2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Game 7: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vancouver Canucks @ Rogers Arena
1-2 Final OT; Vancouver wins the series 4-3
After the biggest collapse in the playoffs this year, the Canucks need just one win and the stories will end. If they played like they did in Game 6, things look good. Which Canucks team will appear tonight? Which Roberto Luongo will appear in net tonight?
Right at puck drop you knew the Vancouver Canucks from games 1, 2, 3 and 6 have come to play. And what better way to prove that than play like they did in the beginning - physically. Bodies were being thrown early and hits were coming from everywhere! And not to mention the late line-juggling Alain Vigneault did a couple of nights ago reappearing tonight. That judgement paid off. The reunited line of Ryan Kesler-Alex Burrows-Mason Raymond (or what I like to call the 'Frick-and-Frack line') showed just how badly Vancouver - no, Canada - wanted it. Kesler made the pass to the front of the net, after the feed from Raymond, having this sense that they would score. And score they did when a streakin Burrows came in and reacted quicker than my nose to food, beating Corey Crawford to the net and the money shot!
Tonight's Game 7 of this series taught many a great lesson: you win a war by winning the battles. If there was a mistake, the Canucks would look to fix that ASAP. Battles along the boards, battles in the open ice, battles in the corner - the Canucks displayed that you win those, you start to feel better no matter how battered you are. The only battle they lost - the shots-on-goal battle. In the first period, the Blackhawks outshot the Canucks 12-8. That shows you which Luongo came out tonight!
After being awarded the first PP, the Blackhawks were then given a chance of their own on the powerplay. The Vancouver penalty kill looked stellar when it had to step up! For the first 1:30 of the PK, the Canucks had three short-handed chances and only one shot was allowed against them, which ended up being blocked by the penalty killing unit.
A name that must be mentioned (that doesn't get enough credit) is Dan Hamhuis. Hamhuis played extremely well tonight! The BC native has been both the good, defensive stay-at-home guy, but also the play-making defenceman that's so valuable to any hockey team. Hamhuis joined the rush when he could and sometimes even carried the puck in as far as a defenceman should. He knew his responsibilities but didn't allow that to hinder his offensive play. Another name to mention is Alex Edler. Edler has used his huge body (6'3", 95 kg [that's 215 lbs for the rest of y'all]) in any manner that he could. After missing a majority of the regular season, he's been the Eagle at the blue-line and played a great physical defensive game against the Blackhawks. He pushed some towards the boards, pressured Blackhawks away from the net, and he's hit some of those white jerseys into the boards! That's what I like to see in my defencemen!
But I've tooted enough horns! The game, well, the game got a little interesting. Twenty-one seconds into the final period, Burrows was sent on a partial breakaway! Heading towards Crawford with great speed and zip, Duncan Keith had no option but to force Burrows down with a trip and down Burrows went. And he got a penalty shot! Looking to add to his scoring total - and the lead - Burrows went wide of the net, but with just a little too much thinking time and a rolling puck, #14 was denied his second of the night by Crawford!
Having missed their opportunities to capitalise and add onto the goals, Jonathan Toews did something he hasn't done all series long - score. Not only did he score and tie up the game, he scored a short-handed goal. Brent Seabrook created the turnover in the neutral zone that allowed Marian Hossa to get a shot on Luongo. Bobby Lou blocked the shot, but was unprepared for Toews at the doorstep who picked the puck up and lofted it over Luongo.
Getting to OT in one of the best games of the first round this year was partially due in party by Crawford's having a good night. In 60 minutes he faced 35 shots and stopped all but one. The kid made some jaw-dropping saves, and if he was Luongo, Rogers Arena would've been RINGING with 'Lou's! So it isn't that the Canucks can't score (which is partially true); it's that Crawford has been stopping them all.
But no matter how good Crawford was, he couldn't stop Alexandre Burrows! If you didn't see you - YOU MISSED HISTORY! Burrows with the OT winner and what a goal it was! Just an arrow of a slapper and BAM! You've got your game!
Now just a couple hours of a mini celebration over our defeat of the Blackhawks, but then it's straight to sleep, eat, and practice for Vancouver.
There is just one thing I have to say to everyone: WHAT'S UP NASHVILLE!!
3 stars: (I am in total agreeance with these choices)
(1) Alex Burrows
(2) Roberto Luongo
(3) Corey Crawford