By Chad Huebner
Well, here we are, and the ‘Hawks have a chance at making me look like a genius. I picked them to win this series in six, because I knew this was going to be a long series, and Game 6 would be the ‘Hawks’ best chance to clinch it. I don’t trust the ‘Hawks to have as much luck in a Game 7 as they’ve had the last few times they played in Vancouver. The last Game 6 the ‘Hawks played was a breeze, which was the exception to the rule in series-clinching games. The Canucks won’t go out without a fight, literally. I expect a couple of things to happen: 1) the main guys for Vancouver like Alex Burrows and the Sedin Twins, will factor into the end result, and 2) the game will go to OT. No matter what series-clinching game it is (Games 4-7); they almost always go into extra frames, which is what I like about the playoffs.
Eddie O has a wide grin, which is good and bad. It’s good to see an ex-‘Hawk that happy (a happy human, if you prefer) during these playoffs. It’s bad to see that grin, because he’s missing at least one molar in the back of his teeth. I’ll assume it’s due to his playing days, but he retired in 1998, you’d think he would’ve had it filled by now. Maybe Comcast and/or Versus don’t have good dental plans?
“To-ny! To-ny! TO-NY!!”
That’s what the fans were cheering when Tony Esposito threw down the first puck. Getting ready for out National Anthem. . .
. . . Though I do like Canada’s. The only way you’ll hear that in the rest of the playoffs is if the Canucks beat the ‘Hawks. Sorry, I don’t like it that much. Here it comes. . .
At least I think that’s what the fans are yelling. Shivers down the spine and tears welling up in the eyes (and I haven’t had anything to drink). I haven’t had the combo happen to me during the National Anthem, maybe this is a good sign, that the ‘Hawks end this series tonight and move on.
Not even a minute has elapsed and the ‘Hawks had a flurry of scoring chances. First there was Dave Bolland trying the wraparound, but “LUUUU” stuffs him with his right pad. Then there was still a lot of traffic in front of “LUUUU” and Marty Havlat tried a slapper through a bunch of traffic that “LUUUU” somehow managed to hold it in his gut. Keep that pressure up, and the ‘Hawks will have a couple of goals in no time.
The Kaner gets called for some grabbing, but you wouldn’t know that the ‘Hawks were on PK duty. They spent half of the PK in Vancouver’s zone, and a couple of timely clears helped fend off the first big Canucks’ threat.
Whoa, Seabs with the passing touch! He takes the puck along the back boards, feeds a ripper of a pass to Havlat, who takes it in stride and just has “LUUUU” in front of him. . . but that “LUUUU” makes an excellent glove save. Seems like the teams are playing a little “Can you top this?” at this point.
Again, the Canucks aren’t playing the trap. Why not give it another go? This speed game is just playing into the ‘Hawks’ hands. Oh well, maybe the Canucks can look on this as one of the keys to the ‘Hawks winning this-
Ah, I’ll just stop talking as if the ‘Hawks have this game already won, because the Canucks scored. That damn Mason Raymond again. Hope all that momentum we had going before the goal. ‘Hawks are trailing, yadda yadda yadda.
But it doesn’t last that long, like the other times, because he comes The Kaner with the equalizer! His wrist shot beats “LUUUU” glove side at knee height. I’m not used to this happening. Usually, it takes another 50 minutes or so of game time before the ‘Hawks tie or win a game. I won’t know what to do with all this extra time.
Okay, the powers that be really need to redefine what exactly a “delay of game” is. Ben Eager tried to shoot the puck out of the ‘Hawks zone, but it hits Kris Versteeg’s stick and goes up into the crowds, and they call Versteeg for the penalty. What the frak? What was Versteeg supposed to do, instinctively know the puck was coming to his stick and pull a Keanu Reeves Matrix move and flip himself out of the way?
Sweet open-ice hit by Ben Eager on Alex Edler. I always thought open-ice hits take a little more skill than banging someone along the boards. Plus, while a player who takes the puck along the board can anticipate being hit, a player that gets flattened in the open ice almost never sees it coming. The Eager hit sprung a nice 2-on-1 with Adam Burish and Patrick Sharp, by the way.
The period finally comes to close. I say finally, because even though it was filled with a boatload of shots, breakouts and hits, I can at least take a small break from the action. Not too much in the sporting world beats a playoff hockey game for excitement and entertainment.
Eager’s curled up on the ice, so what happened? Well, Rick Rypien (Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien’s kid? I dunno.) pushed him into the boards near the Canucks bench. Unfortunately for Eager, the door was open, and he hit the edge of the door square with his sternum. One of those “timing” penalties that you hope really wouldn’t happen because of the threat of injury.
But if your favorite team scores, who cares, right?! Seabs hits an open Kris Versteeg to the left of “LUUUU” and he snaps another score past the glove side. Eager should get an “honorary assist” for what he went through.
Canucks haven’t had too many scoring chances this period, but they had one in the open slot that Seabs deflects away, one of those “Phew!” game savers. Andrew Ladd draws another penalty just a minute later and Johnny Toews pushes home his own rebound. Are you surprised that’s his first goal in nine games? I am, but it hasn’t mattered all that much. Go Johnny Go, Go!!!
But not more than two minutes go by before Daniel Sedin steals some of the thunder with a goal, the Canucks only shot on goal so far this period. There’s one of the Sedin Twins checking in, let’s hope the other one doesn’t get hot, too.
