A Clear Line – Game 2 – Hawks At Lightning Preview, Pregame Thread, Open House

oldschool at greased lightning

Game Time: 6:15PM Central
TV/Radio: NBC, CBC, TVA, WGN-AM 720
As The Eternal Cowboy: Raw Charge

With Wednesday night’s late two-goal rally to claim Game 1 in Tampa, the Hawks have already on paper accomplished what they needed to prior to the series turning north. But now is not the time of year to cede absolutely anything to the opponent, as the Lightning found out in emphatic fashion 3 nights ago.

While the Lightning pushed the pace in the first period backed by a fired up home crowd and attempted 19 shots in the first 20 minutes to just the Hawks’ 9, they only attempted 16 total in the final 40 minutes while allowing the Hawks 36. After the dust settled, that was good for only a 43.75% share of the proceedings, which Jon Cooper seemingly didn’t have a problem with. In the press afterward he stated that he liked the way that his squad played, and it was a matter of a “seeing eye single” that equalized things, yet somehow neglected to acknowledge the degree of improbability for the ‘Ning’s lone tally from Alex Killorn. And to a certain extent he’s correct, they did play well in the first and he should have been pleased, and he should be reassuring his young squad that they certainly can not only keep up but dictate play as well. Either way, look for his team to floor it from puck drop tonight.

In doing so, the hope will be that the Triplets line of Palat, Johnson, and Kucherov will manage a little more offensively. They were on the ice for both goals against, and between the three of them put only one shot on goal, and attempted only 3 shots as a collective. That’s simply not going to cut it with the Hawks being able to throw out 12 forwards who can all drive play. But Jon Cooper didn’t really match his lines to any discernable degree in Game 1, simply rolling his 3-ish lines and even giving the Triplets the heaviest distribution of offensive zone starts. The top line of Stamkos, Filppula, and Killorn far and away drove possession to the greatest degree for the Lightning, and came away with the team’s lone goal despite starting more often than not in their own zone. Filppula specifically has not ceased to be annoyingly effective since his days in the Winged Wheel, and Cooper moves he and Stamkos back and forth from the wing and pivot from shift to shift.

As expected, Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman received the heaviest workload on Wednesday, both playing approximately 26 minutes a piece, and were both above water in possession while doing so. In particular, both of them played about half of those 26 minutes against the Toews line, and hemmed them in phenomenally, with Hedman specifically out attempting Toews 12 to 5 in 13 head to head minutes. However, behind the top pairing, not a single Tampa defenseman was on the positive side of the ledger, and Braydon Coburn in particularly got dong whipped for a D-corps-worst -11 primarily against the fourth line.

In net Ben Bishop was mostly solid, and holding the Hawks to two goals and giving the league’s #1 offense only 2 goals to have to overcome in theory should have been a solid enough effort. His 2 goals against on 23 shots was actually slightly above the .888 save percentage he had been posting at home coming into game one. Either way he’s been inconsistent at home, and he’ll likely need to surpass his Game 1 performance if the Lightning are going to earn a split. One thing he has excelled at is handling the puck outside of his crease, which blunted many opportunities for the Hawks to get in on a forecheck.

As for our Men of Four Feathers, while the results were positive, there is still room for improvement. Assuming that the Lightning don’t hang back as they did in the final 40 minutes of game one, the there are some positional things to keep in mind. First, when the Lightning were pressing, they were using a high hoist of the puck to center ice, to either catch a defenseman flat footed or fumbling with the puck. This can be combated by a little bit more conservative play from the defenseman, but that could end up being at the expense of being able to jump in the play. Secondly, the Lightning predictably and consistently broke in to the Hawks zone in the middle of the ice hoping to draw three to four defenders and slide the play to the outside onto the tape of a speeding winger. For the most part, the Hawk forwards stayed with their respective checks while back pressuring and not gravitating towards the puck carrier. They’ll need to maintain that level of discipline to keep Tampa at bay (GET IT).

