Apologies for the (very) delayed recap, but sometimes Friday nights turn into Saturday mornings very quickly. I’ll be pretty brief, as I’m sure you’ve read mostly everything you need to know. Just a couple of highlights.
* Patrick Kane’s disgusting backhand flip of a game-winner has deservedly been played all over since it happened, along with his yelling of “Showtime!” celebration. The guy just seems to be in the right spot at important moments, and even when he’s not in the right spot, he gets himself there by improvising as he did on the backhand goal. He and Marian Hossa also showed that good things happen when you have your stick on the ice, as they accepted feeds from Ben Smith and Brandon Saad, respectively, to pot goals in open nets.
* Corey Crawford was again spectacular, snuffing out numerous Wild opportunities in the first and second periods before being the victim of a couple bad bounces and overall shitty play from….
* Brandon Bollig. Another awful night. On the second goal, he turned the puck over at the center line leading to a Wild possession. Bollig then got beat badly to the net by Brodziak, who had a clear shot past Crawford. I hope Bollig stubs his toe so badly that he cannot play another game for the rest of the playoffs.
That’s it for now, he’s Boxing. I’ll be back with another edition after Game 2. GO ‘HAWKS!….
After what seems like ages (and also no time at all) the Hawks start their 2nd Round tonight, at home this time, thanks to the Wild knocking out the Avs. I’ve still not really got an opinion on which matchup I’d have preferred, but let’s have a look at the hand we’ve been dealt.
OK, for those of you who don’t know; I’m not growing a Playoff Beard (already got one) and am instead brewing a Playoff Beer.
I brewed this Oatmeal Stout two weeks ago, before Game 1 against St Louis. It’s been bubbling away happily to itself for the duration. By happy coincidence, it finished fermenting and was ready for bottling today, on the eve of Round Two.
Cheer the Podcast Episode 12 (4.30.14): With the Blues vanquished the guys reconvene to discuss the Game 7s in progress as they ‘cast, bury the Blues, see what lies ahead in Round 2, answer a few e-mails (including a special local country club celebrity, allegedly), check in on everyone’s favorite stairwell pooper and this episode’s outro involves Craig Berube and Jeremy Roenick.
Audio after the jump.
If this seems familiar , then yes, you’re right. Once again, the Blues are out of the Playoffs; having let down themselves, their fans and the legions of sports “experts” who picked them as Winners.
Far better people have eulogised their failure, so we here at Cheer The Anthem are just going to speculate on exactly what various personnel from the Blues will be getting up to during their long, long summer vacation.
(Through the medium of remedial-level photoshops, of course).
Thank you, Boys, for slamming the door shut and setting fire to the place on your way out of that series. I know that many Hawks fans are already turning their eyes to the Avs-Wild series and our eventual Second Round match-up, but let us take this Blackhawks Sabbath Day. Savor the victory: we dispatched the Blues with four straight wins. In the First Round. That feels goooooood . . .
We should also take a moment to remember what losing that series would have meant. Sure, we’ve all been there before – a first-round exit after winning the Cup is bad, no matter what. Losing to the Blooooooos, though? During this entire series, the potential to lose bubbled up inside me, crowding out any rational thought, any notion that I should keep this game in perspective. How could I? These people eat kittens. They traded for Steve Ott.
But we didn’t lose. We defeated them. Those cretinous pretenders-to-the-throne return to their rightful place, complete with Mr. Big Time Deadline Acquisition. The Spirit of Chicago flies on.
Now that the Blues have been safely despatched, the burning question for Hawks fans is the identity of their 2nd Round opponents. Will it be the young, speedy and bloody lucky Avs with their stellar goaltending, or the tenacious, gritty and annoying Wild with their.. uh, goaltending? Which is the more desirable matchup?
A question of this magnitude is beyond the feeble minds of this blog, so we’ve enlisted one of our celebrity pals to bring his unique point of view and razor-sharp insight to the matter.
Over to you, Jay
All right, full disclosure: After Game 2, I had a meltdown. Nakis and myself were cursing the world and couldn’t see the Blackhawks winning this series. I calmed myself a bit and rested my DOOM to look forward to Game 3.
Then Game 4 happened. Win.
After Jonathan Toews scored in OT of Game 5, I had made a complete 180 and went from completely despondent to a no-way-the-’Hawks-lose mentality. I should have known, should have looked back to last year’s Red Wings series and even the 1-2 hole in the Cup Final against Boston. I should have taken stock in the Blues blowing that 2-0 lead to the Kings. I didn’t, and I’m so happy that the Blackhawks proved Nakis and myself wrong. Every bit of it is glorious.
