For those of you who wondered where the Sedins were on Wednesday, they had an answer for you on Friday evening. Daniel had two goals and an assist, and Henrik added an assist in the Canucks’ second win in as many games. On the other end, on a night the Hawks got two tallies from Ben Smith and another from Viktor Stalberg, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa combined for four shots on goal and a minus-1 rating.
While the game was much closer with a slower pace, the second period was the proverbial back-breaker where the Hawks managed to break the same cardinal rule of hockey two different times. The Cancuks scored during the first minute of the period on the power play, and with the Hawks threatening to tie the game late in the frame, an Alexander Edler shot from the point made its way to the net, beating Corey Crawford and creating some space on the scoreboard for the home team.
The Hawks scored twice during the third, but weren’t able to tie it with Daniel Sedin adding his second of the game about half-way through the frame. With the Hawks’ defensemen jumping into the play down a goal late, Sedin found himself as the puck carrier in a 3-on-2 against Duncan Keith and Hossa. Sedin skated to the middle of the ice, waited, forcing each of Keith and Hossa to the offensive player streaking down his side, and Sedin beat Crawford with a neat little wrister to the glove side.
Ben Smith added his second of the game a couple minutes later, but it wouldn’t be enough.
Let’s Just Forget This One, Shall We?
– I suppose it may be cliche to rely on cliches during the NHL playoffs, but as they say, a series doesn’t get started until a home team loses. The Canucks have used explosive starts each of the first two games to set the tone and take the lead, and the Hawks will have the opportunity to use their home crowd to do the same during games 3 and 4.
– Yeah, the stars didn’t necessarily pull their weight last night. Toews was downright bad; Hossa played his now-typical game, which resulted in nothing; and Kane’s size has been made a factor by the ‘Nucks. The good news is that, while you may be able to write off Hossa, per usual, I wound’t expect the same from Toews and Kane at home. What’s more, Sharp was a factor in Vancouver, and if history is any indicator, he should produce here.
– Did anybody else see any significance in Patrick Sharp’s first period tripping penalty? Sharp was knocked to the ground in front of Roberto Luongo, after which he stood up and aggressively tripped Christian Ehrhoff. It was the kind of penalty the Canucks took regularly during the past two playoff series with the Hawks – one of those that showed the Canucks to be frustrated and worried more about the Hawks’ state of mind than their own. Probably not a good sign.
From a physical perspective, you don’t have to be a hockey lifer to see that the Canucks are absolutely dominating the Hawks. What’s worse, they are controlling themselves after the whistles and not getting themselves into penalty trouble – not that the Hawks power play is capable of doing anything these days, but you know what I mean. Don’t forget how the ‘Nucks beat themselves a few times during the past two series; they seem intent on not doing that this time.
– Otherwise, Sharp has changed his game up a bit, showing a gritty side he doesn’t often show. While it’s generally great to see a leader stepping up and paying more attention to the little things, perhaps it’s also a sign that one of the Hawks’ best players is grasping at straws.
– Last year when Duncan Keith was impervious to criticism, we shouted from the mountain tops whenever he made a risky play but got away with it to deaf ears. Fast forward to the present and Duncan Keith is now being blamed for the Hawks struggles, the slow US economy, the down housing market, and the Libyan rebel revolution. The pendulum has swung in such the opposite direction now that Hawk fans find any Keith miscue and blow it completely out of proportion.
He hasn’t had the best year, this much is evident. But for Hawk fans now to be fantasizing about shipping him off for a bag of pucks is as dumb as it gets. Keith is still one of the best defensemen in the game and he’s been far from their biggest problem in this series.
Here’s an extra credit assignment for all our Feather-ites: Watch Drew Doughty or Shea Weber in their first-round series. Mark down every time they make a mistake. Be sure to grade them as critically as you would Keith. Then compare it to what Keith did. You’ll be surprised how similar the numbers will be and maybe we will all realize that even the best defensemen will look stupid from time to time.
– The better Ben Smith keeps playing, the question of why he wasn’t around here sooner will linger like a stale Bob Pulford fart. How many games this year did the Hawks feel like John Scott and Jordan Hendry were better options on their fourth line, only to play 3 minutes. Meanwhile, the Hawks would blow a tie game in the third period because everyone else was running on fumes. Just one of those points would have put the Hawks in a different opening round match-up instead of being fed to the lions like they currently are.