Blackhawks 5, Predators 4 (OT)

Martin Erat taketh and Martin Erat giveth.

After singlehandedly tying the game and then giving the Predators the lead, Martin Erat also helped pull the Blackhawks up off the mat.  With less than 40 seconds to play in the game and the Predators holding a 4-3 lead and with a man advantage, the Blackhawks were pinned in their own zone.  No sooner after the words “four corners” came out of Doc Emrick’s mouth, did Erat do the unthinkable and threw the puck towards the middle of the ice.

The puck bounced off the side of the net and went right to Jonathan Toews who happily went the other way.  After gaining the Predator zone and getting the extra man out on the ice, Toews reacquired the puck.  He fired a low shot towards Pekka Rinne.  With Duncan Keith providing the screen in front, Patrick Kane banged home the rebound and just like that, the Hawks went from the verge of elimination to a re-birth of epic proportions.

Now, of course, would be a good time to also mention the remaining four minutes on Marian Hossa’s boarding major.  The power play time rolled into the extra frame.  The Predators had a couple of golden opportunities including the red-hot David Legwand who found the puck on his stick in the slot.  Antti Niemi, who looked shaky during the regulation, stood tall during the sequence and denied Legwand along with anything else the Predators threw his way.

As Hossa’s penalty was set to expire, Brent Sopel gathered the puck in the neutral zone and headed into the Nashville zone.  Rather than throw a reckless pass towards the front of the net or a bad angle shot, Sopel simply carried the puck around the net, killed off the remaining penalty time, and left a drop pass for John Madden at the left wing hash marks.

Madden sent the puck around to Dave Bolland who found Sopel back at the blue line.  Hossa went straight to the front of the net when he returned to the ice.  Sopel let off one of his patented slap shots that was deflected on its way towards Rinne.  It went right to Marian Hossa who was standing all by his lonesome to the right of Pekka Rinne.  He banged the puck past a diving Rinne and a game that was all but lost was somehow won.

And none of it would have been possible without Martin Erat.

Quickies

–Dave Bolland had an absolutely craptastic day.  Three of the four Predator goals came as a direct result of him getting lost on the ice.  Two were well-documented by the NBC crew.  The other was camouflaged by Patrick Kane.  When Kane threw the puck out towards the center of the ice on the power play late in the second period, it sparked a Nashville 3-on-1 the other way.  What everyone failed to mention while they were piling the blame on Kane was Bolland flying towards the front of the net even though A) he was playing the point and B) Kane had just gained possession of the puck. 

I felt like the risk of throwing Bolland on the point in that situation (Hawks up 3-1 with 22 minutes left and completely dominating the game) was not worth the reward.  Sure enough, Joel Ward banged in a goal and the Predators never looked back.  Well until, you know….

John Madden played one of his better games in months.  He actually had some decent offensive chances and appeared to remove the lead weights from his skates.

–The Marian Hossa Suspension Debate will rage for another few hours.  Just hours after absolving Zdeno Chara from the automatic instigator suspension rule, the Wheel of Justice will take another turn around the block.  The play was dangerous, no doubt.  Certainly not reckless like the Ovechkin hit.  Either way, anything more than a game for Hossa would be absolutely stunning.

Joel Ward played 26 minutes!! 

–In our Committed Indian article from today, I/we mentioned how maybe the Jonathan Toews goal from Game 4 was the series shifter.  Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new contestant: The Martin Erat boneheaded play of the year.  What Erat did at the end of Saturday’s game will resonate for the remainder of this series.  In my perverted hockey world, something like that is an immediate death sentence for the Predators.  They went from having every opportunity to close out the game and putting the Hawks on the brink of elimination to facing their own elimination. 

Unless the Hawks do something as brain-dead as Erat’s play, it’s going to take a miracle of Bob McGill-ian proportions for Nashville to win it in 7.  

Antti Niemi gave up 4 goals on 21 shots.  Not one of them were his fault.  Unfortunately, Niemi also looked as uncomfortable in net as I’ve ever seen him.  He seemed to be fighting the puck all night.  The good news was that when it mattered most (overtime), he was fine.  

