Plenty of blame to go around, but not for Niemi

Once again, the Hawks decided to come out flat in game one of a playoff series, and once again they lost.  Actually, they didn't just lose.  They embarrassed themselves.

The supposedly solid defense looked lost in their own zone.  Dustin Byfuglien was a non factor in front of Robert Luongo, and the "bad blood" must have stayed at the Blackhawk's palatial homes.

It's easy to overreact to a bad loss.  We all did it after the game one loss to Nashville this season.  We did it after the game one loss to Vancouver last season.

This series isn't over. 

Despite their sluggish play, the Hawks could have easily had 3-4 goals.  A bounce here, a deflection there, and it's a different game.  The Hawks put 37 shots on Luongo.  I'd say 10 were quality scoring chances, and that doesn't include multiple mad scrambles in front of the Vancouver netminder. 

Vancouver buried those chances, the Hawks didn't.  Plain and simple.

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One of the few Hawks to show up last night was Antti Niemi.  He certainly can't be blamed for this one.  The only goal he gave up that was questionable was Mason Raymond's one timer after he Niemi kicked a huge rebound right to Raymond's stick.  The other four goals can be put on the Hawks skaters.  Bad turnovers, bad screens, and not enough heart around the net left Niemi helpless.  It's unfair to ask a goalie to make 3, 4, or 5 saves on a single play.  It's up to the defensemen to eliminate the man or the puck.  They did neither.

Last night, I hosted the "Chicago Hockey" Postgame Show on the Score with Joe Ostrowski and Rock Mamola (check out his "Rock Report" on Chicagonow.com).  Amazing, many of the calls, texts, and emails we received were from Hawks fans suggesting that Cristobal Huet get the start in game two. 

First off, for those with a hockey brain at all, don't worry.  It won't happen. 

To suggest Huet is a better option at this point is stupid and meatballish.  Niemi won the starting job for the Hawks, and not by default.  Overall, he was outstanding in his rookie season.  His seven shutouts can attest to that. 

Huet, on the other hand, has been an abject failure since arriving in Chicago two summers ago.  His coaches and teammates have lost all faith in him, despite what they may tell the press.  Team McDonough will be hard at work this summer to ensure he never plays another game for the Hawks. 

He is done here, as he should be. 

Before everyone jumps off a bridge, take a deep breath, relax, and remember how bleak it looked after losing game one to Nashville.  This series is not over.  Not by a long shot.

Historically, the Canucks are 9 and 9 when winning game one.  This season, the team that wins game one has only gone on to win 3 out of 8 series'.  Historically, the game one winner wins the series 68% of the time, but let's not focus on that. 

The most important thing headed into game two is that first goal.  The Hawks were playing well last night UNTIL the Canucks went up 1-0.  Once that happened, the air was sucked out of the building, and it was a different game.  Getting that first goal could be very big for the team's, and the CROWD'S, confidence.     

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  • i have a question when the heck is hossa going to show up in these playoffs and starting the puck in the back of the net hes done jack shit besides the game winning goal in game 5 which we were lucky to tie it after he too that dumbass pently late in the game. I would think he would want it more then anybody elise after missing out on the cup the last two seasons. another thing why the heck didn't we play either of are so called enforcers (egear or burish) last night sombody need to drop the gloves last night after they took a 3-0 lead that might have brought some exictement to the crowd which could of gave some energy

  • I know you're trying to be optimistic here but get real.The Canucks are not Nashville.
    They are the team Chicago knocked out last year.Coming back is a steep hill for the Hawks.Turning to oonery may work if the other team is playing but Vancouver learnt that lesson the hard way last year and lost game 6.They will not entertain the game the Hawks like to play.Did you notice last night they did not piss the refs off even though the calls were very lobsided in favour of Chicago ?
    The play of Vancouvers team is nothing less then fully "together"
    If you want to use the "It could easily been 3 goals for the Hawks " line then it could easily have been 9-0 Vancouver.
    The only goal that was scored ,and the only time that jinxed dreadful song was played was when the Canucks had Two men less on the Ice.I would have been embarrased to play that song at that point.Nothing really to celebrate at that point.
    Goaltending is a very serious issue for the Hawks.what have you got in reserve ?
    This is a very different team then the one you have just played.
    They are actually good.
    This series already has the marks of a sweep here .
    Canucks in 4.

  • In reply to turvey:

    turvey...canucks in 4? you wanna bet?

