Game 3: Flames 4, Blackhawks 2

Playoff Hockey Rule #117–  If you let the opposing team’s fourth line score an important goal, there’s a 98% chance you will lose said game. 

That’s exactly what happened with the Blackhawks tonight.  After Patrick Sharp made the Flames and Olli Jokinen pay two minutes into the game with a power play goal, the Flames fourth line responded four minutes later when the ever-dangerous Eric Nystrom beat Nikolai Khabibulin short side from 35 feet out.  Instead of going into the locker room with a 1-0 lead and the noose on the Flames getting ever tighter, it was 1-1 with forty minutes left to go.

In the second, the Hawks had several opportunities to capitalize on a shaky Mikka Kipprusoff.  The Kipper made more than a couple saves where he had no clue where the puck was.  Havlat fired a puck from outside the circles and Kipprusoff stood up to look for it when it was right at his feet.  A streaking Andrew Ladd wasn’t able to get a stick on it and the puck was safely cleared to the corner. 

Later in the period, a loose puck laid right outside the crease and Ladd crashed the net again only to be a split second late.  There were stretches where the Hawks absolutely controlled the tempo.  They held the puck in the Calgary zone getting great chances but were never able to capitalize on them. 

With the period coming to a close, ex-Hawk Rene Bourque was behind the net and tried to get the puck towards the front.  It hit off Khabibulin’s stick, blocker, and rolled into the back of the net.  Just like that, 2-1 Flames.

The Flames didn’t waste any time putting the Hawks away for good in the third.  Lieutenant Rectum himself, David Moss, scored two goals within the first five minutes and that was all she wrote.  His first goal came off a juicy rebound and an unlucky bounce off the linesman.  Ladd tried clearing a puck deep into the Calgary zone at center ice.  Instead, the puck hit the linesman, Daymond Langkow picked it up and they were off to the races.

His second goal came on a brilliantly executed 2-on-2 with Curtis Glencross.  Moss gained the Hawks blue line, dropped the puck to Glencross, and drove right to the net.  Glencross fed the puck between his legs, it deflected off something (?) and between Khabibulin’s five-hole for the biggest lead Calgary would need.   

Leftover Thoughts from Game 3

–I’ll never understand why players insist on chopping opposing players’ sticks.  There is absolutely nothing good that can come out of it.  Here are the two things that will happen: either the player holds on to his stick tighter and doesn’t lose possesion of the puck or the stick breaks in half, and the referees have an obvious penalty.  Four times that happened tonight with Rene Bourque getting called three times.  I’m sure Rocky Wirtz won’t feel too good having to fit that $600 bill courtesy of Bourque.

–Speaking of Bourque, it’s amazing how much of a tough guy he is when he’s not running someone 100 pounds lighter than him.  Brent Seabrook rocked him in the first period.  Then in the third, Burish gave him a check along the boards, waited for him by the bench, and then popped him in the face for good measure.  I’m not sure what Edzo saw in that check that was so dirty.  Maybe the angle I saw wasn’t the best, but it looked like Burish got him in the back and shoulder, not the head. 

–Much like in baseball, when a team has an opposing pitcher on the ropes only to hit into a rally-killing double play resulting in the pitcher getting into a groove the rest of the way, the Hawks did the same thing with Kipprusoff tonight.  He looked relatively shaky for about half of the game.  When the Hawks couldn’t capitalize more than the one time, Kipprusoff put it into lockdown mode the rest of the way.  Other than a 2-on-0 with Sharp and Havlat, the Kipper was nails the rest of the way to help Calgary win their most important game of the year.

–And now to the story that has all the meatballs in an uproar, Patrick Kane’s flu-like symptoms.  Look, I’m not going to claim some higher knowledge here, but there’s a pretty solid chance that A) he doesn’t have the sniffles and B) he spent the majority of tonight huddled around his toilet, if he could get out of bed at all. 

