Wednesday, May 12, 2010

First anniversary present is another beatdown

May 11, 2009 marked the day Chicago ousted Vancouver from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

So does May 11, 2010.

A disciplined, controlled style of play didn't help Vancouver. Chicago scored the game's first three goals, twice scored two goals before one could blink an eye, and routed the Canucks, 5-1, to win the series in six games and advance to the Western Conference finals for the second year in a row. The Blackhawks will face San Jose, meaning one long-suffering franchise will end some lasting misery.

With the game scoreless, Duncan Keith one-timed a pass up ice to Patrick Sharp, able to turn it into a 2-on-1 with Troy Brouwer. Sharp saucered a pass to Brouwer, who neatly deflected the pass past Roberto Luongo for a 1-0 Chicago lead early in the second period. Brouwer, owner of 22 goals in the regular season but no points in eight playoff games, appeared in his first game since Game 2.

Just 36 seconds later, the star of Game 5, Kevin Bieksa, misplayed the puck at center ice and Kris Versteeg skated in on another 2-on-1, where he wristed a shot past Luongo for a 2-0 lead just like that.

Shockingly, we got a penalty called late in the second period. When Bill McCreary is reffing playoff games, NOTHING gets called.

Keith went to the box for slashing, giving the Canucks a golden chance to get back into the game. Instead, a bad play at the blue line by former Wild whipping post Pavol Demitra allowed Dave Bolland a breakaway on Luongo and he flipped it home for a huge shorthanded goal in the final minute of the second period for a 3-0 lead.

Shane O'Brien restored some life and granted some small sliver of hope when he scored 3:44 into the third period. Chicago rattled off another quick double to end all hopes.

Patrick Kane had a hand in it, scoring his seventh of the playoffs five minutes after O'Brien's goal. If the drama wasn't already sucked away by that point, Public Enemy No. 1 in Vancouver, Dustin Byfuglien, fittingly put the final nail in the coffin when he scored 25 seconds after Kane did for a 5-1 lead.

Oddly, only Byfuglien and Kane finished with more than one point, and they each had only two. Antti Niemi finished with 29 saves for Chicago. Jonathan Toews extended his points streak to nine games with an assist.

Key play: Bolland's shorthanded goal. Instead of possibly 2-1 going into the third, it was 3-0. Even if the Canucks scored on the power play, they would still have been down by two.

Turning point: Versteeg's goal, a backbreaker coming so soon after the first goal.

Stats of the night
0 - Hopefully the number of times we see those weird green guys in Vancouver again. Ever.

4 - Approximate count of the total of Canuck players in the defensive zone on Chicago's five goals. Seemed like every one came off a turnover and was either a 2-on-1 or a breakaway.

Quote of the night
"The Hawks are hanging on like kittens on the couch."
Daryl Reaugh. Shortly after, Chicago scored twice to remove the drama.

Desired quote of the night
Whatever Kane said to Luongo in the handshake line, after Luongo said to Kane, "See you in the playoffs" after the gold-medal game handshake.

Wednesday predictions
Really can't get a feel for that Boston-Philly series any more. Figured Philly was toast, now I think Boston will join Detroit and Pittsburgh as blowing a 3-0 series lead.

Philadelphia 4, Boston 2
Montreal 3, Pittsburgh 1

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