Allow me to present you with a conversation Fels and I had an hour or so before last night's game:
Sam: I told McClure this smells like a Toews game.
We haven't had one yet. He's been good, but you know there's one where he scores twice with two assists or something and eats people's hearts on the ice.
me: Somehow goes 17 for 12 on the faceoff
Sam: Yeah, exactly
me: i wouldn't mind seeing that
Well, he only went 10 for 20 at the draw (and everyone wearing white was pretty bad taking faceoffs last night).. but obviously outlived our hopes in the scoring department. My girlfriend and I were talking about Sam's prediction this morning over breakfast... she asked me what the hell a Toews game would "smell" like. i answered the only correct response... it smells like victory. With his 5 points last night, Toews took over the scoring lead in the playoffs with 18 overall.
I could probably spend the entire wrap talking simply about Toews' game - but hopefully you all saw it. This game will long be remembered by Hawk fans. The Hawks captain put the team on his back and carried them to victory. That cannot be said for the Canucks captain.. who now has the worst GAA and SV% of any remaining goalie in the playoffs.
Other than Toews - the biggest story has to be the removal of the clown shoes on the power play. The Canucks were rattled after Game 3. They were angry and they wanted to show the Hawks that they can play a tough physical, intimidating game. Other than crashing the crease and trying to shake Niemi off his game - they obviously wanted to make Dustin Byfuglien pay for his performance in Game 3. Buff drew three penalties for cross-checks and roughing from the simpletons Shane O'Brien and Alex Burrows and there were several more that could have been called, including a blatant trip by Roberto Luongo. The Hawks scored on two of those power plays and Shane O'Brien was able to work out a nice groove in the Nucks bench as he didn't really get up from it too often after the first.
O'Brien wasn't the only one taking dumb penalties though. Daniel Sedin had only 28 PIM for the regular season. He had 4 last night... and both of them were as stupid as Wellwood is fat. Oh.. and the Hawks scored on both of those power plays too. Thanks for that. We knew the Canucks were going to be physical and the Hawks could take advantage of that. It says a lot though that the team is so mind-fucked that even one of the Sedins has resorted to practically gooning it up. Seabrook really sold in the interference but it's hard not to make the call when you break your stick on someone... unless your name is Burish I guess
So now the series shifts back to Chicago tomorrow (reminder - it's also mother's day) and the Hawks have the ability to close out the Canucks in 5. I wouldn't count out the Canucks just yet... but I can't say I like their chances much either.
-Also in danger of being overshadowed by Toews and the power play was Antti Niemi's game. 4 goals against isn't the prettiest, but the Finn also stood tall and made a couple huge saves early on, keeping the Hawks in the game. He had exactly the game we wanted from him. He made saves he should have and maybe a few he shouldn't have too. He wasn't rattled by the Nucks trying to get in his crease.
-The Hawks were downright awful taking faceoffs last night, going only 28 for 69 (and for the record... that 69 doesn't count as a tasteless sex joke.. it's a legitimate statistic). Bolland and Madden were particularly bad, winning only 27.8% and 29.4% of the draws respectively. This is the one aspect of the game the Hawks need to improve tomorrow. The Canucks thrive on puck possession so winning the draw can go a long way to throwing them off their game.
-You have to give some amount of credit to the Canucks though - they easily could have given up during the second period but they never quit skating. I didn't really exhale until there was about 5 minutes left in the game.. and even then I wasn't quite ready to start celebrating.
-The Blackhawks now celebrate an entire line that has scored a hat trick against Roberto Luongo in the playoffs.
-Finally, a huge thank you to everyone who made it out to the Bottom Lounge last night. We finally got a win there, removing any concerns about a possible curse. Another big thanks to Mike, Steve and everyone else at the Bottom Lounge. If you didn't make it out, don't worry, we'll hopefully be having quite a few more of these.
Player of the Game:
Like there was any doubt about who this would go to..