The Waiting is the Hardest Part: Blackhawks 2, Lightning 1 (Blackhawks lead series 3-2)

Box Score

Event Summary

War on Ice

Here we are again. But then again so were the Lightning in 2004 so that must mean something, right?!?!? A lot has been made during this series about the types of starts both teams have made. The Lightning have been credited with fast starts and the Hawks with starting slow.

Yet the series was tied 2-2 going into tonight so it probably didn’t really mean a whole bunch. In Game 5, it was the Hawks that started fast and the Lightning that started to pick up their game the longer it went on. Corey Crawford, though, was the difference. Funny how that works.

Both teams were the beneficiary of puck luck in the first two periods as Patrick Sharp deposited a puck into an empty net after Ben Bishop and Victor Hedman ran into each other’s orbits and Valteri Fippula smacked a deflected one-timer that Duncan Keith very nearly broke up.

In the third, it was Kris Versteeg, naturally, that sparked the game-winner. His breakaway/whiffed shot/shot on net kicked out a big enough rebound for Antoine Vermette to bang home and here we are again. One win away.

Let’s get down to it.

–This was the best game the Hawks have had limiting the Lightning forecheck. This happened for two reasons. One, their defensive zone passing was excellent. When the Hawks went defensive partner to defensive partner, the passes weren’t behind or in a teammate’s skate. It was either tape to tape or tape to skate and tape. This made a huge difference in making easy zone exits and also led to the second reason.

The Hawks had more confidence to reverse the puck on a breakout. I counted one sequence in the second period where the Hawks went partner to partner behind their own net three times and not one time did a Lightning forechecker come close to breaking up the play, which is bananas.

As a whole, the Lightning had to chase the puck in the offensive zone way than they have been. By the time they were getting to the Hawks defensemen, the puck was already up and out of the zone.

It all starts with efficient passing and tonight, the Hawks were on point.

–Oh, if only Corey Crawford would win the Conn Smythe. What a glorious redemption tour that would be. If Duncan Keith weren’t having a historic postseason and Victor Hedman having a national breakout, Crawford, in a just world, would also have his name out there.

Antoine Vermette gave the Hawks a 2-1 lead with 18 minutes left in the third. From that point on, the Lightning threw everything they had at him and Crawford was equal to the task. The whole period was stressful enough but Crawford certainly helped the cause by containing every loose puck and not giving Tampa any more opportunities than they needed. Stamkos shanking a one-timer shortly after the Vermette goal did make things a bit easier but it’s not like Tampa didn’t have any chances after that.

Not that it’s a huge thing, but it was borderline criminal that Crawford wasn’t named one of the stars of the game in Game 4.

–Kris Versteeg, one of the best Hawks during a crucial Stanley Cup Final game. Just like we all expected. Versteeg’s play set up the game winner as I mentioned, but he was also in and around a ton of opportunities for the Hawks. If this were a game in February, he very well could have ended up with a couple goals and a couple assists. His one-timer in the second period that Bishop got with his toe comes to mind quickly.

He also had a bit more jump in his step. Though playing in a bottom 6 role allows him to really bum-slay, which is where he’s always found his niche.

–It’s always great to see Jason Garrison on the ice in an empty net, must score situation for your team. And by great, I mean taking a butter knife and trying to slice off your pinky finger.

–The Kruger line was outstanding, once again. While Brandon Saad’s price tag is getting all the headlines, Andrew Desjardins is certainly earning himself a nice paycheck on July 1. Not bad for a guy who’s deadline deal was basically an afterthought.

–I wouldn’t be stunned to see a game 6 similar to the one versus Vancouver in 2009 where the final score was 7-5. Kane, Toews and Stamkos have all been silent so far and it’s very hard to believe that all three will not be heard from before this is over.

Kane, again, had the puck quite a bit. Yes NBC, there were times that Hedman did knock it off his stick and that is going to happen. Stamkos and Toews, however, were both in the black for their Corsi. But that probably had more to do with both teams worrying about defense first than anything else. Toews joined Timonen and TVR as the only Hawks without a shot on goal. Could you imagine the knee-jerk reaction if the Hawks dropped this one? No thanks.

–Ben Bishop didn’t make goaltending look nearly as painful tonight, which has to be encouraging for the Lightning. When the Hawks were swarming in the first period, Bishop looked as good as he has all series. He was making confident saves, cutting down angles and not looking like a guy who threw on goalie pads for the first time that morning. If he looked like he had in game 3, this one could have gotten out of hand real fast.

