With all that was said, and done, and said again in the last forty eight hours, the big question in Game Four of this series was which team from Chicago would show up. The hard to play against, on the edge of your seat, here they come again Hawks, or the one that had given up leads going into third periods all this season, and in the playoffs versus their rivals.
Well, lets just say it was the former. The home team was definitely prepared to not go home yet, and showed that playing for pride is, on this night anyhow, a big emotional boost.
It was led my Dave Bolland, in his first game back since he was concussed by Pavel Kubina. He finished the night with four points ( 3 assists and a goal ).
It came right from the start, when he made a pass to Bickell, who seemed to surprise Bieksa with his speed and craftiness, beating him badly, and just waiting out Luongo on the first of what will be seen by some, ( and certainly the Chicago media will tell you that they are now “in Luongo’s head”) as a bad night for him. He did not have much help.
With the score 1-0 and the Madhouse living up to it’s name, Bolland then took what you have to call an ugly penalty for elbowing Ehrhoff. It was the beginning of the “hate” hockey the Hawks would try to employ this night. They were engaged in this one, without a doubt.
The Canucks succeeded in quieting the arena with the power play too, with Salo and the second unit doing the honors on a shot that ricocheted twice off players before going in.
It looked like the Canucks would do it again too, when the Sedin unit had a wonderful power play that did everything BUT score. It looked like the Hawks would be the team “running around” as this time, Duncan Keith went after Raffi Torres twice and finally got called for cross checking. They just could not convert on good chances for Edler and Kesler, and with some good blocks by Johnson and Hjalmarsson.
It did not slow down the aggressive nature of the Hawks though, and they carried the play. Luongo was stellar making saves Bolland, Keith and others. It looked like the Canucks were playing an intelligent game, taking the life out of the building. It was as quiet then as it would grow loud later.
Luongo looked like he might have hurt his arm on a Bickell shot late, but came out to start the second, though he looked in pain going off the ice. It was a hint of things to come.
The Hawks finished with a 13-7 edge in shots, and were the aggressors, but the Canucks played a good road game, in the first anyhow!
What followed may have been the worst Canuck period of the last three month, and it all seemed to start on a very questionable too many men call at 3:06. Ehrhoff waited until Sami Salo’s first foot was on the bench, and then tou=ched the puck, which was judged to be an advantage manpower wise. It was an incredibly ticky tack call in a close game, and thought he bench and the player argued vociferously, Dan O’Rourke won it with his whistle.
The Hawks had good chances but Luongo rebuffed Hossa and Keith. It was just after the end of that penalty that Campbell took a pass, jumped up took a nice pass from Kane and beat Luongo high for the goal that opened the floodgates. It was a skillful play, and the Nucks may have been backing in because of a change, but they gave him far too much room.
It was exacerbated when Bolland won a faceoff from Henrik Sedin, leading to a blast from Keith that he celebrated maybe a bit much. It was a big goal, and he was playing angry. But his team drew from it, and the rout looked to be in order. The Madhouse was certainly going mad.
The Hawks were getting the break you sometimes get by being aggressive, getting the benefit of the doubt the Canucks were getting on hits and checks. Elbows were up all over the place, guys like Johnson even trying to take the head off of ex-teammates like Bieksa.
The backbreaker goal would be applied by Bolland, as Bickell made a nice play to pressure Glass, forcing him to try an weak clear. Bolland picked it up and broke in unmolested, made a nice shot off the post that beat Luongo, and it was 4-1.
Another weird call kept the pressure on, this time when Ehrhoff went to the net and almost tipped one in, and when Hjalmarsson tried to hit him and bounced off, the incredulous goalie was given a goalie interference that was strange, to say the least.
The Hawks power play looked good, but did not score. They came close, but Luongo was still doing his best, anyhow. Like I said earlier, not much help for him on this night against an engaged Hawk team. They were winning puck battles, and doing a good job at the Canucks blue line, and the neutral zone.
