VANCOUVER -- Nobody would have blinked an eye had Jonathan Toews
said the first thing he thinks about when he arrives in Vancouver is the Olympics and winning a gold medal in that unbelievable atmosphere. It was the greatest time of his life, so it would only be natural to go down memory lane.
Not now. Not this week.
"Beating the Canucks in six games," Toews said when asked to explain the first thing that came to his mind when the Blackhawks landed in Vancouver on Monday.
The Blackhawks' captain afforded himself some time to think about the Olympics as the team bus pulled into downtown and rolled by the Olympic village, but that's where it ended.
"This city feels completely different now," Toews said.
The Olympic vibe is gone, and Tuesday night Toews and his Blackhawks will try to wipe out the hoopla over the Canucks, too, by knocking the city's hockey team out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Chicago leads the best-of-seven Western Conference Series 3-2, and two of those wins came at GM Place by a combined score of 12-6. The Hawks actually are 4-1 in the playoffs at GM Place dating back to last season, and 6-3 overall.
"You can speculate that coming to this city makes us play well, but I just think it's a coincidental thing," Toews said. "Whatever it is, I just hope it keeps up that way."
In order for that to happen, the Blackhawks know they'll have to make some adjustments to close this series out here.
For one, the Canucks' passive approach in Game 5 Sunday came as a surprise to the Blackhawks and as a result the players couldn't get into a groove offensively. The Blackhawks had 30 shots, but very few second chances and they managed only one goal.
Chicago center John Madden, who knows a thing or two about trapping from his days in New Jersey, told NHL.com that the Canucks were not playing a trap, but instead just deployed a different kind of forecheck.
"If they had a good first man in on the forecheck, than they just played it normally, but if they didn't, they sat back and waited for us," Madden said. "It was smart. They played three across, clogged the middle and had sticks in the passing lanes."
To counter, Madden said the Hawks should have used a style he learned from Hall of Fame defenseman Slava Fetisov a long time ago.
"We would all go back and then come up together," Madden said. "It was like a flying V. Slava taught it to us in Jersey. It's hard because it's tough to watch us all and we have so many options when we do it. They wind up turning their heads."
It wouldn't be so shocking if the Hawks attempt to do something like that early in Game 6 because, as Madden said, they're not your typical dump-and-chase team. They do, though, have the skill to come up as a five-man unit and make tic-tac-toe passes.
However, considering the Canucks could be without defenseman Sami Salo, maybe the Blackhawks attempt to play the dump-and-chase game because of the pounding they could put on Vancouver's defensemen.
If Salo can't go, Vancouver is essentially down to five NHL defensemen (Lawrence Nycholat, who would replace Salo, didn't play an NHL game this season), but Andrew Alberts played only nine minutes in Game 5 despite the fact that Salo was missing for the final two periods.
"When we have had success it's when we have kept it simple," Toews said. "Last game we got away from that and maybe tried to entertain our crowd a little too much. You don't get what you're looking for when you play perimeter hockey against a team like this. It's not going to work. We'll go out there and do it the right way tonight."
If they do, Toews will have another great Vancouver memory to tell his grandchildren about.Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Staff Writer