It’s almost foolish to consider the possibility of it happening. Had the Chicago Blackhawks scratched out a close one to stay alive in the series against the Vancouver Canucks, we wouldn’t even be discussing the likelihood of it happening.
But after Tuesday’s 7-2 drubbing of the Canucks at the United Center, the question has emerged as to whether or not the Hawks can make a serious run at taking this series.
It’s not as if it hasn’t been done before. It’s even been done recently. Those pesky Philadelphia Flyers from last year’s Stanley Cup finals were in a similar hole against the Boston Bruins, even losing 3-0 at one point in Game 4, before rattling off four straight wins to take the series.
The 7-2 score says a lot of things. It shows that these Canucks are beatable, despite the commanding presence they held in the first three games. It shows that the Hawks still have life, and they are capable of playing with intensity. Perhaps most importantly, it shows that these Blackhawks are still capable of getting inside the heads of the Canucks.
And that’s not just goaltender Roberto Luongo. Fun stat about Bobby Lu, he’s given up six or more goals six times in his career, all coming at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks’ mind powers stretch beyond the star goaltender. As Game 4 showed, and even back to Game 3, the Hawks are capable of knocking Vancouver off of their composure and forcing them to take bad penalties.
Whether or not the Hawks can do something on their power plays remains to be seen. They couldn’t in Game 3, but were able to on Tuesday, with Patrick Sharp knocking in a pair of goals on the man advantage.
The most noticeable difference for the Hawks is the way they played with Dave Bolland back on the ice. After missing 17 games with a concussion, Bolland returned on Tuesday, which was a questionable decision by Joel Quenneville by many fans, including this writer. Boy, were we wrong.
Bolland, always the thorn in Vancouver’s side, notched four points in his return, including a goal and three assists. He looked incredible in his first game back and provided that spark that the Hawks have longed for so much in this series.
Tuesday also saw the stars break out of their playoff-long slump. After receiving virtually nothing from their four big names on the forward lines in the first three games, Chicago’s core broke out in Game 4, even if it wasn’t on the goal-scoring side. Sharp scored a pair of goals. Patrick Kane had two assists, on top of the two that Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa added to the effort.
Of course, this could all be based on pure hope and the Hawks could get trounced in Game 5 in Vancouver. They’re not as deep as the Canucks. They’re not as healthy as the Canucks. There are plenty of reasons to have picked Vancouver to win this series coming in, and rightfully so. After all, they won the President’s Trophy.
But it’s not entirely out of the question that the Hawks could come back and win this series, or make it quite interesting at the very least. If they can play with the same intensity they managed on Tuesday, and can get contributions from up and down the lineup, as well as a healthy Brent Seabrook, we can be in for a much longer series than anticipated.
And if not, well, at least Blackhawk fans got quite the show at the United Center on Tuesday.