With Pittsburgh beating Ottawa 4 - 1 and Los Angeles beating San Jose 2 - 0 last night, The Checking Line: Isles Edition will take a look into the other two semifinal series. (Photo Credit: Torch Creative)
In what has been a truly amazing year the Blackhawks ended their regular season at the United Center in the fashion that they began – winning. The game was really never in doubt from the moment the puck dropped on the Indianhead at center ice.
Like the past couple of games, again the Blackhawks had little to play for except that this group of extraordinary athletes has set a standard for themselves which they have not faltered from all season.
The Hawks jumped on top of the Flames early and often. The score could have been much higher save bounces not going the Hawks way. They completely dominated the Flames in the first period.
The Chicago Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks renew one the National Hockey League’s most bitter rivalries. This game could be a Western Conference finals preview.
The Blackhawks are coming off of a shootout loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. The Canucks come off of a shootout win of their own over the Detroit Red Wings. It’s going to be weird if Detroit doesn’t make the playoffs. That’s another blog for another day.
Both teams are in the NHL’s top ten in penalty kill percentage. The Blackhawks check in at number four while Vancouver checks in at number seven.
Coming into this game the Blackhawks had absolutely nothing to play for other than their pride and improving themselves and continuing a seven game winning streak. The Phoenix Coyotes on the other hand were fighting for their playoff lives and had everything to play for.
The Blackhawks have to be commended for their character and focus. Everyone knows these games mean nothing to them and are really just glorified practices since they clinched their division and conference. They still managed to gain a point and come from behind to tie the game up and push the game to overtime and eventually the shoot out.
Friday night's game was not the Blackhawks' best - they coughed up 4 goals against the offensively-challenged Nashville (29th in league - average 2.27 goals/game). Chicago is on their way to their first Presidents' Trophy since 1991, and the Predators have already been eliminated.
Five of Chicago's games have come against the Predators this season, and the Blackhawks swept the Nashville series, including two shutouts against them.
At the end of the night, it was a familiar scenario: Marian Hossa putting in the overtime winner to give the Blackhawks a 5-4 win, making long-time fans remember a certain first-round game vs the Preds back in 2010.
The season is beginning to find its end. It is a time that we usually reflect on what has occurred and a time where we joyfully anticipate the upcoming playoff battles. This time of the year always has a few major questions though. The question that continues to plague me; however, is the one that so many hockey writers continue to write about. Does Sidney Crosby still deserve the Hart Trophy after missing so many games with a fractured jaw?
It is a question that I am entirely sick of, to be completely honest. Mostly because the answer is yes and just about everyone knows this, but I highly doubt that hockey writers have to continue to post article after article on why he is s...