–The final sequence of the game was such a professional play by Brent Sopel.  He showed the patience to hang on to the puck and wait for the right move.  He didn’t rush anything and let it all come to him.  When it did, he didn’t let anyone down.

–The Rockford IceHogs were eliminated this weekend by the Texas Stars in 4 games.  With the entire team at their disposal, only Corey Crawford was given the bump up to Chicago.  There might be a couple more guys joining him soon (Jake Dowell and Jack Skille come to mind.), but for now, it’s only Crawford.   Before anyone starts questioning whether this means he’ll dress over Cristobal Huet, let’s recall that Crawford was also called up last year and the only time he ever dressed was when Nikoali Khabibulin was hurt.

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16 Responses to Blackhawks 5, Predators 4 (OT)

  1. Dave Morris says:

    The question is, what was the level of excitement among the women in attendance at the UC as Antti Niemi prepared to disrobe at center ice Saturday afternoon?

    Heckuva game.

  2. Lou says:

    Sopel’s Mad Dash had everyone looking at themselves during it going, “Freakin Sopel – holy shit where did that speed come from.”

    Fantasic ending to be a part of but it reality it never should have happened… But hey it was awesome to be there and contrary to Edzo and Doc – no one really left and it sure got freakin loud. On, Edzo’s analogy that Hossa was worse than Ovie. Keep grandstanding Edzo you clown. It’s okay to try to downplay the homerism but come on.

    Joel Ward, I’d take that guy any day. He plays with heart good or bad result all effort all the time.

    I would be absolutely remiss to the cameraman who put the 4 dancing hotties on the Jumbotron after the first goal and kept there. Thank you, Mr. Cameraman of Real Excellence.

    And Finally, the guy from Ottawa sitting next to us who came down to the game was a great fan to talk to and got into it. He was amazed that there were no TVs in the can.

  3. illinikc33 says:

    Disagree re: Niemi. He was out of position all night, and looked uncomfortable, skittish, and completely out of it. While you can’t blame him for the first goal and the 3 on 1, Erat’s weren’t great goals, especially considering he usually stops everything on the ice (literally on the ice, i.e., you have to beat him high). Honestly, if Legwand had not shot the puck right into the indian head on Niemi’s chest in OT, we’d be singing a different tune today. Very fortunate.

    Also, it’s interesting that everyone (me included) says it’s Toews who has to put this team on his back and will them to a victory when it’s Kane that comes up with the big plays. I know, intangibles, dirty in the corners, hard work, leader, etc., but in crunch time, with the game on the line, I’m turning to Kane.

  4. John says:

    Probably illini, but Dave Bolland was so bad on those scoring plays that he drew the majority of my scorn. He looked like he was out on a public skate yesterday.

  5. Big Tony says:

    I honestly can’t recall a team…especially a team as talented as these Hawks…play at both ends of the hockey spectrum. They’ve been pisspoor like they were in game 3 and been amazingly good like they were in game 4. Hell, yesterday’s game showcased both ends as well. They went from DOMINATING in the 2nd to totally stopping skating in spots in the 3rd until The Miracle happened. Even as plenty of fans were writing them off, they picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and somehow tied the game. Then they dug deep and won in OT. I was totally drained afterwards.

    As for the Hossa hit…Hossa got what he deserved…a 5 minute major penalty. Had Nashville not choked that game away…after the Hawks choked it away first I might add…Trotz and Nashville wouldn’t be crying about a suspension. This is on them, especially Martin Erat for his bonehead play. “Erat’s Boner” doesn’t have the same zing as “Merkle’s Boner”, but I digress.

    Hamhuis had the puck and was sideways to Hossa, not with his back to him. Hossa was going for the puck in a playoff game where the Hawks were down one with about a minute to go. This was about as pivotal a moment as one could ask for. What was Hossa supposed to do…peel off and not try to make something happen? We’re paying him a pile of money to be a bigtime player, and bigtime players make plays. That’s all he did. Besides, Hamhuis’s back hit the boards, not his head and shoulder area. A 5 minute major was deserved, given, served and that was it. Too bad for Nashville Hossa is an elite player and did what he should have done after serving his penalty….went to the front of the net where good things happen.

