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Canucks v Blackhawks - 2011 Stanley Cup Conference Quarterfinals

Hawks already looking toward new season

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane was sporting a shiner over his right eye that spoke volumes for the way this season went for both he and his Chicago Blackhawks teammates

There were tough times and good times for the defending Stanley Cup champions in 2011, but in the end they were left bloodied, bruised and ready to lick their wounds this summer in preparation for next season.

Even Kane, who's normally all about fun, looked and sounded businesslike on Thursday at the United Center as the team went through the process of officially capping this season. The "Playoff Mullet" he's become famous for, after winning the Stanley Cup last season with it, was completely shaved off. Only the business part was left, up front, which is exactly how it is for the Hawks as a team after being eliminated from the playoffs in a gut-wrenching Game 7 overtime loss on Tuesday in Vancouver.

Toews clutch in losing cause

Dhiren Mahiban - Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- He's known as "Captain Serious" to many, but on Tuesday night you could've easily called him "Captain Clutch" as Jonathan Toews did what he usually does when the going gets tough -- he found the back of the net at a crucial time.

With his team down 1-0 and shorthanded with 1:56 remaining in the third, Toews deked a couple Canucks defensemen, got the puck across to Marian Hossa and then lunged to put home the rebound past Roberto Luongo for his first goal of the series.

"I kept telling myself there was going to be a big one coming," a visibly dejected Toews said afterward. "I got that one at the end to give ourselves a chance in the overtime period.

Crawford sensational in Game 7 loss

Dhiren Mahiban - Correspondent

VANCOUVER – If Corey Crawford could score goals himself, perhaps the Blackhawks would've been on the winning end Tuesday night in Vancouver.

The rookie goaltender had the game of his life, but the defending Stanley Cup champions came up a goal shy of completing a rare playoff feat.

Crawford turned aside 38 shots in 65:22 of work in Game 7 and to say he kept his team in it would be a stark understatement.

"That was one of the greatest goaltending performances in a clutch situation that you're going to see," said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. "I got to commend him. The kid was great. He gave us a chance."

Toews' tally reminds Luongo of Olympics

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

VANCOUVER -- Roberto Luongo thought back to February 28, 2010. The situation was so very familiar to him.

Nearly 14 months ago inside the very same building, very same dressing room he sat in Tuesday night, Luongo was wearing a Team Canada sweater awaiting overtime in the gold medal game of the Olympic tournament -- an overtime that had to be played because Zach Parise scored on him with less than a minute remaining in regulation.

Tuesday night, he was wearing a Vancouver Canucks' sweater, but he again sat in the home dressing room, this time awaiting overtime in Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals -- an overtime that had to be played because Jonathan Toews scored on him with less than two minutes remaining.

Canucks' top players need to step up

Dhiren Mahiban - Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- If the old adage that your best players need to step up in the biggest games is true, it's time for the likes of Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond to do so, along with the Sedins.
Kesler and Raymond have combined for no goals and 5 assists in the first six games of their best-of-7 series with the Chicago Blackhawks.

The duo combined for 56 regular-season goals; however, numbers can be deceiving -- a closer look shows 33 of Kesler's 41 and 13 of Raymond's 15 came against non-playoff teams.

"I don't think you can base how everything goes on point production," said Raymond, who will be playing in his first career Game 7 on Tuesday night. "That's neither here nor there right now. It's basically as a group now, one-game elimination, and we have to be prepared to go out tonight and play well."

Time for Toews? Hawks captain ready to break out

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Jonathan Toews feels like it's his night to break out.

The timing for it would be fitting for the Blackhawks' captain, who usually wraps a giant bear hung around the big stage, embracing it with the fervor of a true leader, All-Star and potential MVP candidate.

"You just have to go out with that feeling and think you're going to get lucky and hope you do," Toews said Tuesday after Chicago's morning skate. "This is the game to do it in."

Toews hasn't scored yet in this series against the Canucks, but Chicago hasn't needed his production. The Hawks have won three straight to force the need for this Game 7 Tuesday night at Rogers Arena thanks to the goaltending of Corey Crawford and the scoring of Duncan Keith, Dave Bolland, Michael Frolik, Bryan Bickell and even rookie overtime hero Ben Smith.

Ballard, Glass say they're a go for Canucks

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard's reaction to being told he was going to play in Game 7 Tuesday at Rogers Arena went like this:

"He said, 'You're in,' and I said, 'OK,' " the very reserved Ballard said Tuesday morning after what could be Vancouver's final morning skate of the season. "That was it."

Ballard did not play in Games 5 and 6, but he is likely going to replace Sami Salo, who left Game 6 with an injury and did not participate in the Canucks morning skate. 

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault would not confirm that Salo is out, saying instead he's "day-to-day" and "we don't discuss lineup issues." He also wouldn't say that Tanner Glass is going back in the lineup after being scratched in Game 6, but Glass said he was and it's likely that he goes in for rookie Cody Hodgson

Canucks' GM asks for 'level playing field'

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver GM Mike Gillis said he believes the Canucks would have won Game 6 in Chicago and can win Game 7 at Rogers Arena on Tuesday as long as they have "a level playing field."

Gillis, speaking in front of the full gathering of media for the first time in the playoffs, never raised his voice and was very calculated in his comments as he referred to his frustration with the officiating in the series. He read off a sheet he was holding when he stepped in front of the media outside the Canucks' dressing room.

Gillis claimed Chicago has had 59 percent more power plays than Vancouver in the series, including 69 percent more in Games 3-6. He also claimed that in the last four games when the score has been close, between a one- or two-goal difference, Chicago has received 100 percent more power plays than the Canucks plus one penalty shot.

Canucks face first must-win of season

Dhiren Mahiban - Correspondent

VANCOUVER – A lot was made about how good a regular season the Vancouver Canucks had – they captured the franchise's first Presidents' Trophy, Jennings Trophy and were Northwest Division champs for the third consecutive year.

However, one thing this group hasn't dealt with yet this season is a must-win situation, they'll do so Tuesday night at Rogers Arena when the Blackhawks and Canucks battle in Game 7.

"That doesn't really matter, we go in to games like we got to win every one of them and we've done that for 82 games plus playoffs," said Alexandre Burrows attempting to downplay the situation. "We have the same mindset if we establish a good game on the ice, we'll get the result that we're looking for."

The Canucks lost three in a row just once this season, and went winless in four straight once this season as well.

Canucks still confident as series reaches Game 7

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

CHICAGO -- The Vancouver Canucks treated Game 6 as if it was their Game 7, and they played what GM Mike Gillis called their best game of the season. They even made the most dramatic of changes, swapping out the franchise goalie for his inexperienced backup, and for nearly two periods the move actually didn't look terrible even if Cory Schneider was guilty of a few gaffes.

They essentially pulled out all the stops, and yet here we go again.

For the third straight game Vancouver couldn't figure out a way to hammer the final nail into the Chicago Blackhawks. So, for the third straight year the team from the Windy City has the Canucks on the ropes, 60 or more minutes away from ruining a perfectly great season that will matter so little in Vancouver they might want to give the NHL back its Presidents' Trophy before it gets destroyed.

Game 7 is Tuesday night at Rogers Arena (10 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, CSN-CH, RDS) and the angst over the hockey team in this city has perhaps never been as high as it is right now because neither have the expectations.
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