Monday night’s game, although a welcome win and a slight relieving of the pressure, felt like something of a false dawn: the Hawks were badly outplayed and required heroics from Crawford to hang in there. Last night was a different kettle of fish, altogether. The Hawks looked and felt closer to their usual selves and St Louis struggled to keep up with them most of the night. Obviously there were some lumps and bumps (and yes, another blown lead, but we’ll get to that) but when it mattered the Hawks came out on top, and now head back to St Louis tied and looking at a best-of-three to advance.
In Game 1 and 2, the Blackhawks were outplayed for long stretches, held a one-goal lead in the third period before eventually succumbing to late goals in overtime defeats.
Game 3 had plenty of similarities, but Corey Crawford stood tall in net and led the Blackhawks to a 2-0 victory in one of the better games he’s ever played. His 34-save effort got the ‘Hawks back into the series and gave us all the hope we’ve been looking for after two disheartening losses.
Puck possession and a general presence in the offensive zone were essentially non-existent from about the initial burst in the first period through the final minutes of the third, and the Blues continued to up the pressure and controlled most of the action. These stretches were all too familiar from the first two games in St. Louis, and it seemed the Blues would score that eventual cock-stomping goal we’ve all come to expect.
Crawford played well in Game 1 and admittedly not so well in Game 2, but he was exceptional Monday – and the ‘Hawks needed every last bit of it.
Jonathan Toews was able to slip one past Ryan Miller in the first period, and Crawford made it stand up until Marcus Kruger added an empty netter in the final seconds. It was another up-and-down performance from the ‘Hawks, with plenty of improvement still left in order to even this series Wednesday.
– Sheldon Brookbank played a lot better than I expected and didn’t seem out of place at all filling in for the suspended Brent Seabrook. He made one defensive-zone turnover that had us holding our breath, but other than that he was solid. He even took hit from behind by known piss drinker Maxime Lapierre, who proceeded to act as if he had just been the victim of the world’s greatest injustice. Fuck you, Maxime.
– Remember how so many of us still had confidence because the ‘Hawks played well enough to win the first two games but still lost? That’s exactly how Blues fans feel after Monday, except they are still one game up and have the chance to bury the Blackhawks into a 3-1 hole heading back to St. Louis. Crawford was the difference this time by being basically perfect, but a replica of this Blues performance and one blip of imperfection from Crawford on Wednesday easily could have the ‘Hawks coming up on the losing end.
– Brandon Bollig and Ryan Reaves combined for less than 10 minutes of ice time in Game 3 because they’re both worthless piles of shit who serve absolutely zero purpose yet continued to be dressed.
– Meanwhile, Jeremy Morin sat in the press box – again.
– So, about the power play. St. Louis gave the ‘Hawks four prime chances to provide some breathing room on the scoreboard in the second period, including a brief 5 on 3. The Blackhawks are now 1 for 14 in the series, and it’s starting to become a problem given that the Blues continue to take stupid penalties and the ‘Hawks can’t take advantage. At one point on the 2-man advantage, Patrick Sharp held the puck roughly eight feet from the net for seven straight seconds with nary a shot or pass for absolutely no reason. That type of stagnation, along with trying to generate offense from the point rather than in around the net, isn’t going to get it done.
– Michal Handzus was great on the kill again Monday. He’s still a fart in the wind 5 on 5, and there’s no reason for him to be centering the second line and dragging it down. It’s a tough line to toe when he’s playing so well when the ‘Hawks are shorthanded.
– Toews won 19 of 24 faceoffs. That’s, like, good and stuff.
So the Blackhawks got away with a less-than-stellar effort to get back in the series. Get another one Wednesday – hopefully without giving fans acid reflux – and it will be a best of three. Let’s take this one and move on.
These are the dark times. The Hawks trail St. Louis in the series, 2-0. They lost both games during the final minutes. Seabs is out for three games after trying to end Backes. Bickell somehow escaped sanction after doing his best Dustin Brown impression. If you want a counter-argument to all the Meatball Hawks fans out there always going on about how the Hawks need to be harder, Saturday’s loss is your retort (and you don’t even need shiny stats to make it).
The series resumes at the United Center tonight, the Hawks are 0-2, Brent Seabrook is suspended, Corey Crawford is blaming himself and it’s been nearly 148 minutes of Hockey since a Blackhawks forward scored a goal. How we all doing?
You Should Have Racing Stripes the Way You Keep Me in Pursuit: Overtime Boxing with Blues (4) and ‘Hawks (3) – Blues Lead Series 2-0
You want narratives? OK, I’ll give you narratives.. They’ll make you feel better. Which is good, because these are things you’re going to be hearing from the time you read this Sunday through faceoff of Game 3.
The Blackhawks were down 0-3 to Vancouver in 2011 and pushed the series all the way to overtime of Game 7. The ‘Hawks were down 1-3 to Detroit last season and came back and won the series on the way to winning the Stanley Cup. The Blues were up 2-0 on the Kings last season before coughing up the next four games.
Chicago has been down in a series and won, and St. Louis has been up in a series and lost. Hey! Look at that!
Want to be realistic? Probably not, but I’ll take the unpopular side and be realistic.
