Player of the game: Corey Crawford.
Yes, in the midst of some very late and yet timely heroics from the boys in the offensive zone, who found a miracle in a bottle for the second game in a row, who showed that when the going gets tough and desperate, the talented get scoring; it was in these dire moments that I was reminded of the far too many timely saves from the guy between our pipes. Bryan Bickell may have picked up 2 crucial goals worth getting excited over, but it was the goaltending of Corey Crawford that had me jumping for joy.
This game was a bit too oddly familiar. Once again the Hawks scored first, and it was warranted by a quick and determined start. Once again, the Hawks let off of the gas and allowed the Coyotes to tie and eventually take the lead. Once again, a really bad call (or maybe a couple) by the officals lead to a Yotes goal. Once again, the Hawks had to pull Crawford and find a little late night magic to send the game to overtime. Lucky for us Hawks fans, the Hawks decided to win this one in OT.
Once again, my favorite line was the 3rd line, and all 3 of the beginning mates on this line factored into the outcome in huge ways. We all know that Bickell scored the first and game-winning goal by now. Bolland was one of the best and most consistent forwards on the ice, and Shaw made some noise by getting himself ejected from the game after being called for goaltender interference when Smith pulled out the tears and overacting prompting the officials to make a call based on that acting. The Yotes would score on that ensuing power-play.
- Speaking of power-plays, in a game where both teams struggle in that department, they were instrumental.
- Sharp came out with something to prove and he did just that by scoring that late 3rd period goal.
- Toews is still nowhere near %100, but still better than most.
- Thankfully, that first line combo of Toews, Kane, Hossa was broken up.
- Hossa looked like he was trying harder, but was still far from being as effective as I would like.
- Stalberg was a disappointment 2 games in a row (maybe that assist on the game-winner will get his confidence back.
- The Hawks are still falling short of giving the effort we all want to see, but when they do turn it up, they control the game.
- Bollig, that is all.
- Unfortunately, I still see the Yotes having the better half of controlling the play. And that was without a couple of key players.
- Could it be that Crawford is actually outplaying the opponent's goaltender? And it is Mike Smith at that.
- All in all, the Hawks were better, and it earned them a win, but they need to be even better in game 3.
- Hjalmer was better, Lepisto should stay, Seabrook was a beast once again, and Keith has me worried. Oduya was also better, but still off his game, and Leddy has my wondering about his future.
Lets elaborate a bit:
The Hawks jumped out exactly how we want them too, and it paid off when Bickell made up for missing his chance in early game 1. This was a power-play goal and I need everyone to take note of who was playing at the moment. I have asked for this in the past, and to see a non-power-play line score on the PP is telling. The 3rd line, the best line for the Hawks worked a simple play, got position and Bolland set-up a rebound for Bickell. So, in retrospect: Bolland should be on the PP more often (switch him with Hossa IMO), and Q might want to try using his regular lines on the PP more often. Yes, the PP-unit looked good before the goal, but that was not the case in the following PPs
That lead lasted only a little bit, as Keith would lose a battle to Doan, a common occurrence last night, and the game was tied. Keith just doesn't seem to have it right now, and he had 5 games off to end the season. He needs to be better.
Not too much later, the officials worked their magic of making a god awful call and with Toews in the box, the Yotes took the lead on their first PP goal of the night. The call was for goaltender interference and it was the absolute wrong call from an official who was not in position to make it in the first place. Toews was driving the net, and still well outside the crease when Smith jumped out to hit him. Toews did everything within his ability to avoid contact and cursing that followed in my brother's living-room most likely woke the entire block up.
Who the hell knew that Bollig had a snap-shot (the most deadly shot in hockey) like that, and who the hell told him not to use it on a frequent basis? He scored his first NHL goal, and tied the game while at it. Later occurrences in the 2nd period would give Bollig the chance to play some top-3 minutes and I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. I have heard some calls for his being benched, but I might even say to use him more at this point. He had a great game and stepped up when his team needed it.
The Hawks were more physical last night. Seabrook and Shaw had been delivering the majority of hits in the 1st game, and kept it up in game 2, but others followed suit. Bickell was more physical and it earned him a big night on the score sheet ( go figure). Bollig playing up helped, but I saw a better team commitment to not being thrown around.
This culminated into a pivotal point in the game, and most controversial for sure. Mike Smith doing his thing, went behind the net to play the puck. There was a moment earlier when Stalberg attempted to get in Smith's way and almost did. Shaw, taking note and obviously tired of the goaltender's stick work dug hard and went around to beat Smith to the punch. He was going hard and did little to avoid contact, but didn't exactly seek it out either. IMO Smith leaned in to Shaw and the 2 player's collided a tad. It might have been helmet to helmet, and Smith sold the hit like nothing I have ever seen before. Shaw was sent to the box and Smith continued to sell the hit, grabbing his facemask (?) and rolling around on the ice like a fish. Eventually, after a while without Smith getting up, Shaw was hit with a misconduct and game ejection. The Yotes won a 5 minute PP, scored on it to took the lead, and the moment Shaw left, Smith got up and stayed in his net. I have no issues with Shanahan assessing suspensions based on the other player's injury, but he has video to review. The officials have no business doing it, and especially when the other player is obviously selling it. IMO, Smith should have to leave the ice in this situation for medical attention, at least for a few minutes.
That was exhausting.
The Yotes went into full defensive mode after taking the 3-2 lead, and the game got a bit boring. The Hawks just hate playing these types of teams, and the Yotes are darn good at it. There were a few chances here and there for the Hawks, but it was Crawford who shined late. Even in defensive mode, the Yotes found some prime opportunities and Crawford was there to keep his team breathing. As the Hawks become more and more desperate, he was called on to make even bigger saves as the Yotes found holes.
Seabrook has been maybe the best player on the ice for the Hawks, and it was he who finally brought order to the chaos. Hossa has yet to factor in, although he was playing hard. Kane missed some big chances, and I hope to see more from him soon, but I am feeling indefferent about him all around. With the seconds winding down, everyone seemed to get a chance to be the hero, but it was the 2 who were putting it all on the ice who factored in sending it to OT. A Seabrook blast tipped by Sharp.
OT was also oddly similiar to game 1. The Hawks came out wanting to win it fast, and almost did, but it soon started to even out as Phoenix found light. A ridiculous shift by the big boys saw the Hawks control the puck for a good 2 minutes and when it was over, they practically fell off the ice. While the camera was fixed on a tired Hossa sitting on the bench, Stalberg caught a clearing attempt along the boards and deflected it too Bickell who put the puck and game away.
1-1, sorry for the length of this post. I hope it was as exhausting as the game made me feel. Game 2 seems to be a big game for the Hawks given their history, and they found a way to win it.