Antti Niemi was absolutely spectacular in Sunday night's wins over the Sharks. It was perhaps the best goaltending performance I've seen from a Hawks goalie in 10 years. But as Lou Brown in Major League once said, "Don't ever f***in' do it again!"
The San Jose Sharks peppered Niemi with 45 shots...many of them prime scoring chances. Yes, 15 of them came on their five powerplays, but it's simply too many shots against. The Hawks can't expect Niemi to play that well every night.
While the end to end, speed game certainly favors the smaller, faster Hawks (who had 40 shots of their own) expect them to try to slow it down just a bit in order to lessen Niemi's load a bit.
Coming home up 2-0 in the series would be monumentally huge. THAT will be the Hawks focus. Expect tigher forechecking from both teams. The Hawks know they can't survive 45 shots a game, while the Sharks know they can't survive chasing the Hawks, which they did for much of game one.
Be sure to tune in to Chicago Tribune Live Tuesday night at 5:30 on Comcast Sports Net. I will be on the panel. I will also be joining the Laurence Holmes Show on the Score (670am) from 8pm-9pm. THEN, when the final horn sounds, put on the Score again, as Matt Abbatacola and I will take your calls on the Chicago Hockey Postgame Show.