At the previous morning skate at United Center -- on May 3 prior to Game 2 -- the Hawks were all business while the Canucks were more relaxed and allowed themselves a few yuks on the ice.
Three Hawks wins later in this Western Conference semifinal, the vibe reversed completely for the morning skates prior to Sunday’s Game 5 at the UC. The Canucks worked out with a grim purpose while the Hawks flashed a few smiles as they dashed up and down the ice.
One example: Late in the Hawks’ half-hour workout, the centers gathered at center ice to work on faceoffs with assistant coach Mike Haviland. Colin Fraser waited with a glint in his eye for captain Jonathan Toews to jump in against him.
With Dave Bolland and John Madden in a stance nearby and chirping at Toews, Fraser gleefully jumped the gun on a few pucks and won more than his share of faceoffs from the captain. Toews didn’t hesitate to express his displeasure with the rigged contests -- in that way that teammates do -- which only made the others enjoy the moment more.
“We just love giving it to him,” Fraser said afterward. “He’s a very, very competitive guy, whether it’s hockey or really anything you play with that guy. He wants to win. It’s easy to rib him a little bit…and it doesn’t help when you’ve got six guys skating around the circle giving it to him a little bit.”
The gallant Fraser didn’t want to claim he won the majority of the faceoffs. “Let’s say 50/50,” he said with a smile. “I don’t want to get him too riled up before the game.”
--Hawks forward Adam Burish says he purchased his mom some flowers...and a ticket for Game 5. Apparently that's the ultimate gift.
"She was like, 'I can't wait to see what the crowd's like,' " Burish reported. " 'The crowd's gonna be awesome!' That's what all the guys were kind of saying today. We're expecting a wild building tonight. Last (year) we played Vancouver here in that close-out game, it was the craziest building I've been in. I'm expecting the same kind of atmosphere tonight."
--Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo is indeed clean-shaven, but he apparently nicked his vocal cords with the razor. He declined to talk after the morning skate.
--Here’s today’s essential question/riddle: How do the Canucks play desperately (like a team down 3 games to 1 should) without playing desperately?
“A lot of people are probably calling us down and out,” said Vancouver defenseman Shane O’Brien. “Maybe that’s what we need to wake us up here. We’ve put ourselves in a really bad spot. Let’s see what we’re made of. Let’s see what we’ve got.”
Apparently, what we’ve got are a group of Canucks who claim they’re not as dumb as the way they played in Game 4.
“Obviously we took too many penalties,” O’Brien said. “But I don’t think what you guys realize is we’re not going out there trying to take penalties to hurt the team. We’re playing a game. We’re trying to be in their face and play hard and show them we weren’t going to quit. I guess we crossed the line. Everyone keeps talking about that fine line. I guess we crossed it last game. Refs some nights call it a little tighter than others -- and it seemed last game they called everything.”