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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 6:55 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Hamhuis happy for Preds after Game 5 win

Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis was playing in the United Center last season for the Nashville Predators when they lost a gut-wrenching Game 5 to the Hawks in overtime.

In fact, Hamhuis was injured on a hit from behind by Marian Hossa with time running down in the third period. Hossa got a boarding major, but the Hawks tied the game shorthanded with 13.6 seconds left in regulation -- and then Hossa won it in overtime.

Until Friday night's overtime win against the Anaheim Ducks, the Predators had never won a Game 5 in the playoffs -- which Hamhuis was glad to see from afar, now with Vancouver.

"They have a great group of guys over there and it's an organization that on paper seems to do so much with a lower grade payroll," Hamhuis said. 'It's great to see that they're having success and got over that hump in that Game 5 victory."

As for his own series, Hamhuis said it would be sweet to oust the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks on Sunday in Game 6 – the Canucks lead the series 3-2.

"I think for everybody in here it would be," Hamhuis said. "This is (Vancouver's) third crack at them. It was a tough series for us last year (with Nashville). We thought we should've won. So, a lot of guys would like to shake hands with them victoriously."
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 6:51 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Luongo enjoys hostile Hawks crowd

Despite having had some of his worst performances in the United Center, Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo still maintains that he likes playing here. The last time he was here, for Game 4 of this series, the Hawks put six goals on him in a 7-2 win and Luongo was pulled early in the third period.

Two years ago he gave up seven goals in a 7-5 loss in Game 6 that ended that Western Conference Semifinal series. Still, he says bring it on to Hawks fans.

"I love it," Luongo said of the hostile crowd. "I've always said I like to play in this building. It's fun. I love it when the crowd yells at me, even when I got pulled (in Game 4). That's what's fun about playing hockey, being part of environments like that. You can't always have people on your side. When they're against you, I kind of enjoy it a little bit more."
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 6:49 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Bieksa says lay off Sedin twins

The Canucks' star twin forwards -- Henrik and Daniel Sedin -- have just one goal (by Daniel), no assists and a combined minus-9 rating in the past two games. Still, defenseman Kevin Bieksa said the twins get far too much criticism when things go wrong for Vancouver.

If you're looking for blame for the Canucks only scoring two goals in the past two games, Bieksa said to look at the team as a whole.

"They're our top guys and they're expected to perform offensively for us, but one of our strengths all year has been our secondary scoring," he said. "I don't think you can really look at (the Sedins) and blame them for the lack of goals. Defensively we have to step up and score a few more and our second and third lines have to get pucks on the net, too. You can't blame two guys."
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 6:47 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Middle of the ice sure to be a factor

The Canucks say they've gotten too spread out on defense and allowed the Hawks far too much space to operate in both the neutral zone and the slot area between the circles in the offensive zone.

Hawks forward Patrick Kane said as much after Chicago's Saturday practice.

“They were stepping up a lot on us in the first couple games and making some big hits," Kane said. "Sometimes you make some adjustments on some different things and you try to find more pucks in the middle without them stepping up. The past couple games, their gap hasn’t been as good as the first three. You get more time and space, with the talent on our team you should be able to make plays."

To be sure, the Canucks are ready to make their own adjustment and clog up that middle area of the ice.

"Obviously, we’re aware of the situation," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "It's pretty easy to pick up on TV with our loose gap and everything. We’ll put something in place and see if we can do a better job of shutting down their offensive potential.”

Defenseman Kevin Bieksa said it's a major area of concern that needs to be addressed.

"The past two games we haven’t done a good job there," he said of the neutral zone and center of the ice. "We’re getting a little bit too spread out and that’s allowing them to attack us with a lot of speed. It’s tough to hold the line and defend when you have guys flying in at ya from two zones away. We’re definitely going to make that adjustment."
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 6:47 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Scott brings physical, comedic presence for Hawks

If Brent Seabrook is able to play in Game 6 for Chicago, that means Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville will have an interesting decision on his hands regarding 6-foot-8, 258-pound enforcer John Scott -- who's actually had a larger role in this series than most would've expected.

Since Seabrook was hurt with a hit by Raffi Torres in Game 3, Scott has played and provided a physical presence for the Hawks in a pair of blowout wins -- games in which play got chippy.

"They have a couple guys that like to finish their hits and stir it up kind of, and with him on the ice it seems like everything quiets down," Hawks forward Bryan Bickell said of Scott. "I wouldn't want to have a guy coming at me, who's 6-8 and starting to stir up stuff, so I think it's good to have his presence on the ice."

Troy Brouwer agreed and said this kind of hard-hitting series is tailor-made for Scott.

"When he's on the ice, his stature might be a little intimidating or guys don't want to be around him, but he's in the mix," Brouwer said. "He's getting hits on the Sedins. He got hit by Torres last game pretty hard and he likes that kind of stuff. He's in there and battling, having fun."

Scott has been a healthy scratch for much of the regular season, but always seems to have a smile on his face off the ice -- not to mention some golden quips to fill up reporters' notebooks.

"It's funny, because for such a big guy and such a big body he's such a great guy, such a nice guy and brings that laughter and evenness that we need right now," Brouwer said. "Having him around and even having him on the ice has been a big impact, I think."

