It was sloppy. It was confusing. It was a total fucking rush. Warts and all, the Blackhawks are now a win away from advancing to the next round of the playoffs. I’m way too drunk to taste this chicken, so let’s rush through whatever it was we just saw.
– As the Toews line goes, so go the Hawks. Each of Saad, Toews, and Kubalik ended up with 56+ CF%s at 5v5, and most of their time came against either McDavid or Draisaitl. Both McJesus and Leon the Ladies Man were underwater when up against the Toews line, which echoed the success the Hawks had in Game 1. It’s clear that when this line can possess the puck, the Hawks have a shot.
On top of it all, Jonathan Toews found himself in the right place at the right time twice tonight. Both of his goals were of the tip-in variety. On the first, he pulled a [insert whoever’s a good goal scorer in soccer here, I dunno, what’s that one guy’s name who committed tax fraud or whatever], toeing a loose puck past Koskinen without even knowing it. On the second, he tipped a point shot from our sweet boy CONNOR MURPHY for the game winner. This guy fucks.
And Saad had a game of almost himself, janking two pucks off the post. When this line is on, the Hawks can.
– Now THAT’S the Corey Crawford on whose hill I will die to have his number in the rafters. Despite The Harlem Draisaitls featuring Connor McDavid, Crawford managed to keep this fart-powered jalopy of a defense from completely dicking the outcome, with at least four high-quality saves at crucial junctures. Aside from a minor puck-handling snafu in the second, Crawford was poised and on his game all night. Had this been the Crawford of Games 1 or 2, the Hawks would have given up eight.
– Kirby Dach. It’s amazing what this kid can do when given the chance. He came up with just one “excuse me” primary assist, but he contributed so much more. He had a 54 CF% for one. He managed to enter the zone with speed on a power play in the second period, which is as monumental a feat as discovering extraterrestrial life that shits Cheesy Gordida Crunches. He even played a decent amount on the penalty kill. Whenever he’s on the ice, the Hawks tend to find success, and it’s been a joy watching him grow into what looks to be a legitimate #1 center for the future.
– Although we love the outcome, the process of getting there is untenable. While it’s little surprise that the Hawks managed just one power play goal on six motherfucking attempts, it’s the reason why that continues to annoy.
It’s cool that they managed to wet dream themselves a PP goal on a 5-on-3 with five forwards on the ice. But every other PP opportunity they had fell back into the old Carmelo Kane routine on the right-side boards. On top of that, Coach Nathan For You has continued to place Toews as a rover and Kubalik in the high slot, which is the exact opposite of each player’s strengths.
It’s easy to forget that the Hawks were a top 10 PP team last year. And as we discussed way back then, a lot of that had to do with Toews’s positioning in the high slot. He’s much more apt to tip a rebound or sweep a shot in than to fire one off a hard slapshot from the top circle like Kubalik can do. Had Coach Galaxy Brain had the wherewithal to understand that this was one the few things he’s managed to get right in his tenure, perhaps we don’t have to prolapse our collective anus in anticipation of a late game winner.
Dominik Kubalik ought to be the rover, not Toews.
– When the Blackhawks inevitably refuse to buy out Olli Maatta and point to his two goals in this series as justification, remember that he was not only on the ice for each of the Oilers’s three goals tonight but also a direct contributor to each of them.
On the first, Maatta tried to one-hand a pass up the end boards under pressure, despite knowing that the leading scorer in the entire goddamn motherfucking game was on the ice. While the puck took a funny hop off the end boards and eluded Koekkoek and Carpenter, there’s no reason for it to get to the point where Tyler Ennis (skypoint) can simply shovel a pass through the blue paint to a horny and prepared Draisaitl. But Maatta is too slow to catch up to plays like that. Thus.
On the second goal, Maatta had a front-row seat to watch Draisaitl pot a rebound after a good Crawford save following Highmore’s egregious turnover. If he had a speed greater than dripping pitch, it’s unlikely Draisaitl has a lane to crash as unopposed.
On the third goal, Maatta found himself on the penalty kill, which is a problem per se. Admittedly, it’s hard to blame Maatta for this one, given how fucking good Connor McDavid is. But also, the Hawks need to buy out Olli Maatta this off-season. So there.
–Feather’s guy Slater Koekkoek had himself a good night for Slater Koekkoek. He was a little bit underwater in possession, but he fired home the shot that Highmore tipped for the tying goal. That’s all you can ask.
– Alex Nylander was unnoticeable, which rules for a change.
Jesus Christ. It’s like losing to your virginity to a shy crush. Though McDavid and Draisaitl CAN do it all, if this Crawford shows up again on Friday, it might not fucking matter.
Drink that whiskey. Rock over London. Rock on, Chicago.
Booze du Jour: Firestone Nitro something, then about half a handle of Maker’s
Line of the Night: “He’s not going to beat you from out there.” –Jamal Mayers, describing an instance in which Leon Draisaitl beat Olli Maatta from “out there,” leading to McDavid’s PP goal.