In Game 6 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup, Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell knocked Vancouver Canucks' D Kevin Bieksa for a ride in overtime with a high hit reminiscent of the Raffi Torres hit on Brent Seabrook in Game 3. One key difference is that Bieksa had the puck, while Brent Seabrook was standing watching it glide beside him. Another difference, Raffi Torres didn't leave his feet, while Bickell does his best airplane impression.
Suggesting that Bickell should be suspended may be a 'leap', but it will be interesting to see if the Chicago and Eastern Media (read: Ron McLean etc...) will organize a public lynching for Bickell as they did for Raffi Torres.
Based on the NHL's stance on the Raffi Torres hit, Canucks fans shouldn't hold their breath about any suspension or supplemental discipline. In fact, they shouldn't even hold their breath from the obnoxious Chicago media who think Raffi Torres is the devil (or just a 'gutless' 'idiot'). They seem to think Raffi Torres left his feet and elbowed a taller man. In actuality, Seabrook wasn't watching where he was skating, just like Bieksa on this play. Both defensemen should have had their heads up. Thankfully both are alright and the case can be closed on this.
The officiating has been so random, that after Game 6, Canucks' GM Mike Gillis weighed in on the hit as well as the discrepancy in power plays throughout the series.
But what will the Chicago media make of Bickell's hit? Will it be a predatory headshot? a blindside hit? Probably not, those Blackhawks can do no wrong.
Yes, those poor Blackhawks. Too bad the Chicago media have short memories.
Exhibit A - Ben Eager on Rick Rypien
Exhibit B - Andrew Ladd on Ryan Kesler
And there's too many spears, slashes and goaltender interference examples from Dave Bolland, Dustin Byfuglien, and Jonathan Toews to even mention over the past three years. But those Blackhawks, they certainly are the victims this year aren't they? In fact, they're such clean hockey players, the Canucks can barely get a power play against them.
So, while the Chicago media can have fun writing about Roberto Luongo's struggles against the Hawks, and how the Canucks are the bad guys, let's have a little perspective please. Should Dan Hamhuis have rubbed Bolland's head? No. But the guy is nicknamed 'The Rat' for a reason. Should Andrew Ladd have flown like superman at Ryan Kesler? No. There was not a penalty on that Ladd hit from 2009 either by the way.
So pardon Canucks' fans if they don't have much sympathy for you, Chicago. They probably feel you're getting the lion's share of calls from officials in this series anyways. The power plays are a staggering 28-16 for Chicago in this series. That's nearly 5 per game for Chicago, and 2.5 per game for Vancouver, well below their season average. Three of the Canucks' power plays were late in games when the teams were separated by 5 goals, so the difference is actually more profound.
For those conspiracy theorists out there, imagine where the series would be if the power plays were the other way around? Imagine the swings in momentum without all the 5-3's for Chicago. We're not including the 3rd period penalty shot to Michael Frolik either, or all the non-calls and oddities such as an ice maintenance break that allowed Chicago to rest its players during overtime of Game 6. What the heck was that?
You won't hear any of that in Chicago papers though. Just crap like how the Canucks are weak-willed and character-challenged. Yes, its that kind of arrogance from your media that endears you to Canuck nation. Way to win with grace, "eh"? The Vancouver media is notorious in these parts, but I don't recall the them being obnoxious when the Canucks were leading the series 3-0. I don't remember the Chicago media doing anything other than eating humble pie after the first three games of the series either.
In any event, the Canucks may very well lose Game 7 and write another sad chapter in their recent history of playoff futility, but their fan base would love nothing better than to shut up the smug and downright cocky Blackhawks like Patrick Kane, and whomever on the bench enjoys taunting injured players like Shawn Thornton and Brendan Morrison.
A victory on Tuesday for the Canucks may prove elusive, but would be incredibly sweet, especially if it meant idiots like Steve Rosenbloom have to go back to writing about a team with a real record of futility - the Chicago Cubs. You'd figure a franchise like the Blackhawks would be a bit more humble about their Stanley Cup Championship last spring. It was after all the end of a 49 year drought, and a flash in the pan of 15-20 years of complete and utter failure. Yes, we still remember the Alex Zhamnov and Eric Daze years, no matter how badly you'd like to forget them. And about that humble pie? The Canucks hope to serve that on Tuesday.