Well that feels like drunk sex, no? All that labor and you’re exhausted and it isn’t even really that fun but you’re supposed to be there and then you don’t even get the conclusion. Just an odd look and an admission you should probably both go to sleep.
The thing is, the Hawks could have gotten away with it in Game 1. In fact, they probably should have gotten away with it. Because they weren’t terribly good. Their passing was awful, their changes for the last two periods were simply abhorrent (which is not something we’ve seen a lot of in the Quenneville era) and for regulation they basically just looked off. And that’s being kind. Yet still, when you have the lead in playoff game with less than five to go, you have to see that out. The Hawks cost themselves a game and 42 extra minutes of hockey by not doing so. And they got there by letting a team up off the mat, which actually has been something of a pattern at times.
-The main issue is the way the Hawks stepped off the gas in the 3rd, and I don’t think it had much to do with Blues pressure. The 1st period was obviously wide open, which favors the Hawks and saw them take a lead. The 2nd, at least the first half, saw the Hawks basically choke the life out of the game and if it wasn’t for Ryan Miller discovering the form that got him dealt for they probably put this one away.
But then the 3rd. The Hawks no longer looked for passes. They didn’t look for openings. They simply looked for a warm safe place where they prayed the thunder and the rain would quietly pass them by. While Eddie O stressed the blue lines, you can’t see out a game against a good team like the Blues by simply dumping the puck out of your zone and turning over possession. Something is going to go wrong. The breakouts were non-existent. How many icings did the Hawks take? And most of them were off failed STRETCH (get on back there!) passes. This was our fear.
-In that mode, a 3rd period power play with a lead calls for Michal Rozsival on the point for fear of a mistake even though a mistake would only tie the game, whereas two OT PPs are ok for Sharp to be back on the point where a mistake would cost you the game? Riddle me that one, chumley.
-Not that Rozie was responsible for those 3rd period power play amounting to a punt, but it’s a clear message to turtle. And those power plays came with more than 10 minutes to go. Can’t have that.
-But you might have come here to panic. Ok, I can do that. Hjalmarsson and Oduya just might have reverted to 2012 form, and that’s worrying. They were on for the tying goal from Schwartz, where they had plenty of time and squandered it all with dumb decisions. Overall, they were just flinging pucks around the boards for relief instead of looking for teammates. This cannot continue, otherwise it’s going to be a total balls-up. The coup-de-stupid was the winning goal, where Oduya essentially did nothing. He didn’t get to Backes behind the net, he didn’t block a pass to the front, he didn’t take the man in front who would have made that pass count. Maybe you can blame that on exhaustion, but the rest of the night?
-The list of Hawks that were subpar doesn’t end with them though. Hossa and Sharp didn’t get anything going. Michal Rozsival looked like a defeated Streetwise vendor for most of the night. Would have liked more from Bickell. Leddy won’t remember it too fondly though he wasn’t helped by his partner turning into a clay person.
-As for the goalies, the 1st period was rough for both of them but then they both improved greatly. Miller kept the Blues in it in both the first half of the 2nd and first OT. Crow’s rebound control and positioning wasn’t impressive in the 1st and maybe 2nd, but got better as the game went along.
-I know most of you are sick of Brandon Bollig bitching, but on the Blues second goal he completely lost Shattenkirk who was his point man. He was over on the other circle from his wing, then tries to aggressively recover to the point where he got too far outside to even block a lane to the net, much less leaving a huge lane for Shattenkirk to find Tarasenko. Ok, Hossa fell down to start it all and Hjalmarsson has to pass on his man and not forget Tarasenko, but this doesn’t happen if Bollig had any sense of positioning.
-It will sound strange when the Hawks got two OT power plays, but I don’t think they got a huge amount of bounces. The first two Blues goals sprung from Hawks falling down. Sharp and Keith had consecutive passes bounce off their sticks with the net begging. Lapierre saves a goal because he was knocked into the net. They didn’t get the 5-on-3 in the second OT they probably should have.
-Then again, the ice was awful for both teams, which probably had an effect on neither team being able to complete two consecutive passes. And the Hawks had their chances, Toews’s and Sharp’s coming to mind.
-Michal Handzus is a synonym for “finished.”
Let’s feel better. The Blues needed 3OTs to win a game where the Hawks were far from their best (though the Blues can play much better too) and Tarasenko, Schwartz, and Steen scored. Backes looked really hobbled, Miller had his moments. and it’s only one game. Take your comfort there.