4.17.2011

Playoff Game of the Night


2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Game 3: Vancouver Canucks vs. Chicago Blackhawks @ United Center
3-2 Final; Vancouver lead the series 3-0

After being defeated twice in Vancouver, the Blackhawks hope that home-ice advantage acts just as that.

The goal of the Game 3 is to secure the first 10 minutes in your favour. Vancouver will want to own the first ten to get the crowd out of it and get Chicago's extra energy out of it. Chicago wants the opening 10 minutes so they throw Vancouver out of it, get the crowd in it, and get Chelsea Daggers back into Canuck heads. Roberto Luongo will have to search to keep that song out of the heads and allow his team to play their winning hockey.

Unlike the previous two games in Vancouver, the Chicago Blackhawks gain their first lead and the first goal. After a light tap by Christian Ehrhoff that was called a tripping penalty because of the embellishment done by the Chicago skater, Jonathan Toews won the face-off and fed Duncan Keith at the blue. The rest was slap-shot history as Keith's big shot got past Luongo and into the net.

In the first period, Vancouver heavily relied on Luongo to keep the score as it was. I trust in Luongo and all, but the Canucks shouldn't rely on him so heavily! Especially in a game like this! Luongo is great and all, but a game is won on the backs of every player!

The trouble with the first period was also all the penalty killing the Canucks had to do. The job was to play like you were at home - only a little different. The plan was not to take a bunch of penalties and allow Chicago to get a bigger lead! Vancouver may have had the best rated penalty kill, but you don't win a series solely on your special teams.

I have to give it to Chicago though; they kept the Sedin Twins out of the first twenty. But just because you can stop our top-line, doesn't mean you can stop the rest of our team. That is why depth is so essential!

Coming back into the second period, there was no energy-loss whatsoever! Big bodies flew around and good hockey movement from all four directions in the middle period, it was almost like a first period where the energy is just raw!

Living off of that first-period-like energy, the Vancouver Canucks take just 8 seconds on their first PP of the game to draw blood. Up at Lady Liberty's torch, Christian Ehrhoff made a howitzer of a shot and earned the Canucks' first goal of the night! Prior to the goal, Ehrhoff tested out his stick and didn't like it. So he snapped that stick in half and got a new one. Good thing he did! Newly energised off of the PPG, a fresh pair of legs on Daniel Sedin banked in the loose puck after missing the initial feed from Alex Edler. Corey Crawford didn't stand a chance on that "all Swedish goal".

And then things went a little too raw. Raffi Torres - fresh off of his four game suspension - said he wouldn't change his game. That means, he'll throw those hard cheques, bring the body, and hit the opposition hard. I wouldn't want him to change that, but maybe he should turn it down a notch. At the 12:14 mark, Torres delivered a helluva hit on Brent Seabrook who went down and stayed down for a good bit of time. And that hit cost his team the lead. Patrick Sharp evened it up with a set-up by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

On that hit, during the regular season, a player who suffered a hit like that and reacted like that would've been ushered into the change-room for at least 15 minutes to make sure no concussion was sustained. That didn't happen - well, not until he received another hit and was then asked to go to the change-room. One, I'm concerned for Seabrook's health. Two, I'm concerned on what discipline Torres will get from the NHL Board. Three, what does this mean for concussion-prevention in the post-season, let alone the upcoming season?

Now does anyone think that Luongo took all of Patrick Kane's goals personally? He has stopped every single shot off of Mullet Boy's stick. I think there's a little something personal in that.

After another solid penalty kill, a scrambly play ensues from Mikael Sameulsson bringing it up the ice. Ehrhoff took the initial shot, but got Crawford's pads. Henrik Sedin took the rebound and shot, and got pure Crawford. And then Samuelsson scooped up the second rebound and cashed in to regain the Vancouver lead! That's what I like to call relentless effort!

Despite not winning the first 10 minutes, the Canucks won the game and are just one step from breaking the "Chicago Blackhawk curse" and one step from round two!! Who cares if we were outshot and missed two deathly close empty-netters? It's all about the 'W' baby!

3 stars:
(1) Henrik Sedin
(2) Jonathan Toews
(3) Daniel Sedin


























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