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updated: 4/14/2011 6:29 AM

Hawks must match Canucks' physical play

Hawks must match Canucks' physical play

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Blackhawks fans can only hope general manager Stan Bowman was taking good notes Wednesday night.

It's one thing to get through the regular season with a lack of grit and too few players willing to engage in physical play, but it can mean a quick end to the season in the playoffs if a team doesn't hit.

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The Vancouver Canucks put on a clinic in physical play in Game 1 of this first-round series at Rogers Arena, sending the Hawks down to a 2-0 defeat.

This was a special performance by the NHL's best team during the regular season. The Canucks ran the Hawks out of the rink in the first period, outhitting them 20-9 and never letting up to the point where many of the Hawks appeared to be intimidated.

"It's definitely something we need to respond to," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "We can't just lay around and take that. We can make them a little more afraid to go near the puck, especially in their zone.

"We didn't play hard enough in the corners and in front of the net."

The Canucks outhit the Hawks 47-21 for the game, getting 8 from gritty center Maxim Lapierre and 7 from defenseman Alex Edler.

Among the Hawks' forwards, Troy Brouwer, Ben Smith and Ryan Johnson had no hits, Bryan Bickell 3, Viktor Stalberg 2 and Jake Dowell 1.

"They came at us in waves and we didn't have a good response," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "More urgency right off the bat. The first playoff game, the pace is not regular season; it's all out. They came out banging and we didn't reciprocate."

The Canucks came at the Hawks with their size and speed, taking a 1-0 lead at 7:03 on a goal by Chris Higgins.

It became 2-0 at 10:23 after Mikael Samuelsson picked Duncan Keith's pocket from behind inside the Vancouver blue line and sent Jannik Hansen the other way on a breakaway to beat goalie Corey Crawford.

As physical as the Canucks were in the first period they didn't take a penalty.

The Hawks battled back in the second period, but only because the reunited line of Toews, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane dominated for a stretch.

"We lost the momentum for 10 minutes in that second period," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "Their top line was just incredible. For 10 minutes they just controlled the play."

But even the Toews line couldn't finish some good chances against a solid Roberto Luongo.

"We had some good quality chances, but not enough net presence," Quenneville said. "We still need more pucks and more bodies at the net."

Vigneault admitted that the plan physically was to take early aim at the Hawks' defensemen, particularly Keith and Brent Seabrook.

"We definitely wanted to establish a physical presence, especially on their defense," Vigneault said. "We know that their defense is a very big part of their team. We're going to try and make their life a little bit challenging."

tsassone@dailyherald.com

• For more Hawks talk, check out Tim's Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com and follow his Blackhawks reports via Twitter @TimSassone.

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