Tag Archives: Canucks

The Playoff Legend of Ben Smith: Hawks-Nucks Game 6 Highlights

Incredible hockey game. A punch, counter-punch type affair but in the end the Blackhawks had a horseshoe in their back pocket.

Corey Schneider was a late surprise starter for Alain Vigneault. Schneider did pretty well until two and a half minutes into the third period when he pulled a muscle while attempting to stop Michael Frolik’s penalty shot score. That tied the game 3-3 after Kevin Bieksa put the Canucks up 3-2 a minute into the third frame. Roberto Luongo was sharp in relief, stopping 12 Hawks shots, 10 in overtime, until the Niklas Hjalmarsson shot Luongo seemed surprised by rebounded to overtime hero Ben Smith. Marian Hossa made the game-winner happen but it was the line of Bolland-Bickell and Frolik that carried Chicago as they did in Game 4.

In a scene straight out of the parallel universe, a huge Dave Bolland check behind the Vancouver net led to Bryan Bickell’s goal, tying the game 1-1 late in the first. Bolland struck a lucky puck twenty minutes later to answer Alex Burrows’ lead-taking tally after Corey Schneider coughed the puck up to Patrick Kane behind his goal.

Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows (first goal and second point of the series for him) were the other Vancouver scorers. Sedin was first to the scoresheet, putting the Nucks up 1-0 early in the game after a horrible defensive play by Niklas Hjalmarsson. A nice 25-foot wrister by Burrows beat Corey Crawford’s right pad from the slot.

In this game, the Blackhawks blew a minute and forty-three second 5 on 3 man advantage and went scoreless in 6:17 of power play time overall; Patrick Kane blundered a clear breakaway straight out of the penalty box and the ‘Hawks played the 75-minute game a man-short (John Scott dressed and skated less than a minute; coach’s decision).

Go figure. Vancouver played a great road game and still lost. Luck probably runs out for the Hawks in Vancouver. Or, maybe not. Doesn’t matter. The hockey was great. Vancouver’s still the better team and capable of raising their game a notch. But the Hawks have better big-game performers. Chicago can’t play the no-pressure card anymore. They’ve won 3 in a row, have the Canucks on the ropes, play very well in Vancouver and have the Canucks’ number historically. Everyone is anticipating Vancouver to choke and they’ll need a Vezina-like performance from a supposedly ailing Roberto Luongo to win Game 7. Should be fun.

Game 7 Tuesday night in Vancouver.  Game time is now listed as 9pm central/7 pacific.  Versus broadcast nationally, ComcastSportsNet in Chicago.  Since the Chicago Bulls game Tuesday night starts at 7pm and is likely to run until around 9:30, the beginning of the Hawks-Canucks game will be shown on CSN-Plus.

NHL.com highlights

Share

Hawks-Nucks: Hits Count

Much has been made of the physicality in this year’s Blackhawks-Canucks series.  While the Canucks hold a substantial (+46) advantage in the overall credited hits column, they also (according to official scorers in Vancouver) collected a hefty 40 to 14 margin over Chicago in Game 5.  This on a night the Canucks were shutout in their home rink and have worked themselves into a situation where they could see their season slipping away if they don’t get their act together fast.

Now one aspect sometimes overlooked when analyzing hit counts is that if one team has the puck, they’re not looking for hits or finishing checks.  So if one team owns the puck for a great majority of the game, or is sitting back protecting a hefty lead (which the Hawks were in Game 5 as well) they’re not forechecking as hard and thus not finishing as many checks.  Thus why hit counts can oftentimes be misleading.

By periods in Game 5, Vancouver out-hit Chicago 12-4. 17-5 and 11-5.

From a Blackhawks’ perspective you can see how certain players such as Bryan Bickell and Viktor Stalberg have dug into their roles and pressured the Canucks when they’ve been on the ice.  They along with Troy Brouwer (the Hawks regular season hits leader) and Chris Campoli on the blue line have been the most physical Hawks. Read more »

Share

Game 5 Highlight Package: Blackhawks blow through Vancouver 5-0

A lesson to all you young hockey coaches out there: Don’t be a Vigneault. Taking any game (4) off, no matter the series score, has its consequences. Alain Vigneault has been bitten once again. Now he has a rattled team and a shaken goaltender heading back to Chicago for a Game 6 he almost can’t lose if the Canucks are to close out the series successfully.

NHL.com has the highlights

Share

Blackhawks 7, Canucks 2: Gm 4 Highlights

They have “Bad Moon Rising” on continuous repeat in B.C. tonight.

Blackhawks are still in a 3-1 hole, but are now back in the series, relieved by the “no pressure – nothing to lose” position they earned over the previous 85 games.

NHL.com has the Game 4 and some guy named Bolland – highlights.

Game 5 in Vancouver on Thursday night.

