I’ll just do some thoughts today rather than a full recap. Anything after 9:45 pm is late in my world, as my body is set to the time zone of the western Atlantic Ocean.
And, many of you may have probably noticed John’s recent absence and the lack of posts during that time. You’ve also probably put together that he’s on his honeymoon – practicing his active stick – but he’ll be back in the next couple days. Until then, let’s all just get along.
– The game’s first 12 minutes seemed to following same general format Game 1’s first minutes did; the Sharks came out fast, and the Hawks struggled to prevent chances. Lucky for us, though, Antti Niemi has been nothing short of spectacular so far this series. It very well could have been 2 or 3-0 by the time the first frame was half over.
– On the other end, the Hawks’ first goal was a soft one for Evgeni Nabokov, Andrew Ladd’s toe drag notwithstanding. And, shame on Eddie O, who’s seen Ladd play at least 150 games during his career, for not realizing or mentioning that Ladd doesn’t shoot any other way; Ladd never shoots in-game without first dragging it towards his body to change the angle. Six or eight times a year, the results are glorious.
– The second goal of the night – courtesy of Dustin Byfuglien – was the real backbreaker for San Jose. The Sharks had spent the previous two minutes running Hawks – two Douglas Murray hits stick out – and getting the nervous crowd back into it. Then, bang, a Patrick Kane shot from up top deflected off of Buff, who was neatly stationed just in front of Nabokov. Extra kudos go to Buff who battled hard – harder than I’ve probably ever seen him battle – for a rebound about 15 seconds before Kane’s shot. After that, the crowd came and went – mostly went – and the Hawks were in the driver’s seat.
– At the end of last season, I remarked that the best thing about the Hawks’ season was that it appeared Jonathan Toews was one of those players who would one day win a Stanley Cup. I reaffirm that stance. Thanks.
– After a season filled with back issues, Dave Bolland is once again back as the Hawks’ shut-down playoff center – and he’s done very well at it. (I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a center take such a blatant slash at his counterpart on the puck drop like Joe Thornton did last night. Bolland is clearly in his head. Too bad it’s May, and slashes and dives are the extent of Thornton’s provisions.) Is it wrong of me, then, to think about how Dave Bolland is probably playing his way out of town? Sure, he’s done well to shut down the Thornton line, but in doing so, he’s established himself as the Hawks’ third line center – who just happens to be paid like a top-six center. (Remember, he got David Krejci money last summer.) With Patrick Sharp’s recent re-emergence as a bona fide second line center and the impending salary cap issues, it seems to me Bolland’s recent play will lead to the end of his days as a Hawk.
– The feared trio of Thornton/Marleau/Heatley is now a combined -8 two games in. How’s that for a winning formula?
– From the “needs to be said” department: Ham Sandwich is a top-four defenseman, no doubt. But he’s not Nicklas Lidstrom. Ham Sandwich has become so renowned for being underrated he’s actually now overrated. He’s putting together a very solid series, though.