At The End Of A Gun – Game 4 – Lightning vs Hawks Preview, Pregame Thread, Site Survey

greased lightning vs oldschool

Game Time: 7:00PM Central
Piss And Vinegar: Raw Charge

Tonight on the west side the Stanley Cup Final makes the turn to the back stretch with the Hawks needing a win at home to keep the Lightning from heading back to Tampa with an opportunity to clinch. While not literally a “must win”, it’s as close as it gets for the Hawks, who are looking to even up the series and put themselves in a far more advantageous position moving forward.

It’s taken all of about six seconds after each game for the Lightning as a group to remind everyone through the press just how highly they think of themselves, starting from their coach on down. To hear Cedric Pauquette profanely talk in self congratulatory fashion after Game 3, one would think that the Bolts had won all three games walking away, dominating the possession ledger. When in actuality, only the Triplets line came away smelling like a rose as far as shot attempts were concerned on Monday, and overall in the series, there are only three Lightning forwards (Paquette included) who can say the same. Steven Stamkos in particular has the most shot attempts for their forward corps so far with 13, but no points to show for his efforts. He and linemate Valtteri Filppula have both had to defend far more often than they’d like to, and that’s with the benefit of two home games. After relative silence in game one, however, the Triplets have at least dented the score sheet in the last two games, despite seeing most of their time against the Toews line on Monday. Palat’s game tying goal came against the Hawks’ fourth line, which is supposed to be able to keep that from happening, but Kyle Cumiskey helped aid and abet that.

For Tampa’s defense, the discussion now basically begins and ends with Victor Hedman, who has been absolutely everywhere and everything to the Lightning. His 120 foot pass to Ryan Callahan opened the scoring, and his speed and mobility in backing off the Hawk defensemen at the line led to the game winner. For comparison’s sake, Hedman has a 58.18% share of shot attempts at evens through three games in the final, and even Chris Pronger only had 57.25% after three games, though Hedman was at home twice as opposed to once for Pronger. But even Pronger got more help than Hedman is getting as everyone else save his partner in Anton Stralman is well below water, and even he’s only at 50% even. This is old hat for Matt Carle and Braydon Coburn who were torched in the aforemention series in 2010 and now have five extra years of miles on them against an arguably faster forward corps top to bottom. Carle in particular has been simply awful, with only a 37.7% share, worst on the Lightning by a country mile.

That difficulty away from Hedman led the Hawks to put 38 shots on a hobbled Ben Bishop on Monday, of which he stopped 36, good for a .947 save percentage, dead on to his playoff road average. But if pressed, Bishop would likely tell anyone that he got plenty of help from various rolling pucks and goalposts. And whatever is ailing him is doubtfully miraculously gone. Even if healing hands have been laid upon him in whatever mystery area is actually hurt, putting a volume of shots on him is the only way to get the luck to eventually even out, and 6 of his 7 his defensemen seem more than happy to play matador in front of him.

As for our Men of Four Feathers, they find themselves in a familiar, albeit strenuous, situation. Kris Versteeg finds himself back in the lineup tonight in favor of the obviously still dizzy Bryan Bickell, this time with the two linemates with whom he found the greatest success in the regular season, Brad Richards and Patrick Kane. The other forward units will remain the same, and Joel Quenneville will be well served to keep Richards and Kane away from Victor Hedman at all costs. With the way he’s playing, that needs to be strictly a task for Saad, Toews, and Hossa, who were all a +12 or better on Monday playing most of their time away from him. They’ll have the ability to force Hedman to defend and are more inclined and capable in back pressuring his rushes up ice. That leaves Kruger against the Triplets, where they won the possession battle despite giving up the equalizer 13 seconds after Saad put the Hawks ahead.

On the blueline, Quenneville has apparently seen one too many egregious boners from Kyle Cumiskey, and Kimmo Timonen will return to the lineup. Kimmo fared far better in the first two series against the speed games of Nashville and Minnesota than he did against the physicality of Anaheim, so the main goal will be for him not to get the Hawks killed when out there, which should be nearly exclusively in offensive zone starts and paired with Brent Seabrook as a babysitter. Johnny Oduya is as healthy as he’s going to get and is slated to play tonight, and TVR stays in the lineup as well after looking decent on Monday. Duncan Keith yet to drive the play as much as he had been doing so prior to coming into this series, and they’ll need him to regain that form even in spite of the minutes workload. He clearly can handle it, and it’s certainly not going to be as though he’ll turn down a shift if tapped on the shoulder.