Share

Canucks 3, Blackhawks 2: Gm 3 Highlights

The referees tried. Raffi Torres tried. But no one could hand the Blackhawks the game and they weren’t good enough to take it own their own. A demoralizing defeat at the hand of the Canucks after the Hawks saw a first period 5-on-3 and eight and a half minutes of power play time (to VAN’s 1:17), the Blackhawks find themselves facing elimination Tuesday night in Game 4 at the United Center.

NHL.com highlights after the jump. Read more »

Share

With my good eye closed; Hawks lose, return from Vancouver down 0-2

Searching for hope inside the Blackhawks’ Game 1 and 2 efforts in Vancouver can be like finding a needle in a haystack.  More like pouring a glass of milk three days after the expiration date.

Those looking for positives will need to keep their good eye closed.

Corey Crawford has been mostly great, but the Hawks are still in a 0-2 series’ hole coming back to the United Center for Game 3 on Sunday night.

Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp have yet to be heard from in this series.  But, neither have Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows and Mason Raymond.   Habitual Hawk-killer Mikael Samuelsson was a late-scratch Friday with the flu and the Sedin twins have flubbed a few prime scoring opportunities they normally wouldn’t.

Words cannot describe how awful Chicago’s blue line has been.  Future and former Norris Trophy winners will petition to have Duncan Keith’s name removed from the statue at this point.  Brent Seabrook’s pressing too hard and can’t be everywhere.  Brian Campbell is the Hawks’ best defenseman five on five and that’s not saying much.  He’s been terrible at times too.  Chris Campoli at least didn’t do anything too stupid.  Nick Leddy simply doesn’t belong.

Niklas Hjalmarsson did something on Friday you don’t see very often at the NHL level.  With the Hawks pinned deep in their zone, Hjalmarsson tried to outlet to his defense partner twice in a matter of seconds.  Just a minor issue with that though.  Neither time did Brian Campbell have a stick.  Ben Smith tried to give his stick to Campbell after the second Hjalmarsson pass but the puck was ten feet from Campbell in the Hawks’ right corner and the exchange didn’t happen.  The Hawks eventually got the puck out.

For the Hawks, hope is yet a glimmer in a narrowing eyelet.

For those steadfast in denial, the milk is on the table. Read more »

Share

2011 WCQF Gm 1 CHI-VAN Highlights

Share

Bold, perhaps foolhardy 2011 NHL Playoff picks

There were some very long, tough deliberations going into a few of this year’s opening round matchups.  Its difficult to isolate a ‘Cinderella’ this year because every one of those teams have gaping holes; major issues.

If the Nashville Predators were facing almost any other team but the Ducks in the first round, I’d pick the Preds to finally solve the first-round victory equation.  The Preds must jump all over Anaheim at Honda Center in games one and two to have a chance.  Pekka Rinne is due for a coming out series and the Ducks will have to get by with Dan Ellis at least for the initial game or two.  It will be a long series though and the Ducks have too much firepower to bet against.  I’m already planning on regretting this, but…. Ducks in 7.

(1) Vancouver over (8) Chicago – 6 games

(2) San Jose over (7) Los Angeles – 5 games

(3) Detroit over (6) Phoenix – 7 games

(4) Anaheim over (5) Nashville – 7 games

The Canucks are deeper up front and their blue line will outperform the Blackhawks defensive six.  Corey Crawford had to start the Blackhawks’ final 27 consecutive games out of necessity and showed signs of wear in the last week.  If the Hawks do get under Roberto Luongo’s hair, the key to the series then becomes Alain Vigneault’s trigger finger.  In Corey Schneider, Vigneault has possibly an equally as good goaltender to Luongo in the back up position.  But if Vigneault waits too long to flip the card, the series’ tide could turn and it could be too late.  The Hawks are 18-10-1-3 versus Western playoff teams and five of those losses overall came to Vancouver and San Jose.  If they can somehow work their Van-magic again and pull past the Nucks, the Hawks could go on another run.  But the Canucks are too deep; special teams are too good and they’re primed to take this series.  In both previous Blackhawks’ postseasons, home ice in the first round was a pivotal factor and they don’t have it here.  Canucks in 6.

Phoenix gave the Red Wings all they could handle last season and now have another chance to pull off the upset.  The difference this year being Detroit has the home ice advantage.  Detroit struggled down the stretch and will start the series without Henrik Zetterberg (knee).  Jimmy Howard has been just ‘okay’ and he stares down the other end of the rink at Ilya Bryzgalov, who is capable of winning three or four games on his own.  Phoenix relies on him and a balanced scoring attack.  The Red Wings need Johan Franzen to get going again and guys like Lidstrom, Stuart, Rafalski and Kronwall must be better than they were in March and April.  Home ice will be a major factor.  Dave Tippett and Mike Babcock are two of the best coaches around.  Experience edge goes to eventual series winner… Red Wings in 7.

