I know first-hand the excitment everyone is feeling after the Game 6 overtime victory, which forced an improbable Game 7 on Tuesday in Vancouver. Battling back from 0-3 to force a deciding game is an accomplishment in itself – and a rather exciting one to boot.
After Ben Smith flipped the winner over Roberto Luongo, I was so excited I couldn’t be cooped up in a cab or on the bus. I live two miles north of the United Center up Damen Ave. in Wicker Park, and I walked every step of the way home. I even stopped in a couple bars to have a celebratory drink.
Some gloating and a nice sleep later, I’ve finally come back to Earth to realize the most important thing: The Blackhawks haven’t won anything yet, and they may have put us fans in a worse position to suffer heart failure than if they were simply swept away.
The roller coaster ride of this series resembles the entire 82-game season nearly as much as the Sedin twins do each other – and it’s been nearly just as ugly. Injuries, storylines, depths of despair, moments of hope, more painful miscues, then a rise to get us all back on the teeter-tottering bandwagon named “Repeat.”
Taking out emotion and looking at it from more simplistic terms, all the Blackhawks have done is put us in the same position Canucks fans were after the first three games: One win from the second round. Most ’Hawks followers are acting as if Chicago has already won the series after winning three straight.
Sound familiar? Just read the comments on this site through the first three games from Vancouver fans, and you’ll immediately realize my point. Nothing has been won on either side, despite the constant euphoria of staving off elimination for the past week.
Attribute the comeback to whatever you must to rationalize it. Raffi Torres’ hit on Brent Seabrook; the return of Dave Bolland; the collapse of Roberto Luongo. Fact is, if you put an animal in a corner it’s going to fight its way out or die trying. The Blackhawks were pushed to the wall and have done just that.
Unintentionally, the Canucks are now in that same position – and they’re fighting for their lives on home ice. After 117 regular-season points, a Presidents Trophy and three straight wins against their bitter rivals, you must imagine the Canucks storming out of that dressing room looking to smooth out the hump which has gotten in their way the past two postseasons.
The intent here is not to be a downer or remove the excitement emanating after a dramatic comeback not a single person in the world could’ve realistically seen coming. Nothing more would please me than to watch the Blackhawks take the ice for their first second-round game immediately after the new “History Will Be Made” video featuring the Collapsing Canucks.
My point is to help make clear Vancouver will not fold up for Game 7 simply because it lost while still playing its best hockey. If anything, suffering through the goaltending change and an overtime loss should give the Canucks even more reason to storm the ice despite the loss.
While the fitting choke job is nearly complete, don’t start making second-round plans until the final horn sounds and the Blackhawks show the bigger number on the scoreboard. There’s 60 minutes – or more – to go until the ‘Hawks can dispatch the Canucks for a third straight year.
Relax, prepare, and endure. It’s bound to be another bumpy ride on Repeat Bandwagon.
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