And so it ends, and I’ve had to use the Eleventh Dream Day song title in the headline that I really didn’t want to use. While I’m sure we’re all feeling like we’ve just been punched hard in the stomach by a bastard with fists of lead, there should be no shame tonight. These two excellent Hockey teams have put on an exhibition of a series and in the end it came down to the coinflip that is OT. The Kings won that, and the Hawks title defence is over, desperately short of the Final.
Before the game, I thought that the only way for this to end in failure would be a total capitulation by the Hawks, much like the last two periods of the Phoenix game in 2012. We didn’t see that tonight. instead we got another thrilling, enthralling, high-octane hockey game where both sides stayed within touching distance all night. Everything was left on the ice, to use a hoary old cliche. I’m proud of the team that I follow and I can’t really fault any of the players. The coach, on the other hand.. well, I’m not going to get into that, tonight. There is, sadly, going to be plenty of time for that in the weeks ahead. Instead I’m going to celebrate Brandon Saad going from a healthy scratch to a playoff beast, absoultely committed and fiery all night. I’ll cheer Patrick Sharp who has steadily improved in this series and broke out with two goals tonight and got close to a Handsome-Trick. Toews, Kane and Hossa were monsters tonight, combative and engaged and dragging the Kings this way and that. Corey Crawford had an excellent game, nothing to do about any of the goals, also pulled off some remarkable saves. Ben Smith, Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger fulfilled their roles with aplomb. The blueliners all had moments of offensive spark (Hjalmarsson-Shaw 2 on 1? Yes, that actually happened) and even though there were yippy moments, as there will be in a game played at this pace, they did their jobs well;.
Full credit has to go the Kings, too. They’re one hell of a hockey team. At times in this series I got an idea of what it feels like to be a fan of teams that have to face the Hawks: at no time did it feel like LA weren’t capable of coming back and turning the game on its head.
There aren’t going to be any talking points, or blow-by-blow breakdowns, not tonight. Instead I’d like to take this moment to thank Jeff, Jim, Adam and Chris, my fellow writers here, to thank the gifted PM Sellers, our most recent (and talented) addition, people like John, David, Derek, Staci, Tyler and Ger who have taken time to contribute and of course anyone who reads our ramblings. It’s been a fun year here on Cheer The Anthem and we’re going to have plenty more for you in the off-season that is now, sadly, ahead.
No shame, folks. Hockey is a cruel game sometimes. But the future is very, very bright and we’ve got our heads held high as we move towards it.
Goodnight (OK, morning, here) and Go Hawks.