Game 5: Blackhawks 7, Flyers 4

So now there’s only one win left.

From the opening face-off, the Blackhawks beat the Flyers in every facet of the game.  They stopped worrying about the officials, Chris Pronger, and just played their game.  Their newly minted lines certainly played a huge part of it.  Toews with Hossa and Sharp with Kane gave the Hawks a tag-team duo that the Flyers had no chance of stopping.

Really, the only thing keeping the game from being 6-1 was Antti Niemi’s shoddy goaltending.  Other than that, the only big mistake a Blackhawk not named Brent Sopel or Nick Boynton were guilty of was Duncan Keith foolishly trying a one-timer in a 6-3 game with less than three minutes left.  Keith’s stick shattered and the Flyers essentially came down on a 2-1 with a stickless Keith.  It ended up in the back of their net quickly and made the game tighter than it needed to be.

The rest of the game was a nearly flawless execution in domination.  Dustin Byfuglien was a giant among men.  He skated with a ton of confidence, punished every Flyer within 10 feet of him, and for good measure chipped in two goals and two assists. 

His linemate, Kris Versteeg, put together his best period of the season with a goal and an assist in the first.  His goal with less than two minutes in the period chased Michael Leighton for the second time this series.  Versteeg picked up the puck in the neutral zone, skated in a 3-on-2, controlled through a Mike Richards backcheck, and fired it across his body to beat Leighton to the far post.

And that was basically the game. 

Well not really.  As stated, Niemi helped keep this game closer than it needed to be.  But in the end, save for a complete collapse in net, there was no way the Hawks were going to lose this game.

Quickies

By now, you’ve probably heard, but let’s repeat it: Chris Pronger was on the ice for 6 Blackhawk goals and he was in the box for the 7th.  The Hawks punished him numerous times throughout the game, never passing up an opportunity to lay into him.  Byfuglien, Bolland, and Patrick Sharp all took turns throwing their weight into him.  Suffice to say, this strategy seems to be successful.

–There’s scary, there’s terrifying, and then there’s Brent Sopel and Nick Boynton getting 3rd period shifts late in a Stanley Cup Final game.  The dangerous duo were a heart attack in CCM’s.  Needless to say, let’s try and keep their shifts to the bare minimum.

–Sopel, in particular, nearly cost the Hawks big time in the 2nd period.  With Brent Seabrook in the box, Sopel gathered the puck in front of his crease with no one close to him.  He put his head down and buried a shot at the one Flyer standing on the blue line which led to heavy pressure from Philadelphia.  If it weren’t for Ville Leino completely biffing the tap-in, the Flyers would’ve cut the Hawks lead to one goal.

–If the Hawks are to have any hope of closing out the Flyers at home, Antti Niemi has to get comfortable and quickly.  A performance like tonight’s and you may as well keep Friday night open on your schedule. 

–This has nothing to do with anything but Nikolai Khabibulin stole Game 6 in Calgary last year after the Hawks bent them over in Game 5.  I’m not saying; I’m just saying.

–The Hawks special teams was a huge factor.  The Byfuglien goal, in particular, was a thing of beauty.  Every Hawk touched the puck.  It went from Patrick Kane in the right corner, swung across the points, to Jonathan Toews in the opposite corner, and then right to Byfuglien standing in front.  The puck was on everyone’s stick for less than a second and every pass was of the tape-to-tape variety.  If it were only that easy every time. 

–Just saw Byfuglien’s post-game press conference.  He was asked if it felt any better to flatten Pronger in the second period.  He had a twinkle in his eye where it looked like he wanted to scream out, “F$#@ YES!!” before he rattled off a typical cliche.  

–I really can’t decide.  Is it better for Ville Leino to slay us in this series and avoid him for the next decade wearing the Winged wheel or vice versa?  I suppose if the Hawks win it, I’d much prefer he stay in Philadelphia.  If they don’t and he continues to channel his inner Steve Larmer, my answer may be different.

Either way, the Hawks have to find an answer for Briere, Leino and Hartnell as they are a threat to score every time they touch the ice. 

