The Blackhawks and Coyotes go to OT for the 5th straight game: But, this was different.

The Blackhawks and Coyotes go to OT for the 5th straight game: But, this was different.

Keeping in pattern with this series, the Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes went to overtime for the 5th straight game. For the 5th straight game, the Hawks started out strong and the Yotes absorbed, leads were blown and a turnover with out of position D-men gave the Yotes a lead, and in familiar fashion the Hawks tied the game late.

The difference in this game was that the Hawks were clearly the team that should have won. This was their best performance of the series and I will be dammed to see them lose it.

A blatant reason, and maybe the only reason I would have understood a loss was the Hawks continued inability to score on the power-play. They had 3:45 of continuous PP-time, and even a good 15 seconds of 5-on-3 to make it happen, and they just can't. This alone, more than Crawford's weak OT misses, could be the glaring reason to see the Hawks knocked out in the first round.

No one would call this Hawks team consistent, and Q is the man in the drivers seat. And yet, the only area that Q decides is worthy of consistency is the one area that is screaming for big change. Q is just incessant on kicking a dead horse with the Hawks PP. What might I have done differently? Glad you asked, because it is eating me inside. This is a message to Q: Play your regular lines with the man advantage, and start with the Bolland line! Follow that with your Toews line from last night (if these lines stay the same). Tell them to play hockey, skate hard, pepper Smith and win the battle to the rebound. Simple.

Oh yeah, we saw some shifting in the line-combos. Are you surprised? Eh, I am whatever about it, but pulling Bickell off the 3rd line was pushing it Q, and you have never been one for balance in your combos.

To the game:

  • This game looked almost identical to the last game in which the Hawks lost in OT. The biggest difference was the 3rd period and the fact that Toews said enough already and showed everyone how to walk in on Smith and pick his spot. Unlike the last game, the Hawks owned the 3rd period, and very well should have won the game during the normal 60 minutes. In OT, Toews won a very important draw, Stalberg and he won a board battle (hugely important), and Toews showed everyone why he is the guy who should have the puck on his stick in moments like these.
  • There is one more thing that was blatantly different in this game: Nick Leddy. Maybe he has been reading my comments about his performance up until last night, and I hope he has, because Leddy proved his worth by giving the his best game of the series, and in a long time for that matter. Leddy was credited with 5 shots on net, and I think he had more than that. He scored the equalizer as a well placed Bolland took Smith's sight away. He won a few board battles, was credited with 3 hits, and looked altogether more comfortable on the ice. I had called for his head (in a matter of speaking), and still think the right move was to play Lepisto in his spot, but he showed me and his team a little fight last night, and also how to hit the net from the point.
  • Winning board battles. The Hawks won more board battles than any of the other games. they not only brought intensity, but also a bit more smarts. They still need to get a heck of a lot smarter with the puck (and without it), but it was better. If they get to where they need to be with the puck, this game is at least a 3-0 win.
  • Yes, the Hawks dramatically controlled the puck for the far greater portion of this game, starting at puck drop and continuing up until the Toews winner. The Yotes barely threatened the Hawks, and I think I might know why: Ice-time. Q played his guys a little more evenly throughout the game, and you have to wonder why it took so long.
  • Have I mentioned how huge the return of Michael Frolik has been? Could enough great things be said about his contribution since Shaw's suspension and his name was picked out of a hat? Nope, because Fro has been the best skater on the ice, period. He has 2 goals, assisted on last night's equalizer, has been the best defensive forward, and better stay exactly where he is when Shaw returns.
  • Okay, okay, I will mention Stalberg, who was the focus of most between period conversation. Lets get something straight first; the officiating continues to be terrible, and while Stalberg was within reason for each penalty he was hit with, most were weak, and the Yotes are guilty of so much more. Was it a bad game for #25, maybe, but it was more a bad luck issue if you ask me. Before you start calling for his being benched, take notice of what his speed creates, and how many battle he did win, including the game winning one. Has he been a disappointment, sure, but I wouldn't give up on him either.
  • If anyone deserves to be sat, it would Kane, which I am not saying should happen. I am just saying. I almost forgot he was on the team, which shows how little he contributed to the win.

The climb is still a steep one, but I think a part of the mountain fell off last night. I figured that the games would be close, not this close, but tight enough. I also anticipated one game where the Hawks opened the Yotes up and poured some goals in Smith's net. With the course of last night and given the return of Shaw, and maybe another big name, this next one could be that game. I saw a little bit of fear break through the tough demeanor of the Yotes, and that could be the doubt that the Hawks needed. Smith knew darn well that they needed to burry the Hawks before they figure it out, and it was all over his face as Leddy tied the game. Not sure how he felt about being destroyed by Toews.
I have a lot of opinions about how bad choices have gotten the Hawks into the situation of climbing out of a hole when they most likely should be covering up one that has the Yotes inside. But, last night was about being positive and keeping that momentum going. Hawks Win!!!!!!!!!!!!
Look for Sharp and Kane to be noticed next game.

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  • Sorry everyone. This post was up at 9am, but for whatever reason did not take. I did not notice until now.

  • Agree, HH, that was, by far, the 'hawks best game in the series. They weren't going to be denied and you could see that from the get go. I really think they are starting to wear down the 'yotes, especially that senior citizen D corps they trot out there. Playing rope-a-dope hockey has to be tiring. They sure are good at it though.

    I think they're due for an explosive output at some point and with Shaw returning more traffic to the net should be the order of the day.

    As for the PP, I agree, that just rolling the lines would be a nice way to handle the frustration the players must feel. The 'yotes just box it out and are aggressive on the points. Just let the players go and play and see what happens.

