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Top Chicago Blackhawks Playoff Wins: ‘Order The Autopsy’

By Colin Likas
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The quote in this post’s title follows the final Chicago Blackhawks goal in the game we’re about to discuss. No team was more fun to dispose of in the playoffs at this time than the Vancouver Canucks. The Blues weren’t super competitive at this point, and the Red Wings were starting their change of the guard, while the rivalry against the Canucks got hotter and hotter with every game.

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Chicago ended Vancouver’s season in consecutive years (2009 and 2010), but the Blackhawks became a different team between those two matchups. In our countdown of the top Blackhawks playoff wins under coach Joel Quenneville, we look at the latter series, specifically its final game.

Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.

No. 54: 2010 Western Conference semifinals, Game 6

Chicago Blackhawks 5, Vancouver Canucks 1

Both of these teams put together some amazing scoring chances against Antti Niemi and Roberto Luongo, and Niemi’s strength in goal (along with some defensive help) probably wound up being the difference here. Jonathan Toews and Dustin Byfuglien both had grade-A bids right in front of Luongo less than 1:30 into the contest, but Toews shanked his shot to Luongo’s left, and Byfuglien didn’t get much on his shot standing at the top of the crease.

But this shift did show how out of sorts Vancouver’s defense would be in the game. They were pretty much a step behind every good Blackhawks scoring chance, and the decision making from some of the defenders was highly suspect, as we’ll discuss. Of course, when a defense is trotting out Kevin Bieksa, Shane O’Brien, Andrew Alberts and a well-past-his-prime Pavol Demitra, you can expect some pretty poor decisions to be made under pressure.

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  • Just after Toews’ and Byfuglien’s chances, future Blackhawk Ryan Johnson put a shot on Niemi that required one of his toe saves on the night. Not to be outdone, Patrick Kane streaked down the ice a minute after that and blasted a shot off the post to Luongo’s left. The puck ricocheted to Brent Sopel, who had his bid blocked by a sprawling Christian Ehrhoff alongside Luongo, keeping the game scoreless.

    Later in the frame, these two teams would pull another back-and-forth bid. Ehrhoff carried the puck deep into Vancouver’s offensive zone and threw it in front of Niemi. The pass didn’t find a Canuck and was instead carried out by Brent Seabrook. He sent the puck to Marian Hossa, who flew through a pair of Vancouver defenders and found Patrick Sharp even further ahead for a breakaway. Sharp fired the following shot right into Luongo’s glove, making Bobby Lu temporarily feel good about himself.

    The first scoring play of the game was a lot simpler than anything described above. Sopel fired the puck from the Blackhawks’ defensive zone to Sharp, who carried it all the way into the offensive zone. Troy Brouwer was busy flying up the middle of the ice past Kyle Wellwood, who is not a defenseman. Where Vancouver’s defensemen were wasn’t really clear (Sami Salo was at least covering Sharp), but Sharp only had to throw the puck to where Brouwer’s stick would be, and the big forward responded by tipping the puck past Luongo for a 1-0 lead two minutes into the second period. It was Brouwer’s first career playoff tally.

    And then, some comedy. There are a few key Canucks (most now former Canucks) who, when they make mistakes, bring joy to Blackhawks fans everywhere. Bieksa certainly fills that role, and his turnover while leaving Vancouver’s defensive zone led to the second Chicago goal. Bieksa kind of just had a moment, lost the puck and watched Kris Versteeg streak back toward Luongo and snipe the puck into the twine only 36 seconds after Brouwer’s goal.

    Kevin Bieksa at the top of the screen, showing Vancouver why it should be glad he’s in Anaheim now. (Screenshot from YouTube)

    The Blackhawks added what should have been a crushing blow with less than one minute to go in the middle period. With Vancouver on a powerplay following Duncan Keith’s slashing penalty, Wellwood and Demitra played catch with one another at the blue line while Dave Bolland kept his eye on the puck and waited for a golden opportunity. He got it when Demitra made one pass too many, allowing Bolland to steal the puck and slowwwwwly skate it toward Luongo. It was a true Bolland breakaway, and it ended with a shorthanded strike to put the Blackhawks up 3-0.

    The reaction on the bench makes this even better, as we can see Sharp goofing around with Toews and the captain clearly having none of it.

    Don’t worry, Tazer. You’ll grow an Amish playoff beard someday. (Screenshot from YouTube)

    As was said above, this goal should have been a crushing blow, especially coming right before a trip to the locker room. But the Canucks seemed fired up by it. Instead of packing it in, they began fighting harder for their playoff lives. At least, until the Blackhawks really smothered them.

    The Canucks spent the last 12 seconds of the middle period pelting Niemi with shots, including a final bid by Salo that wound up sitting in the blue paint as time expired for the period. It was probably the best scoring chance for Vancouver in this game, even though the Canucks actually scored a goal later.

    Vancouver started the third period on the powerplay and immediately went on the attack again, with Salo bombing a shot over top Niemi’s net and Bieksa hitting the post seconds later. But the Canucks’ goal would come about three minutes later, with Alexandre Burrows nicely dropping a pass to O’Brien above the circles. The not-very-good defenseman flung the pack through traffic and past Niemi to make the game appear close.

    The Blackhawks weren’t about to let the Canucks have hope though. Five minutes after O’Brien’s strike, Toews carried the puck from the defensive zone and found Kane across the ice. Now, remember when we were all sad about Michal Rozsival totally blowing coverage of Nashville’s Colin Wilson in the opening game of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs?

    It’s easy to forget when your team goes on to win a Stanley Cup. (Screenshot from NHL.com)

    Well, Rozsival may have learned this practice from Bieksa, who gave the same courtesy of open ice to someone slightly more dangerous than Wilson.

    Patrick who? (Screenshot from YouTube)

    Kane took the open ice from Bieksa and turned it into a semi-breakaway, ending it by slipping the puck past Luongo to push the Blackhawks’ lead back to three.

    Twenty-five seconds later, Kane found Byfuglien somehow all alone entering the offensive zone. He sniped the puck past a defenseless Luongo while being bowled over by O’Brien, giving the game its final score and prompting the line, “This is over, you can order the autopsy now” from the color commentator in the highlight video. Indeed it was over, as the Blackhawks rolled on to the Western Conference finals against San Jose.

    This game is ultimately memorable for pushing the Blackhawks one step closer to their first Stanley Cup in 49 years, but it was really just another rout for a dominant team and not one of the most memorable wins in recent playoff history, especially against Vancouver.

    Previous entries

    No. 55 | No. 56 | No. 57 | No. 58 | No. 59 | No. 60 | No. 61 | No. 62 | No. 63 | No. 64 | No. 65 | No. 66 | No. 67 | No. 68 | No. 69 | No. 70 | No. 71 | No. 72 | No. 73

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