Given the amount of trash talk that went down before Game 4 between Chicago and Vancouver, you had the feeling that this game was going to be something more out of the Federal League in “Slap Shot” rather than the NHL. What it turned out to be was a shining example of being played for a pack of fools.
The Canucks were goaded into snapping back at the Blackhawks after they’ve made life very uncomfortable in the crease for Roberto Luongo and had some big targets to go after in the form of Dustin Byfuglien and rather than fight back with them on the ice, the Blackhawks took the lumps and helped themselves to four power play goals on the evening on the way to a 7-4 psychological dismantling of the Canucks to take a 3-1 series lead.
Two games in a row now the Blackhawks have gotten the Canucks to go out of their way to chase after them for what they view to be objectionable conduct on the ice, ahem, and the Hawks have been more than happy to let the Canucks run around like escaped asylum inmates. The score of the game explains itself. Vancouver added a goal in the third period to give the fans something a little extra to cheer about, but goals from Tomas Kopecky and an empty net goal from Dave Bolland salted the game away something fierce.
For the Canucks there are a lot of questions to ask now as they’ll head to Chicago for Game 5. Can they play smarter and with better discipline? Can their defense do something more than take brutal penalties? Can Roberto Luongo steal them a win for once in their playoff lives against Chicago? What looked to be a promising playoff year for Vancouver is going up in flames.
Meanwhile the Chicago Blackhawks have turned their game up into another gear mostly due to captain Jonathan Toews. Toews finished the night with a hat trick and five points in all. I know we’re a little spoiled after Johan Franzen’s performance against San Jose, but Toews has carried the play of the Blackhawks this postseason and now leads the league in playoff scoring with 18 points. Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp have all been stellar in the playoffs for Chicago and if they stay on this kind of pace, they’ll be very difficult to contend with.
Game 5 of the series will be Sunday night in Chicago.