–How stupid does Peter Laviolette look for dressing Daniel Carcillo in two games this series?  James van Riemsdyk scored a goal tonight and nearly created a couple more.  At least Carcillo gave NBC some solid video for their pre-game montage when he and Kopecky nearly made out in Game 2.

–Since everyone has been complaining about the announcers praising the Flyers, let’s not let Pierre MacGuire’s 60 minutes of fellating Marian Hossa go unnoticed.

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27 Responses to Game 5: Blackhawks 7, Flyers 4

  1. Patrick says:

    Other than Niemi’s lapses and some occasionally creative defense, it was a god-damn solid win for the Hawks tonight! I loved the line changes and the only thing that I would do differently would be to swap Brouwer and Kopecky on their respective lines. T-Kop played with energy, but the skill level just isn’t there – there was more than one occasion where he butchered a puck where I think that Brouwer makes a decent play. One more to go!

    PS – didn’t any of the Hawk bloggers go to the game tonight? Everyone seemed to get the recaps up rather quick…

  2. Nick says:

    Good call on Buff’s eye twinkle, I said the same thing because it looked like he was about to break out into a big smile. God, I hope he does that on Wednesday. Man, he owned this game big time.

    Niemi, I think will bounce back strong next game. Every time he has a game like this, where he is so badly out of position, he always comes back strong. I know we said that about the last couple of games, but I don’t think you can put all of those 8 goals from the last 2 games on him.

  3. Big Tony says:

    It was nice to see the Hawks be able to skate and hit and fly like we know they can. Niemi was shaky at times, but came up with some HUGE saves that kept Philly at bay. Overall, I don’t think we could ask for more.

    Pronger was a minus 5 and got leveled on a few occasions. That classless assphlange got what’s coming to him and should expect more of the same Wednesday. He sure wasn’t much of a factor tonight.

    Wow….the Flyers goalies SUCK, don’t they? What a complete lack of talent. Those two stiffs being able to wear actual NHL uniforms cheapens the whole experience for every guy to ever play. A dead pig in full rogor mortis would be an upgrade.

    Welcome back Mr Byfuglien….we missed you.

    1 more.

  4. Dave Morris says:

    Gentlemen, time for all Blackhawks fans to believe and be proud.

    Whateven happens next, this is the highest this team has flown since 1971.

    BTW the biggest question may be the suddenly porous Flyer defense. We already know about their questionable goaltending.

    Here Come The Hawks.

  5. vito says:

    John, I thought the same thing of wednesday’s game being a big game for Niemi as game 6 was for Habby and you mentioned the Hawks need to start trying to lofting the puck out of their zone before. Game 6 is the game they should use that and use that play often.

  6. Steve says:

    Any chance that Scott Hartnall gets a meeting with Colin Campbell for his blind side elbow to the head last night? Aren’t backpressure or blind side shoulder or elbows to the head now subject to supplemental discipline?

  7. Otter says:

    I don’t understand why Leighton was pulled, but whatever, I’ll take it. I guess it did give the Flyers some energy, but the poor guy was under siege in the first.

    The game wasn’t even close, yet thanks to Niemi and some D break downs, the Flyers were almost always a bounce away from turning the UC into Wrigley during Game One of the 2008 NLDS.

    Love Jordan being in the house… let’s close this out on Wednesday.

  8. Otter says:

    Oh and why is Sopel getting so much playing time (i.e. any) on the power play? Or am I still stuck with the image of him from Friday night, with the Hawks down a goal and a few minutes left, and Sopel on the point with Campbell as me and half the bar is screaming at the TV “GET SOPEL OFF THE ICE! WHY IS HE OUT THERE?”

  9. blackhawkbob says:

    I think you’ve answered your own question, Otter. Leighton certainly was under seige, and being the Flyers’ starting goaltender, Laviolette didn’t want to subject his goalie (and his confidence) to 40 more minutes of said seige. The pull was half an attempt to get something going and half getting Leighton the heck out of there so his confidence isn’t shattered for a must-win Game 6.

  10. CT says:

    I was wondering why the hell the Flyers 2nd goal wasn’t waived off. Hartnell layed in the crease (yes he was knocked down, but he made no attempt to extricate himself) and clearly impeded Niemi’s path to the puck.

