Canucks-Blackhawks: Dustin Byfuglien, The One-Man Wrecking Crew
You know what they always say: "We hate playing against a certain player" means "we sure would like him on our team."
This guy had a monster night of epic proportions—yes, I’m talking about the Hawks' Dustin Byfuglien. He scored two goals last night—one in the first period and another in the second—to help lead Chicago to a 4-2 win and a 3-2 series lead.
Byfuglien didn’t leave too many areas of his game untouched, as he also led the Hawks in hits and shots on goal with six, was a plus-two, and played close to 20 minutes.
The Canucks defense is having a tough time boxing him out down low. Last night he was in the right place with the puck, and he didn’t miss.
Once again the Hawks came out and took the game to the 'Nucks. They were initiating all the hits, and it wasn’t until half way through the first period when Vancouver started to push back.
Ryan Kesler tied the game up in the first off a “follow the bouncing puck” series. Magic (Kyle Wellwood) swept the puck out front, which ricocheted off a Hawk, then off Kesler’s stick between Khabibulin’s pads. This was to be the only power-play goal for the Canucks.
Power-play goals for both sides broke even—but the Canucks played right into Chicago’s trap by taking seven penalties, five in the second period alone.
I have been impressed by Chicago’s willingness to not retaliate or get goaded into a penalty since Game Three. The Canucks need to take note of this, because now they are the ones that are undisciplined.
You know, we all appreciate Kevin Bieksa’s feistiness, but he took two selfish penalties—and the one in the third period resulted in the Hawks Dave Bolland’s winning goal.
Mats Sundin finally broke out with a goal in the second period, when he blew a slap shot by Khabibulin coming down the left wing. This game was by far his best effort in the playoffs, with a goal and assist.
Anyone who has followed my blogs would know about the article I wrote called the “Collapse of the Sedins” on March 12. So far, it looks like Daniel—with no goals in this series—is proving me right once again.
When your leading goal scorer is not lighting it up, it makes it difficult for the team to be successful—unless someone else picks up the slack. Daniel's goalless drought surely has nothing to do with him not shooting, because he leads the Canucks with shots on goal in this series with 11.
We keep waiting for him to break out—and that had better be the next game in Chicago, or else it’s over.
A positive sign in this game was the Canucks' willingness to match the Hawks in the hits (31 to 32) department. The “Ripper” Rick Rypien had six for the night—three on one shift in the second period.
Chicago has played well at times, and you have to give them credit for taking away the shooting lanes and limiting the shots on goal, as the 'Nucks had only 21 for the night.
This has been the common theme in this series. There are not too many NHL goaltenders that if faced with only 21 shots a night, and very little traffic in front of them, will not come out on the winning side.
So here they are, with these two losses in a row and their backs up against the wall. We will find if they are contenders or pretenders on Monday night. If the Sedin line scores—and in particular, Daniel—the Canucks will win.
Nothing has changed the IceMan’s call for the seven-game series.
We’ll see you back in Vancouver, Chicago.
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