Some notes for you to mull over as we get ready to welcome our Blackhawks back to the Madhouse on Madison tomorrow night.
In Thursday’s post-game press conference, Vancouver Coach Alain Vigneault was asked if Roberto Luongo would start game six. The reporter didn’t even finish the question before Coach Pouty-Face snapped, “Yes.” Pride goeth before destruction, methinks.
Vigneault seems to be too stubborn to admit that his franchise goaltender can’t stop a beach ball right now. Any Tom, Dick and idiot knows that Corey Schneider should start the next game. But no, thanks to Vigneault’s hubris we’ll see LuLu Belle right where we want him on Sunday night: crouched between the pipes and lubing up for the treatment the Blackhawks will give him over the subsequent 3 hours.
* * * * *
Looking at both teams’ goaltenders’ stats, one thing jumps out at you very clearly: Roberto Luongo is getting progressively worse, and Blackhawks rookie goaltender Corey Crawford is getting progressively better.
Luongo has gone from a 32-save shutout in game 1 down to a .667 save percentage performance in game 5. Corey Crawford’s low point was giving up 5 goals on 27 shots in game 2; his save percentage has gotten better each game culminating in his 30-save shutout on Thursday.
The Blackhawks’ shooters have figured out the Canucks’ netminder, and the Blackhawks’ netminder has figured out the Canucks’ shooters. Vancouver fans better hope that this trend reverses itself, or the Canucks will be looking for tee times next Saturday.
* * * * *
Blackhawks’ center Dave Bolland had himself a little snit after a play in the Canucks’ zone during the second period on Thursday. Replays showed the high hit on Bolland by Canucks’ defenseman Dan Hamhuis, but it was a bit of a mystery why Bolland left the ice barking at the refs before smashing his stick over the boards. Friday, the truth was revealed.
Hamhuis’ flagrant elbow hit Bolland so hard it cracked his helmet. Now, I’m sorry. But if a referee is missing these infractions, then he’s endangering the players by being out there: fire him. Bolland is returning from a concussion, and the head-shot from Hamhuis was intended to take him out of the game and out of the series. That’s deliberate attempt to injure, match penalty, end of story. And the NHL disciplinary committee has the benefit of video review for these types of hits. They ignored the hit on Troy Brouwer on Tuesday, and we heard nothing from them about the hit on Bolland.
It’s obvious that this “effort” by the NHL to get the head-shot problem under control is just a public relations campaign, and apparently it’s also run by a 9-year-old. This “aggressive stance” has done absolutely nothing to stop these kinds of hits, and in my opinion they are actually becoming more frequent. It’s time for the league to either start doing what’s needed — handing out meaningful suspensions to players DURING the playoffs — or shut the fuck up about player safety. Right now all they’re concerned about is push-back from the owners, who after all, pay their salaries. It’s a preposterous conflict of interest, and the net result is that nothing gets better.
* * * * *
On Friday the NHL announced its list of Vezina Trophy candidates, which included Roberto Luongo. But if he wins, please don’t sully George’s good name: replace the ‘ez’ with ‘ag’.
* * * * *
For those of you who missed this during the TV broadcast, during the last two games the Tampon Twins were out-scored by none other than Blackhawks’ goaltender Corey Crawford. Crawford had two assists during games four and five; the Danielle and Henrietta combined for only one goal.
* * * * *
This has been a tale of two series. Games 1 through 3, the Blackhawks were playing like a JV team at an all-girls school; games 4 and 5, it was like watching a clinic in how to take apart an opponent. What happened? How did they do this? And what made them decide they were going to defend their Stanley Cup Championship instead of letting it fall to their arch-rival?
As we all sit scratching our heads, wondering what sparked the Blackhawks between game 3 and game 4, Duncan Keith has provided the answer. Hanging in his locker stall is the jersey of his fallen defense partner, Brent Seabrook. Canucks ass-licker Raffi Torres nailed Seabrook with a cheap shot to the head in game 3, and Seabs has been out ever since. That, apparently, has been all the motivation the team needed. Duncs and the rest of the Blackhawks have rallied around avenging this disgraceful act, not with their fists, but on the scoreboard.
2 games, 12 goals. That’s a nice little bit of vengeance, don’t you think?