He still acts a bit too much like a Mike Smith clone for my taste. His Al Czervik impression after Victor Hedman ran into him on Patrick Sharp’s goal only added to his legend.

–Who else thought that puck was going to jump over Patrick Sharp’s stick before he popped it in the empty net?

–The Lightning have made their bones in this playoffs by winning on the road. Destiny is not a given here. Do not let this opportunity slip past.

Until Monday.

  • Shawn Wilson

    …The Lightning have made their bones in this playoffs by winning on the road. Destiny is not a given here. Do not let this opportunity slip past…

    Sobering but true. Getting a little nervous reading other posts that already have this thing wrapped up with a big bow. There’ll be plenty of time to celebrate. Go Hawks.

    • ZigZags82

      Yeah, like celebrating all night Monday night.

      Let’s Go Hawks!

    • DJ

      And it’s not like they haven’t already beaten us at home. It’s going to take an effort even better than tonight to win.

      But damn, we are due to pot a couple of those odd-man rushes they’ve been giving us.

      • ZigZags82

        A Kaner virtuoso performance to clinch the Cup at home would be amazing. Have a feeling we see something similar from him or some other Hawk Monday night.

        Let’s Go Hawks!

    • Jim

      Bolts now only have one complete line at SCF level. They already were depth challenged on lines 3-4. One could argue that Nashville would have beat the Hawks had Weber been healthy. As it was, a hit by Saad (I think) took Weber out, and the Hawks won by the thinnest of margins.

      I think people are underplaying the loss of Kucharov, in the spirit of not seeming over confident. But the fact it, if the Hawks can put on their SCF “A” game, they should win handily. Crow has been Conn Smythe, this was a low scoring series. But in this instance Corey Crawford inadvertently sealed the deal with that weird play behind the net which resulted in the Kucharov vs. Post.

      • ZigZags82

        Everything’s coming together. Let’s Go Hawks huh?

  • cza

    Luckily, the Hawks aren’t taking anything for granted.

    I also wanted to salute Versteeg! for a fine game, keeping it simple while playing has ass off. I’ve shit on him a lot this season, usually for good reason, so it’s good to see him coming up big.

    • Jim
      • cza

        Perfect fit for the Ducks, down to the uniforms, but there seem to be a lot of people who are rooting against the Hawks. They’re tired of our dominance, tired of watching us on TV, and convinced the NHL favors us in nefarious ways. That’s why I try not to complain about the refs too much; that’s something I associate with other teams’ fans, who lack self-awareness and seek mystical explanations for their failure.

        • Jim

          I’m with ya on the refs. It seems to even out. The refs make some bad calls for sure, but I don’t believe any NHL conspiracy theory. If there was a conspiracy, we’d be playing the Rangers instead of the Bolts, because that would be better for media exposure.

          (But do check the NBA for a conspiracy. One ref, too lazy to google, said they’d call early fouls on star players to tilt the game one way or the other. If a guy has 2 fouls early, you need to sit him)

          • ZigZags82

            Tim Donaghy

        • ZigZags82

          People are jealous and hate others happiness when they can’t have it. LOL like we give a fuck. This is fun!

          Let’s Go Hawks!

    • ‘hawks58

      Eh, hindsight makes things seem easier. As a whole playoff, the Hawks were a bounce from falling to 3-2 heading back to Nashville and the Flyers forced OT and were a bounce away from forcing a game 7 in 2010; in 2013 you had the Detroit series (which could have gone a completely different way after the Hjammer no-goal) and the Hawks were down 2-1 in the Boston series and needed ’17 seconds’ to avoid a game 7.

  • ZigZags82

    Hawks know what’s at stake. Hawks are hoisting Monday night.

    (Side note: Only the Neanderthals of Pierre and Eddie O didn’t give Crow a star from NBC, but they are not official. The official stars of Game 4 were Saad 1st, Crow 2nd, Killorn 3rd.

    Now to more important matters……ONE WIN AWAY.

    Let’s Go Hawks!!!!!!!!!!!

    • JHVH

      Saad et. al. were the stars from game four. Game five’s were Crawford,

      • Jim

        The Hedman pick by Bishop may have been the biggest in Hockey history, as measured by total volume of mass colliding. It certainly was in Blackhawk fan enjoyment.

