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A Game Four Fail Makes It A Three Game Series

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I think Zanstorm is in parts unknown this morning so I'll take the recap. Javaball has a great recap as well in the fanpost section you should check out too.

Last night was about what we should have expected. The Hawks started the first a lot stronger than in game three. Coupled with an early and atrocious Bieksa penalty (FAIL!), Chicago was throwing everything at Luongo and he had to his normal amazing self to survive the opening ten minutes. Brouwer took a boarding call midway through and Vancouver made nothing of their power play until the final three seconds. Yet as the period grew on you could see the Hawks relent and the Canucks slowly pick up the pace.

The second period was an even split which is an apt phrase because that's exactly what Luongo had to do midway through to keep the Hawks off the board with one of his best saves of the game. Shortly thereafter, Ryp and Blackout made a mad dash into Chicago's zone, Ryp channeled his inner Bertuzzi with a beautiful spinorama to find Blackout who scored his first goal of the playoffs. It was around then you began to think the Canucks would steal the game.

The third period was more of the same. The Hawks defense started pinching and the ice was badly tilted in favor of Chicago but the Vancouver defense was removing the lanes and blocking shots left and right. Yet, with three minutes left, the moment finally came for Chicago: Mitchell made a poor clearing attempt (FAIL!), Bolland made a short pass to an open Havlat who threw his body into a wrister that finally solved Luongo. Puke. Heading to OT land.

Twice early on in the extra frame the Canucks could have ended it, the best being Daniel Sedin staring at an empty net with Khabby sprawled on the ice only to sail it high and wide (FAIL!). Instead the Hawks raced down and Bolland did what I wish so many Canucks would do sometimes: from the far boards he chucked it on net and hoped for the best. Lady luck was a Hawk fan because no one was on Ladd in front (FAIL!) who popped in his second of the playoffs and sent the United Center into a national anthem-esque tizzy.

Lost in all of this? Edler played a fantastic game, Johnson could not define "unsung hero" enough, Bieksa may be injured and Luongo stood tall again.

Overall this loss is far more tolerable then game two which was just a mess all around. Clearly, the Canucks hoped to steal game four by pretending it was 2006-07 all over again: trap first, offense second. They also seem to have forgot how far that style got them. Few teams are going to win when they can only muster 14 shots in regulation (that, for the record, is the worst shot total for a Vancouver playoff game in franchise history; see the Bieksa injury link). I can't find the scoring chances at the moment, but I suspect it was horribly tilted towards the Hawks as well.

The good news is that the Vancouver still forced the Hawks to play almost perfectly and, with some puck luck, they did. Chicago doesn't have too many answers for Vancouver's defensive scheme (injuries not withstanding) but Vancouver doesn't have many answers for their own offense either. They can't have it both ways; sufficating Chicago in the neutral zone and then waiting for a defensive miscue on their end to be the catalyst for all of their offensive rushes.

As GZ Expat said in the thread, "they played not to lose, rather than to win." Damn straight.

Saturday begins the best of three. Most fans thought this was going six or seven. Good on ya. Let's see how the Canucks respond.