The refs lost sight of the puck in a crowd around “LUUU”, but I and the rest of the viewing audience didn’t. When is the NHL going to install chips in pucks so not only will the officials be able to tell when a puck crosses the goal line for a goal, they will also be able to tell when the puck is loose and when it’s covered up by the goalie? It’s the 21st century, right?
There goes the lead, as Shane O’Brien (who?) gets a quick wrister past Bulin for the tie. I told you this series-clincher wasn’t going to be easy. We have a looooong way to go before we figure this one out. Coach Q calls a timeout to get the young ‘Hawks calmed down, I hope.
They showed a graphic that shows the ‘Hawks have won five straight Game 6 series-clinchers at home. Versus showed the stat that the ‘Hawks are 13-3 in series where they have a 3-2 series lead. The numbers don’t lie, but they don’t necessarily instill confidence in me right now. As soon as the Canucks got their second goal, they’re smelling blood and almost playing like they have a PP in 5-on-5 situations. It’s not desperation, so much that it’s the Canucks riding a confident wave into intermission.
Stats are even-steven in goals, shots, penalties and PPs, and it’s almost the same in faceoffs. Even the numbers say this is, and will remain, a close game to the end, be it good or bitter.
Canucks continue to play like rabid pit bulls attacking a good hunk of steak. Meanwhile, the ‘Hawks get hit with a “too many men on ice” penalty, and don’t look like they’re focused. It looked like the ‘Hawks would get out of this one unscathed, and technically they did. But just as the PP ends Mats Sundin gets a goal after a quirky kick pass to him. I’ll say it once and I’ll say it a million times, it seems the ‘Hawks need to be down in order to win.
Oh, I can’t take anymore! Yes I can! Burish, the crazy little freak, one the most unlikely of potential heroes, puts it home through a mess of bodies for his first playoff goal. The ‘Hawks and Canucks are a couple of freewheeling teams right now, so there isn’t much defense to stop all of this action.
Big Buff, what are you doing? A punch to the face after the play’s whistled dead lands him in the sin bin. Bit of a crucial time for such a stupid penalty, because of what I just said about the teams being more freewheeling than defense minded.
But a stupid interference penalty by Ryan Kesler cancels out the ‘Hawks stupid penalty, so they get an 81-second PP. Nothing comes from it, other than we have half a period of regulation time left.
I haven’t mentioned all the times the Canucks had great chances on Bulin’s doorstep, but that’s only because-and Pat Foley says it best-Bulin looks pretty good for a guy who’s given up four goals. If you’re looking for shutouts and holding teams to one goal, look for Marty Brodeur. If you want a guy that’ll make the stops when they count the most, you turn to the Bulin Wall.
It’s no surprise that the Canucks overwhelmingly lead shots in goal this period (12-4). They still have the scent of blood. Troy Brouwer gets called for another ‘Hawks penalty, and it doesn’t take even a minute before they’re down for the third time this game. There’s still 7:35 left in this game. Besides, the ‘Hawks like to pull it out at the very last moment, don’t they?
Ummm, scratch that, Kaner ties it again just 35 seconds later. Un-frakking-believable! The boy is becoming a man before our very eyes. At this rate, the final score will be something like 11-10.
And the good vibes for the ‘Hawks keep rolling along, as Shane O’Brien (who?) gets a hooking penalty. He was the guy that got flagged for a penalty late in Game 3 that let the ‘Hawks tie the game.
Déjà vu! Sorta. This time, Johnny Toews gets the go ahead 49 seconds after they tied it. So let’s see, it took a total of 1:14 for the ‘Hawks to turn from losers into winners. . . for the moment. Still too much time, TOO MUCH TIME!!! in this one. Did I say the final score would be 11-10? More like 16-15 at this pace.
Four minutes to go, and I’ll let the fans take this one: “LET’S GO ‘HAWKS! LET’S GO ‘HAWKS! LET’S GO ‘HAWKS!”
And at the 3:43 mark, as The Kaner gets a hat trick, first time a ‘Hawk has done it since the ’94 Playoffs, how about that, fans?
Still too much time, though. “TOO. . . MUCH. . . TIME!”
Canucks keep fighting for the puck, and “LUUUU” is pulled with two minutes to go. Havlat clears the puck with 97 seconds to go, no icing. Ladd gloves the puck out of mid air and seems to have an open lane to the empty net, but gets called for a hand pass with 76 seconds to go. ‘Hawks get a long clear at the 46.1 second mark, and this time they’re called for icing. 30 seconds to go. Teams end up mucking around with the puck. . .10. . .9. . .8. . .7. . .6. . .5. . .4. . .3. . .2. . .1. . .
Umm, Mr. Foley, do you mind if I take this one? Okay. . .
I’m loving every minute of this postseason, and it just seems to keep going. Now we have to wait and see who the ‘Hawks’ll face. The fans will want a matchup with the Detroit Red Wings, but if we face the Anaheim Ducks, we get home-ice advantage, so at this point in the postseason, I’d rather have that. A shame this is Comcast’s, and thus, Pat Foley’s broadcast, it’s been quite a treat to see and hear Foley call all the action (it’s almost as if he brought all the good luck from the Chicago Wolves with him). But Eddie O will be there on the commentary, so that’s nice.
In the meantime, this is one happy human basking in the glow of what has happened, and getting excited for what still lies ahead.
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