April 22, 2011
So what does it all mean?
1. The Canucks aren't going to be able to hide from the "choker" thing or the "can't beat the Blackhawks" thing, which will dominate the conversation until Game 6 on Sunday.
The quick start in the series quieted talk of the former; the significant roster changes for both teams since they last met toned down the latter. But the tactical and psycho-analysis of the Canucks is going to be intense and unrelenting for the next 72 hours.
From a tactical standpoint, the fixes are obvious. The Blackhawks have gotten in front of Luongo, with ease. They've been able to connect on home run passes the Canucks were denying them in Games 1-3.
From a psychological standpoint, every player in the room is going to have to answer for these blowouts and for their history of defeat to the Blackhawks.
2. Was this loss Luongo's fault? Two great snipes from Marian Hossa(notes). Duncan Keith's(notes) goal that went through a Troy Brouwer(notes) screen, whom the Canucks defense couldn't budge. Patrick Kane's(notes) was through a Jonathan Toews(notes) screen, who stood in front of Luongo untouched.
If you get the sense we're not here to crucify Luongo, you're correct. He was a problem, but he wasn't the problem. Which is a hard argument to make for a goalie with a .667 save percentage in Game 5 and who has given up 10 goals in his last two starts, getting pulled in both of them. But we just made it.
Luongo's going to get skewered, roasted, dissected like a frog in biology class because he's never been past Round 2 and is suddenly looking like a goalie who won't even see the second round this season.
Would you throw Cory Schneider(notes) between the pipes at United Center for Game 6? No. You throw Luongo in there again and demand that the team in front of him protect their boy better than they have in the last 120 minutes. But you have the hook ready if the Blackhawks pounce again.
And if history holds, they will pounce again.
3. The Blackhawks have a rule of three against Vancouver. In 2009, the Blackhawks won Games 3-6 by a combined score of 13-8.
In 2010, the Blackhawks won Games 2-4 by a combined score of 16-8.
In 2011, they've won Games 4 and 5 by a combined score of 12-2. If history holds, we're going to seven games.
4. Why Dave Bolland(notes) went crazy: At 13:49 of the second period, the Blackhawks' Bolland took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for a stick-smashing tantrum at his own bench. If you're wondering why that happened, it happened because of this:
That's Dan Hamhuis(notes) hitting Bolland up high, in Bolland's second game back from a concussion that kept him out since March 9. Of course, Hamhuis has had concussions of his own, which makes this kind of play so frustrating from a "when will these guys learn?" perspective. Not a suspension-level hit; more like a 2-minute minor for boarding. But still, you can understand Bolland's anger.
5. The Canucks big guns are misfiring. Daniel Sedin(notes), Hernik Sedin, Ryan Kesler(notes), Mikael Samuelsson(notes) and Alex Burrows have combined for 1 goal, 1 assist and a minus-16 in their last two games. If the Blackhawks can continue that frustration of the Canucks' heart and soul players, we may actually see a second team overcome a 3-0 deficit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But we still think the Canucks take this series.