  11. Patrick says:

    CT – I saw that too. It looked like Hartnell was going to be be there a while. Probably should have been waived off, but then again, I guess you could say that the reffing has become consistent – consistently bad that is.

  12. Patrick says:

    One thing I’d add – while I didn’t see it, I read that Versteeg’s goal was scored with 6 Hawk skaters on the ice, so I guess it all evened out. Gotta love the “make up call”.

  13. John says:

    I’d like to see or read the evidence to that Patrick. If they did score with 6 on the ice, that play could’ve been reviewed and disallowed. So I’m not sure how accurate that statement is.

  14. Otter says:

    The number of missed calls last night was laughable… Pronger had a pretty obvious cross check on Ladd, Campbell got knocked pretty hard by a high stick, and then Keith of course had that clear double minor (maybe five min major?) on Briere. I guess you could say that it “evens out” but it’s pretty hard to miss all three of those calls.

  15. Dan says:

    I don’t think Niemi played as bad as everyone on here is saying. He made some saves last night that only a select few goalies could make. Other than that, it was great to see that goon Pronger on the ice/responsible for all 7 of the hawks goals. I agree the referees could be better but all the calls were even and consistent.

  16. John says:

    He made precisely one difficult save (Mike Richards’ tap-in). You could argue though that Richards helped make the save by not turning his hands over to bury the puck in the far corner. Everything else were saves he should’ve made.

  17. Patrick says:

    John – got it from Rosenpenis:

    “Comcast SportsNet replayed Kris Versteeg’s goal to show the Hawks had too many men on the ice at the time. But hey, if the officials can miss 400 crosschecks by Pronger, they can miss counting to six, too.”

    Haven’t gone out to the highlights to see for myself yet tho…

  18. dominator says:

    Didn’t see anything like that in the highlights on nhl.com, the D were changing so its possible, but its not like there were 4 forwards or anything.

  19. John says:

    That’s what I’m assuming happened. You’d think if the Hawks were truly guilty of too many men, one of the 532 cameras NBC has would’ve caught it or Peter Laviolette would’ve pounded the glass behind the bench some more. I’m going to say it was an overzealous CSN producer who caught it without understanding the rule.

  20. Brian Davies says:

    Which was the goal we scored on the delayed penalty? There was one of our goals where we were *supposed* to have 6 men out there.

  21. blackhawkbob says:

    Brian, that was the Bolland goal.

  22. Big Tony says:

    I was perusing the ESPN.com discussion thread about the game and some Philly fan tried starting a rumor that a Flyer fan was beaten to death outside the UC last night after the game. He got confused…it was his team getting beaten to death inside during the game.

  23. Lou says:

    Q brought his A game yesterday. I am looking very forward to what his next hand will be.

  24. ArlingtonRob says:

    Hey Dan, I’m with you.

    Sure seemed to me that Niemi had a nice game. In my eyes the only goal you could blame on him was number 1. The van Riemsdyk goal was a long rebound off of a toe save, not exactly an easy to control rebound. Seems to me that when any goalie gives up 3 or more goals most critics assume he had a bad game. Clearing the slot and preventing odd man breaks is the defenders job. Anyhow, how ’bout we end this on Wednesday…my heart can’t take much more.

  25. John says:

    Well, the scoring play on the second goal came as a result of a puck he coughed up off his chest earlier in the sequence. Doesn’t matter how hard it is to control a toe save, you can’t kick it out 15 in the middle of the slot for the 3rd. 4th goal, he never really had a chance, but if you have to be critical, he did overcommit to Leino pretty bad.

    Bottom line, he can’t play another game like this if the Hawks are to win the Cup.

  26. tom says:

    There have been plenty of (mostly well-deserved) negative comments on the various hockey talking heads here this year – but they all look a little better thanks to the hosts of “Quest for the Cup” on the local NBC.

  27. JM says:

    lol re Tom’s comment.

    As HawkCrazy as I am right now, I couldn’t make it through 5 minutes of Quest for the Cup. WGN had a funny segment a few days ago about Hawks fans getting tattoos of the indianhead. Robert Jordan ended the segment by saying, “You’d have to be quite a fan to endure the pain of tattooing Justin Byfuglien across your chest.”

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