San Jose were the league’s best team during the second-half of the season.  Antti Niemi regained his 2010 playoff form and finds himself now behind another deep and top-end talent rich 2-seed.  Los Angeles will be without top center Anze Kopitar.  While Kopitar didn’t do much in the Kings’ opening-round loss to Vancouver last year, his absence is a stinger.  The season-series between these two teams did split 3-3, but the Sharks needed a shootout to win two of those games.  Jonathan Quick and Antti Niemi will wage an epic battle, so the games will be tight.  Which is where Kopitar’s loss looms bigger at a position the team isn’t strong at.  San Jose has two lines that can score every night and a third that will pitch in too.  The Kings secondary scoring line is now its first and thus draws the top checking assignment.  If LA is to win this series, they’ll have to do so with a string of 2-1, 1-0 type victories.  They can pull it off once or twice, but the Sharks are too explosive to shut down four over seven…. Sharks in 5.

(1) Washington Capitals over (8) New York Rangers – 7 games

(2) Philadelphia Flyers over (7) Buffalo Sabres – 6 games

(3) Boston Bruins over (6) Montreal Canadiens – 5 games

(5) Tampa Bay Lightning over (4) Pittsburgh Penguins – 6 games

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

Share

Lindbloom: On Hoochie Coochie Men


By Rich Lindbloom

“When everybody trying to sleep,
I’m somewhere making my midnight creep.
Every morning the rooster crow,
Something tell me I got to go.
I’m a back door man.  – Willie Dixon

Well, it’s been a bumpy ride now, hasn’t it? The road less travelled would certainly be an apt description of our seemingly alternate route to the playoffs. Whether or not it makes “all the difference” as Robert Frost claimed, remains to be seen.  In an earlier piece this year, I stated the Hawks’ primary goal should be to just make the playoffs. (I was actually hoping for a lot more, but beggars can’t be choosers.)  Little did I realize what an arduous process that would prove to be.  Around 7pm last Sunday, in the final game of the NHL season, a Hawk nation breathed a collective sigh of relief and finally exclaimed, “Mission Accomplished.”

Actually, saying “Mission Accomplished” might be as premature as Dubya’s statement when our troops rolled into Baghdad. However, over the course of a season littered with numerous obstacles, some perhaps self inflicted, I can’t help but think, “Well done boys.” We overcame assimilating half of Rockford’s team, significant injuries, questionable coaching decisions, phantom calls and inauspicious bounces. Somewhere in a deep, dark and damp cellar In Vancouver, some tempest tossed Canuck fan is nervously muttering to himself. As he pours over all the now meaningless league leading stats the Canucks amassed this year, he breaks out in a cold sweat as visions of Big Buff resurface in his addled brain. We may not have Big Buff this year, but we do have another black man that could figure prominently into our success during the playoffs – more on that later.

Quite incredulously, many fans throughout the NHL are claiming we got into the playoffs through the backdoor, sneaking around like a Hoochie Coochie man from some juke joint in Mississippi. In my mind, we didn’t back our way into anything, we earned it. Finishing with 97 points, just two points out of fifth place is not exactly tip toeing in with your shoes in your hand trying to remember where the squeaky floor boards are. (Although it appears more than one sports writer was perched behind the back door with a rolling pin, waiting to clobber the Hawks.) In no way, shape or form did we “squeak” into the playoffs. Read more »

Share

Simulcast Playoff Preview with Hockeenight dot com

In place of our weekly TTMI~Radio show this week, we did a simulcast with CT and the “Forklift” on their weekly Hockeenight PuckCast.

You can listen to the show here or over on their web site.

Those of you who download the mp3 file can right-click here.   The show is two hours long so its a rather large file this time around.

Dieter Kurtenbach joined the fray as well.  We all gave our first-round predictions; discussed Alain Vigneault’s brain, Ben Smith’s game, Bryan Bickell’s aspirations to be the best $525,000 perimeter player in the game, an entire line of Frolik’s, Tomas Kopecky’s next contract, Electric Football, the Rockford IceHogs, sports writers ending sentences with exclamation points, Forklift’s bold prediction, Blackhawk Hope, keys to the series, Herb Abrams, the worst upcoming crop of 1,000 game players you could ever imagine, the “people’s prospect”, Micah Hoffpauir, USA Network drama, chicken nuggets in business suits and so much more.

It was a fun time as always with the Hockeenight guys.  Thanks to them as always for sharing their time with us.  Check out their show each and every week for a unique brand of wit and cantor you can only find there.

On the home front, I apologize for disappearing for the past week.  I was shot down by a bad virus.  And of course the timing was just perfect.  I’ll have NHL awards, first round and playoff predictions up over the next two days.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

Share