And, we’re back…
In a game that, at times, seemed to mirror the script of Game 1 of the series, the Vancouver Canucks took their second game of the Western Conference Semi-Finals, forcing Game 6 in Vancouver to be played Tuesday night.
Much like Game 1, the Hawks came out of the gate stronger. Just like the first home game of the series, though, Roberto Luongo stood tall, stopping first shots and controlling rebounds in a way has hasn’t recently.
Less than a minute into the game and following a Hawks’ icing, Christian Ehrhoff floated a seeing-eye wrister towards the net. While Antti Niemi seemed to track it, his attempt to glove it from the air failed. Then, with a little over five minutes left to play in the opening period, a some nifty cross-ice passing on the breakout earned the ‘Nucks a zone entry with speed. Once in the zone, Kyle Wellwood found Kevin Bieksa streaking to the net, and Bieksa tapped it past Niemi for the two-goal lead.
Then, midway through the second and on the power play, Bieksa one-timed a cross-ice feed, beating Niemi to the short side.
It all seemed to rattle the Hawks, who to this point in the series had grown used to getting pucks and bodies to the net and finding rebounds and second chances. As Luongo gobbled up more first shots, the Hawks offensive game – though superior to the Canucks all evening – seemed to slow. It wasn’t until Jonathan Toews redirected a Duncan Keith point shot with just over seven minutes to play that the Hawks found themselves on the board.
But, Alexander Burrows added an empty netter in the last minute, and that was that.
Yo, Listen Up!
– Many of you probably noticed the Feather was absent for Friday night’s game. Though we each watch the beating from Vancouver, John was married on Saturday – and, no, it wasn’t to me. Saturday was a long day that started early, and before I knew it, I had lost my opportunity to contribute some thoughts on the game.
It was the first time since November of ’08 that you were without post-game Feather thoughts – and it’s all John’s fault. I’m sure he’ll apologize in due time.
– So, how about that Game 4, huh? I spent the weekend telling people how Vancouver had to blow up the team – save for the Sedins – if they don’t get past the Hawks. Honestly, how far can a team led by Alex Burrows go?
– Predictably, the Canucks came out Sunday night looking to, ya know, play hockey, and got back to that game plan that didn’t involve taking about ten minutes in poor penalties a night. Luongo bailed out his subpar defensive group a handful of times, and the offense added a couple during the first period. Nobody got cross-checked in the face, and Burrows’ only penalty was of the tripping variety. Think their smart enough to play the same game Tuesday? Honestly, I wouldn’t bet on it.
– Yeah, the Hawks missed a huge chance on Sunday, but hey, it’s difficult to win four straight in the playoffs. Sure, the intensity seemed lacking most of the night, but it was Vancouver’s turn to set the tone in a game. Queue the horrendous goal during the first minute of play, and this was one the Hawks were never quite in, the fact that the Canucks didn’t outshoot the Hawks in any one period notwithstanding.
– Many of you may remember Jordan Hendry’s strong run for the Hawks down the stretch in ’07-’08. Hendry made the roster out of camp last year, and it’s been steadily downhill since then. Hendry made a tough read on the ‘Nucks second goal of the night and barely played five minutes all night.
– I’m not sure I’ve really mentioned it during the playoffs, but it’s time I gave Tomas Kopecky his due. Sure, I predicted he’d be bought out this summer while watching the Hawks’ first regular season game in Finland. His regular season was mostly poor, but as many have pointed out, he’s been something of a different player since the Olympics. Yes, he’s garbage along the walls, but he’s nails in the slot, and he’s absolutely willing to play in the tough areas in front of the net. He scored major, major points in my book when, during Game 2, while standing at the top of Luongo’s crease, he took a whack at a bouncing rebound. The replay, however, showed the puck bouncing well up into the air – above Kopecky’s head – and Kopecky two-handing Luongo in the chest. Didn’t really know he had it in him, but he’s been fantastic all series. And, he’s a key contributor on a line that’s played really well recently.
– That’s it; that’s all. We won’t miss any more games. Promise.