Game 4: Blackhawks 4, Sharks 2

Just thirteen months ago, the Blackhawks qualified for the playoffs for only the second time this decade.  Now, they sit four wins away from winning the Stanley Cup. 

It’s really incredible to believe when you stop and think about it. 

Today, the Hawks battled back from a 2-0 deficit when the Sharks capitalized twice off from a Duncan Keith re-direct; one off his stick and one off his face. 

Brent Seabrook and Marian Hossa got the Hawks on the board 14 minutes through the second frame.  On a 4-on-4, Seabrook beat Pavelski around the corner and fired a shot towards Nabokov’s feet.  The puck laid there for awhile where Seabrook and Hossa each took turns whacking at the loose puck.  It slipped through Nabokov’s legs and past the goal line for a heartbeat before Douglas Murray knocked it out.  A call to Toronto caught Murray red-handed and the Hawks were on the board.

It was a huge goal as the Hawks weren’t posing much of a threat to that point and the Sharks were more than content clogging up the neutral zone with all five skaters. 

Then with a minute and a half left in the second, Dave Bolland completely worked over Logan Couture behind the Sharks net.  Bolland skated out in front, waited and fluttered a shot over Nabokov’s stacked pads. 

Heading into the final frame knotted up at 2, the Sharks didn’t want their season to end.  The first few minutes of the period saw San Jose all over the Hawks.  After Joe Thornton’s deflection nicked the crossbar, the thought that it just wasn’t the Sharks’ year became a reality.  The Hawks turned it up after that, forcing the Sharks into taking three straight penalties. 

It wasn’t until the third penalty nearly expired that Dustin Byfuglien finally made San Jose pay.  Patrick Kane’s primary target, Jonathan Toews, coughed up the puck back to the corner and Kane didn’t hesitate.  He fired a pass to Byfuglien who tipped it past Nabokov.  When the puck went back into the corner, it looked like the Sharks let up for just a split second and it was all Kane needed to see.

From there, it was only a matter of killing off the final 6 minutes.  Kris Versteeg’s empty-netter which came off a huge defensive zone face-off win sealed the deal for the Hawks. 

There’s your 2009-2010 Western Conference Champions.

Quickies

–After three months of wedding showers, looking for a house, buying a house, moving, getting married, and going on a honeymoon, it’s been a busy time for Bobby and I….um….I mean me.  The good news is the posts should be much more frequent again and if anyone needs to know where to watch a hockey game in Maui or Kauai, just ask.  I searched high and low on both islands to find Versus and was successful on both accounts. 

–Major kudos to Joel Quenneville for finally kicking the door down on a Western Conference Championship.  If he didn’t win it here, he likely would’ve gone the rest of his career without one.  Regardless of the President’s Trophy he won in St. Louis (mumbles something about different time, different team), this was the most talented team he’s ever had and he didn’t blow this opportunity.  

–Who knew that losing Andrew Ladd in the first period was the equivalent of the Hawks losing Jeremy Roenick in his prime?    

Dustin Byfuglien continues to prove that while he’s mostly dead weight for the first few months of the season, he’ll help carry you across the finish line.  He scored his third game-winning goal of the series and completely frustrated the opponent for the second straight series. 

–High moments of hilariousness when Jonathan Toews was presented with the Clarence Campbell Trophy.  The look on Toews’ face was that of someone who was halfway through a prostate exam.  He wanted no part of touching it, even though it’s well documented that touching it does nothing to affect the outcome of the Stanley Cup Finals.  Either way, very funny and I’m very relieved that I don’t have to hear various radio callers complaining about it.  Well done, Captain.

–The Sharks are faced with a fairly large decision this summer: keep moving along with Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley and lose Patrick Marleau as well as Joe Pavelski to free agency or move one and/or both of them and lock up Marleau and Pavelski.  Logan Couture looks like he might be something in a couple years but other than that, there’s not a whole lot in their pipeline as far as intriguing young talent. 

