Game 2: Red Wings 3, Blackhawks 2 (OT)

This was a tough one. 

I don’t really have the stomach to re-live this game, so here are some brief after thoughts from this abortion:

–The angry mob has just finished lighting their torches and sharpening their pitchforks, so watch out Brian Campbell.  His blunder at the blue line in overtime will probably bring back the idiotic boo birds to the United Center for Game 3 but still, he probably should have just made the safe play and dumped it deep. 

Nikolai Khabibulin allowed three goals where he had about a -34% chance to stop them.  Tomas Holmstrom screened him on the first.  Dan Cleary was the recipient of an incredibly fortuitous bounce on the second.  Brian Campbell gift wrapped the third goal for Mikael Samuelsson.  This is a huge reason why it was such a tough one especially Cleary’s goal.

–So now that everyone doesn’t have Kane or Toews to blame for all the Hawks’ woes, maybe it’s time we take a look at Dave Bolland, who has been invisible for the first two games.  Ladd has had a couple of big hits thus far; Havlat is creating opportunities, and Bolland is running around blowing his defensive assignment over and over.  He is a big reason why they’ve made it this far and unless he picks it up, he’ll be a big reason why they’re eliminated.

Someone should also probably tell him he’s not Gunner Stahl, the infamous Icelandic sniper from Mighty Ducks 2.  When he picked Zetterberg’s pocket in the second to give himself a breakaway, he should have driven hard to the net and at least drawn a penalty, instead of teeing it up from 65 feet out.

–Amazing, all year, the Hawks were ragged on for their inability to win face-offs.  This series, three of Detroit’s goals have come off the Hawks winning a face-off in the Wings’ zone.  I’d love to know if this has ever happened before.

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13 Responses to Game 2: Red Wings 3, Blackhawks 2 (OT)

  1. Lou says:

    Campbell made a TO. So has every other defenseman and he has been the most soild in the playoffs. I agree the boo birds can go to hell. Matt Walker and Ham Sandwich get regular shifts. Enough said. Where is Barker????

    Detroit also knows we like to bang it from the blue line so their forwards cheat up into the passing lanes. You called it take the puck deep and catch them.

    It just seems that their boards were very lively. Our clearing passes bounced to them, their clearing passes bounced out, and their offensive passes seem to bounce to them. Even in OT a puck bounced lanidng in the crease.

    Clearly has to be possessed b/c there is no way he is this good. What is really scary is they won with nothing from their super europeans again.

    Buff leads to chaos in front of the net. So park him there, give him a book and the ingredients for s’mores. On the D end have him knock Holmstrom on his cherry picking ass. The GTI call against Buff was unique to say the least. He gets cross-checked into the goalie and grabbed by the goalie and gets an offsetting two. That was surprising. Otherwise the Refs didn’t really muck it up too bad. BOllands hook was something else but probably a penalty none the less.

    Other than the Burish line and Toews, Kane, we have guys that are invisible. The HavBollLadd experiment might need to end it just isn’t working right now. Sami has done what this playoff?

    What we need not forget is this is a young team that is getting priceless experience.

    Game Three ought to be pretty intense!!!

  2. cb says:

    The final comments of John and Lou’s posts sum this one up for me. Detroit’s (apparently unstoppable) lightning-quick transition from defense to offense was excruciating to watch last night. How many times did we see them snatch a puck near their blue line and rush down the ice 3 on 2? The Hawks had some very strong play controlling the puck in Detroit’s zone in the 3rd period but Detroit’s puck movement through the neutral zone puts the Hawks to shame. I’m left with the inescapable conclusion that yes, they are that much better. Now for the bullet points…

    Keith/Seabrook: ???

    Campbell: I’m not mad, I feel sorry for him since he was having such a solid game. In some ways that last blunder is representative of the series thus far: our D, for whatever reason (no, I’m not going to mention Experience™), failing to stand tall at the blue line and then frantically back-checking at full speed.

    Kane: Solid effort, all in all. He has moments suggesting that he’s going to develop the quickness to complement his hands and vision.

