Boston Bruins take the series lead 2-1: Warning, Rants to follow here.

Boston Bruins take the series lead 2-1: Warning, Rants to follow here.

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

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  • If the Hawks can't find a way to match (and exceed) the Bruins' energy, it won't matter what the line combos are. The B's are outworking the Hawks in every department by a wide margin, plain and simple (Frolik not included). This is not even mentioning their continuously hideous PP strategy, their inability to win any kind of important draw, and their pathetic shooting accuracy tonight.

    If the Hawks can sustain the passion they showed in the last minute of the game for a full 60 minutes, they might actually have a chance at winning another game.

  • In reply to iplagitr:

    I agree with comments here that Chicago is just being outplayed. Lines are irrellavent when they don't have time to set anything up. Boston's attack is fast and relentless. Their 2nd and 3rd efforts are more than Chicago's first effort.

  • It's really as simple as this: 29-19-88, 10-26-20, 16-36-67 (defense line), 25-65-28 (4th/hoping for a spark line).

    Really Q? It looks like an actual blender was used tonight. Hopefully Hossa returns for Game 4 and you look less confused.

    As far as the PP, just tell whoever is bringing the puck up to not do anything stupid right near either blue line (Keith, what gives with your puck skills lately? You're better than that.) If you can't find a way to ease it in, just put it in deep (heh, heh).

  • In reply to sc33:

    Assuming no Hossa, line combos look good, except I would have Sharp center the second line (he was the only one that won a few draws) and move Handzus to the fourth line Stalberg to the third line and Frolik to the second. Q really out-thinked himself with Hossa out, screwed up the chemistry and flow across all lines, unbelievable.. As has been said though, line combos won't matter unless they play with desperation. Steve Levy of ESPN actually said that it looked like the Hawks didn't even want to be there, maybe a bit of a stretch, but not too far off..

  • Notice to add to the spot on analysis as always. As a long time fan of the game that has watched countless hours of TV coverage NBC coverage drives me bonkers. If I hear the phrase "waffle boarded" or "pie slice" again I am going to tear my hair out. Last time I checked the puck was BLOCKERED away to the CORNER. Any one else bothered by this?

  • In reply to Chihawk6:

    Emrick is my least favorite announcer in hockey. And according to Eddie O, everything in the game happens in a "soft little area."

  • What I see when I watch Boston is a team defensive team that is probably the better team. And I hate to say that. I don't care what lines Q puts out there, this team is shutting down shooting lanes and passing lanes, they are blocking shots, they are never giving up on plays and at least twice, they pulled out a last second burst of speed to fool a Chicago D man and drive the net. Additionally, they are kicking the literal shit out of Toews every shift that he is on the ice. And it's going to get even worse. I would not be surprised to see Toews injured by the end of this series.

    People are angry and bitter today and while we the fans offer our endless critique of why the team fails for not following our advice, all I can hope for is that the players came off the ice feeling angry and pissed for their performance. They've put a turd in the punchbowl of all game threes so far and the next game will probably tell us everything we need to know.

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    The lack of production on the power play is something that has dogged the Hawks all season, only before Boston, the team was able to better the other team 5 on 5, so the PP weakness didn't kill them. Now they are doing little 5 on 5 and nothing on the PP. As for the announcers, Shaw draws a roughing penalty because a second guy comes in and grabs him while another guy is already killing him, and it is a "horrible call" but when Bolland gets his legs tied up, it was a deliberate trip? Huh? And when Lucic high sticked Hammer (picture on the front of today print edition of the Trib Hawk section) that was a "good no-call?"

  • I thought some of the comments / analysis on those penalties was odd too. Almost like Eddie was trying to convince watchers that he's not biased towards the Hawks.

    The Hawks better realize in a hurry that their "patient" game will not work against the Bruins. They need a completely different game-plan and mindset than what was successful for them in earlier rounds.

  • Hawks have been weak in the middle, short of beef and attitude since 2010. We all knew this at the start of the season. Kane's a floater who will not drive the net and might bring a solution to one of these weaknesses. His gliding off at shift change drives me nuts.
    Oops, post-season rant, sorry.

    We got beat, badly. Bright side was Crawford. He has gotten past the sophomore season blues traditional to goalies and has been stellar. Comments on CBC were he has played himself into contention for Canada's Olympic team. I shudder to think where we would be without him.

    I'm expecting desperation Wednesday night or we are done.

  • In reply to Pilotefan:

    Not solving the second line center situation is one of several weaknesses the team took a gamble on. I guess, if they don't win the cup, that will be a storyline that gets a lot of press. I more or less agree with a storyline that was floated elsewhere that the Bruins are not doing something that is significantly different from what they have done all season. They are well built, they have solid role players and though they are abusing Toews, they are not really going onto the ice every shift looking for an ass to kick.

    The Hawks, in contrast, have been a talent stacked but very inconsistent team for several seasons now. With the exception of Bolland, the bottom six have been stellar and Crawford has been awesome as well. The defense hasn't been nails, but it hasn't been tits up either. That leaves me looking at the top six. Kane hasn't had the best partners to work with and every coach has put an abuse Toews gameplan into motion. Be that as it may, there is a reason that these guys get paid north of 4-5 million dollars. Q's contributions to their lack of success are not insignificant, but last night, I saw a lot of heart and fight in Sharp. I agree on the need to see desperation tomorrow night from every player

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