Sure, the Vancouver Canucks took a one game lead in the Western Conference Quarterfinals Wednesdsay, and they looked overwhelming, especially in a first period where they threw everything they had at Hawks rookie goalie Corey Crawford. And sure, Roberto Luongo had an incredible game, shutting out Chicago for a 2-0 win. But as bad as that loss might have looked at times, the Blackhawks may have Vancouver right where they want them.
The Blackhawks and Canucks have been here before, and more than once. These two teams have met in the playoffs the last two years previous to this, and the Canucks won the first game both times. But the Blackhawks took the series both times. So far, everything is going along according to script.
I recognize that this is not the same Hawks team that eliminated Vancouver and took the Stanley Cup last year, and that this year's road is going to be tougher, but there's still plenty of reason for optimism. This is still a very good team. They may not have as many big bodies as last year's playoff model, but they still have their scorers and speed, and I believe they've got more stamina than Vancouver.
The Canucks can't keep up the intensity they displayed in the first period on Wednesday and Luongo can't stop everything, every game. He is a very good goalie, no question. But fate was smiling on him in the first game of this series, and dumb luck was calling his number as well.
Corey Crawford has gotten a taste of playoff intensity, and for the most part, answered the bell admirably. If Jonathan Toes and Co. can get just a few better chances on goal, and if Chicago can deliver some hits without falling into the trap of trying to match Vancouver's physicality, I believe they can outlast them and outskate them.
I'll be tweeting throughout tonight's game, follow along at @sbnchicago and @BabylonDon1