I don't think there's anyone out there who isn't somewhat relieved to hear that Sami Salo didn't suffer a ruptured testicle last night. Well, everyone except this dude. So now that we've collectively uncrossed our legs, let's talk about that game last night. I am sure some of you are eager to walk around and boast that you knew they were going to win, and it was never in doubt. You're missing the point of last night's win if you are, and unless they continue this effort tomorrow it's all for naught. I think there's a lot of that going on right now. Instead of being happy, people are saying things like 'why didn't Bieksa do this all series?' etc. That doesn't matter. It happened when we needed it. And this win doesn't mean we're out of danger. More after the jump
I know this series, hell... this season has been full of frustrating moments from various players, but in the end all that matters is they showed up in a big way when it counted. Look back if you want, but all that really matters is right now. A game played in November has zero relevance. They're still trailing in this series, and if they don't show up with the same workman like attitude at GM Place for game 6, this series is over. It's amazing though, how much these games show that when one of the teams are determined to play their game, the other team just gets neutralized. Much like game 1, Roberto Luongo had things shut down, and even more than game 1, the Canucks slowed things down and dictated the pace of the play all night long.
You could even say it was at times a trap game. Go ahead and complain. If that's what it takes to get back into this series and possibly win it, then Viva Lemaire, motherfuckers! It's funny, I want to be louder and prouder about the effort of the Canucks last night, but knowing they're still down in the series I know better. It was still impressive though, as guys like Kevin Bieksa, Christian Ehrhoff and Shane O'Brien stepped up on D, and Kyle Wellwood and Alexandre Burrows leading the way up front.
The redemption of Kyle Wellwood is quietly becoming one of the feelgood stories of the playoffs. An internet legend thanks to his eating habits and a desire from some to never let anyone forget it, if this series swings back to the Canucks, and they pull off the comeback, it will be in large part to the tenacity of Kyle Wellwood. 3rd in playoff faceoff wins, his shifts have been pure effort, whether mucking and grinding to create scoring opportunities, going to the net and getting open in the face of much larger defensive opponents, or breaking up rushes time after time with his tireless backchecking, Welly has been the unsung hero of this series for sure.
An early goal from Ehrhoff took the crowd out of the game and apart from the 3rd period goal from Toews, they never got into it. One thing I was surprised at was the lack of composure from the Hawks, and when you look at the stuff they did that wasn't called, they should be feeling pretty damn lucky it was another 'stellar' night from an officiating standpoint. From Bolland's slash to the ankle of Daniel Sedin, to Tomas Kopecky's crosscheck on Roberto Luongo as he lay on the ice (and you're all pathetic hypocrites if you spewed outrage about Alex Burrows crosschecking Dustin Byfuglien in the shoulder blades the previous game but were okay with Kopecky doing this) to the piece de resistance: Joel Quennville sending mouth breather Ben Eager onto the ice in the last 30 seconds. The scumbag made a beeline for Christian Ehrhoff and delivered a very deliberate 2 hand chop to Ehrhoff's wrists that the NHL seriously needs to take a loo... oh who are we kidding, he could have cut his fucking arms off and the league would do nothing about it. Oh, and let us not forget the moment where Ryan Kesler was vindicated, as we saw just how much of a fucking coward Andrew Ladd was by deliberately reopening the wound on O'Brien's face.
The Canucks played their game and didn't buy into the bush league garbage of the Hawks and came out with the victory. They didn't play a perfect game, but came pretty damn close. As far as road games go, that one may have been their best one all season. Potentially losing Salo is going to make things even more difficult in game 6, but as long as the Canucks play tight, sound defensive hockey and continue the very effective dump and chase on the less mobile members of the Chicago defense, we should be confident that the Canucks will be heading back Chicago for game 7 on Thursday.
So breathe a little bit, Canuckleheads. A major battle won, but the war still rages. Enjoy the win, but the time to celebrate has yet to arrive. It's okay to chuckle a bit at those who predicted our demise would be the ugliest of them all, my personal favorite is our dear friend and hockey's resident bitchy, bitter old man Stan Fischler, who posted this earlier this morning. It kind of makes this post so much sweeter. And let's not forget this and this. Jerk.
Bottom line is, despite facing elimination the pressure in this series is shifting back to the Blackhawks. They were supposed to close out against a team that was wavering on the ropes. They let us back into this, and are now facing real adversity for the first time this playoff year. They have a rookie goalie who couldn't seal the deal, and a group of players whose focus last night seemed to be more about inflicting physical harm then trying to win the game. This Hawks team may be the ones who can't handle the pressure. A long road still, but this team showed there is still fight left, and if the Hawks want this series, they're going to have to earn it.