The momentum from it helped them keep rolling, as did another bad shift from the Twins, who finished a combined -7, with Henrik getting the -4. Frolik made another nice play and was let in alone on the goalie, again. Luongo was beaten with a nice move, and the rout was in full effect at 5-1.
You would think that the Canucks would have let Schneider start the third, but Luongo must have wanted to start it and asked for it, as he came out to start the third, wanting to be there for a team that was not their for him, even though the Hawks outshot them by a 2 to 1 ( 26-13 ) margin through two periods.
The chippiness continued into the third, and Lapierre would not help when he took a boarding penalty on Campoli a couple minutes in. It may not have been called in earlier games, but the referees seemed to sense that they had a potential powder keg on their hands.
Patrick Sharp would score on the ensuing power play to make it 6-1, and it was a very nice goal, with nice passing by Kane and Toews. It would be the last to beat Luongo, as Alain Vigneault decided that was enough and sent in Schneider.
It would also signal a parade to the penalty box, on an icing play of all things. Hansen got a step on Campoli, and though it looked like the Hawk defenseman engaged the winger, somehow Hansen was given a penalty. In a strange decision, Campoli got a roughing call, and the man that dropped his gloves and tried to get a fight going, John Scott, escaped with a misconduct, while Glass was given a roughing call on him, essentially rewarding the Hawks with a power play when the Hawk was the only one to drop the gloves.
He was joined by Lapierre and Glass with misconducts. It was a strange way of calling it when the Hawks were obviously the aggressors, but what can you do. This one looked over anyhow. The Canucks killed it off, and then Oreskovich was given a misconduct instead of a minor when he ran Kruger a couple minutes later.
Ugliness ensued all over, with the Canucks still competing, and messages being sent all over the place. Kane tried one of his skate up high and swoop down plays with the puck , and had to bail to avoid being smooshed by Kesler. that led to Toews and Burrows going off for a couple nasty mutual spears.
It would be followed by a questionable one on Edler for a big hit that was definitely clean in the first three games, but you have to understand the referees trying to just get this game to the end. Sharp would score on the 4 on 3 power play that followed on a nice pass from Hossa down low, the first goal against Schneider in the playoffs.
That would be the last of the hawks 7, but not the night, nor the last of the fireworks. A couple minutes later, Raffi Torres and John Scott would line up on a faceoff in the Hawk’s zone, and you could tell what was going on, as Quennville obviously numbers “Slapshot” as his favorite movie.
Raffi was just lined up and doing nothing, and it was all Scott again, but the referees just wanted this game to get to the end, and sent them both to the showers early.
The message sending was not quite complete. The same time, some pretty classless fans near the Canucks box were throwing things at the management team. They were pointed out and ejected, but come on Chicago, really? Not very classy, and I can honestly say that has never happened in Vancouver, and never will.
Stalberg then tried to hit Bieksa when he was engaged with someone else, and he went down. Hjalmarsson got into it with a cheap run at Lapierre that was called, and Stalberg foolishly challenged Bieksa to a fight, which he happily obliged, beating the Swede badly.
The Canucks cashed in almost immediately on the power play when Daniel tipped an Ehrhoff shot, and that was the final tally of 7-2. Ryan Johnson then took a dumb run at Ballard, and another power play late looked like one more might be coming, but Crawford stopped Kesler in close, and Daniel missed an open net.
AV sent out Glass and Lapierre to end the game instead of anymore skill to be run at, and Lapierre would be the last mark on a very full stat sheet, taking an unsportsmanlike penalty.
So, a big game from Bolland, and the Cup Champs avoid the sweep at home. Something tells me they may have went overboard and reignited the hate in the Canuck room. There will be no more talk of “respecting those guys” , or “they have a good team over there”.
Look for a much different game from the embarrassed Canucks on Thursday, and with last change, it should be interesting. I know they are stars, and the guys like Keith, who had a monster game, and Toews and Kane will not just lay down.
But Luongo is pretty awesome coming off being pulled, and this is a different team as well. It was the worst period in months that cost the Canucks tonight.
At the very least, expect 60 minutes of effort on Thursday at home.