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Vancouver Canucks vs Chicago Blackhawks - Game 1
by Colin Van Osch (NHL)
Posted on April 30, 2009, 6:04 PM

Game 1 - April 30, at Vancouver

Here we go, sports fans.

Taylor Pyatt is a healthy scratch, having just returned from Compassionate Leave after his high school sweetheart and fiance died in a car accident in Jamaica. Rough goings for Pyatt, but I appreciate this move. I'm sure he wants to get back in the game, and I'm sure he'll get a chance before the series is over. Vancouver has a good team model right now, and that 4th line where he would be playing has gelled really well. You want to show support, but you also want to do what's right for your team. Pyatt playing tonight is not right for your team. Even if his mind is in the game, and even if he is in game shape after 3 weeks off, it would still mess with the integrity of the lineup that is working. Stern but fair decision at gametime by Vancouver.

According to the graphics and the matchups, Bieksa is playing in the third pairing with O'Brien. I can see that sticking. All Blackhawks so far, not a lot of energy from the guys in the hideous blue and green jerseys.

Rypien takes a needless penalty. Johnson is lucky he didn't get caught overcommitting to the blue line, and I can't understand why anyone takes the golf chop anymore, knowing that you're 50/50 to put it over the glass and cause a penalty.

Toews and his mighty sideburns man up against Willie Mitchell, and we all fawn over him. Chicago is already proving commitment to the Sedin vs Seabrook/Keith battle. Vancouver gets the ten seconds of advantage having home ice, but every other defensive pairing obviously knows the score.

Vancouver is playing sloppy. Really, really sloppy. That's 2 own zone giveaways for good chances in the last 90 seconds. Since one good turn deserves another, Jonathon Toews takes a hooking call that he DID NOT have to take on a 3 on 3 entrance into the zone. Quennville will drink his milkshake later in the dressing room.

It's amazing to consider how satisfied both Chicago and Anaheim must be with the Wishniewski/Pahlsson trade. Anaheim gets one of Chicagos hundreds of competant defensemen, and Chicago gets the faceoff and penalty kill specialist they need, who has a Cup ring. And neither team was using either of them properly. Well done.

Rick Rypien just saw 9 seconds of PP time. Awesome.

Khabibulin almost gets caught with his pants down, and look who is there to save the day. It was Sami Pahlsson, the best discount pickup at the Trade Deadline.

Ladd (who deserves more props) busts Kyle Wellwood open hard. 4 minute PP. 2:09 left in the Powerplay, and Vancouver gets away with a Too Many Men call. Vancouver is really not looking great, I can't stress that enough. Sundin is looking sluggish and disinterested. Vancouver responds to my criticism by controlling the puck for 30 seconds and then somehow shooting it over the glass on a shot from the slot that wasn't tipped. Vancouver gets no shots and is rewarded with an incorrectly called penalty immediately against Duncan Keith. It's a lazy hooking call except in the way where they called it tripping.

Vancouver scores on the Powerplay and looked better this time around on the Powerplay, really controlling. I could be more upset that Kesler wasn't standing in front of the net, but a goal is a goal. Demitra from Wellwood and Sundin.

Vancouver gets away with another blatant Too Many Men penalty in or around the 3:40 mark. This is rough for Chicago, who has already given them 4 powerplays.

End of the Period: Not as energetic as I had expected. Vancouver came out the gate very, very slowly, and if it weren't for the benefit of their Powerplay time, they would have been dominated. The key to this period was the penalties. Yes, the referees missed a few on Vancouver and Chicago ended up on the wrong side of the penalty game. Chicagos penalties were deserved, and had to be called, so I'm ok with that. The momentum turn came from the roughly 6 minutes of straight powerplay time. Chicago manages to get 4 forwards out there working for 1/3 of the period in a row. Vancouver during that time played Daniel, Henrik, Kesler, Burrows, Wellwood, Sundin, Demitra, Bernier and Raymond all got time on the Powerplay. Rick Rypien even found a few seconds to get on board. By the end of that block, Vancouver was just picking up, but Kane, Toews, Sharp and the lot of them on the Hawks bench were cold and flat footed on their return. Chicago is going to need to grab some momentum early in the 2nd or this might run away from them early. Near the end of the period they were getting outworked by Vancouver, and it is way too early in the series to be dragging bricks.

