So where do we begin? The first 30 minutes? The last 30 minutes period? The last 6 seconds? The overtime? The hit? I’m really not sure. This felt like about 4 games in one and there’s likely still about four more games left.
I’ll just get right to my thoughts. Apologies for the randomness as I’m still a bit scatterbrained after experiencing that.
–The Blues probably should have won this game going away. The way the Hawks started this game…it looked more like a pre-season game in Saskatoon than Game 2 of the playoffs. The Blues had 3 power plays in a row to start the 2nd period and they couldn’t put the game away. The Hawks not only tied the game at 2, they took the lead.
Then the Hawks probably should have won this game going away. They were on their way to playing a perfect 3rd period until the 14 minute mark (The Blues only had 2 shots on net up until that point). Bickell stuck out his knee on Vladimir Sobotka. Then they were halfway through killing his penalty when the hit happened.
I understand where Brent Seabrook is coming from when he said he thought Backes still had the puck and I’ll give Seabrook the benefit of the doubt as he’s been on the receiving end of questionable hits before. But at the same time, in that scenario, short-handed and with your partner already down in the corner, is that the best time to go for the kill shot? If Backes had the puck, all it would’ve taken was a chip towards the middle of the ice and no Hawk defensemen would’ve been there to defend.
Regardless, it happened and the Hawks were still six seconds away from killing it off and heading back knotted at 1. But on a 6-on-4 and with a lot of tired bodies on the ice, bad stuff has been known to happen.
–How’s this for the most backhanded compliment ever? It took a game where the Hawks were short-handed 9 times for Michal Handzus to prove his usefulness. 5-on-5, though, Handzus was mostly awful. On the Blues second goal, Handzus couldn’t keep up with a guy out of the corner. It led to a a breakdown where Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa were trying to cover for him, leaving their point men wide open and 60 foot lane for Kevin Shattenkirk.
The point is, if the Hawks are playing their game and not flying off the rails with stupidity, Handzus is mostly useless. But you all know this.
–It was hard to tell if Patrick Sharp was pressing and trying to do too much (and who could blame him with Handzus anchoring him) or if he was drunk on St. Louis “morans” but that was not his finest performance. His culminating achievement was running into Duncan Keith on a powerplay that led to a Steve Ott breakaway from his own blue line.
This was a theme among several Hawks through the majority of the game which leads me to believe their communication skills were lacking. There really isn’t an excuse for a professional team of this gravitas to commit errors like that on this stage.
–Speaking of, the overtime goal was a result of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane over-pursuing the same guy and leaving two Blues defensemen wide open. It was an “Oh shit” type of play before Roman Polak even released his shot. Then, of course, Barrett Jackman happened. This is another easy fix that simple communication could have prevented.
–In a series where the Hawks forwards are struggling to score and Brandon Bollig is only playing 3 minutes, it might be a good idea to maybe dress a guy that scored 4 goals in the last 5 games. But after 84 games, perhaps we’re the insane ones for expecting any kind of change.
–This series is a terrific example of why it’s so damn difficult to repeat in this NHL. Even if the Hawks move on, they’ve taken enough damage that it would be easy to imagine them getting bounced in the next round. Would it be disappointing? Duh. But if you’re going to question the Hawks character or any other silly intangible, that would be incredibly short-sighted.
–Let’s leave this on a positive note with some encouraging facts. The Blues have been here before and yacked it up. The Hawks have played just ok in two games and were a 1:51 from being up 2-0. They’re coming back to the United Center where, with the exception of the Coyotes series, they’ve been almost automatic in the playoffs. Even with Brent Seabrook out for likely the next two games, Quenneville will still be able to protect Brookbank having last change. Ryan Miller isn’t going to steal any games this series. Kane and/or Toews will be heard from before this is over.
Feel better? Didn’t think so.