Game 1: Blackhawks 6, Flyers 5

Style points don’t mean a whole lot when you’re four wins away from the Stanley Cup.

For two periods, the Blackhawks and Flyers were engaged in a back-and-forth shootout not for the faint of heart.  Then, the third period rolled around, the Hawks started dominating the puck possession and the ice tilted heavily in their favor.

Eight minutes into the third, Brent Seabrook made an easy keep-in at the blue line look difficult when he lost his balance.  As he tripped over his own feet, the Flyer forwards smelled an odd-man opportunity and leapt at the chance.  Instead, Seabrook swatted the puck to Dave Bolland who chipped it to Kris Versteeg.

With all three Flyer forwards outside the blue line, the Hawks had numbers.  Versteeg found a wide-open Tomas Kopecky streaking down the slot.  Kopecky waited, waited, and waited, then out-waited Brian Boucher and slipped the puck past him for the game-winning goal.

The Flyers best chances to tie the game missed the net as shots from Arron Asham and Daniel Briere sailed wide of the 6 x 4.  Other than that, it was your typical run-of-the-mill 6-5 Stanley Cup Game 1 win.  Nothing too out of the ordinary.

Quickies

Like we said the other day, this match-up may resemble a Stanley Cup Final from the mid 80’s and it didn’t take very long to prove us right.  The goaltending was subpar, the defensive play was sloppy (at least until the 3rd), and the action was back-and-forth.  Michael Leighton didn’t make it out of the 2nd period.

–I’m not sure when the shot of Michael Leighton was filmed prior to the game but when NBC showed a shot of him in the locker room, I had the sneaking suspicion he wasn’t going to last long in tonight’s affair.  While sitting in his locker, Leighton had his eyes closed while his lips quivered.  Not exactly the thing you want to see out of your goalie before the biggest game of the year.  It was kind of like seeing a horse walk around with a limp before getting into the starting gate.

Antti Niemi wasn’t much better in the first two periods but at least he wasn’t so predictable in his awfulness.

Arron Asham is like Jordin Tootoo, except better and possibly more annoying.

–There’s not many other people on this earth who could’ve set up both of Troy Brouwer’s goals other than Marian Hossa.  He completely outmuscled and outclassed the Flyers’ defending him before slipping the puck to Brouwer.  Also, give credit to Brouwer for burying his opportunities.

Tomas Kopecky continued his most excellent post-season by scoring the aforementioned game-winning goal and by setting up Kris Versteeg’s game-tying goal.  He walked right around the Flyer defenseman before spotting Versteeg wide-open in front of the net.

–By the 10 minute mark of the 3rd period, Chris Pronger had absolutely nothing left in his tank.  The longer this series goes, the worse it’s going to get.  Of course, playing 32 minutes doesn’t exactly help the situation.  Also getting into a boxing match with Dustin Byfuglien in the crease on his first few shifts didn’t help, either.

–Just a weird game in general.  The Hawks and Flyers top lines were a combined -16 while combining for 0 points.  Meanwhile, every other line other than the Hawks 4th line scored.  When people said the Richards line and Toews line would cancel each other out, I don’t think that’s what they had in mind.

Peter Laviolette may have opened up a huge can of worms by yanking Michael Leighton in the 2nd period.  The debate will rage for a couple days now about who to start and rather than worry about the important stuff, this is what’s going to be broken down.  Granted, Leighton wasn’t playing very well, but neither was Niemi and it’s only Game 1.  Making a move like that could send repercussions that last the rest of the series.

–Not the best Brian Campbell game I’ve ever seen.  Joel Quenneville agreed only playing Campbell for 13 minutes.  Brent Sopel played 21.  That probably has to flip-flop otherwise there’s going to be a record number of coronaries in the Chicagoland area before a winner is crowned.

–Game 2 on Monday; it might be a little different than this one, but not much.  Keep that seat belt tight.

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10 Responses to Game 1: Blackhawks 6, Flyers 5

  1. Dave Morris says:

    Six day layoff=pond hockey.

    Leighton leaks.

    Welcome back Brouwer.

    Bolland is a keeper.

    If the Hawks play their game (as they did in the 3rd), they win.

    HERE COME THE HAWKS.

  2. Lou says:

    I am going to quote AC, “Winning ugly was never so beautiful.”

    To the, the commentator on XM talking about Michael Leighton’s life experience being an x factor. Pre-game he must have envisioned his first night in prison and then channeled that… He sure played like it.