    Something great happened and we now have control of this series. Let’s weather the storm Nashville is sure to throw our way Monday, then close them out.

  6. Big Tony!

    I’m right with you, spot on!
    If I may quote you –

    “Something great happened and we now have control of this series. Let’s weather the storm Nashville is sure to throw our way Monday, then close them out.”

    All I want to add is, we have two opportunities to “Grit her Done”.
    Let’s do it right away. next game, and perhaps pickup an extra day of rest/recovery. Were going to need it down the road.

    Mike

  7. andre says:

    “The play was dangerous, no doubt. Certainly not reckless like the Ovechkin hit.”

    I don’t suppose you’d like to explain the differences?

  8. Big Tony says:

    Ovechkin’s hit was on a player who didn’t have the puck, whose back was turned. Hossa hit a player in possession of the puck, whose was half turned in Hossa’s direction. Hossa got what he deserved as did Ovechkin. Chara’s suspension was lifted and I don’t see Hossa being given anything.

  9. Nick says:

    Alright, the comparisons to the Ovechkin hit need to stop, and I’m getting pissed at all the announcers and the fans here that who are ignoring the patently obvious.

    Look at the damn hits. Really look at them. Look at Ovechkin, he is right on top of Soupy throwing him with his full weight and he’s got Hossa by at least 25lbs. Hossa’s “hit”, if you all want to call it that, was a push. His arms were all ready fully extended so I don’t know about you but there’s not a lot more force I can add when my arms are fully extended. I think Hamhuis exaggerated on the play because I highly doubt the Hoss man had enough strength with fully extended arms to throw Hamhuis so powerfully into the boards like that.

    The defense rests.

  10. Derek says:

    I completely agree with Big Tony and Nick. Plus the fact that if Hamhuis wasn’t bracing for contact and expecting to get hit while the puck was on his stick deep in his own zone with a minute to go in a one-goal playoff game, then he probably shouldn’t’ve been on the ice. Edzo kept saying he didn’t have any chance to protect himself, but get real. I’m more prepared for contact when I go into the corners during my no-check mens league games than Hamhuis was on that play.

  11. Razzberry says:

    Beyond the obvious moments like the goals and missing pucks, I hope I wasn’t the only one amused that Nashville’s first PP of the game was sponsored by “The Losers”. It totally cracked me up.

  12. Big Tony says:

    Razzberry, I like yer style!!

  13. Big Tony says:

    Mike Milbury is a goddamned retard. They just put up the two plays side-by-side and the idiot said the plays were identical and idiot Pierre McGwire agreed. Nick was 100% right….Ovechkin pushed while extending both arms into Campbell and used his momentum to throw him into the boards. Hossa’s arms were already extended and Hamhuis’s own momentum did most of the work. Are these asshats really believing this crap? Seriously?

    Then they both whined that Hossa should have been tossed and suspended. While I like to shit on the NH of L and the way they handle suspensions and the like, the on-ice officials got this one 100% right and hopefully the league will see the reality of what happened. Ovechkin was reckless. Hossa wasn’t. Mike and Pierre the Peter Puffer can both eat a wet bag of crap.

    I don’t apologize for the double, either.

  14. Dave Morris says:

    From NHLBlackhawks.com this afternoon…

    NHL Senior VP of Hockey Ops Colin Campbell on Hossa: “I have made the decision that this play does not warrant supplemental discipline.”

    Case closed. Let’s play hockey.

  15. AC says:

    Tony, don’t worry, you know you’re right because the NBC idiots claimed it was the same as the Ovie hit, but the NHL Network guys were all talking about how it wasn’t even close to being the same. It was good to see the real NHL announcers talk about this while truly examining and comparing the differences. One big point they made was that a great deal of the fault lay on Rinne, because it is his job to communicate that Hossa was bearing down on Hamhuis, he really let his D-Man down there.

  16. coach says:

    Bolland ran around the defensive zone like his pants were on fire, last time i saw that, it was blackhwk bob in high school, trying not to let anybody shoot at swiss cheese.

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