VANCOUVER, CANADA - JANUARY 4: Goalie Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks searches for the loose puck while Christian Ehrhoff #5 tries not to fall on top of his goalie during the third period in NHL action against the Chicago Blackhawks on February 04, 2011 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Though it sounds strange, and a little painful, to say this about a game you lost, that was the best game of the season involving the Hawks, and if there's been a better one in the NHL this season then I haven't seen it. The pace and passion at which it was played was borderline rubber room, and that translated even though I was in a crowded, loud bar and didn't have sound. Skill, nastiness, controversy, pretty much everything you want out of a hockey game.
I want to sit here and say that though losing to the Canucks always hurts, if the Hawks bring that kind of energy and speed to the rest of the season, they'll be starting the playoffs on home ice. But I don't know that they will even in a majority of their games. And still, they blew a 3rd period lead, though the call on Seabrook leading to the tying goal was incredibly soft. However, while the winner took its share of bounces on the way past Turco, that play started with Patrick Kane trying to take on four Canucks at their blue line. Now, he's one of the few guys on the planet who can make that work, but with that little time left in a game where you have to have at least a point, it just can't be done.
The Hawks played one of their best games of the year last night, and lost. They're simply running out of chances to do that. They squandered them all when they refused to show up for far too many games earlier in the year. There are positives to be drawn, but points would be better.
-I know there's a fair amount of wailing about the officials last night, and they certainly didn't help. But the Hawks had a chance to really bury the Canucks on a few occasions, and didn't do it. They still have all the cohesiveness of the retirement home on extra-medication day with a two-man advantage. Two right handed shots on the point, and three left handed shots at forward, leaving only Patrick Sharp set up for a one timer. This also would have worked had their been any movement whatsoever. They used to put Bolland on the left wing for this, just to give them another option, and he's got their two goals on that advantage this season. Fix. This.
-And it still would have been moot if Marian Hossa could have found the gaping space between the posts on both the chances he had where Roberto Luongo was ass over tea kettle in the net. Last year, I would have tried to give Hossa a pass with the charge of "snake bitten" but not this year. Those have to hit twine.
-That said, Luongo was absolutely awesome last night. If he plays like that in big games in the spring, the Canucks are probably insurmountable.
-Although, last night they once again reverted to the panicky, easily rattled form. Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa each took the dumb penalties we were told they had sworn off.
-4 goals on 32 shots doesn't look that good, but I thought Turco was excellent, especially in his rebound control. There didn't seem to be any second chances.
-That's what Jonathan Toews can do. If he's this maniacal the rest of the year, along with competence from Keith and Seabrook, it'll all be fine.
The Hawks need to find seven more points from the eight on offer. Duplicate last night, they will.