–Speaking of the Sharks, after three games where they played their game and lost, they switched up their game-plan. The Sharks seemed more content with one forechecker or none.  They still lost.  

In the end, the only solace they or the fans can find is that maybe it was just the Hawks year.  No matter what they tried, it just wasn’t going to happen for them.

–With his recent hiring in Florida, it shouldn’t go unnoticed as to how much Dale Tallon had in assembling this squad.  Name any Hawk contributor from this season and Tallon’s fingerprints are all over them.  It’s really a shame that he won’t get any recognition or credit for what he did.  For all his negative flaws, in the end, it looks like it was all worth it. 

–Philadelphia and Montreal await.  More on them whenever we find out who survives.  Don’t believe what you read, both will pose as a very viable threat to the Hawks.

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17 Responses to Game 4: Blackhawks 4, Sharks 2

  1. Nick says:

    Duncan Keith had to lose 4 teeth, but I’m sure it’s more than worth it for a shot at the grail. I decided a few months back that when I finally scrounge up enough cash to get a red Hawks sweater that I would get Keith across the back and today only cements that.

  2. Big Tony says:

    Is there any WAY we can pool our money and “eliminate” Pierre McGuire? Between the 2nd and 3rd, he said that fatigue looks to be setting in on the Hawks. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Then, after the game, his first question to Madden was “Does this team have what it takes to win the Stanley Cup”? Madden should have lopped his head off right there. How does NBC pay this guy good money to embarrass himself on a nightly basis? Onto much deeper and happier thoughts….

    While I expected to win this series, I wouldn’t have bet a nickel on a sweep in our favor. That was one incredible and tight sweep. It’s truly amazing that only THREE Shark players potted goals in 4 games. You simply can’t lose a series when you keep Thornton, Pavelski, Manslaughter, Boyle and basically everyone else off the scoresheet. It’s a testament to our defensive play that we were able to pull this off.

    I’m hoping Keith donated those 4 teeth in return for 4 more wins. That’s good dental karma right there.

    The Finnish Monster is rapidly becoming a mythic figure. Should the Hawks win it all, there will be a rash of baby boys named Antti in the next 9 months.

    Did I mention how much Pierre McGuire sucks?

    I loved how Toews didn’t even look at the Campbell trophy. Not that I buy into that stuff, but it shows me that the team knows there’s the toughest part of the journey left. Q and the boys should be primed and ready for whoever the East throws at us. It won’t be easy, but as long as we play our game, we’re gonna win. This is the best Hawk team I’ve ever seen and they won’t be denied what they’ve earned.

  3. Patrick says:

    Okay, so how do the Hawks get better in the next series – do they completely pound either the Flyers or the Habs to where the NHL calls it after three games due to some sort of mercy rule? We are watching a complete team that wants it all. I think that Dave mentioned an Isles-Oliers Cup series where one team walked past the others’ locker room and saw a beat up, but victorious team. That’s what we have with this vintage of Hawks. Love this team and they seem to have something that the ’92 team didn’t. Want them to win it all this year.

    One more thing, John, where were you on Kauai? Love middle-island to all the way up North – Lihue to Hanalei. Went there 11 years ago on my honeymoon and have been trying to get back since – tough to do as a family man though. Where were you able to watch games – Kintaro?

    Be good, Hawk fans! It’s a damn good day…

  4. Dave Morris says:

    Bobby Hull, after the game: “I want to say this to these kids. If they want a feeling that’s going to be with them for the rest of their life, win the Stanley Cup because you may never, ever win it again.”

    I remember 1961.

    And as you say, Gentlemen of the Fifth Feather, whoever comes out of the East won’t be a pushover.

    In the meantime, a day to celebrate. This team has done something truly exceptional.

  5. Mark says:

    Nick

    Bot a Red Keith Jersey just a couple of weeks ago and wore it today! Here’s to hoping one is in your near future!

