Chicago Sun-Times

Blackhawks need to respond to Canucks' hit parade

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Canucks' game plan will remain the same. They will try to smash and bang every Hawk they can.

It's on the defending champions to respond better.

"Physically? Way below average," coach Joel Quenneville said of his team getting outhit 47-21 in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series.

The Hawks have been outhit plenty of times during the regular season. Their loss to the Flames in Calgary during the circus trip stands out as one of the worst. The toughness and resilience of this year's team has been consistently questioned.

In Game 1, the Canucks were specifically targeting the Hawks defensemen. Their top blue-liners are going to play a ton this series and have all year. Vancouver's goal is to wear them down.

"They realize what our game plan is," defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "They know we're going to come out again. We're going to be hitting. We're going to be pushing the pace. And I'm sure they're going to want to match that."

The Hawks aren't the biggest team and they tend to prefer to look at how they fight for pucks in corners and position instead of the amount of hits as a characterization of their physical play.

But hits can swing momentum. Michael Frolik had just 21 hits in 28 games for the Hawks this season, but had a team-high six in Game 1.

"When the opportunity was there to be physical on their players, we did it," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "That's what hockey is all about."

Bryan Bickell and Troy Brouwer need to have that mentality. As two of the Hawks' biggest two players, physical play from them is a must. Bickell (three hits in Game 1) and Brouwer (zero) need to be factors.

"We didn't respond with the right pace or right energy. We expect it to change [Friday] night," Quenneville said. "We're asking everybody to take a bite out of this series, not just the top guys. Physically, we need everybody to contribute in that area and that can give us energy when we see guys like Bickell and Brouwer bringing it."

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2 Comments

I blame Stan Bowman for the lack of size and toughness on this team. There is no clear cut leader. Toews is a great player and can lead but has no size. There needed to be some size and open ice hitting. How in the hell can you go into a defending champion season and allow your stars to be physically beaten to a pulp?. The guy should be fired!
Tallon may have made a mess on the finances....but he knew how to build a winner. Bowman is working for Detroit it seems.

CG

Good god... do something.. They look totally out of it.. Dont know if Q can get these guys going anymore.. This trend of totally checking out mentally goes back to last year. Dont know what the problem is. This series is becoming a joke.. We are getting hammered and the Hawks simply stare..shrug.. and turn the puck over. Bowman needs to do some serious roster work this off season. This team is way toooo soft. Its obvious.. hit them enough and they vanish.. because nobody on the team will respond. If you cant do anything else.. heck start a fight.. do something please.. When Ben Smith comes out with little to no NHL experience and scores 2.... TWO goals .... your top guys need to go hide because thats a joke. All this $$$$$$ to Kane and Hossa.... nothing.. zero production. Hoss cant stay healthy enough and Kane is powdered sugar on skates. Toews needs to start screaming... problem is he doesnt have enough help right now... Get this over with.... get into the off season and start shopping Patrick Kane... I just want to scream when I see him continually turn the puck over.. and his top of the circle dance just to shoot a wrister into the skates of the opposing D is mind numbing.. When Patrick Sharp is the only guy showing that hes PO'd ... there is a big problem....

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Adam L. Jahns is a native Chicagoan hailing from the Far Northwest Side. Jahns has been with the Sun-Times for more than four years, covering the Hawks, Bears, Cubs, Sox and high schools.

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This page contains a single entry by Adam L. Jahns published on April 15, 2011 12:45 PM.

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