An ancient philosopher* once said: “To be the man, you have to beat the man.” The Vancouver Canucks are one win for completing that process, as they squeaked by the defending Stanley Cup champions with a 3-2 win.
* OK, I’ll admit it: professional wrestler Ric Flair was the person who said it, not an ancient philosopher.
Forgive the Chicago Blackhawks if they’re experiencing some “Shoe on the other foot” moments, too. After all, they were the ones who tormented the Canucks both physically and on the scoreboard in their last two playoff series. The Blackhawks also know what it’s like to be in a potential series sweep that is closer than it seems; they beat the San Jose Sharks in exactly that type of series in the 2010 Western Conference finals.
Vancouver 3, Chicago 2; Canucks lead the series 3-0.
While many cannot help but focus on the suspension debate regarding the Raffi Torres hit on Brent Seabrook, the real story revolves around the Blackhawks having no answer for the Sedin twins. Daniel Sedin scored a goal and one assist while Henrik Sedin had two assists in the Game 3 win. The Sedins factored into every Vancouver goal, as Henrik set up Mikael Samuelsson’s game-winning goal in the third period.
Chicago’s best players showed up in this game, even if they couldn’t match the top-end brilliance of the Sedin twins. Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp found the net on different power plays, Jonathan Toews earned two helpers and Patrick Kane also provided an assist.
The Blackhawks’ productive power play and Sharp’s quick goal following that Torres penalty arouses suspicion that the Canucks were lucky that it was only a minor penalty. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville echoed such a sentiment in his post-game comments.
Quenneville on hit: “Brutal. Major. Absolutely. They missed it. Could have scored four goals on that play.”
Corey Crawford made some nice saves, but will probably regret his allowing three goals on 26 shots. Roberto Luongo continues to be a steady presence in Vancouver’s net, making 30 out of 32 saves for yet another win.
For Chicago fans who need a reason for (somewhat blind) optimism, here’s an abstract thought. The Blackhawks accomplished something they hadn’t done since 1961 by winning the Stanley Cup in 2010. To stay alive, they only need to pull off a task that the Philadelphia Flyers managed last year when they beat the Boston Bruins after falling behind 3-0.
Is that a stretch? Of course, but when you’re down three games to none, it’s time to break out the ludicrous reasons for positivity.
The one silver lining is that the Blackhawks haven’t been getting blown out. It’s little solace at this point, but Chicago scratched and clawed to get into the playoffs. Now they’ll need to do even more to stick around.
The Canucks would like to stamp out that possibility nice and quickly, like a well-timed figure four leglock.