879Blackhawks Predators Hockey

Hello and welcome to Narrative Heaven.  Last night had a bit of everything, didn’t it? A first period meltdown, Roszival and Shaw being terrible, the goalie getting pulled and replaced by the “local” boy, the comeback, the fourth year in a row we go to overtime in the Hawks’ Game 1, action, drama, redemption, MOAR OVERTIME and finally Victory and a win on the road that starts this series off the Flahavans’ Way.  In addition, I was kept up until 6am by Playoff hockey.. oh, how I’ve missed that.

Let’s get into this, shall we?

Oy, the playoffs..

The Hawks managed to give up three goals in the First period, comprising of two for Colin Fucking Wilson (I just know I’ll be typing that several times this series) bookending one by Viktor Fucking Stalberg, because of course. Michal Roszival was directly responsible for the first goal and was a bystander for the second. Add in Andrew Shaw taking a dunderheaded penalty and we were suddenly looking at Kris Versteeg to screw something up to complete the “Bulletproof Q-Guy” Trifecta. Instead. Quenneville pulled Corey Crawford in the 1st intermission and the Hawks came out Born-Again Hard. Three goals in the 2nd, stalemate in the 3rd and a ballistic pair of OTs that at times reminded one of the LA series last year. Scott Darling stood tall, Duncan Keith got it done. The Hawks have nicked one on the road and you can’t ask for much more than that.

Let’s talk about stuff..

  • OK, let’s get the upcoming GOALIE CONTROVERSY out of the way. Doubtless the meatballs are already in a lather about DAT LOUSY CROWSTINK HE SUX AN DARLINK IS MUCH BETTER ALSO FROM LEMONT DIDYA KNOW?. I’m not taking a single damn thing away from a guy who stopped 42 of 42 last night, including a couple of pretty spectacular saves under pressure but… Crawford starts Game 2 unless Q is a complete lunatic (and this is a distinct possibility). Let’s make this really simple to understand: Corey Crawford is the starting goaltender in Chicago. Scott Darling is the backup goaltender. Last night was an excellent example of Darling, you know, “Backing Up” the starter by coming in cold and stopping rubber. This is not to absolve Crow: he could (maybe) have done better on the first goal and certainly shouldn’t have been pissing about behind the net on the second (although Keith and Roszie both sat back and watched Stalberg score into the vacated net) but he’s still the man until as-and-if he really falls off a cliff. HIPESTORMAN will be back in a ball cap for game 2, but it’s good to know he’s there if needed.  That was a great first postseason NHL appearance by him.
  • Let’s get some nasty out of the way before we say nice things.. Michal Roszival, come on down. Roszie was appalling in the 1st last night. He let Colin Fucking Wilson turnstile him on the first goal and had a ringside seat for Stalberg’s tap-in. Keith was yippy and tentative due to the  millstone tied round his neck. Q seemed to recognise this as Roszie’s TOI was slashed in half for the 2nd & 3rd periods (although it bounced back in OT, perhaps to prevent Keith from evaporating) and he actually played better later on as Q changed up the pairings. But it’s time for that Ol’ Yellering. He’s a great guy and has played his heart out for this team, but he’s simply not up to it anymore.
  • On the subject of Q favourites, Andrew Shaw looked like he was going to be Dumbass and Useless Andrew Shaw when he took a stoopet penulty in the 1st.. and then turned into Dumbass and Pain In The Ass Andrew Shaw, which is what we want to see from him. He got fucking hosed at the dot, though. Turns out he wasn’t the only one, however..
  • Holy shit, the Hawks stunk at faceoffs. Richards 56%, Kruger 37%, Shaw 39% and bottom of the list, with 33%, Jonathan Toews. Wait, what? The Captain had a night to forget as Paul Gaustad ate him alive on the dot. 2-15 head to head? Can (and I’m sure will) do better.
  • OK, let’s mention Versteeg.. he was busy and engaged and looking like the Steeger of years gone by last night. Drew a couple of penalties (one of which was a tad.. uhhh… “fortunate”) and generally made himself a presence. More of this, plz.
  • #OffensiveJuggernautNiklasHjalmarsson… the dumbasses at Puck Daddy, in their series preview, talked about the big dropoff on the Hawks blueline after Keith and Seabrook. I’m sure Nik would like a word. He’s been more assertive and aggressive this year than I’ve ever seen from him and he showed that he actually has nice hands to go with that bazooka shot in scoring the first goal after a nice feed from Teravainen. The stick-swatting that followed is indicative of the heart-on-sleeve stuff that he quietly brings night in, night out. He’s still the best value defenseman in the league.
  • Patrick Kane is back, folks. He looked a wee bit ring-rusty after his layoff, but that didn’t prevent him from picking up two points in his first game since February.  The Perds didn’t really have an answer to him all night.
  • Seth Jones is already a heck of a player and he’s going to become a superstar in this game. I’m pleased for him that he’s getting a chance to develop in Nashville rather than being forced to be “The Guy” in Colorado.  His fellow D-man Weber lost his mind a bit and really should have sat down after running Kruger in  retaliation. Filip Forsberg started the night as an unholy beast but faded as the game went on. He, too, is young and excellent. Mike Ribeiro sucks.
  • I know I wasn’t alone (hello, Slak!) in observing that this looked like the Predator’s best punch being thrown.. and the Hawks kind of shook it off and went about their business. They didn’t ever really fire on all cylinders tonight but still should have put this game to bed long before OT. Pekka Rinne made all those vital initial stops, but was also a rebound machine and that sort of largesse is going to feed the Hawks offense if it continues.
  • A final word about the Preds org and fanbase: they’ve (fairly) taken a lot of stick lately over their efforts to keep Chicago fans out of their arena and (unfairly) over their being a non-traditional market. Dumb fucking articles in their own newspapers don’t help. The Preds have really built something down in Nashville and, as such, are probably the poster-child for Southern expansion. The Bridgestone was a damn madhouse last night, noisy and engaged all game, and the red sweaters were relatively few in number. I like it. Of course, I like it even more when they go home sad, but them’s the breaks.

Did I mention that this game finished at 5.30am in my time zone? The fucking playoffs, maaaan. Love it.