Hawks hope to stave off elimination at home
Sunday, 04.24.2011 / 8:20 AM
NHL.comCANUCKS at BLACKHAWKS
(Vancouver leads best-of-seven series 3-2)
TV: CBC (HD), VERSUS (HD), RDS (HD), CSN-Chicago (HD)
-- Chicago has staved off elimination twice in quite dramatic fashion and is looking for the trifecta on its home ice Sunday night. The Blackhawks, who have outscored the Canucks 12-2 in the last two games, insist they're getting some of their inspiration from what Philadelphia did last year against Boston. They're trying to make the same miracle happen.
The Canucks are facing the pressures of potentially blowing a 3-0 series lead and heading home to play a Game 7, but they remain confident in their ability to bounce back and play a strong Game 6. Roberto Luongo
has not finished either of the last two games, but he'll start Sunday.
-- They continue to say all the right things in the face of adversity, but the Canucks know they have to go out and prove they are a real championship contender Sunday night. If they let this series go to seven games, they'll head back to Vancouver with absolutely no momentum and likely no confidence.
Luongo is under fire, but coach Alain Vigneault didn't dawdle when he was asked who would start in net Game 6. He immediately answered in the affirmative for Luongo, who has been pulled from the last two games and has given up 10 goals on 40 shots over 65-plus minutes since Game 3.
"Roberto is the guy," Vigneault said Friday. "He's been there in great times for us and we expect him to play real well."
Vancouver's top line of Henrik Sedin
, Daniel Sedin
and Alex Burrows has been invisible since Chicago got Dave Bolland back in the lineup two games ago. They have 1 point and a minus-11 rating while Bolland has 4 points and is a plus-4. The second line of Ryan Kesler
, Mikael Samuelsson
and Christopher Higgins
has also not done much after playing very well in the first three games. The Canucks are getting very little from their third and fourth lines.
-- They've been hopping mad since Brent Seabrook was crunched with a shoulder-to-head hit by Raffi Torres
in Game 3, and felt they were wronged when Torres was not suspended by the NHL. Seabrook has not played in the last two games with an upper-body injury, but ironically the Blackhawks have played like a different team, one with a swagger befitting a champion, without him.
Chicago's power play is clicking and the big guys are producing. Duncan Keith had four points and Marian Hossa added three in Game 5. Patrick Kane got on the board with his first goal of the series. Patrick Sharp has 3 goals. The only big gun to not score is Jonathan Toews, but even he was smiling about that after Thursday's win, joking that his time has to come soon if things keep steamrolling like they are.
"I'm waiting for the right moment," Toews said, smiling.
The Hawks are confident and they have all the momentum. They are thrilled to be going home to play Game 6 in a building that should be the loudest it has been since they raised the Stanley Cup banner in October.
"They deserve to watch a lot of hockey for the way they support us," defenseman Brian Campbell said of the Hawks' fans that fill United Center. "It'll be fun to try to go back and extend this series, keep it going."
-- Keith has a team-high 4 goals and 6 points in the series, including 3 goals and 5 points in the last two games. Hossa is coming off his best game with 2 goals and an assist in Game 5. Hawks goalie Corey Crawford has stopped 57 of 59 shots to pick up his first two career playoff wins, including his first shutout.
-- Seabrook has sat out the last two games and remains questionable for Game 6. Blackhawks forward Tomas Kopecky hasn't played since suffering an injury early in Game 1.
-- Luongo has given up four or more goals in seven of 17 career playoff games against Chicago. ... Toews has 2 goals in his last 17 games and zero in the last seven. ... The Hawks power play is 4-for-11 in the last two games. It was 2-for-12 in the first three games.
-- "They've got momentum on their side right now, but all year long this group has been accountable, our leadership guys," Vigneault said. "Each and every player in that room is a good leader and they've responded. (Thursday) we didn't have the response we wanted, but I've got a lot of confidence in our guys and it's up to us to go out and prove it."