    Not a lot of negatives to take from the game. The lone 'yotes goal was a result of a blind pass by Hayes into five defenders. Hammer was his outlet by pinching down but Hayes completely ignored him. Bingo, 3 on 1 and Brulé makes good on his shot.

    Hawks directed 70 pucks at Smith. Phoenix only 30 at Crawford.

  • Q picks the matchups, who plays, who sits and who is on the power play. That's a lot of the game. In the playoffs though, hunger is an intangible that is hard to measure. I don't think the Hawks have ever been guilty of not trying hard in this series. I do, however, think they have been guilty of not trying as hard as the Yotes and have been guilty of not being patient and willing to work with what's in front of them. As you said HH, from the opening drop, the Yotes looked content to just do what they do every night, absorb the early fury, look for a mistake to bury, grind out the clock. However, the Hawks never let off the gas and that IMO was the entire difference. In the third, I truly felt the Yotes were just waiting for OT, convinced, perhaps they would wrap it up like they have three times before.

    Still, what I also thinked happened last night was that Smith was actually rattled. He was pissed after that first goal and on the second goal, Toews did something that almost never happens, he outright blew it by Smith. ARe they in his head? Very doubtful. Still, with the return of Shaw, they may be able to make it a series. As for the line changes and stuff like that, meh, I dont' know what to say anymore that doesn't come across as giving Q a pass. The team last night was not the team we have seen on any other night in this series. They looked like they wanted to win and were willing to do anything it took. If they bring that attitude for two more games, I don't think Q's idiocy will handicap them into losing. Toews made himself a force to be reckoned with last night, it's time for some of the other core playes (cough, Kane, cough) to follow that lead and find something that works rather then keep trying to force the play you want to make.

    Effort aside, I think the Hawks surprised a team that maybe got a little sure of themselves. Given the Yotes road efforts, game six may be the toughest game they see this series.

  • Greetings from the golf course! Looks like I get an early start on summer vacation! I’m not sure what I will do with my extra time but I know my wife is happy to have been resurrected from the dead just 10 days after becoming a playoff hockey widow. Now that I don’t have the "Red Wings Trump Card" to use, I am already imagining my future:

    "I told my wife I wouldn't drink tonight. Besides, I got a big day tomorrow. Actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we're going to go to Home Depot, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don't know, I don't know if we'll have enough time." --Frank "The Tank" Ricard-- Old School 2003

    I didn’t see the game Saturday night but congrats on extending the series! I finally caught up on all of the scores from the weekend and I have to say that I am pretty happy for the LA Kings. I was impressed with their game all series and I think they were the better team. Vancouver can have no excuses in that loss. STL looks like they are playing as tough as they have all season and certainly the Preds have my respect. I hope your Hawks can take this a couple more games and if they do, I think the second round of the Western Conference will be complete with the most fierce competition in hockey. Whoever makes it out of the WCF intact will likely run all over ANYONE that comes out of the East in the Finals.

    Looking forward to the game tonight! I will be in attendance believe it or not. I had one of my vendors invite me this morning. He is trying to get me to do business exclusively through him and I believe that he may have finally found a tactic that worked! Haha-

    I should be OK wearing my Red Wings Chelios jersey, right? Good luck to the Hawks!

  • In reply to OneTeam:

    The Preds are a tough team. Even more so than the Yotes if that provides any kind of relief to the situation.

    If the Hawks can battle out 2 more wins, and that 7th game will be a doosy, they get the reward of playing the Preds as well. I guess the best time to play them is after going through 7 games with their little brother team.

    BTW, love the quote.

  • Speaking of tonight's game; Q has some choices to make. Shaw is back and where he goes is now a question. Frolik has been great on the 3rd. My guess is that Morrison gets moved and Shaw takes his spot. I liked what I saw out of the Toews/Stalberg/Bickell line enough, but the Kane/Sharp line was not producing. Can Q create more balance by moving Shaw to that line? Or, does Jimmy Hayes get the nod by finding himself on a top line (something I might do)?

    Saad has not been bad, but I think Hayes can be more valuable against the Yotes and open things up for Kane/Sharp a tad.

    If Leddy can repeat his performance from the other night, I feel good about this one. Lets get a win in regulation guys!

  • I think Hayes should go to the top line with Toews and Kane. Put Stalberg back with Sharp (they were on fire there for awhile) with Kruger. Third line should be Bolland, Bickell, Shaw. My fourth line would be Mayers, Frolik, Bollig. Not sure why Mayers is not playing, need his grit and experience? Hoping for a regulation win tonight, can't take any more overtimes, how about Crow's first shutout to boot?!

  • FIRE THE BEER VENDORS! I kid. Once again, I got cockblocked by NBC. For some reason, my local cable provider, Cox (no surprise there) did not have the game listed on CNBC so I recorded the TBA on versus on got NY. Ugh. Spose it's par for the course and just as well.

    To the Yotes, I hate your fucking team and your boring hockey. That said, with complete sincerity, congrats on what you did. Few teams work that hard and your goaltender is outstanding. You deserve to celebrate tonight. Now that you are owned by the NHL, maybe next year Tippet will heed the memo that the league would actually like to see hockey be exciting in order to attract fans.

    What this first round in the west means for us is something to consider. Three choke, defense teams beat three skill teams that people actually enjoying watching play. In essence, they are being rewarded for being the anti NHL teams and by adopting a style of hockey that is devoted almost entirely to simply blocking skill and waiting for mistakes to happen. It's not just the Hawks that have to address that this offseason, it's also the other two skill teams. Much as we talk shit about Q, at least his team lasted longer then the other two LOL

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