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The Chicago Blackhawks Are For Real

Tab BamfordSenior Writer IMay 3, 2009

VANCOUVER, CANADA - MAY 2: Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks takes a shot on Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks during Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 02, 2009 at General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Nick Didlick/Getty Images)

Vancouver goaltender Robert Luongo allowed five goals in four games in the Canucks' sweep of the St. Louis Blues. He was playing as well as any goalie in the NHL postseason.

He played well enough that the Canucks had a ten day layoff waiting for the physical series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Calgary Flames to end. It did, when the Hawks eliminated the Flames in six games.

The youngest team in the NHL, with their 21 year old captain, entered Vancouver on just a couple days "rest" in a hostile environment against a stud goaltender. They had little experience, some success, but the odds weren't in their favor.

In the first game of the series, the Hawks got rattled early but were never out of contention. They scored an uncharacteristic three goals in the third period against Luongo to tie what was a 3-0 game, only to lose on a late breakaway and an empty net tally.

Most of the Canucks told the media that they hadn't brought their best effort to the ice in the first game, and Luongo was said to be rusty after the layoff. The Vancouver players went as far as to say that, if they could take the Hawks best shot and still win on an "off night," when they actually showed up Chicago had no chance.

Then came Saturday night.

If Luongo was rusty in the third period of Game One, he should have been plenty prepared for Game Two. Prime time, Saturday night hockey. The young Hawks were claiming confidence despite the loss, while Vancouver thought the Hawks got lucky a few times.

The Canucks scored the first goal of the game. And eventually took a 2-0 lead. They wouldn't score again until there were under three minutes remaining.

That goal made the score 5-3 Blackhawks.

For all the rhetoric about the Blackhawks being too young, naive, inexperienced, and everything else to beat the Canucks, they have taken that in stride and made it a positive. There have been 10 Blackhawks to score their first career playoff goal this year in now eight games.

Final score: 6-3 Blackhawks. At Vancouver. Against Luongo (five of the six goals).

David Bolland and Patrick Sharp scored two goals each and young Patrick Kane continued to be red hot this spring, scoring his fifth goal of the postseason.

As the play got increasingly physical in the third period, with the Canucks trailing by three goals, the roles seemed to be reversed. The Canucks seemed to get flustered and started taking dumb penalties, with two players being sent to the locker room early.

It was the Blackhawks who looked mature, calm and collected as they backed away from numerous advances, avoiding confrontations that could have cost them power play minutes and, more importantly, potential injury.

So now the Blackhawks come home to the raucous United Center, where their home ice advantage has been as good as ever in that building. The Blackhawks scored eight goals in two games against the best goaltender in the Western Conference at his building.

Be on notice, hockey fans. The Blackhawks are legit.

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