For a tiny chunk of the third period, it looked like the Canucks were going to at least make things interesting. Shane O’Brien scored a goal to make it 3-1 and the team generated some nice chances. Perhaps that simply woke up the Blackhawks, though, as two constant nuisances – Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien – scored clinching goals to make the deciding game a laugher for a second straight year.
Chicago Blackhawks 5, Vancouver Canucks 1
Blackhawks win series 4-2
Each of the five Blackhawks goals came from collective failures on the part of the Canucks. You can try to point a finger at Roberto Luongo, but his team left him out on an island over and over again. He was splendid in the team’s two wins but human-to-weak in the four losses. That’s just not good enough against the talented Chicago team.
The Sedin twins will be thrown under the bus too, although their stat lines aren’t as bad as you might think. (Henrik put up two goals and four assists, Daniel managed one goal and three assists.) The fact is, those guys produced amazing point per game totals during the regular season so any drop-off would hurt the team. The most telling stat is that they both ended up with a goose egg in this one (and the Canucks were 0-3 in the playoffs when that happens).
Chicago must have a ton of confidence right now. Antti NIemi provides steady goaltending for a team that lacks many flaws otherwise. Byfuglien might be the team’s truest “villain” while Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are among the league’s best forwards. But what really makes the team stand out is its unparalleled depth; from Marian Hossa to Patrick Sharp to Kris Versteeg (and tonight, Dave Bolland), it seems like the Blackhawks can call on a different supporting cast member every night. I didn’t even mention their talented D-core, either, with great players like Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook supported by some other complimentary parts.
The Canucks have a lot of soul searching to do right now. On one hand, the season was impressive as the team persevered through a brutal road trip to win their division and get to the second round of the playoffs. That being said, they still have plenty of questions to answer from Luongo to the Sedin twins to how to get over the hump against Chicago.
A Blackhawks-Sharks series should be a real treat for hockey nerds such as myself. Both teams can throw out multiple, quality lines and play a wide-open (or defensively tight) style of hockey. It should be a treat to watch and we’ll take you through each exciting game at PHT.