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Whatever it takes, Ladd delivers for Hawks
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff

Chicago Blackhawks' Andrew Ladd waves to fans after the Blackhawks defeated the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in overtime during Game 4 of the NHL Western Conference semifinal hockey series, Thursda.

 

Associated Press

Vancouver Canucks' Alexandre Burrows, right, checks Chicago Blackhawks' Andrew Ladd during the first period.

 

Associated Press

Martin Havlat (24) celebrates with Cameron Barker and Andrew Ladd after scoring during the third period.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 5/8/2009 2:15 PM | Updated: 5/8/2009 4:13 PM

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The series

Game 1: Canucks 5, Hawks 3

Game 2: Hawks 6, Canucks 3

Game 3: Canucks 3, Hawks 1

Game 4: Hawks 2, Canucks 1 (OT)

Game 5: Today at Canucks, 9:30

Game 6: Mon. at Hawks, 8 p.m.

Game 7: Thurs. at Canucks, TBD *

* if necessary; all games on CSN, CSN+

Andrew Ladd flies under the radar on a Chicago Blackhawks team filled with high-profile players.

He doesn't do "One Goal" commercials or figure prominently in any of the Hawks' marketing campaigns.

But Ladd is as valuable as any player on the roster for the little things he does to help the Hawks succeed, whether it's winning battles along the wall or behind the net, or absorbing the punishment that comes with standing in front of the goaltender.

Ladd was front and center again in Thursday's dramatic 2-1 overtime win over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 4 that evened the Western Conference semifinal series at 2-2.

Ladd outworked three Canucks along the boards to set up Martin Havlat's game-tying goal with 2:44 to play in regulation. Then early in the OT, he camped in front of goalie Roberto Luongo to tip home Dave Bolland's shot.

"You have to appreciate him by watching him play and being around him and seeing the team play every night," teammate Brian Campbell said. "I didn't know a lot about him when I first came here, but little things, like the tying goal - along the wall, big body with two or three guys around him, and he finds a way to get it to Marty.

"Maybe he's the quiet guy on that line that doesn't get a lot of recognition, but he does a lot of the grind work for that line."

The line of Bolland, Ladd and Havlat has been the Hawks' most consistent line all season, and they continue to make a difference in the playoffs.

Don't forget it was Ladd who helped get the Hawks started on the right foot in the playoffs in Game 1 of the Calgary series, when he bothered goalie Miikka Kiprusoff in front on Havlat's OT goal to win that game.

"I enjoy my role, and it's part of the game," Ladd said. "Obviously with Bolly and Havlat, they're two great offensive players, so if I can go to the net and create traffic and maybe create a little traffic for them, I'm helping them."

Ladd had an underrated regular season, appearing in every game and contributing 15 goals and 49 points. His plus-26 rating was the third best on the team behind Duncan Keith (plus-33) and Havlat (plus-29).

"He means a lot to our team," Bolland said. "He's a big player, and playing with him has been fabulous for me. He clears everybody out and makes some big hits out there. You can't move him."

Fortunately for the Hawks and Ladd, Canucks defenseman Willie Mitchell and Ossi Vaananen never tried to move him in front during Thursday's overtime. Ladd charged the net, established his space and had a clear view of Bolland's shot, which he redirected through Luongo.

All Mitchell and Vaananen could do was look at each other as if to say, "What the heck just happened?"

"It's funny, I turned to Adam Burish before we went out for overtime and said, 'it's going to have to be a dirty one,' and he kind of smiled," Ladd said. "That's how it tends to be in the playoffs in general, get to the net, especially against a goalie like Luongo."

"Maybe he's the quiet guy on that line that doesn't get a lot of recognition, but he does a lot of the grind work for that line."

Brian Campbell, speaking of teammate Andrew Ladd

Tonight's faceoff

Blackhawks vs. Vancouver Canucks at GM Place, 9:30 p.m.

TV: Comcast SportsNet

Radio: WGN 720-AM

At a glance: The Western Conference semifinals are tied 2-2 after the Hawks' dramatic 2-1 overtime win on Thursday. Both teams have won a game on the road, and the Hawks will need to win another one to take the series. The Hawks are looking for a breakout game from Jonathan Toews, who has yet to score in the series. Watch for the Canucks to be a little more offensive on home ice.

Next: Game 6 at the United Center, 8 p.m. Monday.