      • ZigZags82

        He still writhed on the ice lol.

  • Jane Doe

    “–Who else thought that puck was going to jump over Patrick Sharp’s stick before he popped it in the empty net?”

    THIS. Seemed like he skated way too much with it but, all’s well that ends well.

  • TitanTransistor

    “Destiny is not a given here. Do not let this opportunity slip past.”

    THIS. The 4th win is the toughest. Rest up, muscles and minds alike. Win this on home ice. The last achievement left for a core that’s accomplished pretty much everything else.

    • ZigZags82

      They’re gonna get it done Monday night. Hoisting.

      Let’s Go Hawks!

      • Jim

        I’m looking forward to seeing Kimmo, he seems giddy.

        • Jimnhlnut

          Does he get it before a vermette?

          • Jim

            Good question. Remember in 2013 it was Handzus, Jamal Mayer, Rosival. So they like to pay homage to the old timers first. Will be interesting to see how it plays out.

          • ZigZags82

            1. Bolts aren’t winning this.

            2. It’ll be Kimmo, Vermette, Desjardins, then regular order, Toews, then Turbo.

          • Yes. Much longer tenure and there is no next year for him.

    • jordyhawk

      Yep. We really need to seize the moment on Monday starting with the first shift. One shift at a time. We have won exactly zero so far.

  • BestPredsForward

    It was amazing how much more noticeable the third and fourth lines were than the first two. I have never seen a bottom lines lead the charge the way they have.

    Big difference between Bishop and Mike Smith is that Bishop has been very ordinary, while Smith literally won the series for the Coyotes. Am I the only one who thought Vasilevsky had a better game 4 than Bishop’s game 5?

    • wardrums

      I thought Bishop was outstanding last night. Botth goalies played lights out. That was a great vame to watch , with many lethal chances being turned aside by the masked men.

      I hate to say it, but I have a wierd feeling TB ijust might pull one more win oit. Obviously hoping otherwise, but as awlays, a cornered rat fights hardrst. Stralman and Hedman will be given a long leash to try to pick up the slack on Monday. Bishop is capanle of shutting down the best of teams.

      I hope I’m wrong, and at the moment I’m giddy as a goose, but it will take another sttong effort to weathrr the lightnong storm on Monday

      • ZigZags82

        Again. Hawks know what’s at stake. They have another great effort but so do the Hawks. All business and discipline. Hawks are hoisting the Cup Monday night.

        • Jim

          Plus Hawks don’t want to play any extra games. They don’t want to have to get on a plane to TB and play another. They have a chance to end the season right here at the UC.

          Can’t wait until Monday night.

      • DJ

        You cannot say Bishop was outstanding last night. Not with that all-time howler or the tasty rebound that led to Vermette’s goal. What you can say is that Bishop was good enough to prevent the Hawks from scoring two or three more goals — no small feat. Unfortunately for him, Crawford outplayed him.

        • manofredearth

          He can and he did, because it’s the truth regardless of our affiliation. Bishop called it when Hedman wouldn’t cede the space (even yelled for the play, but Hedman wouldn’t back off), then he was sprayed with a shower of ice to the face while playing the puck he ultimately kicked out to Vermette. Getting beat out by Crawford has nothing to do with pretending like he didn’t otherwise play lights-out.

  • SAMCRO Outlaw

    If this team wasn’t so effing damn great at ignoring all the white noise surrounding them I’d feel some apprehension about how tough closing out the series is going to be. But they do a great job when people are ragging on them, so I have no reason to believe they’ll let themselves get caught up in the go fever that is running through the city.

    I still think they have more to give & Tampa hasn’t had to deal with the best the Hawks have for a full 60. Laser focus on Monday and that great Hawks pace = Cup #3.

    • ZigZags82

      Best 60 minutes of the season. An explosion. Cup #3 in 6 years. Let’s Go Hawks!

  • Jim

    Tampa made their bones on the road with a functioning triplets line. Arguably* the best line in hockey. Kucharov looked really hurt, and he didn’t return. Now it’s the “twins line plus a guy”. Or the “triplets line with a hurt guy”

    Tampa is ripe for the taking here in Game 6.