While much blame will assuredly be heaped on Corey Crawford for Monday, there was really nothing he could do about either third period goal, with his defensemen losing their checks in both cases. He stopped two breakaways and was excellent on the prolonged 5-on-3. But Callahan’s shot is obviously one he’d like to have back, and credit where it’s due on the shot. Att that point in the game going down 1-0 should not have been back-breaking. One way or the other he will need a stronger performance tonight.

While nothing is truly dire at this point and with the Hawks controlling possession over the first three games, taking advantage of home ice and the matchups they provide is an absolute must tonight within the context of this series, and Steven Stamkos will not stay silent forever. The key components are still in place for the Hawks to go and seize the opportunities presented. It has to happen tonight. Let’s go Hawks.

If you’re heading to tonight’s game, make sure to pick up a copy of our program sold outside at all four corners of the arena. If you’re not, you can get the digital version right here. 

  • Get it to Saturday 2-2

    • Jim

      Win tonight, and it’s a clean slate.

  • DJ

    It’s taken all of about six seconds after each game for the Lightning as a group to remind everyone through the press just how highly they think of themselves, starting from their coach on down

    Arrogance just begging to be exploited. Begin tonight b

    • jrzy78 .

      I am a little bit sick and tired of all the accolades given to this team.
      I want to see the smug wiped off their faces ! GO HAWKS !

  • ballyb11

    Need Keith.

    You guys have noted that a hundred times before.

  • bigtreina

    There can be no doubt this is Yzerman’s team. Did anyone else think the Lightning would be on the upswing when he took over as GM? I didn’t think it would happen this quickly. I love this challenge! Let’s go Hawks!

  • TitanTransistor

    Would be cool if Kane showed up for what could quite possibly be the last home game of the season.

    Watching this one at the bar, I have a feeling the alcohol will be necessary.

    Enjoy the game thread.

  • Joe

    Could use a Patrick Sharp sighting tonight.

    • Aaeismacgychel

      I’d like to amend this post to say a ‘positive’ Patrick Sharp sighting before thumbing it up, because quite frankly I think we’ve all seen a lot of Patrick Sharp these past few games, but all in a way that makes us never want to see him again.

      • Joe

        I agree with your amendment.

    • He sort of vanished after taking those two penalties in game two.

  • Razzberry

    Scoring first tonight would be a nice change of pace too. Make the Lightning chase for a bit instead.

    • jagdpanther01

      Make the Lightning chase for more than 13 seconds, at least…

  • PrisonedMuffin

    Laughing at the Tampa fan who called Waddle and Silvy just to talk shit about the Hawks. Said the series is over, said everyone on the team outside of Kane and Toews is a bunch of has bens, and said he’d call back when the Hawks loss tomorrow, all while on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico (which allegedly has Wi-Fi).

    His name was David.

  • Sopel the catfish

    Cooper should as Bruce Boudreau how abandoning matchups against the Hawks works.

  • jrzy78 .

    My stomach hurts

  • Hags

    simple, focused hockey tonight. crisp breakouts, no funkiness at the blue lines, make Bishop work and work and work. The results will be there.

    Let’s Go Hawks

    • rhodes

      …and no stupid fucking penalties.

  • Matthew Blecha

    Skate for Blood

    • Aaeismacgychel

      And if not them, the Crips, because if we have to deal with the same reffing shitshow like we had in Game 3, we may need to pop some caps in some collective zebra asses.

  • MachineSlayer42

    Andy Dufresne should have put the needle on the record and played “What A Day!” LET’S GO HAWKS!

  • Brandon Murray

    Today is the day. An opportunity to seize the day. A chance to silence the hundreds of thousands Blues, Wild, Preds, Ducks, Jets, and Kings fans who are no doubt waiting for us to fail. Combine that with a legion of newly minted Tampa Bay fans who have gotten behind their team to see what no doubt looks to them to be a dynasty in the making. To me they are a great team, but they look more like the Carolina Hurricanes who could win a Cup and then go softly into the night never to be heard from again. I like that they are full of themselves, because it means they have paid no attention to just how well Chicago has played and that momentum always swings at least once.

    It has been a journey to say the least:

    April 15, 2015: Nashville scores 3 first period goals to go up 3, only to see the Hawks tie it and Keith win it in double OT.

    April 19, 2015: After a disastrous first 2 games from Crow, Darling gets the nod.

    April 21, 2015: Seabrook blasts home the winner in 3 OT.

    April 25, 2015: Another affair that saw 6 1st period goals including a showtime ripper from the draw as the period was about to expire. Another goaie change and a few huge saves from Crow. Then, who else? Keith to close the series.