Would Brouwer go so far as to say he's this team's version of Adam Burish, who always had a gaggle of reporters crowded around his locker stall because of his clever remarks?

"No, I don't think (Scott's) quite as witty with the beak, but he's always keeping us laughing, keeping us on our toes and having some fun," Brouwer said, laughing. "Didn't matter if we were struggling during the season or in the playoffs, he was always there for that comic relief, I guess.”
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 6:45 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Brouwer says Edler elbow incident incidental

As the final seconds of the second period in Game 5 wound down, Blackhawks forward Troy Brouwer chased down Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler from behind right in back of the Vancouver net.

Brouwer got called for slashing on the play while trying to catch Edler, who stuck out his left arm to ward off Brouwer -- with his elbow catching Brouwer right in the face. Edler did not get called for elbowing, and the League did not review the play for a hit to the head.

Brouwer said he talked to an official about it, and was told the elbow wasn't seen.

"The ref that was behind me … had a quick chat with him and his angle was blocked by my body, so it’s tough to see," said Brouwer, who went after Edler, but was intercepted by Maxim Lapierre before eventually fighting Kevin Bieksa. "You know, he called a slash. So, he can see sticks but not elbows, I guess.”

Edler said he wasn't intending to elbow Brouwer.

"I didn't try anything with an elbow," he said after the Canucks practice on Saturday. "I saw that he was coming and tried to cut him off at the net a little bit."
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 8:40 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Toews says Torres hit was a motivator

Some are now saying this series changed after Canucks forward Raffi Torres was not suspended by the League for the Game 3 hit he put on Brent Seabrook, in which Seabrook was leveled while looking behind him behind the Hawks net.

Seabrook missed Game 4 and Game 5 and is questionable for Game 6. Meanwhile, the Hawks have played inspired hockey in his absence. Did that Torres hit ignite a salvo that awoke a sleeping bear?

"That's what everyone wants to say," Toews said. "We just like to say it was added motivation on top of the fact that we were down 3-0 to probably our biggest rival in the League right now -- especially when we lose a key player like Brent Seabrook. Every single guy in that locker room was reminded at that point that, ‘Hey, we're letting this team get away with too much,' and you know, we had to hold them accountable a little bit. That little extra motivation thrown on top of that, it fueled the fire for sure."
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 8:40 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Hawks not planning to change a thing

While blowing out the Canucks in Games 4 and 5, Chicago has also managed to annoy its arch-enemy to the point where Vancouver players have done a few extracurricular things to strike back physically.

Hamhuis' hit on Bolland was just one of several the Hawks hold in contention from Game 5 – which also included a blatant elbow to the face of Troy Brouwer delivered by Alex Edler at the end of the second period that started a small melee.

Brouwer, who got a hard punch off against Kevin Bieksa in that scrap, was also punched several times by Bieksa while an official held Brouwer down trying to break up the altercation. Toews said the Canucks can expect more of the Hawks' swagger in Game 6 -- and, if necessary, Game 7.

"We're not going out there trying to suck them into anything, but we're playing hard," Toews said. "If you get a lead, sometimes they're going to start doing stuff like that. You can always argue there's a few things you'd like to be called, and when it's not called sometimes it does get out of hand a little bit. It is what it is and it's not going to stop us from playing the way we do."
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 8:39 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Hawks not happy with Hamhuis hit

During a sequence in the second period in Game 5 when things started to get rough between the two teams, Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis went high on a hit against Hawks center Dave Bolland and appeared to smash Bolland's head into the glass behind the net.

Bolland, playing just his second game after a severe concussion that kept him out for 17 games, took a penalty on the play and was irate as he headed to the bench -- smashing his stick into pieces. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville didn't know what the fuss was about at first, but got a good look at it on a video replay and agreed with Bolland.

"I was wondering why he was so upset and then I saw the replay and I think coming off his injury, he's got a reason," Quenneville said Friday at O'Hare Airport after the Hawks returned from Vancouver.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews also thought a penalty should have been called, but took the opportunity on Friday to display his own dry brand of humor when asked about Bolland's reaction.

"He definitely didn't look happy after that," Toews said. "He felt there should've been a call and showed the way he felt … just as long as he doesn't run out of sticks, we'll be all right."
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.20.2011 / 6:46 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Hawks thought Bieksa could've drawn instigator

Toward the end of Game 4, with Chicago holding a commanding lead, things started to get a little rough between the Hawks and Canucks.

At one point, Hawks forward Viktor Stalberg leveled Mason Raymond on a forecheck and shortly afterward was in a fight against Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa -- who after the game said Stalberg "speared" Maxim Lapierre and "got what he deserved" in the fight, which was clearly won by Bieksa.

The Hawks thought Bieksa could've been called for an instigator penalty in the fight, but wasn't.

"I was kind of disappointed to see (Bieksa) jump Stalberg like that, but it is what it is," Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell said Wednesday. "I don't know what the calls are anymore, so I'll leave that up to everybody else. I'm confused."
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I feel that responsibility, I've felt it for the last two years. We core guys get a lot of minutes, we get a lot of opportunity out there. Our teammates, the organization and fans look to us to be the guys to put the puck in the net and to create momentum out there.

— Jordan Eberle on taking his game and the Edmonton Oilers to the next level