    *Some might say Saad, Toews, Hossa is the best line in hockey, and I might agree 🙂

    • JHVH

      In re watching the kucherov injury, it looks like the net was caught on the ice at the back side where the camera is. In what might be the most (only?) insightful comment ever made by Pierre, he says, “there must be something wrong with that net.”

      • Jim

        Could be, the net didn’t move much. Could have been the angle of impact also. Versteeg hit the post head first with almost the same angle, and the net didn’t move much either (by memory). Plus, poor Steeger he also got called for goalie interference on the play.

    • ItNeverEnds

      Karma will always get ya in the end

    • cza

      Shhhhh. Hockey is cruel. You never know if that will be the night some role player pulls the game of his life out of his ass. I like our chances, but this will not be easy.

      • Jim

        True that, a guy like Boyle or Callahan can have the game of his life. Or Crow can let in a softie or two. Anything can happen in the space of a single game.

        • ZigZags82

          Again. Hawks still hoisting Monday night.

      • ZigZags82

        Hawks are still getting it done Monday night.

    • ZigZags82

      Hawks are hoisting the Cup Monday night regardless.

  • DJ

    Recall the Vermette healthy scratch and the inaccurate rumor that it was because Mrs Vermette was delivering? Verdi reports her due date is Wednesday.

    • ZigZags82

      Doesn’t matter. It will be the best week of this guys life. Cup Monday night, celebrate all night. First child Wednesday. Rally on the weekend.

      • Jim

        that is a big week, winning the SC + first baby

  • jordyhawk

    So Sharp is in a total drought and out of nowhere he is looking at an open net 15 feet in front of him altough at a bit of an angle. So does he bury it? No. He stickhandles it one extra time, gets even closer, and walks it in because he knows he can even though there is a guy (Stamkos) closing on him. That’s what a goal scorer does.

    • ZigZags82

      Patrick Sharp professional handsome goal scorer. Future 3X Cup champion tomorrow night!

      • jordyhawk

        Hope so. Heavy lifting still to be done.

        Go Hawks!

  • jordyhawk

    I don’t know of any team in the league that you have to gets pucks deep against more than these guys. They have an uncanny ability to turn the play around and get through the neutral zone at warp speed (I may actually be the one millionth person to mention this)! Gotta get it deep on these guys all the time. Just gotta. These late shifts by 23-80-86 and 11-16-65 were beautiful. It felt great every time they were stepping on the ice late.

    • Jane Doe

      The 4th line was brilliant controlling the puck in the 3rd last night and have been so, so solid in these playoffs.

  • jordyhawk

    No jumping the gun boys. We haven’t won anything yet. Nothing. Zero.

  • GoldenJet

    “It all starts with efficient passing” x a Brazilian!

    Did Bishop actually blame the collision with Hedman on the fans for cheering too loudly?! What a douche nozzle.

    Sucks for Kucherov…ain’t karma a bitch?

    When the Hawks settle down and find their passing game, it is a thing of beauty to watch. Props to all who were calling for more of the flip passes to clear the zone…the Hawks heard you and utilized it perfectly.

    Can’t wait for tomorrow night!

    • ZigZags82

      Lol, never heard of a goalie rag on his own fans for being too loud in a Final game as an excuse. It’s whatever, his season ends without a Cup tomorrow night.

      Let’s Go Hawks!

  • GuyFleegman

    Tampa has their backs against the wall but Chicago has an opportunity to
    win the Cup on home ice. Finish this in style!!

    Vermette is on a one man mission to wrap up this series for more important
    things. Another GWG would be nice or would it be CWG?

    Does anyone else think Kane’s scoring touch is off due to the Corey Perry
    wrist slash in the Anaheim series? Kane had surgery for a fracture a few seasons back.

    Don Cherry complimented the Chicago ice crew for making sure the ice is
    frozen hard around the the net posts to prevent incidents like last
    night. Viva Versteeg! He lived to fight another day.

    • ZigZags82

      Kaner is fine. Just in a slump right now. Game 6 at home Monday night are the moments he lives for as one of the greats. Let’s Go Hawks!

  • GoldenJet

    Teuvo got a little too excited on that breakaway. He didn’t realize how much room a day time he had. One nice fake and he’d have had a goal.

  • Brandon Murray

    Listening to Mike Lupicas show this morning & how he felt Tampa has still been the better team ALL series. Even after last night. Then a guy from St. Louis called in to guarantee Tampa would win game 6 & bring it back to Tampa. He guaranteed it. Blues fans. Bwahahahaha.