    Khabi: Nicely done, all in all. A better (or hotter) goalie might have allowed the Hawks to win this one but he certainly wasn’t the main reason they lost. Jesus Christ, our goalie next year is French.

    I love that Detroit is so focused on putting the puck in your net that they almost don’t even bother hitting you. The Hawks played a decent physical game last night but I’m not counting on it slowing the Wings down too much.

    What can you say? Even in the best case scenario we’d end up thinking the Hawks stole the series from the Wings.

  3. Leonidas says:

    I think an apt symbol of the sentiment last night was the shot moments after the winning goal when Versus panned to a shot of Ham Sandwich staring out from the bench looking as if he was watching his home village being burned by brigands. Did it not look for a minute like the tone of an elimination game. showing the victors piling on and isolated Hawks sitting with blank stares on the bench?

    I have good and bad news for all of my fellow Hawks patriots. The bad news first: I’m not buying into this ‘valuable playoff experience’ logic. The future is uncertain, especially with a team which has a majority of its players with expiring contracts. We don’t know that Toews, Kane, Keith, and co. will mature and continue the coalesce. All we know is that they have a good chance right now, this year. I don’t want to let myself excuse a loss based on some mortgage of expected future dynasty-like performance. You look at the evil Red Wings across two decades and see continuity. Maybe the Hawks are at the beginning of such a phase, but for right now they have a chip on their shoulder (and so do we as fans) and the time is ripe to cash in while the rest of the league still thinks they are too young. I’m not implying they will suck when Havlat and Khabi leave, but who really knows for sure?

    Ok, now for my more uplifting prophecy: the Hawks rally and win game 3 and they are in nearly the same place as they were in the Vancouver series. That turned out nice didn’t it? Looking back it’s hard to remember how confused and terrified we were during the first few games of that series. No doubt the UC will be ablaze with energy, and as one who doesn’t have a ticket I charge all of you fifthfeatherites who are going to participate every shift! There will be times when our young squad will be wavering and you must will them up the hill as if you were pushing an overburdened Volkswagen.

  4. cb says:

    We’ll have the summer to get into the nitty-gritty of the Hawks’ payroll situation but I think Hawks fans should definitely be excited (or at the very least cautiously optimistic). I don’t look forward to losing Bohemian Crystal and our cup-winning goalie, but there’s much to be excited about and I think that “playoff experience” counts for a lot more if you step back and take a look at our roster. Consider Hjalmarsson (I, too, noticed his look of utter despair) who played just over 20 games this season. He may be no sure thing but he’s played very well since becoming a “full-timer” and now he’ll have his first three playoff series (at least) under his belt. That’s hard to quantify and I agree it’s sometimes over-hyped (see the Sedins, Luongo playoff experience, for example), but it’s not nothing. Same goes for Toews, Kane, Steeg, Buph, et al.

    Just look at how much more we know we have at the end of the season than we realized we had at the start. I can live with the uncertainty.

  5. John says:

    Lee, you know I feel the experience stuff is mostly a bunch of fluff, but I feel like in this case, it may actually mean something. The Hawks are getting an up close and personal look at what it takes to be the best. It’s certainly much more heartening to get picked apart by the Wings than get bounced by a team like the Canucks or Flames.

    We have all summer to break it down but like cb, we should all be cautiously optimistic going into next year. The money will figure itself out and the guys who are important will be here.

    If anything, it’s been extremely pleasant to see the Hawks make it this far without having their goalie stand on his head as he is statistically the worst goalie still playing.

  6. Lou says:

    On the Bad news above, solid points, and you said it best with the line two decades of continuity. They built their team from within and added strategic FA assets along the way. Most of their great talent, they drafted and put into their system and it appears to be working.

    Do we really think Rocky Wirtz and his newly found exorcism from his father’s legacy is really going to let the likes of Toews and Kane get away? The fan base would be gone faster than it came back. And we drafted these guys to build the franchise around. Hopefully, this is the beginning of the same decade of dominance. We have purged the organization from the Mike Smith adopt a Russian thing. In the past, we brought the talent and let it go or traded it away b/c super cheap and Pulford ran the show. Signs indicate this is a new era.