In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if in a couple days, we find out he actually had food poisoning.  When the news first broke this afternoon about him resting from practice, that was almost immediately what I thought.  He finished the game Saturday, attended practice yesterday, and after arriving in Calgary, suddenly needed rest. 

The story was all too similar to Game 1 of the 1996 Semi-finals against Colorado when Ed Belfour and Murray Craven were knocked out of commission by a nasty set of mashed potatoes.  If memory serves correct, they were also held out for flu-like symptoms and when they came back, it was released that they had food poisoning.   

So please, spare us all this garbage about him being afraid to get hit or being too big of a baby because he wanted his chicken soup or that he’ll never be accepted back in the Hawks locker room or that he’ll never wear a letter for the Hawks.  If that was the case, everyone on the Hawks would be patting Rene Bourque on the back instead of trying to rip his lungs out.

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10 Responses to Game 3: Flames 4, Blackhawks 2

  1. Leonidas says:

    This one was a sad disappointment, and not because of the score. I would guess that none of us were surprised that the Hawks would run into resistance in Calgary. However, the end of the game brought back terrifying memories of the Vancouver Rumble. The Hawks lost their cool, and dropped into the ditch with Calgary’s scumbags in a rolling battle which, in my opinion, has the potential to reap great benefits for the Flames. Unless Q can refocus some of the more belligerent Hawks, I think they run the risk of concentrating on vendettas instead of scoring anytime Iginla and Co. decide to agitate them. And I believe the Flames are loaded with players who are well versed in how to throw a cheap shot, a latent punch, or an off-the-play slash and not get caught.

    In the first two games, the Hawks stayed above this garbage and continued to use their speed and steady defense to keep the focus on the game and not the personal grudge matches. I think they were lucky not to get any instigator penalties last night that would have resulted in suspensions. In defense of Edzo on the Burish hit, I thought his analysis was right: Burish broke his stick in half cross checking Borque, then waited for him and punched him in the face. If the zebras were concentrating on it they would have had reason to take more severe measures. As happy as I was to see Rene get pummeled, it was a stupid move given the context. What did it prove beyond that the Flames had succeeded in distracting the Hawks? Let’s hope Khabibulin can tighten up the screws a bit so that the Hawks can get some offensive momentum right out of the gate on Wednesday.

  2. cb says:

    Having seen very little of the game, and only on a highly pixelated screen, I have more questions than comments.

    How has Campbell played so far?

    Is there something beyond the numbers that one should take into consideration when evaluating Versteeg-Pahlsson-Byfuuglien? I’ve seen Bufflynnn and Versteeg having moments of quality physical play, but beyond that they seem to be struggling. I saw Byflugeen attempt his cute into-the-corner-and-round-the-net setup move in the first and Calgary easily got in the way of that.

    I was sorry to see the experts’ two oft repeated and overly stressed factors – HOME ICE! and PHYSICAL PLAY! – actually knock the Hawks off their game last night. Maybe that’s one reason I’m not an expert. I hope it was a one-time deal.

    Let’s hope Kane is healthy by Saturday at least.

  3. cb says:

    Adding…

    Was I on drugs or did I hear the VS guys compare Seabrook to Ray Bourque??? Seabourque’s been pretty solid so far but I saw him commit a number of dangerous blunders last night.

  4. blackhawkbob says:

    Leonidas: I can’t disagree with your analysis of the physical play. As I mentioned over the weekend, it seemed as though Calgary was too focused on playing physical, seemingly allowing the ‘Hawks to focus on, ya know, hockey. Though I’d like to see the ‘Hawks focus on their game, I’m not sure the Burish/Eager antics yesterday will have any negative effects.

    cb: Campbell’s been surprisingly fine in his own zone, though he’s been nearly invisible in the offensive zone. One of the lesser talked-about stories of the last few weeks of the season was Campbell losing his spot on the first unit power play permanently. His play on the second unit has been fine, but rather unremarkable. Nonetheless, with Campbell, at this point in the season, you’d take stability over offensive production.

