pickle

 

When we look back on this game, years from now, the scorecard will suggest that it was a 4-1 ass-kicking.  Having just watched said game, however, we all know that that is far from the truth.

 

We saw a lot of things tonight. We saw a Hawks team dominate the early running and go ahead off a great finish by the Captain, after Marian Hossa bamboozled the Wild on a breakaway. Then we saw the Wild come back into the game strongly and dominate the 2nd Period, yet the Hawks went up 2-0 thanks to a delightful shot from Brandon Saad with less than a minute to go.  Minnesota had 13 of their total 18 shots in the 2nd, yet seemed to dominate posession in the 3rd. Both Kris Versteeg and Jeremy Morin could be faulted for Cody McCormick’s goal and Morin didn’t see the ice again until the game was dead and buried. With the Wild pressing, Bryan Bickell scored on a breakaway and then Saad hit the empty net to give the Hawks a victory that looks far more emphatic than it actually was.

 

Let’s talk about stuff:

  • For all my talk of it “being closer than the scoreboard”, the Wild really don’t have any answer to the Hawks big guns. If Kane or Hossa decide they’re going to turn it on, then that’s what happens. Three assists for  Hossa today and it took a hell of a stop by Bryzgalov to deny him a goal in the 1st (and the Captain got the rebound anyway). Pure class.
  • Bryan Bickell had a three-point-night himself. Here’s playoff Bryan, right on time.  He does seem to enjoy himself against the Wild and that was a slick finish on his breakaway with Hossa.
  • Corey Crawford, folks. The next time some chucklehead like Ryan Lambert is desperately trying to force the narrative that Crow is somehow a bad goalie and not one of the league’s elite, take a look at that 93.6% Sv%, second only to Tukka Rask among active postseason goaltenders. Hell, look at that 98% Sv% shorthanded. Tonight he looked a little “swimmy”, as though unsure of his net, as he is wont to do occasionally. The scary thing for the Wild is that this may well have been his “Off” game, and they were unable to capitalise.
  • Brandon Bollig sat, Jeremy Morin came in and… well.. didn’t achieve very much. Admittedly, he was given less than six minutes to do it in and had the added bonus of being accompanied by Kris Versteeg and whatever is left of Michal Handzus.  Joakim Nordstrom got significant TOI (14.5 minutes) and looked busy and engaged if not particularly effective. More is needed from the bottom-six. The Hawks can get away with shortening the bench against the Wild, it’ll get then into deep trouble against LA or Boston.
  • I’m anticipating a Patrick Sharp hat trick in the near future… this drought will surely not last much longer.
  • For all their talk of becoming a more offensive team this year, the Wild slipped into their awful trappy boring ways tonight. Two shots (out of a total of nine) in the 1st period and just four in the 3rd are not a recipe for success.  There was a lot of huffing and puffing and hard work, and they did edge the possession battle, but precious little invention. Which is what has been costing them dear, this post season.

Alright, not much else to say. This has been far from a classic series, so far, but that’s just fine by me. As that total of games ticks down (almost into single digits, now!) I’ll take wins of any nature. You feel that the Wild really needed to pinch one in Chicago to have any realistic hope of causing an upset, because you’d always back the Hawks to get one at the X. Series resumes Tuesday in Minnesota.