It took longer than fans and players had hoped, but the Chicago Blackhawks won their first game of the series Tuesday night with a 7-2 blowout. It was very reminiscent of the 7-1 victory over Vancouver all the way back on November 20th and of the offensivee strength of last season.
But is it too early to talk about or consider a comeback?
It probably is. Despite the psychological boost this game has given the ‘Hawks, they still trail the Canucks 3-1 in the series heading into Vancouver for game five.
Canuck goaltender Roberto Luongo left late in the first period after stretching his back awkwardly during a save. It was apparent Luongo was in some pain, but he returned at the beginning of the second period.
That’s when the ‘Hawks lit him up.
The ‘Hawks scored four goals in the second, two within 17 seconds of one another. After Luongo let up another goal early in the third period he was pulled and back-up goaltender Cory Schneider played the rest of the game.
It isn’t clear how serious Luongo hurt himself, and whether or not it was the reason for his bad playing after the first period, but if it does continue to nag him and affect his ability to play the Canucks are in some danger.
Luongo is currently having his best postseason for the Canucks, and it had led to that 3-0 lead going into Tuesday night. In the past the ‘Hawks were able to get at Luongo mentally, opening up the net considerably.
The Canucks don’t want that to happen this time.
Some homecomings are bitter, and some are sweet. Dave Bolland’s was the latter.
Bolland, who hadn’t played a game since March 9th due to a concussion, had a goal and three assists in Tuesday’s game. It was the production the ‘Hawks needed.
In fact, 11 players tallied at least a point Tuesday night — even goaltender Corey Crawford.
Coach Quenneville’s line changes to center proved successful. Patrick Sharp moved to center, playing between Marian Hossa and Ben Smith. Viktor Stalberg played with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane while Bolland played between Michael Frolik and Bryan Bickell. Finally, Ryan Johnson played between Troy Brouwer and Marcus Kruger.
It will be interesting if Q keeps those forward lines the same for game five on Thursday.
It’s still too early to think comeback, but a win in Vancouver on Thursday forces a game six in Chicago where the ‘Hawks have the familiarity and the home crowd working with them.
Like I said before, it all comes down to Luongo’s status. If he can return 100% both physically and mentally, the Canucks will probably win game five, but if he doesn’t, the addition of Bolland (and hopefully Seabrook) could be enough for a road win for the ‘Hawks.
Win number four is always the hardest to get. It now comes down to which team wants it more.