In a massively physical game with bodies laying all over the ice, it took all of 27 seconds late in the second period for the Blackhawks to get all the goals they’d need.
Their first came on some terrific in-zone pressure. All 5 Hawks touched the puck before Marian Hossa scooped a rebound past Michael Leighton. The scoring play started when Duncan Keith spotted Patrick Sharp in the slot. Sharp let off a fairly quick snap shot; Brouwer kicked the rebound across to Hossa and he didn’t miss.
The second goal came from a very unlikely source. Unlikely for multiple reasons. First, Ben Eager got a shift on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Dustin Byfuglien instead of Patrick Kane skating on the right wing.. Then, Eager reminded everyone why he was once a first round pick. He received a pass from Byfuglien, made a subtle drag move, and then roofed a snap shot over Leighton’s glove from 35 feet out.
After that, the Flyers came hard and the Hawks hung on for dear life in the final 23 minutes. Antti Niemi was stellar and other than a bouncing puck from Simon Gagne, nothing got past him. The last 5 minutes of the game were especially hectic with the Hawks panicking in their own end but Niemi was a rock. He made huge stops on a re-direction from Mike Richards and another in the final minute on Claude Giroux from point blank range.
And that was that. 2 wins down; 2 to go. It only gets harder from here on in.
—Dan Carcillo goes from healthy scratch in the last three games to Joel Quenneville completely re-working his defensive rotation because of his presence in the line-up. I’m sorry; I’m just not buying that no matter what was discussed on the telecast. There was a huge deal made out of the switch Quenneville made three seconds into the game, but being the home team, he had his choice of which defensive pairing that would go against Richards’ line. So that logic didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Basically, I have no idea what Quenneville’s reasoning was for it all, but I really hope he wouldn’t completely re-shuffle the deck because of the great Dan Carcillo.
–It was the Hawks’ second win but after the game, it sure looks like Philadelphia feels pretty confident heading back to the Wachovia Center. There’s no doubt Game 3 will be the toughest game of the season for Chicago to win. If Antti Niemi puts together another game like tonight, it will make things a lot easier. Even with that, it may not be enough. The Flyers seemed to gain more and more steam as the game continued and the first 10 minutes of Game 3 will be a shooting gallery.
–I would love to know if Quenneville’s decision to skate Eager on the top line after the first goal was done on a hunch or on necessity. It was something he hasn’t done a whole lot of this year so I wonder if maybe Kane was having a piece of equipment worked on and was unavailabe to take his normal shift. Quenneville was asked the question in the post-game press conference but did his usual routine of answering the question without ever addressing what he was actually asked.
Of course, that’s better than Peter Laviolette’s formula for answering reporters: Reply to every question by saying “I don’t understand what you’re asking” and then giving an answer that makes zero sense as to what was actually asked.
–So other than whistling at the other team during warm-ups, does Adam Burish do anything productive on the ice?
–The Flyers were buzzing in the third, but the Hawk defense did a terrific job of clearing loose pucks in front of Niemi. If there’s any major adjustment made by Philadelphia in the next two games, it’s going to be to stack up the front of the net and knock any puck toward the net. The Hawk centers will need to be prepared otherwise it’s going to get ugly and it will get ugly very quickly.
Their forecheck especially seemed to cause headaches for the Hawk wingers as they continuously panicked with the puck along the boards and fed the Flyer points. Maybe going on the road will help calm them down and they go back to the beautiful flip-pass breakout they’ve incorporated since the Vancouver series.
Since the second round, they’ve done a terrific job of breaking the opposition’s forecheck by flipping pucks into the neutral zone and putting the defense on their heels. It seems they’ve gone away from it in the last couple games and it has nearly cost them.
–My partner Bob’s theory of Chris Pronger goes something along the lines of this: Pronger is guilty of at least 12 penalties on every shift, but no referee is going to whistle every single call so he continually gets away with murder. It was no different tonight as Pronger played in the front of his crease like it was 2002. He also took liberties with numerous Hawks with no call. The worst was in the first period when he railroaded a puckless Patrick Sharp in what was textbook interference.
It’s a wonder why he gets booed in 31 NHL arenas.
–I suppose this is a silly question to ask but does Sarah Kustok actually consider herself a journalist? She may as well hold black and red pom-poms along with her microphone when she conducts her post-game interview with one of the stars of the game. Seriously though, how about this United Center crowd?!!?