VANCOUVER (CBS) – In the previous two postseason series between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks, the Blackhawks suffered a game one loss. But in each series they also bounced back with a game two victory.
Here are four keys to the Blackhawks winning game two and keeping up their recent history against the Cancuks:
Traffic In The Crease
-Former Blackhawk Dustin Byfuglien became a hero in Chicago, largely, because of the chaos he caused for Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo in last year’s playoffs. Luongo is a world-class goalie when he’s comfortable and sees the puck all the way. For the Blackhawks to win in Friday night, they’ll need to get players to the crease, shield Luongo’s vision and frustrate the big goalie.
Take The Body
-The one statistical category the Canucks dominated on Wednesday night was hits, 47-21 in favor of Vancouver. From the puck drop to the end of the game the Canucks played more aggressive and more physical than the Blackhawks. For Chicago to take game two they’ll need to amp up their physical play. This could be difficult for the Blackhawks, they’re not a physical team and their hits leader, Troy Brouwer, missed the last three games of the season with an upper body injury. However, Brouwer was in the lineup Wednesday and will be again on Friday.
When In Doubt, Shoot
-Luongo is one of the best regular season goalies in the NHL, but his Stanley Cup Playoff reputation, especially against the Blackhawks, has been marred with meltdowns. Luongo stopped all 32 shots in game one, so the Blackhawks need to test the Canadian goalie early and often. In their cycle offense that emphasizes puck possession, the Blackhawks can be selective in their shots and often look to make the extra pass. While that’s an unselfish way to play, they’ve had a lot of success against the Canucks by scoring off rebounds. Look for the Blackhawks to uncork a few more shots early on, and shoot more often as the game progresses.
More Of The Same From Crawford
-Blackhawks rookie goaltender Corey Crawford had a great regular season, his 33-18-6 record, 2.30 goals against average and .917 save percentage will have him in contention for the Calder Trophy, given to the NHL’s best rookie. Before Wednesday night, Crawford had logged only 16 minutes of Stanley Cup Playoff hockey, and yet he looked like a seasoned veteran stopping 33 of the 35 shots he faced. The only goals allowed were off a deflection and on a break away, goals that would be difficult to impossible for any goalie to stop. For Chicago to take game two from Vancouver, they’ll need a similar effort from their goalie.