I can say without a doubt, that was just about the most incredible/nerve wracking game I have ever watched. Though I thought the Hawks were able to do exactly what they wanted to, I sort of felt the same way for the Bruins and felt that the Hawks kinda stole one. This is not to say they didn't work their ass off or that they didn't deserve a break, but I also thought the Bruins sat back a little and let them back into it. For once, I really don't have any complaints about the officiating, which in and of itself is kind of an amazing thing. So, Since it's only 10:30 pm here in Vegas, here is some recap and observations.
For the first period and really the majority of the game, I thought the Hawks were able to accomplish the goal of not letting the Bruins pin them in on the forecheck. It seemed kinda like Boston could forecheck, or attack the net, but not do both. Still, after the Hawks had done really well getting the puck out of the zone, Hammer angled his way toward Crawford's left and lined up Kreji for a hit as he tried to carry the puck behind the net. For some reason, Oduya followed him behind the net and eventually, Lucic wound up completely uncovered between Crow and the point and ripped a really nice shot. Can't blame Crow on that and I kinda thought Sharp should have been paying a little better attention there. After that goal, there wasn't anything more in the first and both teams probably had a decent idea of what they were up against.
Second period, the Bruins open the scoring just a minute in when Lucic would score again on a goal Crawford should have had. A small blip in an otherwise awesome night. Though the Bruins probably had a little more control of this period, Hossa took the puck of the left boards and fed a slow moving pass to Saad who ripped a wicked wrist shot. Again, this was a goal the Rask had no chance of stopping. After a dreadful 5-3 PP debacle, the Hawks got another chance on the PP that produced some chances, but no twine. In the third, The Bruins finally got a PP of their own and managed to score in less then 20 seconds. Ouch. At that point, I honestly believed the game was over. However, just a few minutes later, rookie Krug attempted to put a cross ice pass through the Indian head and it was picked off at the blue line and bounced to the boards to Shaw who started to skate it down. Just when it looked like he was going to be pinched off, he fed a real nice skip pass to a streaking Bolland who blasted it past Rask. Again, Rask had no chance. Finally, on the third goal, Johnny Oduya took a seeing eye shot from the point that took a very fortunate bounce off the D man skate and right into the net. Three goals, none of which were really savable by Rask. More on that later.
After that, it was almost another full hockey game before we would see another goal. Once the overtimes hit, both teams truly reverted to safe mode and stuck to what they knew without taking too many chances. Both teams had great scoring chances and I would even say that Boston's were better than the Hawks. The Hawks had the puck a lot but honestly, I was really starting to feel like Boston was just letting them have it as long as they weren't driving the middle, which they weren't doing. Tons of one and dones and I thought the Bruins were just letting the Hawks punch themselves out. 12 minutes in the third, however, Rozsival wristed a shot from the point that first hit Bolland and then Shaw on its way into the net. 4 goals, none of which could be stopped by Rask. Strange as this will sound, I think Crawford out played Rask as the chances against him were much tougher. It was not his best game, and he was fighting the puck at some points, but he still made some really big saves. Really big. Ugly or not, one down, three to go.
In some ways, both teams got to play to their strengths. The Hawks were able to move the puck out of the zone well, but then got stymied by the Bruins who absolutely shut down the house all night. Rask was making some good saves, but the team in front of him was really cutting down a lot of shots and kept the Hawks to the outside a lot. When there was a Hawk in the crease and a pass came through, it was typically bouncing and never got corralled. After the game, Rask called out his team and said, “We had the game. “We were up, 3-1, in the third and then a terrible turnover leads to a second goal, and a tough bounce leads to a tying goal and we just gave it away. We’ve got to be better than that." Can't really argue with him, but when the guys in front of you block 40 shots, you might want to keep a handle on saying stuff like that.
The Hawks are only going to beat Rask with shots he never sees and that's a harsh reality. If they can't unleash a bang bang play going side to side, they are going to have a tough time. Still, after only letting the Pens score two, this has to be in the Bruin's head a bit that the Hawks put up 4. Also, when the Bruins had the Hawks on the rope for the night, they couldn't put them away and I think that is going to haunt them too. For the Hawks, I think they can be proud of their effort and ability to AGAIN come from behind. What worries me some, however, is that the Bruins were able to wait back, defend the house and then counter punch. I don't fully believe the Bruins intend to let the Hawks keep cycling the puck in the corner, but in the overtimes, I kept thinking the Hawks were just cycling and never really getting the puck into good position to score. Honestly, I'm not sure either team really needs to make a substantial change in the way they play.
Q. Something here for everyone to chew on. While I think his line juggling did pay off intra game, I think it also contributed to the too many men calls. As for the Bollig v Stalberg saga, Bollig came in and played pretty solid fourth line minutes and Q went to him in overtime to help eat minutes and I thought he did just fine. This doesn't make him a better player then Stalberg. But for last night, at least, it made him a player who went out and performed a role very well. I wouldn't be unhappy to see Stals get some ice time now to help add punch when guys are fatigued, but I was happy with what Bollig did. BTW, is that a beard made for selling Falafal or what? The PP is beyond F'n horrible. If the Hawks could actually score on the PP, they would be much tougher to beat. On the other hand, the refs weren't calling a lot and I was actually pretty surprised that the Bruins played a pretty straightforward game. Not a ton of after whistle crap, and no Marchand/Sedin face punching. Given the parity here, I think there is a lot of respect between these two teams for what they can do if not for each other. BTW, I don't know if Q actually saw something in practice or not, but for last night at least, Bolland was close to being Bolland and that line was rocking.
Final note about Crow and Rask. Crow gave up a bad one tonight, fought the puck, but still, IMO, made a lot more tougher saves then Rask did. The Bruins blocked a lot of shots (40 to the Hawks 23), they kept guys from crashing the crease, and they pushed the Hawks into taking a lot of low probability shott. The hawks goals made it clear you will not beat him when he sees the puck. Do the Hawks have enough in the tank to pay like this every night? That remains to be seen. As for Crow, he will likely continue to make good saves, but will be reliant on his D to help out with clearing rebounds. The Hawks caught some very good luck tonight and will have to tighten up some more. Still, any win is a win closer.