VANCOUVER, B.C. -- One of the themes between games on Thursday, as you would expect, was the poise the Chicago Blackhawks showed in the face of the Vancouver Canucks' pre-meditated determination to amp up the physical play.
The only problem for Vancouver? Much of it came after the whistle.
The worst penalty taken in the series by far came courtesy of the Canucks' Alexandre Burrows. The Canucks were trailing 2-1 in the second period and had brought the crowd back in the game with their first tally of the night. Burrows and Brian Campbell were nowhere near the play and, at center ice after the whistle, Burrows was giving Campbell the business. Unsportsmanlike conduct was called and with Burrows in the box, the Hawks scored the back breaker. Penalties and goals like that change games.
“He knows it was a stupid thing to do," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said of Burrows. "It was a bad penalty at a wrong time. Instead of being down 2-1 we were down 3-1. Alex is a pretty smart guy. He knows he should not have done it.”
"I don’t know what you’re going to achieve by having the upper hand in that except a penalty," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said not necessarily about that infraction but after the whistle penalties in general.
Quenneville believes surviving the first period and playing from ahead made a big difference. After having the lead for a total of only 90 seconds in the first two games, it allowed the Hawks to relax.
“We had the lead,” Quenneville said. “That helped us in a lot of ways. Discipline is something we stress every game and every period.”
It’s one thing when Burrows or Ryan Kesler act up, it’s a whole other thing when the Sedin brothers do. By many accounts, the Hawks got under their skin more than anyone else has in their decade in the league.
“Sometimes a good player -- when things aren’t going your way -- is going to show frustration,” Jonathan Toews said. “Maybe it’s just a way to get it out of your system. Daniel and Henrik probably think there is more they can bring to the table. We’ll be prepared for them to play much better hockey.”
“Bolly’s line was great,” Toews said. “They were physical and seemed to be everywhere.”
The other aspect the Hawks have excelled at since Game 1 is crashing the net. They have simply done it better than Vancouver.
“Obviously, in the last couple of games they have been the better team as far as net presence,” Vigneault said. “They’ve been the better team as far as defending their net. We need to make a couple of adjustments.”
Vigneault used the word “adjustments” six or seven times in talking about Game 4 on Friday. That includes on the power play as well as crashing the net. Quenneville says the Hawks will be ready for it and is hopeful his team continues their current trend.
“The second opportunities give you a better opportunity to score goals,” he said. “If the goalies see the puck these days, you likely have no chance at scoring or getting a rebound.”
That’s partially true. The Canucks' Roberto Luongo saw plenty of pucks on Wednesday but threw back rebounds anyway. The Hawks know he can play better.
“This series is far from over,” Toews said. “We want to keep getting better and trying to frustrate them even more.”
It might be far from over but it's Vancouver’s turn to show they can turn the series in another direction. The Hawks did just that over the last two games. Can Vancouver?