    Also, the problem with the Pahlsson/Byfuglien/Versteeg combination is simple, and it’s one I’ve stressed before: it’s a “spare parts” line, with no one player complimenting either of the other two. Pahlsson is a shut-down center playing on a line that’s not a shut-down line; Byfuglien is an energy/crasher kind of player playing on a line that’s not an energy/crashing line; and Versteeg is a playmaker playing on a line with two players who can’t really contribute offensively. It’s the big problem with keeping the HavBolLadd line together; it leaves a few forwards in roles that don’t flatter their styles of play. The unfortunate part is the HavBolLadd line is likely too good and important to try breaking up again.

    Finally, as far as the experts go, though the Flames were much more physical yesterday, I don’t think they outplayed the ‘Hawks. I thought it was a fairly even game, and I would even give the edge in good scoring chances to the ‘Hawks. Maybe next time…

  5. Lou says:

    I couldn’t agree more, we have to avoid the taunts and just play. We are better than them and need to get Kane back in the line up so we can go with the lines that work a little better. Fraser adds nothing offensively. Versteeg Burish and Eager could be an interesting mix. We need to sit Matt Walker and play Johnson or Sopel. Walker is a number 8 defenseman and belongs in Rockford. He plain sucks

    Calgary is not that good and is getting production from their “off” lines which means we have to play more disiciplined with ours. Bourque’s goal was garbage and Moss’ second goal was a weird one too. But we got out played and lost.

    What is frustratring is the missed high stick by Phaneuf on Brouwer, right in front of the Ref and the chirpiness that they let Calgary get away with after every puck stopped by a goalie. Jerome smacked some folks and didn’t get any penalty time at the end and Eager got the book.

    Again, though when you are get out played, by the off lines it is hard to win. That, and your poor power play in the third. Not sure what they expect to get out of Buff, Steeg, Brouwer, Campbell (Annie) and Bolland. Have to wonder how long Campbell is gonna be around.

    Win Wed and Sat could be a heck of a party.

  6. John says:

    I was able to catch the Comcast feed but if the VERSUS crew really said Seabrook reminds them of Ray Bourque, then I’m afraid they were all high from sniffing Brian Engblom’s hair spray. Bourque and Seabrook have about as much in common as me and Teemu Selanne.

  7. cb says:

    I did “a Google” and it would seem that I wasn’t just hearing things – the Vs crew did compare Seabrook to Ray Bourque.

    Campbell is an interesting case. I agree, Bob, that it’s better not to hear much of anything about Campbell than to hear about a costly defensive mistake. Still, it’s a strange position to take on such a high-caliber player. But even the best have their off moments – the great Iginla isn’t exactly tearing it up out there – so let’s hope he eventually comes through in a big way. Or, barring that, that he

    Kudos to John and Bob – your sober, well-reasoned Hawks commentary is much appreciated.

  8. blackhawkbob says:

    Thanks very much, cb. I appreciate that.

    As for Campbell, I absolutely can’t disagree: I wish he were more productive. However, as I’m sure you witnessed during last playoffs, a quiet, unnoticed Campbell is usually better than the alternative.

  9. GC says:

    I heard lots of Kane bashing yesterday about how “weak” he is. I agree this is totally inappropriate. But here is a question. I’d be surprised if the strenght and conditioning guys for the ‘Hawks don’t put him on some type of regimen this summer to fill out his frame a little. Maybe he should work out with Marty St Louis. He is a little smaller, but doesnt seem to get muscled off the puck as much

  10. John says:

    GC, I’m going to take some liberties here, I hope you don’t mind…I’ve heard this comparison before between Kane and St. Louis and other than size, I don’t really see it. It took St. Louis until he was 27 years old to match the season Kane had this year (which some people have called an off year).

    Just as Kane added muscle this past off-season, I’m sure his workout regimen will be similar to get him stronger and I hope he can shore up his defensive zone play. Other than that, we should enjoy him.

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