It appears that Kris Versteeg will remain in the lineup with the line configurations unchanged from Game 1. Verbeauty was actually solid on Wednesday night, and tenacious in his puck pursuit during regroups by the Tampa defensemen. If the lineups remain the same and Jon Cooper still eschews line matching, it looks like Jonathan Toews will get a healthy amount of Cedric Pauquette again, who now seems to believe he’s the second coming of Bob Gainey after one game. And I’m sure Toews would be more than happy to give him a larger sample size to work with than just one game after those comments.

While the ice time for the defensemen was predictably top heavy, it certainly makes sense on the road, and that trend figures to continue tonight. Duncan Keith played a game high 29:15, which seems wholly reasonable given the circumstances, and was a defensemen-best +6 in possession. Both Kyle Cumiskey and David Rundblad were above water as well, so they seem to be getting their legs underneath them in the situation, though having Cooper call off the hounds for forty minutes helps.

As was pointed out yesterday, Corey Crawford has been very solid since his return to the lineup in game 6 in the first round against Nashville, with only Killorn’s circus deflection getting past him in game one. This included a couple of point blank saves against Steven Stamkos, arguably the best pure goal scorer the Hawks have faced in the Renaissence Era. Because the Lightning lack the bulk up front of say the Ducks, there aren’t a lot of bodies for him to have to fight through to get the puck, and the Hawks’ defensive mantra has long been to let Crawford see the shot and trust his positioning. If they can limit lateral movement within the zone, it should give Crawford more than a fighting chance to keep this pace up.

Tonight’s game figures to be the full-on track meet that the entirety of Game 1 was expected to be. The Lightning appear to have learned their lesson regarding playing safely, and there’s far greater incentive to press the issue tonight. Going back to Chicago down 2 games is a less than ideal position, and their thought process could very well be that if they come out with their asses afire once again and get greater than a 1-0 lead, the Hawks will pack it in having already gotten their road win. But the Hawks have a full four lines that can go the full 200 feet up and down with the Bolts, and suddenly the sprint becomes an endurance race.

The chances will no doubt be available tonight. Captialize on them and bury them. Let’s go Hawks.

  • ZigZags82

    Hawks throw the wolves at them, I like the chances of going up 2-0.

  • The_Cheeb

    re: Cedric Pauquette: I’d be perfectly happy if my team’s youngster talked like that after the game he played. Confident, with a hint of cocky. No problem there. Mind you, odds are he doesn’t repeat it, but still impressive.

    • ZigZags82

      This’ll be fun for 19.

  • B.I.G. Forever

    My biggest pet peeve with the national coverage of the Hawks is that they NEVER get their just due. Toews is the best athlete in the sport right now and they NEVER talk about it. “Hawks steal one” or “Hawks comeback” was the standard narrative after Game 1. Meanwhile the goal scored by Tampa was a one in a milli and BOTH sniper shots from the Hawks were purely skill.

    Because of this, I really, really want a sweep. Have this team go down in the history books DESTROYING the Eastern Conference champs in 4 games.

    • WookRN

      Thing is, the Hawks seem to only play as hard as they WANT to play… Being the “underdog” in the press is likely helping us.

  • Research Analysis

    Toews made the most amazing back check in the 3rd period. He blew past Keith at the Hawks blue line trying to pressure a Bolt closing in on Crawford. It may have rattled the shooter enough to prevent a goal. I didn’t think anyone could out skate Keith.

  • jordyhawk

    Bolts will come out fast, we know that. So hit back fast in transition, that will give them something to think about. Kill their confidence. We don’t have to outplay them to win (especially on the road). We just have to contain them, and strike back opportunistically (although if we want to outplay them that works too).

  • TitanTransistor

    Hopefully the Blackhawks D are ready to face 2 forecheckers coming at them at light speed over and over. Speed seems to give them much bigger problems than physicality IMO.

    • ZigZags82

      Gives the opportunity to strike back with speed.

  • jordyhawk

    The run in ’92 was Keenan at his best. He knew how to go for the kill. That’s something we haven’t really done much since the renaissance as evidenced by all the 6 game series. We give some games away but then we most often get it done when it matters in games 5, 6, and 7. Would loves to see us put in a merciless performance tonight. Cruel even.

    • ZigZags82

      Hoping we do. I have a good feeling about tonight.

    • ballyb11

      “Would loves to see us put in a merciless performance tonight. Cruel even.” Good words.

