The news coming into the game was that Stalberg was going to be added back to the lineup for the Blackhawks. After an interview with Stalberg, who held back his frustration and opinions of Q's coaching style by showing no emotion at all, mentioning that Q doesn't talk to the players very much, his teammates Frolik and Toews commented about their feelings of getting #25 back. "The boys support him and want him out there with us to help us," Toews said. "He's got good offensive skills, and with that speed I think we can be dangerous, we can be a good line," Frolik said. "I think he's going to have a good jump, he's going to be ready."
Stalberg would go on to have a pretty strong game, but the news before puck drop was that Hossa was out do to a renegade puck that hit him during warm ups. Now, Ben Smith was getting a last minute shout, and all hell broke loose for the Hawks line structure.
Let's face it, the Hawks were not good tonight. Far from it, but what Q decided to throw together at the last second is a blatant example of his inability to make decisions, especially when pressured to make them quickly.
- 1st line: Toews, Frolik, Kruger. The only good part of this was finally getting Frolik top line minutes, and he would show just how much he had earned that right by being the best Hawks player on the ice for the first 2/3rds of the game (defensively, and offensively). A shame that Q had to be forced into this move, and it is a bigger shame that Fro's minutes dropped in the 3rd as he found himself once again earning 4th line minutes. The problem with this beginning line is the lack of scoring ability in Kruger. A hard player for sure, but not the guy I would want with Toews at this point.
- 2nd line: Handzus, Kane, Saad. I dunno, seems weird to me.
- 3rd line: Bolland, Sharp, Smith. Okay, here is where it starts to get really weird. Sharp is your #1 goal scorer right now, and he gets dropped down to the 3rd line with Ben Smith who hasn't played very much hockey lately, and only 1 game all year in the NHL.
- 4th line: Shaw, Bickell, Stalberg. These guys, some of your hardest working players so far, would only see 2:20ish a piece in the 1st period. The only line that has actually played together before, that also has 2 of your best goal scorers in the playoffs on it.
The result, the 3 highest goal scorers in a Hawks uniform (minus Kane, and he scored all his goal in 1 game) during this playoffs found themselves on the bottom 2 lines. Brilliant coaching! Totally ignoring the lack of chemistry and organization of these lines, it completely ignored any evidence throughout the playoffs.
The following 30 minutes of hockey would not come as a surprise. The Hawks looked lost in their own zone, not that they haven't looked that way recently, and Boston was getting a plethora of chances from 12 inches in front of Crawford. Quite simply, Crow made some big saves that kept this from being an early blow out. The lack of communication and chemistry was obvious right from the start, but Q surprisingly kept these lines rolling on into the 2nd where he made the public statement for the microphone that he thought the game was pretty even and he was happy with the game so far. Brilliant!
Once again, because this needs to be said over and over, Frolik was the best player on the ice for the Hawks on both ends of the ice. You would hope that Toews could have worked some magic with him, but the productionless captain remained without any points.
The Hawks had some early power-plays. Guess how that went? No, come on, guess. Would you guess 3 breakaways for Boston and zero shots for the Hawks. Ding, ding, ding.
Faceoffs late in the 1st period, 13-2 Boston.
Did I mention that Frolik was the best player on the ice. Guess where his minutes landed by the end of the game?
For the brief moments the 3rd line was on the ice, they generated the best chances next to Frolik's offensive generation. Stalberg's speed was proving to be an obvious factor, and Shaw's hard work was just adding to the brew. As I said, this line would see just over 2 minutes of ice in the first. Kane, on the other hand would see 7:24. Yes, some of that was power-play time, but guess who has been on the ice for more Boston goals than any other Hawk?
The 2nd period started off with more bad positioning by the Hawks, and the puck finally landed behind Crow as a result. It was against the mish-mash of a 3rd line. But, Q thought his team was playing just fine at this point. Chances to start the 2nd, after a bad 1st period, 5-0 in favor of the Bruins.
Another good shift from the Shaw line, fueled by Stalberg's speed was followed by yet another amazing shift by Frolik who looked to be at all ends of the ice at one time. You started to get the sense that the Hawks were sticking around a game they should have been far out of, and were beginning to show a little life. Toews gave a really hard shift which added to the hope that maybe the Hawks could turn it around behind their captain, and again, the Shaw line followed with some energy.
Unfortunately, a high offensive push landed the Hawks on the PK because of a Boston odd-man rush, which ended with an 11 second 5 on 3. 11 seconds was all that Boston needed with 2 extra attackers as they went up 2-0, and pretty much sealed their home ice win.
In a shocking twist of events from our trusted coach, a Toews, Stalberg, Bickell line was given a couple of shifts. It was working (shocking), and they generated a lot of offensive pressure. Then, Q even double shifted Stalberg who's quick legs and decent sized frame were getting the best of Boston. Eh, throw a Hawks power-play in there somewhere to kill that offense.
I am beginning to not like Edzo, especially without Pat. He had the nerve to start saying that the Hawks needed to work the puck down low along the goal line on the power-play. Is that not what the Hawks did all of last season? Is this not what a coach was fired over?
In the 3rd, Seabrook missed the net from the high slot, right in front of Rask, and then Kane did the same later in the period after a great feed from Shaw. Boston was in defense mode, and the Hawks had some looks, but couldn't convert.
A late game power-play presented an opportunity for a glimmer of hope. If I was the coach, (which I am obviously not, I don't get payed millions of dollars to lead 20 hockey players, I just facilitate the learning and motivation of 200 high schoolers every year for less than a 100th of that), I would have pulled Crawford at the last minute of that power-play. There was about 2 minutes left when it ended, and the Hawks had possession halfway through the 2 minute PP, and why not?
Also, Boston is going to trip and hook the hell out of the Hawks if they ever get in on a breakaway. Why not, the power-play won't do anything. I was really hoping for a penalty shot for this hook on Saad, but the fact still remains that the power-play is a big part of why the Hawks are now trailing in this series. You don't even have to score, you just need to build momentum, not kill it.
Oh, and Bickell hit the very inside of the post after pulling Crawford with about 45 seconds left in the game.
Frolik (the best player on the ice), ended with 12 minutes. Kane doubled Bickell's minutes.
That's all, rant over. I pretty much expected the Hawks to lose one of these away games anyway. Nothing about this game was good from a Hawk fan's perspective, other than it ended at only 2-0.
In all fairness, once the Hawks have their backs against the wall again, I expect some magic. I just hope they have enough fairy dust left to overcome this challenge. Here's to hoping they think their backs are against the wall in game 4.
Tough break with Hossa.
Filed under: Game Recap