Monday, April 25, 2011
Posted: 5:34 p.m. Updated: 8:46 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
The Blackhawks have ridden the roller-coaster of teammate emotions during this series against the Vancouver Canucks. Theyve experienced euphoria when Dave Bolland returned for Game 4. They dealt with frustration and anger at the two-game loss of Brent Seabrook. And now theyre taking a downturn on that ride again.
Bryan Bickell underwent surgery today to repair a lacerated tendon in his wrist that he suffered in Game 2, Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement today. Bickell, who according to the statement just wanted to play as much as he could before the inevitable surgery, will fully recover in 6-8 weeks.
Its just one more thing for the Blackhawks, who got into the playoffs thanks to Minnesota, struggled without the checking and stabilizing abilities of Bolland and played inspired hockey without Seabrook. Bickell has brought his own strong outings to these playoffs, as hes been part of that successful checking (and scoring) line with Bolland and Michael Frolik.
Oh yeah, and then theres a Game 7 and a likely very angry Vancouver Canucks team to contend with on Tuesday night. Half this team went through the Stanley Cup playoff fire last season. Consider this one more test for them and the new Blackhawks, some of whom have caught up quickly in these playoffs.
So what do the Blackhawks do now? Theyll have to take the approach they have these last three games, regardless of who has or hasnt been in the lineup: its another elimination game, theyre a man down and they need everyone to contribute and play their best road game of this series.
The Blackhawks did that in Game 5. From Duncan Keiths monster night on one end of the ice to Corey Crawfords 36 stops at the other, the Blackhawks were focused. They need that again.
We think all year long weve been effective on the road, Quenneville said following Sundays Game 6 overtime victory that forced this Game 7. We want to sustain it, keep it. We expect a fun building.
One mans fun building is anothers hostile environment with a very angry team on the other side. The Canucks played arguably their best game of the series on Sunday and barely lost. Despite all the talk of mind blocks and unknown starting goaltenders, the Canucks are going to come out angry, determined and opportunistic. The Blackhawks cant expect anything less.
The Blackhawks won on Sunday despite their top players once again going quiet. Their top line was Bollands, which supplied three regulation goals. Rookie Ben Smith, who now has three goals this postseason as many as Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp combined was the surprising overtime hero. Coaches always welcome checking-line scoring. Its a bonus. But he needs his top lines to do it.
The legs have to be there, too. Henrik Sedin said after Game 6 that the Blackhawks were tired. Considering the Hawks third and overtime, he may be onto something. Facing one-goal deficits a couple times on Sunday, the Blackhawks forwards got a lot of work. Some were double-shifting. John Scott, thrown on the fourth line to keep the peace, played just one minute.
Now theyre minus another forward and someone will have to step in with Bolland and Frolik. Those two still have great chemistry and they should probably stay together at this point.
The Blackhawks have already had to deal with some things in this series. A good deal of it was self-inflicted, with their going down 0-3 to the No. 1 Canucks. Still, theyve worked regulars back into the lineup, worked around injuries and worked their way back. Theyre on the verge of making history, becoming this seasons Philadephia Flyers. Theyve dug down deep once or twice already. Theyll have to do it at least one more time.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.