None of that shit matters a single bit. Not even one little word of it matters. Different teams, different years, different odds for everything. Different personnel, different opponent. If you want to get caught up in a feel-good narrative, you go right ahead and do that. I’m not going to be the one putting an arm around your shoulders to tell you, “History sides with us! We’re going to win for sure!” I have too much pride and logical thought to do that.
Now, that doesn’t mean I’m standing on the ledge, either. I might have been for the few hours following Saturday’s dick punch of a 4-3 overtime loss, but I’ve brought myself back to Earth a little bit to actually try and discuss some things without simply staring at the DOOM of a 0-2 deficit to those toenail eaters that reside in Chicago Jr.
We can begin anywhere here, so I’m just going to start with another thing you’ll be seeing for the next two days.
– Brent Seabrook’s hit is going to be characterized as dirty and will get him a suspension. There’s no suspense here. That’s what will happen. However, I’m not angry about the severity of the hit – would have probably been different had David Backes been completely upright – or what’s to follow, but rather pissed off that Seabrook put himself in that position in the first place. Up one goal, shorthanded, less than five minutes left in the third period of a playoff game and he’s taking runs at people in the corner. Seabrook would have gotten a charging call regardless of if he hit Backes in the head or shoulder or wherever. It was a hit that simply did not need to be made, and shouldn’t have been made. And then the worst possible outcome happened, and things got doubly fucked.
Not only did he put the Blackhawks in a bad position to have to kill off that major, but now a member of the top defensive pairing will be out likely multiple games in a series they trail 0-2. I understand hockey is a fast-moving, reactionary game, but Seabrook needs to take a split second to think about what the fuck he’s about to do and the situation he’s in.
– Let’s also not sleep on the league possibly taking action with Bryan Bickell, whose blatant knee-on-knee hit on Vladimir Sobotka put the ‘Hawks shorthanded in the third in the first place. He was luck to escape with a minor.
– So Brandon Bollig played a whopping 1:23 after the first period. Essentially, the ‘Hawks played the final two periods and into OT as if he’d gotten a red card (savor the soccer reference, folks). They could have put his sweater on a hanger behind the bench and it would have served the same purpose. I want Q to justify Bollig dressing in Game 3, Game 4 or for the rest of his life, for that matter. There were two guys in the press box that would have gotten more minutes had they just accidentally fallen off the bench and onto the ice.
– Speaking of changes, Michal Handzus 5-on-5 is a complete disaster. He’s as fast as a turtle in quick sand as serves as much purpose as a screen door in a submarine at even strength. Did he play well on the kill? Pretty much, but so did everyone. I would say Peter Regin could have done the same things he did shorthanded while also providing more 5-on-5.
– So, last-second goals were a thing for the Blues, eh? That sure as shit fucking sucked as much as winning a day with an NHL player and having Ryan Reaves show up.
– Lots of blame being placed on Corey Crawford for… everything. I’m sure he’d like to have the OT goal back despite not having X-ray vision to see through five guys and still be able to slow it down, but he’s the reason these games weren’t blowouts. Anyone who can’t see that should be watching an intense battle of team handball or something. That being said, he definitely wasn’t as good in Game 2 as he was in Game 1.
– Positive stuff we’re looking for, right? At least the next two games are played at the United Center. That’s something. The penalty kill has been outstanding and erased eight Blues power plays before falling six second short of killing off over six minutes of penalties to end the game. Also, the Blackhawks weren’t at their best for consistent stretches and could have won each game had it not been for late breakdowns of various kinds. Thing is, the Blues are sitting there saying, “We didn’t play our best either and still won these fucking games.” It goes two ways.
What we’ve gotten so far is the height of playoff competition in the first two games of a series against what has become a bitter rival. It’s going to make us more emotional. I get that. So I need to take my own advice and calm down a bit and see what happens in Game 3. A loss Monday and I’ll be wondering why you’re not panicking along with me.
Oh my. 3OT to start the series. That was a strange but enthralling game last night, and one that could feed any number of narratives; most of them dead wrong. The momentum of the game shifted throughout: the Blues started hotter & hungrier out of the gate and took a lead through Adam Cracknell after four minutes. The Hawks were getting pinned down in their own zone and we feared the worst. However, after Johnny Oduya tied it (on the first of a couple of goals that Miller would like back) the Hawks found their legs and began to dominate. Brent Seabrook and Vladimir Tarasenko exchanged goals before Patrick Kane gave the Hawks the lead with a superb finish on a stretch pass from Toews. That was three goals in seven shots on Miller and we had visions of the hook coming for him and the game turning into a laugher. In fact, I believe that if the Hawks had been able to capitalise on several great chances to extend the lead before the 2nd ntermission, you’d have seen the Blues lose their composure entirely.
And here we go…
The time for talking is almost done and the 1st Round of the Playoffs begins for the defending Champions tonight in Missouri. I know I wanted this matchup, but I guess it’s a “Careful what You Wish For” situation. The Blues look to be returning to (nearly) full health and have had some time to regather themselves after losing the last six games of the season. An awful lot of media outlets seem to be picking the Hawks in six, and such an outcome wouldn’t surprise me but, really, anything goes here.