    Kopecky’s goal was a beautiful play. He had a good game. Has Versteeg had a lobotomy? Where does this Hockey IQ come from? He has been just excellent. Kane overhandled way too much last nihght and it cost them a goal.

    The officiating last night was again borderline embarassing for the NHL. Officials are supposed to help with the game not impact the outcome or interfere with the play, especially on a regular basis. No calls, wrong calls, missed calls, and then getting in the way 5 or 6 times. On one break the ref was Philly’s third defensman, how could he not see where Brouwer was going to go? He was that out of position. That is inexcusable. The finals are supposed to be the best of the best. Sure didn’t see that last night. The NHL has some real work to do this offseason. What did NBC say about them????

    I am not going to say the Hawk penalties weren’t penalties but missing a stick to the mouth and not calling anything on the Flyers. Come fucking on. It was like putting Big Ten Officials Ed Hightower and Ted Valentine on skates… Van Hellemond, Rob Schick and Kerry Fraser could not have been that bad. And they were complete Asshats (thanks big tony).

    But in the big scheme, it just doesn’t matter, We one the first game.

    This is our time!

  3. Big Tony says:

    Red Light Leighton crashes back to reality. Film at 11.

    I said before the series that if Philly goes with 4 d-men…and they did…that it would play right into our hands. It did. Pronger may need until Tuesday to recover after playing 32 grueling minutes. The way we dominated the 3rd was a beautiful thing.

    I didn’t think Niemi was awful, but that 4th goal to the less-than-good Blair Betts was awful. Arron Asham’s was pretty bad too, but the guy was wide open under the dot. I could bury one from there.

    The refs were horrible again. Our penalties were legit, but to not call anything Philly did was laughable. As was the case in game 1 in SJ, we overcame the garbage and gutted out a win. Things will change in game 2.

    The Toews line needs to get rolling. Once they do, I can’t see Philly taking 4 of 6 from us. This series is ours if/when that happens.

  4. CT says:

    I think Campbell was benched to teach Hjalmersson a lesson about taking dumb penalties.

    I’m thinking Adam Burish lost his job tonight, if Ladd is ready to go for game 2. Kopecky played too well to sit down again, and Burish’s only major accomplishment on the evening was not being assessed a major boarding penalty on a terrible hit from behind.

  5. I’m with Big Tony,

    Niemi wasn’t bad, he wasn’t at his best either, but he was OK. The ones that he let in were pretty damn good shots. Have to give some credit to the enemy.

    BUT!!!!!

    I have to agree with Paul, and I will quote him here….

    There’s going to be a record number of coronaries in the Chicagoland area before a winner is crowned.

    Mike

  6. By the way Paul,

    if (according to you) we are Four wins away from the CUP, what happened to our win in game one. Or have they changed the rules to “best 5 of 7”.

    Mike

  7. Otter says:

    That was one of the worst defensive games I’ve seen in a long time… both teams had forwards wide open all the time, neither team was good at clearing rebounds, and no one seemed to be picking up a man. Weird.
    Campbell wasn’t very good for the Hawks and Hjalmersson wasn’t too much better. Seabrook looked shaky the entire game (could it be that weird fall he took early in the game?) Hawks D has to pick it up or else this will be a longer series than a lot of us thought.

    At the same time, the Flyers weren’t much better and seemed too eager to go on the offensive. While neither goalie was good, there weren’t many soft goals.

    Burish and the Hawks are really really lucky he didn’t get a major (and a suspension). If whoever he hit didn’t get up, the Hawks wouldn’t have to figure out who to sit when Ladd comes back. I’m done with Burish, I know he’s been hurt, but he’s a cheap shot artist that’s not really good at it and he doesn’t add to much to the Hawks on the stat sheet either.

    The good news: Toews can’t play worse than he did yesterday.

  8. Actually, I think that this was a good thing!

    I think that the Hawks are going to look back at their performance and say “What the hell were we doing” and come back strong, BLACKHAWK STRONG.

    I can’t wait till the next game!

    Three more to go!

    Mike

  9. AC says:

    At the end of the day, here is the real news:

    3 MORE WINS!!!

    Go get em!!!!!

  10. Rachel says:

    I am a big Penguins fan, but I want the Flyers to win to keep the Cup in PA. I think it is very generous of me to root for the Flyer because I know the Penguins and the Flyers have a big rivalry.

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