  6. Lee says:

    Also have a Keith jersey, but on tonights news it was confirmed that he lost 7 teeth not 4, unbelievable

  7. John says:

    Patrick– I was in Poipu. From what I understand, it’s a recently developed part of the island and if you were there 11 years ago, it was probably a fairly vacant lot of land. The place I watched was called Merriman’s. It was me and one other surfer guy. The other 4 people there wanted to watch the Celtics but we stood strong.

  8. Philly or Montreal?

    Good question, I want Montreal just so that we can avenge 1971.
    I don’t think that is going to happen though.

    Either way, just win baby!!!!

    Mike

  9. Lou says:

    Big Tony can’t be more right about McMidget. What a dick with ears. The whole crew was SJ this and that. Add Edzo to the slap in the head list. What a grandstander. Stay with NBC we don’t need you calling our games. It’s okay to talk about a good team. SJ can play golf with Detroit.

    You know a guy is an absolute warrior when he gives up his bicuspids and gets needles and comes back and leads in ice time. Jumbo Joke doesn’t have that heart. Was there some channeling of Maggie’s heart there.

    I was there in ’92. Looking forward to changing that feeling. I am taking the over that Toews can smile…

    This is our time.

  10. Otter says:

    Seeing how the Eastern Conference playoffs have gone, I fully expect the Habs to take the next two, and then one of them to go up at least five goals after two periods in Game Seven. The other team then comes back to tie it… we head to OT where one of the goalies scores the game winner.

    ANYWAYS, I want the Habs because the GF is a Habs fan… and I really don’t want to deal with Philly fans in anyway. Plus Pronger is the anti-Christ.

    If the Habs come back, they scare me a little bit more than the Flyers. I can’t see Leighton keeping this up, but who knows… and if Pronger plays 40 mins a night…

    A shout out to Seabrook who’s been awesome in the playoffs but has taken a back seat to the first line, the checking line, and Keith in the press. Either Seabes goal in game two of the Canucks series to make it 2-1 OR Kaners goal to tie the game in game five in the Preds series have been the biggest goal in these playoffs for the Hawks thus far.

    Nice series which could very easily be tied at 2 games a piece right now. Hawks were the better team and did what they needed to do to win. But great to see the Hawks in the Finals.

  11. Rob says:

    McGuire does not know what to do with himself now that the Detroit players and coaches aren’t around for him to suck off. He and Ray Ferraro at TSN are two of the biggest douchbags around. Ferraro is saying the Hawks were lucky to get a weak call on Heatly’s slash on Kane. Nevermind the fact that the Sharks throughout the series had far more powerplays than the Hawks including one game 5-0.

  12. feyer says:

    I’m looking forward to the new Duncan Keith bobblehead!

  13. Lee says:

    Lou, I also was there in 92 but I wonder if anyone on this blog was with me in the old stadium in 61? Did anyone notice that after Jordan Hendry turned the puck over close to four times in the first period he never saw the ice again. He really scares me when he is out there and for one who bad mouthed Sopel I take it all back. I wonder if Boynton would not be the safer bet against the Flyers

  14. Patrick says:

    I would add one more thing on the Sharks – they’re a damn good team but the Hawks were just better this year. Would be a shame to see them blown up as this experience and a few minor moves could put them in the finals next year (and no, I’m not conceding next year for the Hawks, just showing respect that’s due).

    On the other hand, Marleau would look good in LA on Kopitar’s wing next year.

    Now – onto the matters at hand. Hawks – stay focused and win four more!

  15. Patrick says:

    John – Poipu is great. Roys is some of the best food that I’ve ever eaten and the golf down there is great. Have any plans to go back? I’m trying to find the next flight that I can get on…

  16. John says:

    Would love to go back tomorrow. We went to Roy’s twice because we had a couple gift cards there. Actually the best meal we had in Kauai was at the Hyatt Resort because we received a $400 credit when they bumped us for two of the days. But I’ll leave those thoughts for my travel blog….

  17. Patrick says:

    Man, you two were living large. I’ve got to party with you…

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