CANUCKS at BLACKHAWKS
TV: VERSUS (HD), CBC (HD), RDS (HD), CSN-CH (HD)
(Chicago leads best-of-seven series, 3-1)
Big Story --
Chicago's captain has been the best player on the ice and Vancouver's captain has left a lot to be desired, so here we are in Game 5 and the Blackhawks have a chance to close out the series and advance to the Western Conference Finals for the second straight year. They'll be rocking on Madison as Jonathan Toews
and his Hawks try to continue their demolition of Roberto Luongo
and his crease. Chicago scored 12 goals in back-to-back routs at GM Place to get to this point. Toews had a hat trick and two assists in Game 5 when Luongo stopped only 27 of 33 shots. He'll need to put up a wall around his net Sunday.
Pick your question because no matter what you ask, it'll be a good and tough one that the Canucks better have an answer for Sunday.
What has happened to Luongo? The gold-medal winning goalie has allowed 14 goals over the last three games. He's getting zero help, too, because the Hawks are getting in his face at every turn and averaging 34.5 shots per game against the goalie. The Canucks have not had an answer for the Blackhawks' crease crashing and it's crushing them.
What is wrong with the Canucks' penalty kill? Los Angeles blitzed it in the first round and now the Hawks are throwing power-play goals into the net like it's shooting practice without a goalie. They scored four in Friday's 7-4 win and two in their 5-2 win in Game 3. Vancouver has given up a League-worst 17 power-play goals in the playoffs.
Where is the Canucks' discipline? Vancouver talked about composure coming into the series, but wracked up 50 penalty minutes in two games on its home ice this past week. So much needs to change for the Canucks to get back into this series.
"We all know what our game looks like when we're playing it," Luongo said, "and right now I don't know exactly what we're doing."
It's the complete opposite for the Hawks. They are getting all the bounces, playing sharp on the power play, getting contributions throughout the lineup, solid goaltending and their best players have been their best players. Talk about the perfect formula for success in the playoffs.
Chicago scored seven goals in Game 4, but none came off the sticks of Patrick Kane
or Marian Hossa
. Those world-class players combined for three assists, including two for Kane, and still the Hawks throttled a proud team. How is that for depth? Crazy.
The Canucks still haven't found an answer for Dustin Byfuglien. And, after a three-goal, two-assist performance in Game 4, all of a sudden Toews looks a Conn Smythe Trophy candidate. Everything can change Sunday, but for now the Hawks are rolling.
"I don't know if we're in their heads," Patrick Sharp
said. "That's not a question for me to answer. I just know we're playing the game hard and smart."
Who's Hot --
Before this series, the Blackhawks hadn't had a road hat trick in the playoffs since Bobby Hull did it in 1972. Well, Byfuglien got one in Game 3 and Toews pocketed his in Game 4. Toews had eight points in two games at GM Place and now has 10 points in the series and a League-best 18 points in the postseason heading into Saturday night's action.
Injury Report --
Chicago's Kim Johnsson (concussion) and Vancouver's Aaron Rome
(lower body), Willie Mitchell (concussion) and Nolan Baumgartner
(knee) all haven't skated in this series.
Stat Pack --
The Blackhawks are 3-0 in games when they can close out a series dating back to last season, but each time they closed out a series in the sixth game. Sunday they can do it in Game 5.
Puck Drop --
"When you look at his season, how he's progressed, it seems he gets better and better," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of Toews. "You saw at the Olympics how he was and in the playoffs, we love the trend he's got."