My, How the Tables Have Turned


The Blackhawks had a chance to do something I didn’t think they could do.  There’s no way I thought they could beat the Canucks in 5 games.

They could have, and they blew it.

Duncan Keith heads back to the Blackhawks' bench after the Canucks scored (Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune)

In typical Blackhawks’ fashion, they played flat in a big game, and allowed the Canucks to creep back into the series.  It’s not like they played terribly, and we should give the Canucks credit for playing much better than they did in games three and four.

I think the Hawks may have taken the Canucks for granted in game five, if that’s possible.  If they did, shame on them.  The Canucks are too good a hockey team to keep taking the dumb penalties that they did.  Roberto Luongo is too good a goaltender to give up as many rebounds as he has.

Last night, the Canucks did what every road team strives to do.  They scored the first goal of the game, and they scored it early.  Say what you want about it being a bad goal, whether or not Antti Niemi should have made the save.  The fact is, the Blackhawks are more than good enough to come back from a one-goal deficit.

You could tell early on that the Hawks weren’t the same team that dominated games three and four.  They weren’t nearly as physical.  They weren’t getting a ton of shots on goal, and they didn’t have much traffic in front of the net.

Not that Luongo was giving many rebounds.

Maybe it was, after all, that the Canucks just played better, and the Hawks weren’t ready for it.  How they weren’t ready for it baffles me, but maybe they weren’t.

The Hawks are at their best when they control the puck, stay in the offensive zone, and throw a lot of pucks at the net.  They get a ton of goals from cleaning up rebounds.  That needs to be their game plan going forward.  It worked so well in games three and four. Luongo has a tendency to lunge at the puck when it’s loose in front of him, so the more skates and sticks that get in there, the more likely the puck is to slide over the goal line.

Their passing was was really sloppy last night as well.  Whether or not the United Center ice surface is bad, the passing last night was terrible.  Hockey is so much a game of timing, and if your passes are off by just a little bit, you aren’t going to score.

Last night it was the Hawks that found themselves cutting ruts directly to the penalty box.  For the last couple of games it had been Vancouver taking dumb penalties, and it cost them.  While the Canucks only converted on one of their power play chances, they had six opportunities….way too many.

Now they head back to Vancouver for game six.  There’s no way the Canucks and their fans will let the Hawks just march in and move on.  It’s going to be a fight to the bitter end.  I think this game will be a low scoring affair.  While the Hawks have the 3-2 series lead, they can’t be too conservative and let Vancouver get out to a lead like they did last night.  Scoring the first goal will be critical.

It’s time for the youngest captain in the league to step up.  We know Jonathan Toews is a good leader, but he’s going to have to continue to prove that tomorrow night if the Blackhawks want to move on to face the Sharks.

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