Just some things to clean up after Game 3 before we turn toward what’s ahead in Game 4.
-This Hossa injury thing is just weird and I can’t believe it’s not getting the screws turned to Quenneville. Actually, I can totally believe it because it’s long been accepted in hockey circles that your coach can spill out pure drivel and everyone will just dismiss it as him simply being “hockey” or “Canadian.” Jesus, you’d think a lot of Canadians would take great offense at that, because though I don’t know that many I’m pretty sure an overwhelming amount of them are articulate and pretty intelligent.
If it was known well before that Hossa might not go, then not having Smith take the warm up when Mayers already was is just….well isn’t it ridiculous? Smith hasn’t played a game since the last game of the season. Doesn’t he need as much time on the ice as possible? You’re already hedging your Hossa bets by having Mayers skate in the warmup. I was under the impression that anyone who has the slightest chance of playing takes the warmup just for this exact purpose.
And today we get the nugget that no one wants to actually focus on, Q saying didn’t want to show his cards by having Smith in the warmup. Because Ben Smith is some secret weapon that the Bruins would have to adjust to? Hey, I like Ben Smith, but fucking come on. That’s just….I can’t even find the word. I wish I could. The only adjustment seeing Ben Smith in the lineup Claude Julien would have had to make is turning to an assistant and saying, “Who’s Ben Smith?”
And it’s all been a pattern that Quenneville has allowed to beat himself in the face with a big black marital aid all series and no one other than us and you dear reader seemingly wanting to question him. He blew up the lines that had produced seven goals in two games against Jonathan Quick at the end of the Kings series. He had to get Bollig back on the ice and we don’t need to revisit that. He blew up the lines again before Game 3 coming off two games that had both gone to overtime, so it couldn’t have been all that wrong. Of course, the power play.
And yet it could be solved by simply getting out of the way. In fact, that’s what eventually won both the Detroit and L.A. series. Here’s the best I got, you do something about it. I don’t think you can. But much like a shark has to keep swimming, Q just seems to have to keep doing shit or he chokes on his own saliva or something.
-The other story of course is Jonathan Toews. This is the third consecutive spring where we’ve had to speculate that he’s hurt. You know what? Someone do their fucking job and find out exactly what it is. If we can find out Nathan Horton has a shoulder that has all the stability of melted butter and when exactly it got that way, someone can get it out there from an unnamed source that Toews is dealing with this or that.
Or maybe he’s had three incredible defensive centers thrown at him in consecutive series. Or maybe he’s shooting 1.6%. Or maybe it’s not so much a shrinking from the spotlight but it simply meaning too much too him he’s pressing from the off. Though I know a lot of you will roll your eyes at another soccer analogy, it’s a label that used to be put on Christiano Ronaldo. For the majority of his Man United career, Ronaldo didn’t produce all that much in big games, because of the combination of being the entire focus of the other team and also simply wanting to do too much. He eventually shed that with time. Sadly Toews is running out that time this year.
But it’s funny, Patrice Bergeron put Sidney Crosby in the dark shadows and I didn’t see anyone running for an injury excuse for him. And Crosby didn’t have to deal with anyone in the Islanders or Ottawa series nearly the quality of Zetterberg or Kopitar or especially Bergeron.
-Maybe I’m not watching closely enough, and the Bruins are finishing all their checks when they’re there and winning the board battles, I don’t get this impression that every Hawk is being mauled by a fucking grizzly bear. The B’s aren’t running around nearly as much as they did two years ago against the Canucks to get in the Hawks face. Again, they’re taking the hits that are there. But the B’s know that if they get reckless the Hawks can exploit the space from any line. Back in 2011, with Kesler in pieces the Canucks only had one line. They could get away with it then.
It’s such an easy narrative to say, “Oh the B’s are beating up the Hawks,” instead of looking a little deeper and seeing it’s the defensive structure of the Bruins that are forcing the Hawks where they don’t want to go. I guess that’s what we’re here for.
-Patrick Kane is getting labeled too, but all that’s happening is all the warts we’ve been pointing out during the season — that his production was utterly incredible because his line almost never had the puck — is getting exposed now that he’s back with Handzus and Sharp. And now on the rare times he does have the puck, he’s facing an incredible defensive team. When he had possession driving linemates in Bickell and Toews…four goals. Hat trick. The whole thing. You know, it’s just not that fucking hard.
-Maybe I’m just drinking the Kool Aid while I float down Da Nile on my rose colored inner tube, but I feel like this is the best the Bruins have, as impressive as it is. But I also feel the Hawks have another half-gear or so to move through. They’ll have to red-line a bit more and take some risks they might not like. But they can pull it off. It’s not even that far away.
And of course, if the Hawks win Game 4 the whole narrative changes again. It’s not just here that happens. LeBron has gone from the worst player in the history of the Earth to next to Jordan at least six times in the NBA Finals, depending on the last result. That’s just how it goes now, I guess.