I suppose it would be a cop-out for me to say, “What can I say?” But yet I’m left with nothing else. Before this series started, a lot of us thought it was basically a coin flip. It would be decided on such small margins and plays that it would be folly to try and handicap how it would go. And that’s what it did come down to. A Game 7 overtime, ended on a flipped shot that hits Leddy and floats into the net. Not some great play. Not some massive breakdown. Just a bounce. Didn’t go the Hawks way. Season over.
It would hurt more if I could sit here and say that the Kings aren’t worthy Western Conference champs (and soon to be Stanley Cup champs). But no one around here is going to say that. Because they are. So would the Hawks have been. Just didn’t go their way. A classic series, one neither side will ever forget. Would be better if the Hawks won. But here we are.
We could nitpick about this or that. There’s plenty of time for that tomorrow and the rest of the summer. I sit here and all I can think is that with all the Hawks had put in their way, especially recently but all season (mostly from within), this was as worthy a defense as they could put forth. This is going out on their shields. They made the next champs push to a level that no Kings fan thought they had within them. It’s not enough for now, but it’s hardly worth apologizing for.
Let’s do it one more time, shall we?
The Two Obs
-I suppose if I wanted to I could point out that the final shift started with Michal Handzus losing a draw, which he’s done pretty consistently all playoffs. But that’s petty. It was a nothing play. Kruger got knocked on his ass as is his habit. I can only hope that Leddy recovers from the trauma of watching the season-ending shot go off him.
-Still, for this one, how many leads do you want? The Hawks had a two-goal lead in Game 2. Gone. They had a two-goal lead in Game 3. Couldn’t hold that either. They had two two-goal leads in Game 5, barely got through it. They blew a lead in Game 6 and rescued themselves. How many times can you go to this well?
And yet tonight, it wasn’t a systematic breakdown. They got two. Then Carter is able to swing in a goofy rebound. Williams gets a deflection to land right on his stick. Toffoli profits from the same bounce that Toews did. Gaborik has a rebound go off his chest.
-But that’s probably too simple. The Hawks once again lost the possession battle, and even at 5-on-5 close they were behind the Kings. They did this consistently against Minnesota. They did it against L.A. How long did we think they could hold out?
-I’ll spike the football. I can’t help but wonder what Games 2 or 3, when the Hawks had the upper hand for portions, would look like with anything resembling a 4th line. Versteeg played three minutes tonight. THREE. Bollig two. TWO. Handzus eight. The Hawks didn’t have to do this. They chose to. They went at either the best team in the league or the second best (guess I have to say best now) with nine forwards. They did this for three straight games playing at a pace that can only be described as F-Zero. Would even icing 11 forwards have resulted in one more goal in Game 2, 3, or 7 that would have made all the difference? On such margins are series between two great teams decided. The Hawks will have to ask themselves if they really gave themselves the best chance. And we’ll start asking it tomorrow.
-Then again, the Hawks didn’t get an even-strength goal tonight from their top line. They didn’t get one since Game 3. It could be that as well. You can’t pinpoint.
-Speaking of which. Hossa looked tentative tonight. Don’t know why.
-At least the Hawks profited from their shitty home ice for once, right?
-Brandon Bollig was on the ice for two and a half minutes and saw six shot attempts against. I’m sure all of them were from a shift at the end of the 1st against Kopitar’s line. CASE CLOSED.
-Tonight was the first game the Hawks broke even or better on the special teams battle and lost. Says everything, basically.
We don’t need to break this down any more. You don’t want to read it anyway. None of those players have anything to feel sorry about. Even the ones they complain about, because they are what they are. They dragged this series to a point they might not have had any business doing so. A champion’s death, as it were.
On a more personal note, thank you from me, McClure, Killion, Fifth Feather, Joe and Ken for another great season here at C.I. It really is an honor that you let us try and enhance your Hawks experience.
I know things around here have been tumultuous recently. You may have noticed. What has gone on here has been my decision, with the support of my comrades. Everything we’ve done is for the benefit of those of you who truly enjoy this blog and what we do, and not for those who use it as some platform. I think it’s a more welcoming place now that we can all enjoy more. Everything we do is with you in mind, to make this a better and more inclusive community. Know that. Thank you again.