Kukla's Korner Hockey
Feel free to drop in and discuss tonight’s game which starts a little after 9:30pm EDT.
My thoughts- Game 7 in Chicago on Thursday night.
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
In a startling development after their Game-5 loss on home ice, the Chicago Blackhawks admitted they’ll be carrying a considerable amount of baggage into Vancouver for tonight’s Game 6.
No, really. A lot more baggage. Tons of it. After failing to close out the Canucks on Sunday, you see, the Hawks had to pack for the return flight to Vancouver and a possible week-long stay in San Jose for a Western Conference semifinal which might start as soon as Friday.
You have to admit, that’s a lot of stuff to be carrying around after one loss – socks, underwear, the haunting memory of Sunday night coupled with the spectre of facing a reborn Roberto Luongo at GM Place.
It just remains to be seen if the burden, in the literal or metaphoric sense, will actually begin to weigh down the high-flying Hawks.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
John Madden knows something about the nuances of defensive hockey, having served the majority of his NHL career in New Jersey, where, for decades, the Devils mastered the art of smothering the life out of a game.
So Madden, now the Chicago Blackhawks’ checking-line centre, knows exactly what happened to his team in Sunday’s unremarkable 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, a defeat that prevented them from clinching their Western Conference playoff series.
The Canucks ripped a page out of the Devils’ book and slooooowed everything down.
from David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune,
“We’ll get ticked off about it and get ready for the next one,’’ Jonathan Toews said.
Easy, captain. You could argue that getting too agitated too often during Game 5 made it necessary for the Hawks to play the next one. So Toews and Co. may want to find a more productive way to channel whatever anger they muster.A not-so-funny thing happened to the Hawks on their trip home from western Canada. They lost their focus and apparently their poise on a night defined by missed chances and needless penalties.
Byfuglien didn’t deserve to be put in the box on the play that left O’Brien with stitches, but Big Buff was a big disappointment later in the second period with two unnecessary penalties. A guy already cast as the series villain must avoid any temptation to mix it up enough to put his team a man down – especially after he wounded a Canuck, accident or no accident.
The Canucks’ third goal came on a power play when all Byfuglien could do was watch from the penalty box. It wasn’t just Byfuglien. Marian Hossa also committed two of the Hawks’ seven penalties.
Canucks played their best game of the series, while Chicago just could not generate the offense needed to win the game.
Luongo was steady and it was important for the Caucks to get the opening goal tonight to take the Chicago crowd out of the game.
added 10:49pm, Sami Salo of the Canucks took a shot to the groin right as the first period ended. He was taken to the hospital and no update as of yet.
The Canucks have no chance to win with the likes of Shane O’Brien and Alex Burrows - Dumb and Dumber - running around and taking cheap shots at the Hawks.
-Tim Sassone of the Chicago Daily-Herald. Read more from Tim on the Chicago/Vancouver series.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Jonathan Toews looks remarkably alert at this moment, minutes after emerging from the Chicago Blackhawks’ triumphant charter flight home. This is the blessing of youth - and a sharp contrast to bleary-eyed teammate Patrick Sharp, who took the first turn at the microphone at Signature Flight Support, near O’Hare airport, where the team’s charter from Vancouver landed late Saturday afternoon.
One day earlier, Toews drove a stake through the hearts of the Canucks’ playoff hopes with a brilliant five-point performance. This afternoon, Toews was explaining why the team cannot take anything for granted heading into Sunday’s fifth game, a possible elimination game with Chicago ahead 3-1 in the series. Toews said all the right things: The Blackhawks will take nothing for granted. The final game is always the most difficult to win. Etc. etc. There is a reason why teammate Patrick Kane calls Toews Mr. Serious. There is an uncommon gravitas about the Blackhawks’ young captain that seems oddly out of step with his age, 22.
from Steve Rosenbloom of RosenBlog,
In the playoffs, your best players need to be your best players. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews had a hat trick and two assists, and that was just in the first two periods of Game 4 of this second-round series. The best you could ask for.
Vancouver’s best players were in the penalty box.
Maybe this will teach Alain Vigneault. The Vancouver coach named Toews the day before, saying it wasn’t Dustin Byfuglien who was terrorizing Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo despite a hat trick in Game 3, but Toews.
“The guy going to the net hardest for them and getting away with the most is probably Toews,” Vigneault said. “He’s pitch-forked. He’s run Louie. He’s done everything you need to do create offense. And on top of that he’s a real skilled player, so we know what we need to do here.”
Apparently not, unless the plan was to egg on his team’s Neanderthal approach.
from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province,
There is but one bright spot for Vancouver. After losing 7-4 in Game 4 to go down 3-1 in games, Vancouver doesn’t have to think about last year anymore. They have a new low point, now.
The Canucks were all out of maturity and composure. Goaltending, too. Luongo got caught slashing, whacking and trying to trip players like Dustin Byfuglien. Saves weren’t the only thing on his mind. Off his game, he wasn’t alone. But with his focus diverted, his game crumbled. Poor reads, more rebounds and another poor result. Luongo was riddled for six goals on 33 shots.
“I think right now he is the second best goaltender on the ice,” Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault said. “I think he can be better and he will be better.”
How did it feel for Luongo?
“Not very good.”
Chicago beats Vancouver 7-4 and can wrap up the series with a win at home on Sunday night.
added 12:58am, from Gary Mason of the Globe and Mail,
It was maybe the Canucks worst game of the playoffs, especially given what was at stake. There is a reason they say Game 4s are the most important in a playoff series. Statistically, the odds aren’t in the favour of any team trying to climb out of a 3-1 series hole. Which is the Everestian task the Canucks are now facing.
Especially given that the team isn’t showing the slightest signs that it has the game right now to even attempt such a massive turnaround.
The Canucks didn’t look like an Alan Vigneault coached team at all.
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