Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Steve Rosenbloom of RosenBlog at the Chicago Tribune,
True fact: The Hawks have played 180 minutes vs. the Canucks. They have trailed Vancouver for 112:39 of that.
The Hawks had a big crowd and a lot of momentum coming home tied in the series. Even better, they got an early power play. But they would manage only one good chance, and really, that would be it for the period.
The Canucks, meanwhile, withstood the usual 10-minute onslaught the Hawks throw at teams in the United Center, and then they took control of the game.
Sorry, but it shouldn’t have happened. Not this way. Not at home. Not after a terrorizing comeback in Game 2.
Worse, the Hawks didn’t just lose Game 3, they gave it away, making a couple awful plays that led to Vancouver’s first two goals.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
They brought in the legendary Hall Of Famer Bobby Hull for the ceremonial opening faceoff. They filled the United Center with 22,659 screaming fans, brought to their feet by Jim Cornelison’s stirring rendition of the national anthems. They came ready to celebrate the Chicago Blackhawks’ next step down the NHL playoff path.
Then ... nothing.
The Vancouver Canucks spoiled the party with a methodical and defensively sound performance last night, grinding out a 3-1 win over the Blackhawks and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final, with Game 4 set for tomorrow night.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
...Despite the job Tallon has done in four seasons as Hawks GM, rumours persist that he and McDonough don’t see eye to eye.
“No, it’s not true,” McDonough said this week, as the playoff returned to Chicago for the first Round 2 in 13 springs. His take on why the smoke of Tallon’s dismissal continues to waft over the NHL landscape?
“Any time that somebody new comes in to run an organization, and you’re getting to know people’s styles—and their styles are different than yours—that’s probably going (perceived) that there is friction between the president and the general manager,” McDonough said.
“Dale is more of a laid back, casual, get-it-done (guy), but in a different style. Mine is more aggressive. It’s everyday aggressive. So, we’re learning more about each other.
Two teams will be up 2-1 in the series after the game tonight.
Which two is the question.
from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun,
Thanks to blowing a 2-0 lead, giving up five consecutive goals, and losing 6-3 at home to Chicago in Game 2, the Canucks come here where the Blackhawks are unbeaten in the playoffs and where the environment is expected to be like it hasn’t been for a hockey game in Chicago since the Blackhawks used to play across the road in the now-levelled Chicago Stadium.
“All the way home it’s all everybody was talking about,” said Hawks’ Adam Burish of the charter flight from Vancouver.
“It’s going to be louder than ever. From the way it’s been building and the way it was for Game 5 against Calgary, it’s going to be the same kind of atmosphere as everybody says it used to be around here when it was the loudest rink in the NHL,” he said of Chicago Stadium, where the little hairs on the back of your neck stood at attention during the national anthem.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
He casts a wide-bodied presence — a lunar eclipse on skates when he gets set up in front of the net — for a team that understands the best way to make Luongo look mortal is to block his view at every turn. And if a guy occasionally loses an edge and accidentally-on-purpose goes crashing into the goalie, well, that’s good for business — Blackhawks business, that is.
“I’m there, I’m there,” said Byfuglien, when asked if he’s in the heads of Vancouver players. “But it’s been good. It’s been fun. I’m just doing my job and playing the way I can.”
“He’s a big body,” ventured Bieksa, following Canucks practice yesterday at the United Center. “He’s played well for them, obviously. Last game, he played well. He gets in on the fore-check, he finishes his hit. He’s a big body in front of Louie.
“But it’s more about us worrying about ourselves right now than us worrying about them.”
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
The Canucks have more than a few issues to deal with as their second-round series lands in the Windy City. But job No. 1 is defending those killer stretch passes that have exposed their blueline.
David Bolland’s shorthanded goal Saturday night was simply the most glaring example of that play, but the Blackhawks have used the long bomb to ignite their attack throughout the first two games.
It’s confusing the Canucks’ coverage. It’s putting Roberto Luongo under considerable duress. And it’s completely negating the Canucks’ forecheck.
Here’s the result. Aside from a 30-minute span from the 10-minute mark of the first period to the end of the second period in Game 1, the Hawks have dominated this series to an alarming degree. The Canucks now have to prove they can play at their speed or slow them down to their own. Either way, the challenge is formidable.
from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune,
Ever since their three-goal explosion in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night, the Hawks have been the faster, stronger and more physical of the teams, and they have seized home-ice advantage in the series with three of the possible five remaining games scheduled at the UC.
After winning all three home games in front of roaring crowds during their first-round series with Calgary, the Hawks are pleased to be setting up shop once again on West Madison Street.
“It’s all about coming out hard and flying and using that energy in our own building,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “We have an opportunity here, so we have to go out there and take advantage of it.”
The most shocking aspect of the two games in Vancouver was the Hawks’ ability to put pucks past Canucks star goaltender Roberto Luongo. The veteran netminder has yielded eight goals during the first two games after giving up just five in Vancouver’s four-game sweep of St. Louis in the first round.
from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun,
...The rest of the story is how Quenneville, five years ago at this time, had just been fired from his first NHL head-coaching job and had been chosen to coach Canada at the World Hockey Championships in Prague.
The trip began with an exhibition game in Budapest, Hungary, where he called the Czech Republic “Czechoslovakia” and made a few other minor international hockey gaffes at a press conference where he clearly did not look comfortable.
In a mixed zone with myself and two other Canadian scribes in Prague he was very upset before excusing himself after about two minutes. He ended up in hospital that night where he stayed for two days before being sent home after having suffered a mental breakdown, leaving assistant coach Mike Babcock to take over and coach the team to a gold medal.
It was explained that he’d never been to Europe before, couldn’t sleep and combined with coaching Canada on the big ice in a foreign environment, was overwhelmed by the stress.
“It was stress, but it was job-to-job stress,” he said in a one-on-one interview with Sun Media, agreeing to speak to a subject he’s avoided speaking to before.
from Stephen Brunt of the Globe and Mail,
They made Roberto Luongo, by and large, look ordinary in the Vancouver net, and at even strength controlled the tempo. Their defencemen fearlessly ventured deep into Canucks territory or fired long stretch passes through the neutral zone. Their forwards won all of the small races for the puck, and made Vancouver seem a bit tentative, a bit slow, back on their heels, reacting.
The really striking part, though, was the Blackhawks’ poise.
Young teams, with the bulk of their roster dipping a toe for the first time into the postseason, are supposed to be at least a little bit intimidated, and franchises that make great leaps forward during the regular season often fall back in the playoffs.
But as the folks in Calgary already know all too well, this is a special group of Hawks, apparently not the least bit shaken by the situation or by unfriendly surroundings.
from Tim Sassone of Between The Circles at the Chicago Daily-Herald,
The more you see the Vancouver defense, the more ordinary it looks. And now the Canucks might be without defenseman Samu Salo, who apparently hurt his back scoring his power-play goal two minutes into the first period. Salo left the game and never returned.
Kevin Bieksa acts all tough, but Dustin Byfuglien blew by him much of the night like he was one of those orange practice cones.
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