane Coho Lips Anti-Disco Army” demolished the field in between a double header with the Detroit Tigers. I realize most hockey fans would not have been caught dead in a disco. And I risk being physically beaten if they read this and spot me at the United Center; but in my mind the Bee Gee’s song Staying Alive perfectly describes the Blackhawks’ pulsating season. (On a side note – tell me some of you macho men wearing Bob Probert jerseys did not practice some of Travolta moves in the shower. You know who you are.) Continue reading »