    These are young kids who are seeing first hand what the defending cup champions look like. Like life, the more you see and experience, the more you can draw upon to handle future situations. So this is good for them.

    I am not sure Khabi leaving is anything more than his typical contract year push and mediocrity just around the corner. How much gas does he have left? I am concerned with the airheaded French guy behind him.

    Havlat is gifted and had a great year but is he a one year wonder, an enigma like Gaborik, or the real deal. I honestly think him leaving is not the end of the world in the long run. We have goal scorers, we need more depth at D and would his money be better spent locking up the young future and/or getting another veteran defensman?

  7. JDNoce says:

    The boo birds on Campbell were from earlier in the season. Campbell was absolutely atrocious defensively in the second half.

    On the other hand, he’s arguably one of the three reasons the Hawks were able to beat Vancouver.

    He’s a damn fine player who just made one bad play.

    If fans want to get on a defenseman, they can get on another mediocre performance by Keith Seabrook.

  8. John says:

    Noce, I agree his play suffered during that time but what people seem to forget is that he was partnered up with the worst d-man on the team. When he’s been partnered with Sandwich and Johnson, he’s been everything we could’ve hoped for, regardless of what the “columnist who shall remain nameless” says.

    At this point, I’m praying Keith is hurt bad. That’s the only excuse for the way he’s played this postseason.

  9. CRoy says:

    Hey guys, I’m a Wings fan living in Detroit that has been following your blog here since the series started. I just wanted to say that you guys are some pretty knowledgeable and classy fans. Its a breath of fresh air after the Ducks series. I love watching this team play. The leadership from Toews shows hints of Yzerman and Sakic. Kane is pretty unbelieveable and has grown a lot this year. Its really cool to sit here with a rival and say that I respect their team and fanbase. I’m usually the most immature cock around when it comes to this stuff, but seeing a fanbase thats that enthusiastic support a team that plays the game right is really something special. Win or lose…kudos Hawks fans.. You deserve it.

  10. John says:

    Thank you CRoy. I must admit I was a bit worried this series might contribute to the internet being burned down, but after I learned my mistake never to say anything negative about Osgood, it’s been peaches and cream.

    As a Hawks fan, it’s beyond frustrating to see them play Detroit. As a hockey fan, the Wings are a thing of beauty. It’s hard to see any faults in their game. I’m just banking on this being their final run. Anything else, and I might lose all hope.

    Again, thanks for the kind words.

  11. JG says:

    I concur with CRoy, it’s so different reading articles and blogs from fans and writers who provide well thought-out insight into the games, the players and the coaches for both teams. I now live in Atlanta and they don’t even provide the scores for hockey games in their radio newscasts, let alone any insightful commentary. Reading playoff commentary from columnists and fans from Anaheim, San Jose, Columbus, etc… is a most tedious exercise.

    Last year, the knock on the Central Division was it’s weakness, yet no teams played as hard against eachother than did our divisional rivals. This season, we saw 4 of the 5 in the playoffs, with the last on the bubble until the very end. During the Winter Classic, I thought I was seeing the eventual changing of the guard, so-to-speak, and after watching these first 2 games, I’m hoping the Blackhawks can learn the same lessons from the Zen Master (Scotty) as we did these past 15 years. It will make for exciting hockey for years.

    As for this series, I won’t even prognosticate on how it will end up. We’ve all lived through many playoff series over our lifetimes in hockey and basketball (although I don’t recall any memorable football games since Detroit no longer has a professional-caliber team). I do know, though, that regardless of who wins THIS series, we’re seeing the best this year’s playoffs have to offer. This reminds me of the classic matchups between the Wings and Avs in the late ’90’s, and I much prefer this Original Six rivalry.

  12. JG says:

    oops … “it’s weakness” s/b “its weakness”

  13. blackhawkbob says:

    Ha. We’ll let it slide, JG. It happens to the best of us.

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