Blackhawks-Canucks Game 7 Preview

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There was time (not more than two weeks ago) when it was dicey whether the Hawks would even have a post season, and now they’re the giving this year’s President’s Trophy winners a run for their money. Could this be the third year in a row the Hawks end the playoff run for the Canucks?

Only three other teams have made a comeback from a 3-0 hole to win a series: Toronto in ’42, Islanders in ’75 and Phillie last year. Could the Blackhawks be the fourth?

By Harrini Krishnan

Sunday night in Game 6, Smith scored his third goal in the series, 15:30 in overtime, to give the Hawks a 4-3 win. And of course the star of the team so far in the playoffs, Crawford made some great saves—32 overall, and 12 in overtime.

“Anything can happen in Vancouver,” Smith told reporters. “I’m just trying to take a deep breath every once in awhile. They’ve got some great players.”

“I got a piece of it with my knob and I’m not sure exactly what happened,” Canucks’ goalie Luongo said, “I think Smith just chipped it over me on the rebound.”

This morning, in Rogers Arena, when the Canucks took the ice for morning skate, the scoreboard read 5-0 for the Hawks. Is it an omen for the Canucks? Maybe not. Is it probably a bit daunting? You bet.

Tonight, there are going to be at least three line-up changes for the Canucks: 1) Keith Ballard, one of their pricey new acquisitions will take the ice again after being a healthy scratch for the last two games, 2) Tanner Glass is expected to return after being benched for one game in place of rookie Cody Hodgson and 3) Sami Salo, who left Game 6 injured might not return to the ice tonight.  This would leave Vancouver with only three natural centers: Sedin, Kesler and Lapierre, who we can assume will get massive ice time. Overworked players become tired players, and tired players make tiring mistakes.

As for Chicago, either rookie Marcus Kruger or veteran Fernando Pisani will take winger Bryan Bickell’s place on the lineup due to Bickell undergoing wrist surgery. So far, Bickell has been great for the Hawks. He has given the Hawks one of their greatest advantages: secondary scoring. He has two goals in the series, one of which opened Game 4 as a turning point in the series. His line with Frolik and Smith have outscored the 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines of the Canucks, combined. With Bickell out, that line will obviously not be the same but at this point, there’s not much to shake up a confident Hawks team.

“I still feel all the pressure’s on them.” Hawks forward Patrick Kane told the Tribune, They’re the ones who were up 3-0, they’re the first seed in the West, they were kind of predicted to win the Cup this year and go really far.”

Also, let’s not forget Chicago’s record for when it has a chance to eliminate an opponent in the playoffs: 6-1.

“We didn’t want to look at the big picture,” Coach Quenneville said Monday. “It was ugly at the time, and we just wanted to win one hockey game and try to see where the momentum took us. I still think we have the momentum going into the game, but the excitement that we didn’t have going into games 4, 5 and 6.”

Will the Canucks be the sixth President’s Trophy winner to lose it all in the first round? Will the Hawks become the fourth team in history to make a comeback from a 3-0 hole? It all comes down to this game.

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