I’m not sure where to start this. I think the best place is to separate the optics of it from what the reality might be.
I understand what some people are seeing. Because the Bruins are bigger, their hits tend to knock Hawks to the ice, whereas the Hawks’ don’t. Because the B’s are so good defensively, even when the play is even the Hawks aren’t creating chance after chance (even though the B’s actually aren’t creating that much either). There’s this impression that it should always look like the 1st period of Game 2, but the Bruins are too good for that. The Hawks can’t get to rebounds that are there, Rask isn’t working all that hard, I can see where some people might mistake it for an ass-kicking. But it just doesn’t feel to me that’s what what we’ve witnessed here.
Let’s just get to the bullets and we’ll see if I can’t prove my point:
-If nothing else comes of this spring, at least Joel Quenneville will be exposed for what we’ve said he is for at least two years now. Great philosophy, borderline terrible implementer.
You know, on paper the idea of slotting Toews with Kruger and Frolik isn’t as asinine as it sounds. Kruger and Fro and have been the two best forwards for the Hawks this series, maybe longer. It might have even worked at home.
But on the road, it makes it far too easy on the Bruins to pick their spots for Bergeron. Claude Julien doesn’t have to send out Bergeron against Toews when he’s got those wingers (because Kruger isn’t a winger). Which is why Bergeron had his best game of the series. He had the run of it.
Now for example, if Toews had been with Bickell and Kane — y’know, the line that produced four goals in two games against the Kings — even on the road that would force Julien to counter it with Bergeron’s line. There’s no way the B’s coach would let that Hawks line get away with looking at anything else. You’d essentially be saying that we’ll take a standoff between those two units at worst, and we’ll let our depth attack your depth.
Some of this is complicated by Hossa’s injury obviously, but you get the feeling even if 81 had played this was how Q would have played it. And it’s wrong.
And Q out-thought himself before the series even started by fucking up the lines that had sealed the Kings series. He was countering moves that haven’t even been made by Julien. He put Kane back with Zus and Sharp which had already proven to not work. He got away with it in Game 1 because Saad made it work on the top line, and Q’s lucky that he’s got so many players who can make him look good (or at least erase his mistakes). But this isn’t the first time Q is running very behind his counterpart.
-It’s not just the lines. It’s tactical as well. Last year, Q didn’t drill his team to go with the soft chips behind the defense until halfway through Game 5, and by then it was too late. So it was again, as the Hawks opted for the hard ring-around when they couldn’t attack with speed. But this allows the B’s d-man on the weak side to simply send the puck back behind his own net, where the Bruins are always going to win the battle. At worst he’ll tie up with the Hawks forechecker over there, and that stalls play. The Hawks need to go off the glass where Rask can’t get it or into the same corner where they’re always carrying it.
-I find it so hilarious that everyone is in shock over what the faceoffs and power play look like. Have they not been paying attention?
-As for the PP, while Eddie O complains about not using the men down low, that would assume they can get set up. Which they can’t. And it’s the ringa-arounds that are costing them. I counted three times tonight when Leddy eschewed those and carried it in himself, got it to the corner, and had no support. There’s your problem.
They also have had some success at finding the player on the boards on the entry, but refuse to try and make something happen on the rush. They’re so determined to curl back, and get it back to the point which is exactly what the B’s PK is designed to stop. Hit that man, and get it to the net on the rush. What can it hurt?
-And yet, it just wasn’t that bad. The B’s came out with a pretty powerful punch in the beginning of the first two periods, and for the most part the Hawks weathered it. As both periods went on, the Hawks took more and more control. That is until Dave Bolland turned back into the elk turd he’s been all season.
-At some point you knew the power play would cost the Hawks a game. Here we are.
-But, it’s not as if the Hawks were helpless. As Fifth Feather pointed out, when they do break cleanly from their zone and get even a 2-on-2 or 3-on-3 going the other way, the B’s are giving their puck-carriers enough space to give the late man a ton of space. They will profit from this soon.
-If I’m not mistaken, the B’s have rung their last three goals off a post and in. The Hawks two best chances in the 3rd tonight, they missed the net. On such small margins will this series be decided.
-Hossa’s injury is a worry. That he did it taking a shot in warmup suggests a muscle problem, which probably will not clear up by Wednesday.
-The first goal….well, Bolland can’t get pickpocketed there but it was a result of being where he needed to be and supporting his d-man. It started with a blind ring around the boards from Rozie and Ben Smith floating out toward center when he needed to beat it to the faceoff circle in the Hawks zone to be above that pinching defenseman. But I’m not going to hang Smith out to dry in his first game in two months.
-When the Hawks can even get evens back to the B’s zone, there’s a lot of room to the outside. They can take more advantage of that.
-Sadly, letting Paille out of whatever cage of confusion he was in before this series is not a good idea.
I’ll probably clean up the leftover thoughts that I can’t remember right now tomorrow. But let’s be honest. The only time we’ve panicked, or at least the last time I panicked, was down a goal in the 3rd in Game 6 against Scum. We know how that turned out. Such a long way to go here.