The Chicago Blackhawks took six games to defeat the Vancouver Canucks, but for many it looked like the final results were never in doubt.
Discipline was the name of the game for the series, but the Canucks came up short and often looked like an unhinged, uncontrolled hockey club – especially at home. The team seemed to feed off of negative crowd energy that came after some questionable calls from the officiating and that sort of unbridled, undisciplined energy stuck with the Canucks during every home game.
The only time Vancouver really looked like a cohesive unit in the series was during the games in Chicago. The Canucks opened the series up with a decisive win and played well in the series’ second game, which was a Chicago win. Once the playoff series moved back home, however, it was a different team.
The Blackhawks played well in almost every department and, even with a slightly shaky goaltender, were able to stick it to the Canucks. They played a strong psychological game, too, getting the Canucks off their game with plenty of physical play and lots of chirping after whistles. The Canucks nearly always came out of the scrums with penalties and the Chicago club nearly always made them pay.
A lot can be said about the play of Roberto Luongo in the series. He wasn’t always spectacular, but he did play well against a Chicago onslaught. With Dustin Byfuglien frequently in the crease providing a big screen, Luongo was lucky to see the puck as well as he did. He spent a lot of the series fighting the puck and the rebounds, but this was largely due to a defensive group that often looked lacklustre.
In the sixth and final game of the series, the same mental errors and breakdowns led to the Blackhawks victory. The skill of the young Chicago club was simply too much for the Canucks to face off against, especially when the Vancouver team wasn’t doing itself any mental favours.
At the end of the day, the series was an enjoyable one. It was physical, controversial and fast-paced. The Blackhawks proved a lot to Vancouver fans for the second year in a row (on the same date, too), but something tells me that this ugly feud is far from over.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.