Ben Smith of the Chicago Blackhawks is introduced to the crowd as "the star of the game" after scoring the winning goal against the Vancouver Canucks in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on April 24, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Canucks 4-3 in sudden death overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The greatest comeback in Chicago postseason history could be at hand Tuesday night in Vancouver.
They've got the momentum. They've got Dave Bolland, probably at his all-time peak of performance and motivation. All they need is Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa -- just two of three would be fine and dandy -- having good nights.
If the Hawks squeak it out Tuesday night in Vancouver, they would have gone where no other Chicago team has gone in the postseason. A miracle comeback from being down 0-3.
Such a semi-miracle is reserved for other cities in the handful of times it's been accomplished. The Flyers last year against the Bruins. And the Red Sox paying the Yankees back for more than a half-century of humiliation, in 2004. The whining Boston fans, who refused to realize how good they had it even before '04. But never, ever in Chicago.
More often there's a playoff collapse, opponents winning three in a row against Chicago teams. See: Cubs in 1984 and 2003. The Bulls coughed up a 3-2 Western Conference Finals edge in 1975.
The Hawks are as confident as they were in the peak of their Stanley Cup drive 11 months ago. Bolland has made all the difference, but is too modest to claim the lion's share of credit.
The only thing the Canucks salvaged was some of Roberto Luongo's psyche. He had copious bench time Sunday night until capable backup Cory Schneider was injured on Michael Frolik's penalty shot. Luongo allowed Ben Smith's overtime clincher, but this time was not routed from the nets.
Vancouver fans will put crushing pressure on their team. The Canucks are the big game in town. If they let the burghers down the third consecutive year against the Hawks, this time after leading the NHL In regular-season points, the franchise will have its greatest crisis at hand.
The Hawks have nothing to lose. They were dead after being down 0-3. They were dead after their season finale against the Red Wings, needing a Dallas loss hours later to back into the playoffs. But on Easter Night, they had another chapter of an amazing, ecumenical resurrection story.
In a number of ways, this story is almost as fun as the Stanley Cup run. The Hawks were dominating then, and expected to win. This has wild twists and turns straight out of Hollywood you'd usually never believe. And with the rise of the Bulls to dominance in a sport more indigenous to the Chicago area, the Hawks' improbable run was just what they need to retain fans.
Rest up before Tuesday night. You might be bleary-eyed at work or school the next morning. If present trends continue, the bloodshot eyes will be accompanied by smiles.