What in the world was that?
If you missed this game, well, then I feel sorry for you, because this one was a hoot. Wrapping it up to fit into a realistic read on this blog is not going to be easy, but neither was getting that 2 points and a sure ticket to the only portion of the season anyone cares about. And with this win, the Hawks are now tied with Detroit at 97 points (but with 1 less game left), and trailing the Preds by 1 point heading into the final 3 games of the regular season. We all know who the last game is against, and it is gonna be a goody.
If you tuned into this game just before halfway through the 2nd period, you might have seen a 4-0 lead that the Hawks had somehow put together on Pecka Rinne and the Predators. 2 of those goals having come off of power-play tallies! But, if you stuck around for say, another minute or so, you might have seen the Preds score back-to-back goals within 50 seconds of each other. It seems that tonight, scoring 4 goals on Rinne and company just was not going to be enough, which is hard enough to accomplish in its own right. No, it would take 5 goals to secure the win and playoff spot, because the Hawks gave up a 4 goal lead by allowing the Predators to score their own 4 unanswered goals within a periods worth of time. Go figure?
Getting into the specifics seems daunting at this point, so lets just get to some bullet points, shall we:
- Before the halfway mark, the Hawks had 4 goals to the Pred's 0. The first 2 goals were scored with the man-advantage. Sharp tallied first, and then Bolland after. Kane would score on a breakaway, created by the stretch pass and just after the Hawks were successful killing a penalty, and Stalberg worked some of his own magic to make it 4-0. If you told me the Hawks would win because of the special teams, and from a stretch pass I would ask you who you have been watching all year.
- This does not tell the whole story, because this story was far from finished. All Swedish, without any Finish right? Besides the first 10 minutes of this game, I felt like the Hawks were being dominated. It would seem that the Preds felt the same way, since they never gave up and continued to stick with their game plan, almost earning them at least a point in the game.
- The main successes for the Hawks early was in their neutral zone movement. They were creating space for themselves, and were obviously able to enter the zone when on the PP, because they scored twice. Eventually, their successes turned to disaster as their play in the defensive zone took a poop all over the ice. It was so bad that Oduya was losing the puck, and almost effortlessly. Most of the game was played in the Hawks zone, and it involved the Hawks chasing the Predators around. Yes, it was very hard to watch the Hawks blow a 4 goal lead, and seemingly, without a care. I found myself asking just which team had played the night before.
- Crawford was in net again, and if you are me, you were asking yourself how he ended this season as the Hawks starting goaltender? Like some sort of magic show, he just found himself there, even after a few bad games, regardless of how Emery was performing. With that said, the Predators come-back was not on his shoulders. In fact, he made some pretty nice saves to keep the Hawks from letting the game get completely away. I want to believe in him, I really do, but I just don't see the things I want to see.
- I had given up hope until out of nowhere, the 3rd line did some nice little cycle deep in the Preds zone, and Shaw ended up making the best pass of his career to a breaking Seabrook on the back door. Just like that, completely ignoring the way the momentum was tilting, the Hawks won the game and their rightful place in the playoffs. Sure, it would take a couple of face-offs to crown the winner, and also a really great job by Stalberg to kill some time deep in the Preds zone, but at the end of the day, it was what we wanted and maybe a little unexpected.
There is so much more to talk about, but since the game was long and crazy, why make the wrap as such? Things like how the Hawks scored on their power-plays, such as Bolland scoring while on the point, and the Hawks driving to the net early on. Some good things happened, but I saw a complete failure in the defensive zone, and that is what I think the Hawks should focus on after they celebrate. If they want home ice, they are going to have to work for it, but it is most definitely within grasp now. The Wild twice, and then the hurting Wings, whom the Hawks already have played well against this year. The race is on.