What makes it even better? The fact that the Blues have basically become the Cubs of the NHL. I don’t feel sorry for them in the least bit. And even though I thought they were better than last year, they never cease to amaze with their ability to completely fold. After Patrick Sharp’s goal to make it 3-1 on Sunday, I sat in my seat at the United Center and felt a breeze from the Blues bench all the way up in the 300 level from the wind being blown out of St. Louis’ sails. The Blues weren’t able to crush the ‘Hawks spirit like they’d hoped, and now the Blackhawks are moving on to Round 2, while the Blues are heading back to Meth Country.
Let’s talk about a couple of things…
* I’m going to start with Corey Crawford first, because he’s fucking deserves it. As the ‘Hawks continued with their conga line to the penalty box in the second period, Crawford continued to turn away the Blues and wound up helping the Blackhawks kill 10 minutes of shorthanded time. It was the type of performance Crawford deserves much, much more credit for than he’ll ever get in this town, and it’s a goddamn shame. Not only should he have won a Conn Smythe for his balls-to-the-wall effort in leading the ‘Hawks to last year’s Cup, he played pretty outstanding in five of the six games of this series. And this is from a guy who already got his new paper, with his contract extension yet to even kick in. He deserves more patting on the ass, not this kind of shit I see on Facebook immediately following another stellar effort:
* Coach Q said Duncan Keith may have played his best game since Q started coaching in Chicago. It’s pretty difficult to argue with that assessment. Keith was the one who saved a clearing attempt on Toews’ goal, and his shot may have gone in even if Andrew Shaw didn’t deflect it. Then, he got one of his own. No, you shouldn’t win a Norris Trophy for your offense, but Keith had two goals and five assists in the series and played out of his mind in the defensive zone as well. And remember, he played with Sheldon Brookbank for three games while Brent Seabrook was suspended, even though some didn’t think Keith could survive without his buddy.
* When Toews decides it’s time for him to take over, the opponent is generally fucked. Three goals and four assists in the series, OT goal in Game 5, game-winning goal in the Game 6 clincher. The Captain had three goals in the entire playoffs last season and totaled just three assists in the first nine games – and the ‘Hawks still won the Cup.
* Barret Jackman showers in Ryan Reaves’ pee stream.
* I went to St. Louis one time and walked into a tavern. I noticed everyone was slurping a variety of liquids off the bar. A man and woman sitting at a table nearby had their waitress come over and pour a bucket of beer down in front of them, and they proceeded to put mouth to table and drink it up without batting an eye. Though I felt this was all very strange, I sat down and ordered a Bacardi and diet. The bartender came over, poured a can of diet coke and some Bacardi simultaneously on the bar in front of me, stirred it around with a straw and then told me the price.
“OK man, I’ve got to ask – why is everyone just slurping their drinks off the bar.”
The bartender replied, “Sorry, we don’t have any cups in St. Louis.”
* Enough jokes. On to Round 2 we go. Here’s Boxing…
There’ll be a recap along at some point.. until then
First off, please accept our apologies for the delayed recap. Adam and I watched the game at Stanley’s last evening and were grossly over-served. So you can blame them. Although I will say that we enjoyed ourselves and almost certainly abused the all you can eat catfish deal. Perhaps the most satisfying thing about the entire evening was watching all of the depressed and dejected Blues fans milling around Sedgwick’s (a St. Louis bar) next door as we stumbled out. I wanted to taste and bottle their tears. One group standing around had guys sporting Barrett Jackman, Kelly Chase and David Perron sweaters. That has to be the most pathetic collection ever assembled in one place.
Anyhow, if you told me last Saturday evening that the Blackhawks would be coming home for Game 6 with a chance to knock the Blues out, I probably would have laughed in your face and sworn under my breath. You’d think I’d have learned by now after watching the Vancouver series in 2011 and the Detroit series last year never to count this team out, but I still sunk into despair as the series headed back to Chicago. Two heartbreaking losses. Two losses pissed away in the closing minutes and seconds. A top pair defenseman banished for brutality for two absolutely must win games, and all of this with a coach making a few seemingly bizarre personnel decisions. The people who clung on to hope seemed almost delusional to me. Instead, as the series once again heads back to Chicago, fans can realistically picture the Blackhawks heading to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since before the Olympic break. Of course, they’ll have to finish the Blues off first.