Wow. Even I didn’t expect a Vancouver meltdown of that magnitude. The Canucks needed to stay composed. They didn’t. The Canucks needed to stay out of the box. They didn’t. And the Canucks really, really needed to win that game to prove to everyone they’re as good as we all thought they were. They didn’t.
Oh, and how about that Jonathan Toews fell, eh? Yeah, he’s good.
After Friday’s 7-4 ball bashing of Vancouver, the ‘Hawks can close out the Canucks on Mother’s Day at the UC.
Let’s get right to the main points:
— There are a few players in the NHL who can sit back and boldly say, “I’m going to put this team on my shoulders,” and then actually follow through with the promise. Most don’t even think that way out of fear. Toews proved in Game 4 he’s every bit the player who not only has the confidence to believe he’s capable of carrying the Blackhawks, but who also can provide the performance necessary to bury the opposition.
Toews looked focused on dominating right from the opening face-off and turned in a hat trick and two assists to propel the ‘Hawks. He picked his spots all night and put himself in perfect position to score and distribute. Great players don’t have to find the puck. The puck just comes to them.
— Dustin Byfuglien took a beating. Shane O’ Brien and Alex Burrows were called for multiple dumbass cross checks when Byfuglien was down and vulnerable, leading to ‘Hawks power plays in which they converted four of eight. Byfuglien didn’t score, but he still made his presence felt in front of the net by screening Robert Luongo on Toews’ first goal and drawing the penalties that led to the man advantage.
— It became comical witnessing how rattled the Blackhawks have made the Cancucks. In no way is Vancouver playing their style of hockey and it is giving into everything the ‘Hawks hope to accomplish. It’s not so much the amount of penalties they’re taking, but how stupid those penalties are. The Canucks are at a loss for what to do against the Blackhawks, and it’s showing in every facet of the game. Even us ‘Hawks can’t seem to believe how easy the Canucks are making things look for them. With the way Vancouver is playing, the ‘Hawks could come out wearing slippers and they’d still win at least one of the next three games.
— Another quick goal Friday with Brent Seabrook scoring 18 seconds into the game. More of this, please.
— At the times when Vancouver actually played some decent hockey, Antti Niemi provided another solid job in shutting down many of the Canucks’ sustained pressure. He didn’t have his best game by any means, but he did the work he needed to do in order to keep the ‘Hawks in control. That’s all we’ve ever asked of him, and he’s been doing it through most of these playoffs.
— Pretty much everyone played their ass off tonight and there’s not much to really go back on and say it needs to be fixed. Obviously, the in-zone turnovers make us all cringe, but let’s not split hairs. The ‘Hawks put six past Luongo and added one into the empty net for the extra point. They’ve hit their stride and are clicking even more than I felt they needed to in order to win this series.
Puck drop for Game 5 is Sunday at the United Center as the ‘Hawks look to close this motha out (see what I did there? Did ya?). Get nasty, baby.