    Still not ready to proclaim victory but damn would it be nice to hoist the Cup at the UC. 1 more game. I expect a ridiculous effort from both teams in game 6. I do not want to go back to Tampa.

    • DJ

      You’re wasting time listening to that worthless little shit Lupica? Life is too short.

      • Brandon Murray

        I know but it’s what ESPN Radio was feeding in as I took my don to basketball. Meh he sucks.

        • DJ

          Could have been worse. Apparently, on the Sports Reporters, douchenozle extraordinaire Bob Ryan poo-poohed the Hawks ability to close it out in six, because “they had the chance to do it to Anaheim and didn’t.” How is he still employed???

          • Jim

            Bob Ryan is a Boston guy. Just remind him of “17 seconds”, which was a Game 6 closeout if I recall correctly.

    • ZigZags82

      Lol people are so salty. Hawks taking it Monday night. Let the others be jealous!

      Let’s Go Hawks!

      • manofredearth

        You’re salty, crowing like it’s over and spamming this thread like a giant douchebag. Just another bandwagoner no matter how long you’ve been around, because real fans have class.

        • ZigZags82

          Case in point hahahahaha. “Real fans”. Whatever dude.

          • manofredearth

            Exactly.

        • ZigZags82

          And sorry for positivity. Oh man. I realllly do apologize.

          But I guess fuck you, huh? Nice speaking with you.

          • manofredearth

            It’s not positive at all. It’s cowardly. Nothing’s done yet. Act like you’ve been there before.

          • ZigZags82

            Commenting on an Internet board? Get off your high horse. I refuse to have any thoughts of losing. So shut up because I won’t stop.

          • manofredearth

            You’re just a pathetic loudmouth troll, the reason people think Chicago fans are such assholes. But it’s not the fans who are assholes, just unreasonably ignorant people like you who can’t STFU before the win actually occurs.

          • ZigZags82

            LOL. And I’m a pathetic loudmouth troll in only interacting with Hawks fans on this blog? Enjoy life and go fuck yourself man. Try to find some happiness in life, would take?

          • ZigZags82

            *ya

        • ZigZags82

          “Real fans” Lol.

  • GoldenJet
    • Brandon Murray

      I can’t hear anything you’re saying, it’s just too loud in here.

      WTF? Did the noise prohibit you from making a smart decision? Was it the noise that made you skate out of your crease and collide with the world’s greatest ever hockey player Victor Hedman? Be accountable or GTFO.

    • rhodes

      “I couldn’t hear anything over all the fans screaming, ‘get back in the net!'”

    • Jane Doe

      Who knew? Bishop and Cutler are apparently cousins and kindred spirits.

      • manofredearth

        You meant Urlacher.

    • Patorioto

      This article is garbage. It’s from sportsmockery. Go watch the full video. He was asked if he heard his teammate yelling anything when he went out. He didn’t blame the fans in any way. He just said it’s too loud to hear.

  • Sam

    Speaking of role players earning their paychecks, sure hope Kruger gets his this summer. Guy is solid as Gibraltar.

  • Matthew Blecha

    Skate for blood. No mercy.

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    So to relieve some of the stress during last night’s game, I was playing a video game and watching the Hawks / Bolts at the same time. I was playing Knights of the Old Republic. It’s an old Star Wars game. You ship is the Ebon Hawk. It just dawned on me that that is just another way of saying, “Blackhawk.”

    • Sopel the catfish

      The KOTOR games were amazing

    • chitownproud85

      If I could upvote this for every moment of every day for the rest of my life, it still wouldnt be enough. Awesome game, awesome win. Enjoy KotOR!

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    This needs to end Monday Night. Someone on this board, I think it was Sam, put it best in 2013. I’ll try to paraphrase his remarks: When that counter hits 1, the world changes. You’re on the cusp, but nothing is guaranteed. It’s like getting called back for a final interview for your dream job, or when that special someone finally agrees to accompany you back to your place for the night. It’s right there, but it’s not yours just yet. You’re so excited, but at the same time, a little bit scared that you’ll fuck it up.

    Don’t fuck it up, Hawks, bring it home Monday.

  • jagdpanther01

    “Don’t get cocky, kid.” Go ‘hawks!