So if you hadn’t heard by now, Colin Campbell’s Wheel of Justice came up aces for Marian Hossa as he avoided suspension for his hit on Dan Hamhuis in the final minute of regulation. That, of course, is the big news from Sunday. On Saturday, we wrote a piece for “The Committed Indian” which I referenced in the game recap. Here she is.
Updated: It just came to our attention that our final thought was somehow deleted in the version we sent over to Sam. Let’s call this the director’s cut.
When Tomas Kopecky had his helmet knocked off by Kevin Klein during the third period of Game 4, it was the moment that this series officially started. It had taken four games but the Slovak winger notorious for getting his lid popped off finally shed his protective plastic. And with that, it’s a best of 3.
If it were only that easy. The Blackhawks and Predators sit tied in a first round playoff where some big things lay ahead for the winner. As of this writing, the Western Conference is completely up for grabs. Perennial powers like the Canucks and Red Wings are having problems with the upstart Coyotes and Kings. The San Jose Sharks are actually putting together a solid post-season. Unfortunately, Craig Anderson is the big equalizer.
Imagine the high-fives the league offices will be giving each other should the second round feature the Coyotes versus the Avalanche and the Kings against the Predators. Pierre MacGuire may as well light himself on fire in protest. While the small market teams are all great stories, only Los Angeles would be considered a draw for the television suits. Too bad Dru Hill is still more of a household name than Drew Doughty.
Enough talk about the other series you likely don’t care about. Let’s get to the topic at hand.
For the Hawks, Game 5 brings another challenge: Bringing back the same compete level they had in Game 4. After a solid win in Game 2, the Hawks basically thought they could waltz their way to Nashville and the Predators would be more than happy to step aside for their greatness. That didn’t work out so well.
The Predators dominated the Hawks in every facet in Game 3 and sent thousands of Chicagoans to the nearest razor blade and window ledge. Joel Quenneville responded by creating four lines he could roll through all three periods. In Game 4, not one Hawk forward had more than 20 minutes of ice. Only Jonathan Toews came close to eclipsing the barrier. The result was the Hawks completely out-classing the Predators. Now, those same Chicagoans are popping champagne and kissing anybody who passes by.
In case you hadn’t noticed by now, playoff hockey is not for the feeble minded. Games and series can swing on the tiniest of moments. Take for example last year’s Western Conference Semi-Finals between your Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks. After appearing down and out for 50 some minutes in Game 4 and in danger of heading back to Vancouver down 3-1, Andrew Ladd made a simple little kick pass to Martin Havlat. Havlat buried the opportunity and the Hawks essentially never looked back.
Or if you want something more timely, how about the third period the aforementioned Canucks put together against Los Angeles on Wednesday night. Trailing 3-2 in the game and 2-1 in the series, the Canucks responded with a four spot in the final frame. It remains to be seen how the rest of the series will shake out but for the Kings, it ain’t looking good.
So what should we expect to see tonight?
Well, a lot of it depends on the Blackhawks. Another sleepwalking event and it’s back to Nashville with the season on the line. Or was Game 4 finally the game that turned the series in the Hawks’ favor. Was Jonathan Toews’ rebound goal in the second period the moment where everything in the series changed?
God, let’s hope so. If we’re back here on Wednesday in a Game 7, the 300 level will not be an enjoyable place to be.
–It takes a lot to be the home announcers of a team and still drive your fans completely nuts but Pat Foley and Ed Olczyk may have accomplished the feat on Thursday. Despite being the announcers of a team that saw many a third period leads disappear this season, Foley and Edzo seemed to challenge the hockey gods by calling out Nashville for their lack of compete with still over 25 minutes left to play! Apparently, all the chartered flights had caused amnesia for the pair as they had forgotten about the four goal lead that evaporated in Minnesota and the nearly five goal lead that was relinquished against the Blues. Not to mention, the several other leads the Hawks had trouble keeping in the last half of the season.
The two highlights (or annoying lowpoints if you will) came in the second period.
The first came during a Nashville power play, Edzo was openly questioning who Barry Trotz had out on the ice. Meanwhile, the Predators were buzzing around Antti Niemi and Marcel Goc, the player who drew the brunt of Edzo’s scorn, nearly popped the puck into the net.
The second was a few minutes earlier. In a closely contested playoff game, Foley and Olczyk spent a solid two to three minutes discussing the youth summer hockey camps Edzo was helping to coordinate. All the while, the play is moving back and forth.
First of all, you can guarantee that Edzo will show up for five minutes to this clinic, flap his gums about his usual non-sense to the kids, then spend the rest of the time either ignoring anyone who tries to make conversation with him or begging the sweaty masses to bow to his eternal holiness.
Secondly, this is the playoffs! No one gives a damn about what you’re doing this summer or if the head coach from the Des Moines Buccaneers is going to run the clinic. They care about what’s happening on the ice. Treating this game like it’s a 7-2 blowout against the Columbus Blue Jackets in December only further insults the intelligence of the viewer.
— Finally, after listening to the WGN Postgame show, something needs to be said about the full-on Dustin Byfuglien hate-train that’s rolling through town. Let’s lay out some facts.
Byfuglien is not a defenseman. The only reason he’s playing defense is because Kim Johnsson has become the official Blackhawks cadaver. Jordan Hendry and Nick Boynton are not viable solutions. Therefore, what we have is a power forward trying to play defense in the playoffs.
Everyone knows he’s not very good. There’s no point in exclaiming your hatred for a guy who’s being asked to play a position he hasn’t played in two full seasons. Granted, he is excruciating to watch, but let’s not forget how he must feel. His team has asked him to change positions at the expense of him looking completely inept and there has been nary a peep out of Big Buff. That shouldn’t go unnoticed.