Apologies for the lack of a box score or event summary or the other pretty stuff. It’s late and I know what I want to say. Besides, I’m not sure if any of that matters at this point. The Hawks and Ducks just essentially played two games and the series is tied at 1.
There were a million different things that happened throughout the course of the game that could have changed its eventual path. Corey Perry with about a dozen chances. Vatanen nailing the post twice. Antoine Vermette continuing to not score. Guys selling out on blocked shots, tipped pucks and the other silly stuff that happens in hockey. Crawford and Frederik Andersen in an old-fashioned staring contest. Each making the critical save for their team to the point where it seemed like nothing would get past them.
In the end, it came down to a few individual efforts making the difference.
1. Andrew Shaw carrying the puck through two Duck defenders in the neutral zone to spark a 3 on 2. At that point in the game, no one would have blinked twice if Shaw just chipped the puck up and past the Ducks defense. He didn’t. Which led to…
2. Andrew Desjardins getting the puck along the left wing. He had a lane to hit Seabrook with a pass in the slot but rather than attempt a risky pass that could’ve ended up in an odd man rush the other way if it wasn’t completed, he fired a shot towards Andersen. He was able to win the puck through a board battle and get the puck back to Brent Seabrook.
3. Seabrook played catch with Johnny Oduya and on Oduya’s return pass, the puck bounced up in the air. While the puck was still in mid-air, Seabrook got all of it and fired the puck towards the net. I’m going to repeat this again: Brent Seabrook shot the puck off a bounce and while it was in mid-air. The degree of difficulty on a play like that in that moment is off the charts.
4. Which of course led to Marcus Kruger’s redemption on Clayton Stoner. As Stoner pondered whether he and Barret Jackman descended from the same silverback gorilla, Kruger was there in front to tap it past a sprawling Frederik Anderson.
–Of course, there was a lot more that happened prior to that moment. Kyle Cumiskey was predictably an adventure, though his speed can sometimes keep him out of hairy situations. But his brain will bring him back to said hairy situation.
It’s not even worth beating the dead horse that is Kimmo Timonen. Maybe he’s battling an injury but during regulation, the Hawks might as well just started his shift in the defensive zone so everyone can save their energy on the backcheck. You saw it. We all saw it. You’re not a hockey savant for noticing this.
I guess my frustration lies in everyone now realizing that the Hawks are four defensemen deep. Which is of course what we’ve been screaming to the heavens since Nick Leddy was traded. But now, it’s suddenly a new issue. Whatever.
The one point that seems to be getting glossed over is that the four defensemen the Hawks are leaning on are relatively recent Olympians. Other than the occasional Oduya fart or Seabrook nacho spill, it’s pretty smooth sailing. So it’s not like they’re just launching a few hobos out there.
The other point that Sam mentioned during the game is how overblown the minutes these guys are logging has become. None of them played half the game. The minutes were delegated very nicely by Quenneville and Kitchen. Keith led the brigade with 49 minutes.
If you go back and look at box scores of games that Chris Pronger or Niklas Lidstrom played in, they played half the game and there were a couple guys on their team who didn’t see much ice. This is how guys like Brett Lebda got their name on the Stanley Cup.
And if you look on the other side, the Ducks are playing 6 defensemen but two of them are Clayton Stoner and Hampus Lindholm. So I’m not sure there’s some kind of decided advantage that we can all point to at the end of the series and say “SEE. SEE.”
It’s funny. Last year when the Hawks were playing 9 forwards to the Kings 12, I don’t recall there being this much attention from the national and local media on ice times. In fact, I specifically recall the phrase, “The Hawks core forwards just have to be better. It doesn’t matter that Michal Handzus is dragging his spleen around the ice or that Brandon Bollig can’t do anything other than berate fans on Twitter.” Ok, so some of that is made up. Anyways, the narrative has shifted.
–Corey Crawford. Balls.
–The home ice should let Patrick Kane off his leash a bit. He seemed to finally get some room in the third period and overtimes. This series will not end without him being heard from.
–Same goes for Jonathan Toews.
–The advanced metrics aren’t pretty for the Hawks but other than Anaheim’s push in the second half of the second period, the game seemed pretty even on both sides. Particularly in the overtimes.
–Deep breaths, everyone. We may be here for awhile and the Hawks may have to win another game yet in Anaheim.