      I say, “Jump on their necks and rip out their jugulars! (A doctor friend told me they die faster if you rip out their carotids. I’ll go with that, then)

    • HossasPierogi

      Except Keenan would go overboard, the team would take stupid penalties – 1991 fiasco v North Stars

  • HossasPierogi

    I expect the same fast/slow strategy from Cooper. He knows he hasn’t the depth to have a track meet for 60 minutes. Paquette will pay a heavy price for his words tonight – what an idiot! You don’t fuck w Jonny T.

    • The_Cheeb

      I think Paquette will pay, but I don’t think he’s an idiot. Be honest, and pretend he was a Hawk……I for one would love his general confidence with a small portion of cockiness. Still gonna go bad for him, me thinks.

      • ballyb11

        IMO, not the best approach after game 1 against one of the best players in the world.

        • The_Cheeb

          Meh, you are forgetting that after his game 1 disappointment, Toews would set his phaser to kill regardless of what was said by anyone on earth.

          With Kane, maybe ill words brings extra motivation, but with 19 he does it on his own.

    • HossasPierogi

      If a Hawk trash talked Perry or Getlaff, yes. But I think disrespecting a Conn Smythe winner on a two time champ is a different matter. If I were Pacquette I’d have nothing but good things to say about the Captain. As they say, kill w kindness

    • ZigZags82

      Only motivating him. As if he needs him.

  • ballyb11

    Let’s go Hawks!!!

  • “Paquette watched the way a master of the dark arts of agitation, Ryan Kesler of the Anaheim Ducks, played against Toews in the Western Conference Final.

    “I saw those games, you want to try to take their tricks against him to piss him off. I think they did a good job,” he said.”

    Oh son. Son. Son. Son. You do know your hero Ryan Kesler is golfing now, right?

    • Icdws

      After reading that story and Paquettes comments I’m looking forward to watching Johnny make “Paquette soufflé por dine”. Sacre bluer Paquette vous etes stupide.

    • ZigZags82


    • Guackycom

      What a perfect example of winning the battle and losing the war (much like Anaheim’s “dominance” in hits during the WCF)

      “I’m pretty sure Toews and Kane weren’t happy” . . . !?

      I expect that Toews and Kane were perfectly happy with the Hawks having 2 goals and the Lightning 1.

      Completely disagree with comments above suggesting we would love a Hawks player making the same comments — they lost. There’s nothing to feel good about. And he needs to understand that we are all pretty much OK with the top two lines cancelling out as we have two other lines that are going to bring home the Cup

    • Jim

      Mess with the best, die like the rest.

  • Icdws

    Coming into the series game 2 appeared to be a crucial game. If TB won game 1 hawks would need game 2 to get back in. If Hawks won game 1 TB would be desperate for a win. Hawks can practically end this thing with win tonight. Considering limited output from line 1 and 2 in game 1, I like our position. Let TB burn itself out, remain calm and shred them in 4th quarter of each period.

  • It feels like tonight is the obligatory 5-4, 6-5 game as it will be a track meet

    • Aaeismacgychel

      And in which they’ll do the obligatory 24/7 analysis of Corey’s glove hand. And so long as the Hawks win the game and the series same as in 2013, I think all of us will be perfectly happy with that

  • Matthew Blecha

    skate for blood

  • flahawkfan

    I think I’m the only person in the world who thought the Lightning players looked gassed at the end of Game 1. Maybe they can win a track meet against the Hawks but it’ll be tough for them to play a whole game the way they played the first period of Game 1. Or maybe I’m totally off-base.

    • ZigZags82

      All the better to pounce on them with our depth.

    • The_Cheeb

      Everyone keeps saying Cooper called off the speed game, but you may be right, maybe their legs (esp the D-men) were spent……

  • ZigZags82

    Let’s Go Hawks!

    Tight, disciplined, and play your game! Take a stranglehold on this series!

  • Jim

    Saw John Toews walking in, man had his game face on. It is evident that he, and by extension the BlackHawks, have decided to win this game.

  • Eugene Refakes

    Does anyone think that the announcers analysts are pulling for Tampa Bay? All the discussion seems to be about the Bolts and how they should win the game.