Down two games to one, the question on everyone’s mind is whether the Blackhawks still have that something extra. We’ve come to expect it in the playoffs but something keeps nagging, suggesting that this team might not.
The question before every game has been who’s actually going to dress and tonight’s forward configuration seemed pretty decent on paper keeping the first two lines relatively intact while bringing back Dick Panik to play with The Special Boy and The Invisible Flash. Andrew Desjardins would draw back in to his familiar spot with Kruger and Shaw.
Even defensively, tonight would see a distinct lack of Viktor Schintzius who was scratched in favor of countryman Erik Gustafsson who would hopefully see some cushy minutes at the United Center.
There were signs that the push might come and then those signs dissipated like the bottom half of a St. Louis resident’s blue jeans.
Let’s get to the things.
-Here’s the main takeaway: the Blues set up just like in game one, but this time the Blues made it completely obvious by dressing Bob Bortuzzo over more mobile option Carl Gunnarsson. Ken Hitchcock wanted to play your typical “perfect road game” and have the defenseman stay conservative, get the puck in deep and flee when possession isn’t won, and take the crowd out of it. They wanted to grind down the Blackhawks before an inevitable counter punch and they never really even had to use it.
-Side note Bob Bortuzzo is one bad hit away from opening up a handful of Chevrolet dealerships across Ontario. “Bob Bortuzzo Chevrolet: Where You Probably Won’t Get Felt Up”
-TVR and Seabrook combined to let the One Fucking Guy they had to shut down score the opener at even strength which meant the Blues could continue to stifle instead of attack.
-Meanwhile, the Blackhawks were mainly able to skate around the outside of the circles and loft weak unscreened wristers at Brian Elliott who saw most of them throughout the first half hour of the game.
-The Blues were happy to continue to shut things down through the middle until one of the more bizarre sequences you’re ever going to see. Robbi Fabbry or Robby Fabbri or whatever the fuck his name is had a couple great chances that were turned aside spectacularly by Corey Crawford. Fabbri then barreled into Crawford who took exception as the play went back the other way and chased him into the corner and engaged. The rest of the players eventually met them and tickled each other for a few minutes. When the dust cleared, the Blackhawks ended up with the power play much to the chagrin of literally every diaper wearing infant (Blues and Kings fans, mostly) with access to the internet.
-A few seconds into the powerplay Alex Steen and Artemi Panarin got matching minors meaning the Blues had to kill of the majority of a penalty without their two best defensemen and Alex Steen. They failed and the Hawks grabbed a short-lived lead thanks to Duncan Keith.
-But the penalty kill would fail twice and allow the Blues to take the lead including another goal from One Fucking Guy who you’d think they’d be pretty aware of at this point.
-A fun thing to think about is what if Patrick Kane had converted even one of his point blank scoring chances in this series so far.
-Duncan Keith’s second goal with about five minutes to go put the Hawks within one and provided a glimmer of hope but that was extinguished by Andrew Shaw taking one of the dumbest penalties of his career, and that’s saying a lot. Even though a Blues ENG was overturned for being offside again, the Hawks couldn’t get the equalizer thanks to Shaw.
-Shaw continued his embarrassing meltdown by getting in a fight after the final whistle and flipped what looked like a double bird and a homophobic slur aimed at an official. So he’ll be lucky not to be suspended which could actually mean we will never see him in a Blackhawk shirt again.
-What was the conversation like at the barber when Shaw got his haircut? He looks like if Shemp and KD Lang had a baby, an impossibility for like twelve reasons.
-There’s probably more to be said about this effort, including watching the Blackhawks meltdown and handle this loss about as well as anyone handles anything on Twitter.
-Instead, here’s the deal. With the championship window still being open, anything other than a Cup in 2016 is a failure, pure and simple. It starts on Thursday. Win there. Win at home. Then you’ve got St. Louis in a game seven.
-But if all that falls apart, Go Sharks.