That's Not How We Planned It: Canucks Stay Alive, Series Lead Cut To One Game
Well, I guess the Canucks were only mostly dead. After two solid games for the Blackhawks in Vancouver, the Canucks turned things around masterfully tonight in Chicago. The Canucks played the damn near perfect road game against the Hawks. Instead of seeing a march to the box for crosschecking, roughing and general douchebaggery... we saw the Canucks lift sticks, legally work bodies away from the crease and fight off every chance the Hawks could mount.
Not that the Hawks made things all that difficult though. The Hawks were all too willing to make sure the roles were completely reversed tonight - taking one stupid penalty after another. Actually, it might not be fair to say all the Hawks were taking penalties. In reality it was only three, Buff taking back to back penalties in the second, Eager being the moron we all know he can be and Marian Hossa taking two bad penalties of his own... one of which came a mere 4 seconds after Toews' goal, killing any momentum that the Hawks could have been working to build late in the game. Nice one there Marian. The only non-repeat offender tonight was Antti Niemi, taking his first ever penalty in the NHL for a hooking call behind his net.
The game obviously started off poorly when Versteeg blindly whipped a puck out of the Hawks zone for an icing call. We've seen the Hawks get jumpy in their own zone, especially at home, and tonight was more of the same. Versteeg wasn't the only one guilty of stupidly throwing the puck away tonight. It just so happens that his move early in the game was directly followed by Niemi oddly stabbing at a shot, allowing Christian Ehrhoff to open the scoring less than a minute into the game.
Things only got worse as all around turdsniffer Kevin Bieksa was able to net two goals of his own... one of an admittedly nice feed from the Wellwood... another off a screen in front. Niemi didn't have much of a chance on either.
The Hawks had opportunities to get the game tilting their way but completely lacked the ability to finish any chances they were burying in BC. They outshot the Canucks 30 to 24 but weren't able to establish the presence in front of Luongo. This is also directly related to the Hawks trying once again to go for the pretty plays... trying to nail the perfect long pass or stickhandle their way through the Nucks who were effective at keeping the Hawks to the outside.
We got spoiled by the Hawks steamrolling their way through Vancouver. Despite predicting a long series, we hoped we could see it closed out in 5. Now we're going to see at least one more Tuesday night. God help us all if it goes to 7.
-Credit goes to where it's due. Roberto Luongo had a game that reminded us of his performance in Game 1. There were few, if any, rebounds given up. He didn't exactly steal the game for the Nucks but finally provided a bit of backbone for a team that desperately needed it. If he keeps that up, the series is going to be all that much harder for the Hawks.
-The Hawks weren't able to take advantage of an already weak defensive core that spent a good amount of time without Sami Salo who left the game after taking a slapshot to the chest, stomach or groin.... hard to say exactly. VS had footage of him being put into an ambulance and taken away for further testing. Not having his shot from the blue line and all-around solid play will be a big loss for the Nucks... even if it didn't look like it tonight. UPDATE: Looks like it could be the worst case scenario for Salo.. a ruptured testicle. Fucking A. I think Keith owes him a beer or something now.
-The Nucks also spent a few shifts with only 4 defensemen after Shane O'Brien was too dumb to realize that a high stick like that should also probably give you a concussion. Hockey players are tough bastards.. that's for sure.
-We saw some ugly play for the Hawks tonight too. Dave Bolland showed why the Sedins hate him by giving a pretty nasty slash to Daniel's ankle, taking him out of the game for a while. Henrik retaliated later and was called for a trip. It was a pretty cheap shot and a dick move from Bolland.. but lets not act like he's the only player doing it. He should have been called for it though. Eager also got in on the act with a slash on Ehrhoff with 13 seconds to go in the game. If the Hawks are going to be this blatant about it then Toews and Kane will really have to watch out for themselves.
-Speaking of Bolland, he got worked again at the draw going only 2 for 13... Toews won 58% though. So that's nice.
-See you tuesday folks.