Monday night’s game, although a welcome win and a slight relieving of the pressure, felt like something of a false dawn: the Hawks were badly outplayed and required heroics from Crawford to hang in there. Last night was a different kettle of fish, altogether. The Hawks looked and felt closer to their usual selves and St Louis struggled to keep up with them most of the night. Obviously there were some lumps and bumps (and yes, another blown lead, but we’ll get to that) but when it mattered the Hawks came out on top, and now head back to St Louis tied and looking at a best-of-three to advance.
I’m still bloody exhausted (the game didn’t even start till 3am in this part of the word) so I’m going to assume you know how the flow of the goals for and against went and get straight to the talking points.
- The possession numbers were much, much better with the Hawks winning the Corsi battle despiter a welter of shots from the Blues, as they chased the tie in the 2nd and sensed blood in the 3rd. The Blues bottom six got kicked in by all comers (surprise surprise) as Quenneville was able to get good looks at Ott & co. with last change.
- However, the Tarasenko/Schwartz/Berglund line had a dominant evening and the Swedes had a rough night of it, possession wise. Q is still failing to identify this as the Blues main (only?) threat and subsequently deploying the Bottom-six against them rather than Toews. Tarasenko, in particular, was a beast all night, scoring twice and very nearly clinching it in OT.
- Nice to see Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell joining the party with two very typical-for-them goals, both getting to the front of the net to redirect shots (from Toews & Roszival respectively) past Miller. Shaws’ was on the PP, too, no less! Shaw’s only other noteworthy contribution, though, was yet another dumb penalty.
- Ah, Penalties.. shorthanded five times tonight.. and most of them desperately unneccesary. This will not do. The PK might be nails, but we don’t need to see it quite so often. Tarasenko’s first goal came while the Hawks were shorthanded (DOG on Kane)
- We’re doubtless going to hear plenty about all the last-two-minute (of Period or Game) goals the Hawks have given up. The beats were already weaving a narrative about it last night. While I’d rather the Hawks weren’t doing it, I don’t think its indicative of anything other than bad luck. The last minutes are when chasing teams pile on pressure, goalies get pulled etc etc.
- I’ll just fight the gag-reflex long enough to mention that Lapenisloaf scored. Fuck him, he was a disaster area otherwise.
- Leddy and Roszival can give you palpitations at times, but overall had themselves a good night, Leddy in particular. Brookbank was OK, but as Nakis pointed out last night: in St Louis Hitchcock will be able to target him better. Johnny Oduya got an assist on Kane’s goal but was jumpy and gunshy again tonight. If the Swedes are going to continue to draw the Tarasenko assignment, then this must change.
- Ben Smith came into it in the later stages of the game, several times forcing his way to the front of the net through sheer fire-hydrant will. He came desperately close to scoring in OT, only thwarted by a point-blank save from Miller
- Oh, Patrick Kane, welcome back. Freed from the shackles of Handzus, Kane notched a very Kane-like goal to make it 2-0 and then an even-more-Kane-like goal to win it in OT. The fact that it was a stupid pinch by Professional Jagoff Barret Jackman that left Kane acres of ice to assess his options and go five-hole on Alex Pietrangelo AND Ryan Miller just aded to the hilarity.
OK, enough, as I’m sure you’re all groaning blearily into your coffee right now. There’s still a lot to put right for the Hawks yet. If Q has the brains he was born with, this will be the end of the line for one of Bollig (fat chance) or Versteeg and Jeremy Morin or Peter Regin (or both, please?) will rotate in at St Louis. Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa are still but rumours (despite Hossa’s assist tonight). Whether of not Backes is back in, Tarasenko and Schwartz need to see as much of Toews as possible.
If the Hawks are to progress, then a win in that dump in Missouri is going to be required. If this is a momentum swing in this series (and I feel it might be) then Friday night is the time to emphasise that.
Best of three, and no turning back now. let’s get it done.