Well, this isn’t any fun at all. And I think both sides would agree.
There’s so much on either side to indicate either just a shrugging this off as one game and the Hawks were always going to need to take on in the Hub, and also time to engender genuine worry. I guess what that means is that this series is exactly where most everyone thought it would. On a knife edge, between two so perfectly matched teams that barely an inch or a bounce will separate them. It isn’t going to be over any time soon, is it?
But there are warning signs. And now the Hawks face a true hornets’ nest waiting for them on Causeway St.
-There was a foreboding sense after the Hawks only managed a one goal lead after perhaps the best period they’ve played all season. When you outshoot a team 18-4, you gotta have more than one goal. But it’s not as if the Hawks did anything wrong. Tuukka Rask stood that tall. It’s hard to say it was a goalie win when Rask really only had to pull rainbows out of his ass in one period, but without him the Bruins would have certainly been buried.
-Here is my worry. This is the second straight game the Hawks have looked out of gas and legs as the game went on. They have to play at such a pace, have to red line it so much, that you wonder what they have left after they do. To be fair, they’re probably the only team that can play at that cocaine binge-like pace to put the Bruins severely under the kosh. But they can’t do that for 60 minutes. No team could. It felt like hitting the “start” button with Little Mac in Punch-out and missing with the haymaker, and then being pink and tired and having to survive the oncoming counter.
-It’s too easy to spike the football on Brandon Bollig. For the most part, he’s been ok in these two games and if you put Viktor Stalberg on that puck rimming around the boards, I’m not totally convinced he does much more with it. But in these games where everything is going to be decided on margins so miniscule, these things are possibilities to happen. But again, that’s too easy.
-When you don’t get a cushion that you’ve probably earned, it only takes one misstep to put the game back on its ear. There was Patrick Sharp getting a little hesitant on the boards (though to be fair no one gave him an outlet in the middle), Leddy chases Paille behind the net and loses him when he didn’t need to, and the B’s can crash the net which is exactly what they want.
-All that said, on a night like this where everyone’s big guns cancel out each other — Krejci’s line was much quieter tonight — I’ll take the battle of scoring depth for the Hawks every time. If this is the impetus for Paille and Kelly and Peverley to come in from the fields of disillusion, than the Hawks are in all sorts of trouble. But we’re not there yet.
-The Bruins’ coverage around their net is beyond anything I’ve seen in five years of doing this, I think. Even when the Hawks were pummeling them in the 1st, they had most thing covered in their slot. Whenever the Hawks turn to the middle they find trees. Rebounds are met with tied sticks. Shooting lanes are closed up faster than a nun’s thighs. Again, it requires things to be done at such a high rate and precision….luckily the Hawks are the only ones who can get there. Maybe.
-The Hawks puck support in their own end was good, but when the legs started to go it wasn’t there in the offensive end. They got pucks deep more than not (though need more), but they couldn’t get a second player in to support the initial forechecker. The Hawks can’t win these battles straight up, and the level of energy to constantly be there on both ends to support is so high it’s a real worry if the Hawks can get there constantly.
-Q is still opting for Ebenholts och Elfenben against Krejci’s line. You will know it’s probably not the path when Julien doesn’t do much to get away from it in Boston.
-Someone will argue that the Hawks looks so tired because of the physical toll the B’s take on you. Maybe? I didn’t get the feeling that the Hawks were being pushed around on the ice that much, at least not in their end.
-Brent Seabrook continues to play that game at a quaalude-induced speed.
-Dave Bolland is getting housed at the dot — strangely he’s the only Hawk who’s getting worked over there — but at least now he’s working his ass off in the defensive zone to make up for it.
At this point we know that the next two games are going to be torture. And maybe physical limitations require that you can’t red line it for 60 minutes. Maybe on the road it’s about being very simple to start, surviving the initial onslaught, and slowly building from there. I can say Crawford is going to have to stand very tall. I know the Hawks are going to have to dig deep to a place that they haven’t reached before. But I also know I’ve learned my lesson about doubting this team.
It’s going to be a very, very bumpy ride, however.