  • In reply to JayZawaski:

    Hi Jay.
    haha
    Sure.How does $20 (Canadian or US as its the same right now !) on the Canucks winning the series.Like you Im also Optomistic. The 4 game sweep however is a bit different.
    Im not an idiot and it would be a dodgy bet.
    So ...$20 on the Canucks to win and you will have my word that I will pay up if by some miracle the Hawks get really really good in the next few games.
    T

  • In reply to turvey:

    turvey, please send the money to:

    Jay Zawaski
    c/o WSCR Radio
    455 N Cityfront Plaza
    6th Floor
    Chicago IL 60611

  • In reply to JayZawaski:

    I hope Turvey has a lucrative job. He tried to bet a lot of us. Good luck collecting. Let us know how that works out for laughs.

  • In reply to JerryManderings:

    for the record...turvey DID INDEED pay up. I got $20 CDN in the mail from him. Class act. Man of his word.

  • In reply to JayZawaski:

    Wow! Impressive.

  • In reply to JayZawaski:

    turvey...mailing info above

  • In reply to JayZawaski:

    Jerry Kayne.
    Can you point or post were Im supposed to have bet?The fact is I didn't.
    Just with Jay at the 1-1 point.

    Jay.You didnt take the bet ! You cant decide to bet as the Horses nose is heading to the finish line !
    I will do $20 for the next game though on Tuesday.

  • In reply to JayZawaski:

    GO CANUCKS !!!!

  • In reply to JayZawaski:

    Actually Jay ,Im sending the $20 for the series win to the Canucks.Canucks are down but not out.I must admit I thought they were done as the intensity seemed to wain but if they stick to there game plan and avoid the name calling etc they will be fine.
    Too much pressure on Lou as Captain.Thats why their are no other NHL Goalie Captains.

    How did they miss the Big Buff cut to Obriens head for 5m major?And the Ladd rubb to Obriens stitches for 2m unsportsmans ?
    Im not a conspiracy theorist but....a Canadian team in the playoffs is not what Business Betman wants.
    Still they won and rose above all of that for the win.
    Its worth $20 !
    My personal Computer is down so I cannot email for 5 days which Im sure is going to make Jerry Kayne and co very Happy .

  • In reply to turvey:

    "How did they miss the Big Buff cut to Obriens head for 5m major?"

    *

    Because players usually aren't penalized for accidental high-sticks on follow-throughs?

  • In reply to JayZawaski:

    Best team won tonight.
    Good luck against San Jose .
    Thanks for the bet Jay.Have a Alexander Kieths on me !
    Go Habs !!!!

  • In reply to JayZawaski:

    Hi Jay.
    You lucky guys are still watching the greatest game on Earth !
    At least the Canucks were knocked out by One of the final two.I can take solice in that as Im crying in my beer.
    Good luck !

  • In reply to JayZawaski:

    Great column Jay. It was a team loss not a goalie loss. Big deal. It's best of 7. The Hawks are a better team by a long shot. They need to get it together and remind themselves they can take on any team in the NHL and win in 7, or 6 which has been their recent history. Anyone who's been following the Hawks for the last 3 seasons knows that

    Don't get into it with Turvey. He only just chimed to the Hawks blogs when he found out his Canucks would be playing the Hawks. He has no hockey knowledge and is only here to get under your and other uber-Hawks-fan's skin. There's probably some sort of international law about betting with a minor anyway. And he'll be gone as soon as Luongo starts crying again.

  • In reply to JayZawaski:

    Hey Jerry.Remind me to not take you to Vegas!
    Spoilt sport !
    Again with the No knowledge thing.What difference does it make if I dont know the Star Signs of the Hockey Players ?
    You are right though ,I will be gone when this series is done and Roberto is crying....WITH JOY !!!
    C,mon Jay .A sportsmans bet for $20 .
    What do you say ???
    T

  • In reply to JayZawaski:

    Well, they didn't score the first goal.

  • In reply to JayZawaski:

    Or the second.

    2-0 and a 9-1 shot advantage for Vancouver.

  • In reply to JayZawaski:

    Terrific comeback. It's a series anyway.

  • In reply to JayZawaski:

    I have to tip my hat.They played well for the comeback.
    I bet there were a few sphincters going in the first 12 Min's though eh !
    I wonder how long they can keep doing that for though.
    Jay.I would still like to still make that bet.Canucks to win.
    I will send you the $20 cash by first class mail and you should get it for Thursday and you can hold it as a gentleman's bet.
    Shoot me your mailing address and I will mail it to you.
    topseyturvey1@yahoo.ca
    Go Canucks !!

  • In reply to turvey:

    I think you're gonna lose your bet.

  • In reply to JayZawaski:

    Great 100% effort through 3/4 of the game. Good thing it was the latter 3/4. Next game 100%, 100% of the time and no turnovers.

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