OK.. one down.. and a strange one at that. The stats suggest that the Hawks were totally outgunned by the Kings, with the LA team having a 26-20 advantage in shots and a 57.4% Corsi share. Sure didn’t look like that, though. In my opinion, the Hawks played a smart, speedy game, keeping the Kings from their usual “Monstrous Forecheck=Pucks Played Into Space” method. The Kings were scrabbling and attempting long-range and half-chance efforts almost all night. Meanwhile, the Hawks were a continual threat to break at speed and in numbers. making sure that the Kings were defending in their own zone rather than 200 feet away.

Which is not to say that Corey Crawford (and the goal post) didn’t have some big saves to make: they surely did and Crawford was, once again, excellent, dealing with shots and large bodies in his crease with aplomb. Brandon Saad opened the scoring on a somewhat fortuitous PP, tipping in a long shot from Nick Leddy. The Hawks appeared to go 2-0 up after Jonathan Toews more-or-less willed the puck into the net, but it was called back for reasons as yet unclear. Less than a minute later, Tyler Toffoli tied it up with a neat finish from a good move. However, Duncan Keith restored the lead with a blast reminiscent of the St Louis series and then, in the 3rd. Hossa, Oduya and Toews combined for a third goal to put the game beyond LA.

Nice start, gents. Let’s talk about stuff:

 

  • That no-goal.. while the actual call of “Incidental contact” is somewhat understandable (even though Voynov clearly pushes Toews into Quick) according to the rules, Goaltender Interference is not reviewable. NHL dot com are suggesting that it was only after a conflab by the Officials that the original call of “Goal” was overturned.. so why were they wearing headsets to talk to Toronto? Here’s the NHL dot com line as of now (it may change soon)

no goal

 

  • The insult to injury was the Kings scoring almost immediately thereafter.. you feel that 2-0 would have had their heads dropping, instead they piled on the shots in the 2nd Period.
  • On the subject of weak calls, Brandon Bollig took a right flop to create the PP from which Saad scored the opener. He made up for this moment of inadvertent usefulness by completely losing Toffoli for the Kings goal.  This would have had any other player strapped to a rocket and aimed at Deneb. Instead the Unscratchable Penalty Taking Hug Machine [(c) Slak] got 9 minutes to be generally useless.
  • Marian Hossa was in beast-mode tonight. This is best summed up by this image of Noted-Dickwipe Dustin Brown attempting to run him behind the net.

KAAAAAABOOOOOOOM!

  • Jonathan Toews had a serious battle on his hands against Anze Kopitar, the leading scorer of the playoffs.  Toews came out with a +19% Corsi Rel and Kopitar was -1.6%. Toews also scored (twice, considering the ruled-out goal) and Kopitar was largely anonymous. Round one to #19.
  • Michal Handzus was excellent on the Kill, but, dear lord, he was a nightmare at 2C.  If Pat Sharp is going to get going in this postseason, he’s going to need some help.
  • The PP was not half bad tonight, keeping the puck in the zone and getting the immobile Kings defenders moving. More of this, please! By the same stamp, the PK was absolute rock-hard nails.
  • The Kings defence looked good and rattled when attacked in numbers, with short, accurate passes. The third goal was an excellent example of this as Hossa. Oduya and Toews coasted in pm Quick. There’s the key, Joel (hint: exactly the same as last year). Much as I like Voynov, he’s still a bloody liability when he goes a-pinching.
  • Willie Mitchell. AHHHAHAHAHAHAHAAA

Right, that’ll do it for one night. The Hawks did the job, if not in an entirely pretty way. There are things to be improved before Wednesday, and the Kings will surely be fresher for the rest. But we couldn’t have asked for more than 1-0, and that’s what we have.

 

More soon., Hawks in 6.