    May 1-May 7, 2015: Chicago listens to all the talk about this not being your Dad’s Wild team and how much better they are……..S-W-E-E-P. State of hockey put to bed.

    5/17/15: The Ducks roar to a great start and bury the Blackhawks. They start reminding everyone just how big and bad they are.

    5/19/15: It takes 3 OT, but Kruger and the band steal one, giving themselves home ice and the advantage. People still talking about Anaheim dominating the series and not the 60 saves from Corey Crawford.

    5/21/15: In what is a bit of a shocker, the Hawks give home ice right back in a 2-1 loss. National media crowning the Ducks Western Conference Champions. Kesler tells the world that no human can withstand this much punishment.

    5/23/15: It takes 2 more OT, but Chicago evens up the score with a 5-4 win, after the Ducks score 3 in 37 seconds to take a lead but no one is convinced yet that they are really tied 2-2. Hawks starting to feel good about solving Andersen but no one is listening because their D is just so tired. Perry reminds the media that it is no big deal because they still have 2 at home.

    5/25/15: Without explanation, the Hawks stay in the hotel to begin the game and do not arrive until the 2nd period where they find themselves 3-0. They grab 2 in the second with a dominating effort and then 2 more by the greatest fucking Captain in any sport in the final 2 minutes only to watch it all disappear because Bryan Bickell did Bryan Bickell things in OT. Getzlaf talks about how they dominated from start to finish, clearly blocking out periods 2 and 3 from his memory.

    5/27/15: Hawks come home and create their own 3 goal flurry (give a couple back) but hold on to win as Andrew Shaw reminds Getzlaf that he can’t hold his jock and the buries an empty netter for safeties sake. Ducks say the right things, but appear to be terrified of the game 7 boogie monster that awaits.

    5/30/15: Game 7. Anaheim. The Hawks from start to finish bury their skates in the ass of every Duck around for 60 minutes. Western. Conference. Champions.

    So here we are my frents. Back on the bubble. Trailing in the series. No more home ice advantage. A young, fast, skilled team who is (as Barry Melrose put it) “The Next Chicago Blackhawks”. Well I say horse shit. There is no next Chicago Blackhawks, only these Chicago Blackhawks. This series will not end tonight and it will not end on Saturday. When you wake up tomorrow the series will be tied at 2. We have always appreciated the greatness since 2008, but never really took the time to think about how special these Hawks really are. Fuck Tampa and the swagger they think they have, they haven’t earned anything yet but the chance to play at home in game 5. These Hawks have been there and done everything. There is no scenario they haven’t faced and conquered. Could they lose? Absolutely. Would I bet on it happening? Not a snowballs chance in hell.

    Here come the Hawks the Mighty, Mighty, Hawks!

  • Sopel the catfish
    • rhodes

      Putting an NHL team in Vegas is a stupid idea (there are reasons no other pro sports league has a team there), but if the NHL is determined to do it, they might as well move an already failing franchise rather than create a brand new problem.

      • Sopel the catfish

        I don’t disagree, but cheaper to get moving trucks for PHX to LV than PHX to Seattle right?

  • Pierre Wolfthing

    The time is now boys… You know what needs to be done.
    GO HAWKS!!!!!!

  • GoldenJet

    Uh oh. No Bishop.

    • DJ

      All three goalies are dressed for warmup. Vasilevsky taking the warmup that a starter would. Bishop…not so much.

  • Sopel the catfish

    Looks like Vasileveskyssksyevsy is starting

    • WookRN

      Well. That’s a HUGE question mark….

      • Sopel the catfish

        I know right? How the hell do you spell his name

        • WookRN

          “The other 88”

        • Bwana

          “Vasectomy” I believe

  • Sopel the catfish

    Good news is that even though it is technically his first start, it isn’t his debut. Get ready to suck rubber rook.

  • Sopel the catfish
  • WookRN

    I know Fels isn’t a big Dropkick fan….but tonight is kinda a “Do or Die” kinda night. Rookie goalie on the other end. Back to Tampa.

    Time to blow the doors off.

  • Brandon Murray

    I’m always a little more nervous when a backup goalie gets the start. It is like preparing all week for the starting QB and getting the back-up. Or a kid from AAA making his debut and no one has seen him. Sometimes it becomes an advantage but hopefully tonight the boys in red can fire hundreds of pucks at VAGI-letski and about 7 end up in the back of the net.

    • Sopel the catfish

      Gameplan is the same, outplay the officials and put more pucks in their net than goes in ours. We got this.