Defensive superhero Duncan Keith saves this from being a 2-0 game. Bolland and Pahlsson deserve as much credit as Keith and Seabrook as they have been great in their own zone and tenacious defensively.

GOAL~ 2-0 Vancouver. Say what you will about Keiths defensive prowess, there was no reason for him not to have picked up Henrik Sedin there. Huge mistake, Chicago had everything coming into this period and Vancouver has taken it back this last 2 minutes. Henrik from Daniel and Bernier.

Scrums like this are annoying. Eager steamrolls Rypien and the refs and linesmen quickly isolate him. Within 10 seconds, every person on the ice is in a love circle where no one is really shoving, but definitely doesn't want to be the guy who didn't get involved. Not every hit deserves a skirmish, and you're not less of a man for skating away. Ben 'Massive Liability' Eager is going off for a penalty. No one else, just Ben Eager. How helpful.

Vancouvers Powerplay really needs to pass more. Maybe 4 or 5 more times? I count 3 quality, open shots not taken. Not just clear shots, but quality chances to score. Poor form.

Eager manages to draw a penalty instead of causing one. Alright, you're at an even rating. Chicago needs to, minimum, dominate this powerplay. Scoring would help their cause, but they were really gaining momentum in the minute or so leading up. They need to put some stress on Luongo for the first time, really, since about 4 minutes into the game.

6 passes before taking a poorly angled shot is not stress. That was definitely not a positive experience for Chicago, who have not put any real pressure on Roberto Luongo, but have put a good amount of shots either right into his chest or 5 feet over the net.

Ben Eager fluffs a shot and Vancouver moves it up the ice. It's Kesler from Wellwood (who did a great job working that puck behind the net) and Edler. 3-0 Canucks.

Wellwood takes another one in the face and is bleeding hard style again and Chicago takes another 4 minute penalty.

Since Vancouver hasn't been doing anything, I'd like to make light of something that has displeased me so far tonight. Vancouver fans. In the pre-game, Byfuglien was leaning up against the boards and CBC had the camera on him, and a Canucks fan threw all his weight against the glass to shove him off. Just a moment ago, I saw some drunk frat boy trying to get under Quennvilles skin, because after the Tortorella thing, that is 'cool'. Naturally, his other drunk frat boy buddies were pretty impressed with how cool he was. Frankly, I think the first guy should never have seen the opening faceoff and the second guy should be cautioned. Don't be idiots, I'm begging you. It makes us all look bad.

Vancouver shot the puck once during that plea, and passed around 12 times.

End of Period 2: All Canucks here. Wellwood is going in right now as my First Star, and before you complain that Luongo is in the middle of a shutout bid, he has seen 2 legitimate shots this game, and none in around 36 minutes of ice time. Wellwood has bled twice and drawn 10 minutes in penalties, and gotten 2 assists. Amazing game from him so far. Chicago is going to need a domainant 3rd period and a minor miracle to pull this into Overtime. More likely than not, they're playing to get to the Canucks in this one, because the game is out of reach for the most part. Get to Luongo, get to the Defense, and maybe punish a Sedin with a massive hit to get him hearing footsteps. Vancouver has been off and on with their pressure, going from intense pressure to lackluster effort. If Chicago were actually bringing their A Game, this wouldn't be Vancouvers game.

1 Minute in and Kane gets to Luongo. If that sets the pace for this period, we might have a real ending, but it's still a gargantuan task. Chicago has been Team Outburst though. Kane from Havlat, Keith.

Blackhawks are really taking over in the first 4 of the 3rd and might make something happen here. Vancouver hasn't been strong but in bursts, hopefully Chicago can make this a game.

