The last two springs, the Blackhawks would’ve made Vancouver melt down.
In Game 4, they made the Canucks flat quit.
Not by beating them up, but by beating them to loose pucks and winning board battles. By moving the puck efficiently and skating the Canucks into Thursday with a stunning 7-2 win.
The tipping point came in the fifth minute of the second period when Brian Campbell and Duncan Keith, two of the Hawks’ most suspect players in this series, scored 17 seconds apart for a 3-1 lead.
The Hawks finally had slowed Vancouver’s previously hellacious forecheck, and frankly, it looked like the Canucks were conceding this thing, happy to go home with a chance to end it. Dangerous and lazy, that.
The Hawks played with urgency from the start. So did the Canucks. But eventually, the Canucks decided they didn’t want to pay the price to make a play, or even be the aggressors the way they had in winning the first three games. It’s that mentality that makes people question Vancouver’s Stanley Cup credibility. Winners don’t turtle like that.
The Hawks continued the assault with two more goals in the second to complete a four-goal torching of previously and presently tortured Roberto Luongo. Thing is, the strafing might’ve started with Luongo’s tortured skate to the bench after the first period.
Moments earlier, Luongo pretzeled backward during Hawks pressure and hurt something --- his back, a leg, an arm, something. He seemed to try to stretch his back as he reached the bench.
Or maybe it was his glove. Campbell and Keith both beat him to that side, apparently believing Luongo suddenly had a worse glove than Juan Pierror.
And then it was Dave Bolland’s chance for a Hallmark moment. Five weeks after suffering a concussion, the “Rat’’ came back to aggravate his friends, the Sedin twins, and add some desperately needed offense. He beat Luongo for the Hawks’ third goal of the period and then set up Michael Frolik’s breakaway to cap the second-period barrage.
And just like that, after two assists earlier, Bolland had a four-point night, a pile of points that launched him near the top of playoff scoring lead.
And that was after just two periods.
Talk about missing a guy. Everybody knew the Hawks needed Bolland’s grit and versatility, whether shorthanded, on the power play and in checking the opponent’s top line, but it was ridiculously evident Tuesday. He was around the net, he was around the puck, he was around the Sedins. Old-time hockey, eh?
To complete a perfect night, Luongo was yanked shortly after the Hawks made it 6-1. Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault, who yammered about the Hawks’ running it up during a game last spring, made the change during a stoppage and a scrum in the Hawks’ end of the ice, denying Hawks fans the chance to rain down more abuse on Luongo.
But they’ll get over it after what the Hawks did to Luongo and the Canucks.