It may seem like Chicago fans have jumped into the Delorean, and put the pedal to 88 miles per hour. The Blackhawks have made the trip back in time (Back to the Future reference) to the past couple seasons, and took care of business in Vancouver in Game 5.
Written off for dead after Game 3, Chicago has come back in dramatic fashion with dominate victories of 7-2 in Game 4, and 5-0 in Game 5.
Twice in a pair of games has "all-world" goaltender Roberto Luongo been chased from the game before the end of the third period. In fact, he did not make it long into the 2nd period before getting the axe in Rogers Arena.
It certainly could not have been written any better or smooth for the Hawks who commanded the pace of the game from the opening faceoff. Some of the best in the game such as Ryan Kesler and the Sedin twins were relegated to average status once again, and could not get anything done against a stout Blackhawks defense.
Not to be forgotten was Corey Crawford who pitched the first shutout in his playoff career. This was the first shutout in the postseason for the Blackhawks since Antti Niemi blanked out the Predators in the first round last season 3-0.
Though Niemi was stellar in his playoff performances last year, he never was faced with the challenge of going up against elimination at any point. Corey Crawford has already faced the brink of finality twice and lived to tell the tale. Going 36-36 against the leagues best offense was nothing to fret at. He has not been playing slouches either in the 117 point President Trophy winner's.
Crawford has surely proved that he can be counted upon when needed, and has the overall resolve to handle the enormous pressure that is the playoffs. But, it was Duncan Keith who has truly lead the charge in the last two games to slowly get the Blackhawks back in the series.
Keith had two goals and two assist in the winning effort, and also lead the team with eight shots before it was all said and done. Without linemate Brent Seabrook, Keith has answered the bell after many had said he did not perform at last year's level for the majority of the season.
It was a sight to see tonight as perhaps the leagues best defensemen showed that he was the leader tha the Blackhawks needed.
Marian Hossa added two goals on the night on breakaway chances that finally got the long time profilic scorer on the board, and it could not have been more meaningful. The other goal was a tip-in by Patrick Kane which was thought to be Duncan Keith's and captain Jonathan Toews' goal at different times after it happened.
Beating Roberto Luongo four times before he even made it to his 22 minute on the ice was a thing of beauty for the Blackhawks, and was both suprising, and really not at the same time.
Luongo's greatness has never been questioned as he has been one of the top 5 goalies in the league over the past 5 seasons consistently. But, against the Blackhawks he has become the 'goat' in Vancouver, and has yet to find answers.
Sunday will not doubt be an interesting affair, and the more desperate Canucks fans will cry for Cory Schneider to get the call in net.
If you are the Blackhawks, the smell of blood is in the water. The Canucks are very much a vulnerable hockey team at this moment.
Please check out my article written today and compare to what in fact happened in Game 5 tonight. And, no I will not help you make bets on Sunday!