Pahlsson makes an uncharecteristic mistake clearing the puck and literally gives it right to the Canucks. It's worth noting because I don't expect it to happen again, but Vancouver has been on the major offensive for about 70 seconds since. Khabby just freezes to slow it down, but that was about the turning point in Chicago big push.

Hordichuk is going to the box and Chicago is on a must-score Powerplay. Needless penalty.

After Kane gets screwed on a bad icing call, he pays them back by scoring his second goal tonight. 10 minutes left and it's a game again! Kane from Seabrook and Versteeg. 3-2 Vancouver.

Dustin Byfuglien just stickhandled by batting the puck around the ari in the corner. This has been all Chicago since the last goal. There's 6:22 left and I can't believe that they don't tie this, at minimum. Bad news for Vancouver fans.

And there we go. Dave Bolland at 5:29. Vancouver did not come out for this period at all and they have been unforgivably poor. An amazingly composed goal by Bolland to pull it from behind the red line and beat Luongo way out of his net. TIE GAME!~

You can't blame either goalie for any of the goals that have gone in so far, but at the same time, there hasn't been anything remarkable yet from the goalies. They've made the saves they're supposed to and been beaten where it's logical. Very by the numbers in net tonight.

A COMPLETE COLLAPSE leads to a 4-1 for Vancouver and Sami Salo pops in the go ahead goal. Unforgivable mistake on Chicagos end.

Ryan Johnson pops the empty netter and Vancouver kills it. Wow.

End Of Game

The first 2 periods were so absurdly lackluster and play with such a lack of vigor that it was unbelievable, considering the teams and what kind of advantage is at stake for winning the first game. The final period defied logic. Chicago beat the Canucks pillar-to-post, and then, just when you thought Vancouver would never get the momentum back, they got greedy. It wasn't enough to keep the pressure and look for the right spot. They tried to force it and got caught up ice, giving up a completely unforgivable 4-on-1 break for Vancouver, capped by Salo. It marked the first real shining moment in goaltending as Khabby made an unbelievable save on the first shot, but there was no containing the rebound. It was a juvenile error that won't be repeated, because they will be hearing about it tonight, tomorrow, and every second leading up to the next game.

Neither team looked great until Chicago turned it on in the 3rd. Vancouver showed brief signs of pressure but seemed completely lost at every other time, not even playing proper defense or reading their own teammates, positioning wise. Neither goalie was impressive. This is not going to happen again. Chicago is going to come in strong in Game 2, and Vancouver needs to be ready to defend against it. By all rights, this should not have been Vancouvers game. Both teams were equally poor in the first 2 periods, except for a small contingent of players, and it was all Chicago's in the 3rd.

Vancouver is up 1-0, and let's give out some Stars

3. No one. Sorry. I tried giving it to Keith, but for all the good he did, he knows not to let a Sedin creep up behind him. I wanted to give it to Barker, but something tells me Quennville will be giving it to Barker all night after that late pinch that led to the game winner. Neither goalie deserved it, and no one really stood out enough to say they were better than anyone else. Gun to my head, Sami Pahlsson was good defensively, but even he was guilty of a glaringly lazy play that could have locked it up for Vancouver and stolen all of Chicago's momentum. Null.

2. Patrick Kane. 2 goals and nothing standing out that was irresponsible or detrimental.

1. Who else? Kyle Wellwood. I don't often go against Don Cherry, but he was wrong about one thing. Wellwood didn't draw 8 minutes in penalties. He drew 2 double minors for high sticking and he drew the Toews penalty for 'tripping' as well. 100% in the faceoff circle, 20 minutes on the ice tonight, and two assists, including the some exceptional dedication to set up the Kesler goal. What a game for Kyle Wellwood. Oh, and who made the stretch pass to open up the 4-1 for the Game Winner? You know it. Toronto would do well to get themselves a player like this.

This went much longer than I'd expected. I might have to make a new one for each game. If you read it and you liked it, let me know. Until then, goodnight Sports Fans~

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