Ground Point Zero: Hawks 3 Blues 4 (3OT)

Oh my. 3OT to start the series. That was a strange but enthralling game last night, and one that could feed any number of narratives; most of them dead wrong. The momentum of the game shifted throughout: the Blues started hotter & hungrier out of the gate and took a lead through Adam Cracknell after four minutes. The Hawks were getting pinned down in their own zone and we feared the worst. However, after Johnny Oduya tied it (on the first of a couple of goals that Miller would like back) the Hawks found their legs and began to dominate. Brent Seabrook and Vladimir Tarasenko exchanged goals before Patrick Kane gave the Hawks the lead with a superb finish on a stretch pass from Toews. That was three goals in seven shots on Miller and we had visions of the hook coming for him and the game turning into a laugher. In fact, I believe that if the Hawks had been able to capitalise on several great chances to extend the lead before the 2nd ntermission, you’d have seen the Blues lose their composure entirely.

As it was, the 2nd Period was a dominant time for Chicago, with the Blues only recording three shots in the entire 20 minutes.  However, come the 3rd and the tide turned in St Louis favour: eventually tying the game with a Jaden Schwarz goal with less than two minutes left. OT was a blur with both sides trading chances (and Maxim Lapierre preventing a sure winner from Kris Versteeg) and powerplays. St Louis once again had the advantage in shot attempts through the first two periods of OT and Alex Steen ended it all a couple of minutes into the 3rd. 0-1 in the series and time to do it all again on Saturday arvo.

Hard to be too down-hearted about this: I think we all knew this series was going to be like this, and there are an awful lot of positives to take from this game. Let’s talk.

  • I really wanted that 4th goal either dead late in the 1st or early in the 2nd period: you felt like Miller was about to crumble. Instead he grew in confidence and stopped 35 in a row.
  • Corey Crawford was making some remarkable highlight-reel saves, which is unlike him because he’s not that sort of goalie, relying on positioning more than athleticism. Still, fine game from him on a night he faced 52 shots.
  • Yes, the winning goal was a result of several defensive lapses from Hjalmarsson & Saad.. but it’s hard to be too critical when Hjammer had just had over 40 minutes of TOI. Tired players make mistakes. It happened, moving on.
  • Au sujet de TOI, Q kept if fairly well spread around (certainly more so than Hitchcock). Odd to see Ben Smith only just cracking 15 minutes (the same as Bollig) as you feel this is the sort of game he’s designed for.  Only Toews broke the 30 minute mark among Hawks forwards, whereas almost the entirety of the Blues top-6 were over (and well over in some cases) 30 minutes. Meanwhile, worthless shitbag Ryan Reaves got 10 minutes all night (and somehow managed to take two penalties in that time)
  • While we’re talking about useless hockey players, if anyone tries to tell you that the reason that Reaves crushed Toews into the boards late-on is because Bollig wouldn’t accept his earler invitation to a mid-ice hugging session, then please laugh in their face and then get the hell out of there.
  • Toews & Kane were injured for a while, did you hear? No, didn’t look like it to me either. On the other hand, Vladimir Tarasenko and David Backes didn’t look like they were anywhere near 100%. Blues fans’ hearts must have gone into their mouths when Tarasenko made his way gingerly off the ice clutching his shoulder during the 1st.  He was able to return, of course (and score, the swine).
  • So that’s what happens when Patrick Kane and Barret Jackman are matched up with each other.  Oh my, should be fun when Q has last change in Chicago.

I guess if there’s one thing to rue it’s that the Hawks had some decent chances to win this game, especially with two PPs in OT. That they couldn’t get it done is not a sign of being unable to close out teams (and let’s please not start the “late blown lead” narrative again). This is a very evenly-matched series and I think we’d better get used to that idea.  We’re back on Saturday. I love this time of year!