I would really like to know what went on during the optional practice that I am assuming Toews ran yesterday. 12 players made it to that practice as Q had given them the day off. A practice that Q himself was not at.
2 power-play goals, 45-26 shots in favor of the Hawks, Shaw was on fire with 2 goals and 3 big hits, Bickell had an outstanding game, Keith was great, and even Seabrook didn't suck. Besides those 2 PP goals though, the main difference is that not only was the Hawks depth too much to handle, but Toews, Kane, Hossa, and Sharp were all significant factors.
It was the type of game that has you scratching your head as to why the Hawks could be behind 3-1 in this series. It was exactly the type of game the Hawks needed. They needed to show the Wings just what it looks like when the Hawks are firing on all cylinders. They needed to put some doubt into their heads as game 6 goes back to Detroit. 1 game at a time, 1 game ahead of them in which all they need to do is repeat tonight's game.
The tension was almost unbearable, as every Hawks fan knew what scoring first meant. Not only did the Hawks need to come out hard, but they needed to be first on the scoreboard given their lack of production lately. Thankfully, a great move to the middle by Brian Bickell led to a scramble in front of Howard, Hawks going hard to the net, and a slam dunk rebound for the hustling winger. Let's repeat that "going hard to the net" part.
Making the hard move, and forcing the Detroit D to play at the Hawks level is exactly what the doctor ordered, because the Hawks have more talent. They will win that game. No more time for playing it safe, and boy did it pay off. Not just for Bickell, but especially for Kane who had 7 shots on net, many of which were primo chances, many of which were caused by his making the extra move, rather than just throwing it at the net.
Why was the power-play so effective? Because they skated harder than the Wings during it. Pure and simple. In the second opportunity for the Hawks on the man-advantage, they won every fight for the puck, and they peppered Howard. Shoot, retrieve the puck, make a quick pass and shoot again. Repeat process. Shaw was huge, not only for going to the net and tipping a shot from Keith (Norris trophy Keith where have you been?), but for winning the ever important battle in the corner, or behind the net again, and again.
I don't know if the reason that Keith, and more importantly Seabrook decided to up their game a couple extra notches, but It was nice to see them back. Was it their reunion as a pairing? Was it the do or die situation they helped dig their team into (especially Seabrook)? I don't care, but I would like more of it please.
Maybe they wanted to rally behind their captain, and show their support after watching him lose it on the ice 2 nights ago. Maybe they all felt the crack in Toews' armor. Well, captain marvel was sure as hell ready to lead them through a mountain, which began tonight by notching his first goal of this playoffs on a very well placed shot. He helped start the tempo early in the first along with his line-mates of Sharp and Kane. Again, was it their reunion as a line? Who's idea was it? I don't know. All I know is that the Hawks were hungry tonight, and if they stay hungry enough I feel that Detroit will watch this series get ripped out of their hands on Monday night.
It started with the Hawks top line, and it was finished by the 3rd line of Shaw, Stalberg, and Saad who helped bring the return of the Hawks forecheck. This was rewarded with a goal. The constant pressure that the superior skating of the Hawks pressed onto the Wings tonight started to crack them. The constant physical barrage of our heavy hitters sent them a message. A hit late in the game by Bickell on Kronwall not only provided some kind of payback for Toews, but it left Kronwall with a reminder to think about for next game. A little "I owe you more" ticket to hold onto if you will.
The Hawks have always been the superior team. They let a couple bad calls, bad breaks, and a very well coached team force them to forget that. They reminded themselves tonight. Even another bad whistle that took away a goal didn't stop them this time. Not only did the Hawks skate better, they finally felt the confidence to make the right passes, and by the 3rd, they were connecting beautifully. Don't let an inferior defense keep you on the outer edges. You go and take it back, and you do it with authority because you are the more talented team.
The Hawks let Detroit fool them into thinking they had more skill on the back end with the same old tactic they have seen work a million times against the Hawks. The trap scares them into playing outer rim hockey. Sure, they still end up with more shots on net, but with a very well playing goaltender behind them, the Wings were happy to play this hockey. Thank you for taking that back Chicago, and rightfully so.
If there ever was a team that could come back from a 3-1 deficit, it is this Hawks team in this series. But, they will need to be just as good as they were tonight. One more game, one more win, and you force Detroit back into your den for a wild game 7.
Filed under: Game Recap