Well now, has everyone stocked up on caffeine and other crucial supplies? Ready for another 5 hour hockey game? No? Well me either. If there’s one thing to take away from Wednesday’s game, it’s that there aren’t going to be any easy victories for either team in this series. The Hawks started the game as the team looking like they had a message to send. I don’t think we’ve seen them be quite so physical right from the drop of the puck in a while. Everyone knows the Bruins are the bigger team with the nastier reputation, so the Hawks clearly wanted to send a message that they would not be intimidated. Interesting strategy…
Of course, it was that physicality that led to Hammer going out of position looking for a hit and giving up the first two goals of the game. The first was a misfire on a hit behind the net aimed at Krejci. That led to open skaters in front of the net and Lucic burying the first goal of the game. In the second, it was Hammer getting caught in no-man’s land at the blue line (and then falling down) that led to a charge with an extra skater and Lucic’s second of the game.
And this really brings up the biggest issue from Game 1 that will need to be addressed tonight. The Lucic-Krejci-Horton(Seguin) line was all over the Hawks, especially the Swedish Wonder Twins of Hammer and Oduya. This is going to be an even bigger concern seeing as how word out of the morning skate is that Horton is ready to go for tonight. They were responsible for two goals (7 points for all 4 of them) and 17 shots. No other lines was nearly as dangerous. An easy adjustment for Q would simply be changing who sees that line. Marlboro 72 was out there against Bergeron-Jagr-Marchand. And while that line was pretty neutralized (only point scored by the three was on the PP) they don’t posses the threat that the Krejci line will. Seabrook is once again not playing anywhere near his best but his size will go a long way against the B’s top line while the Swedes aren’t as likely to be eaten alive by the smaller Bergeron line. Although did you know Jagr is listed as 240#? Lay off the donuts old man.
This is where Q can let his mental game really go insane. The top line for the B’s clearly is capable of inflicting the biggest damage to the Hawks but there’s a potential easy fix staring him in the face. Will he make that swap or will he just trust the Swedes to do a better job and perhaps free things up for Marlboro 72 against a less threatening line. Does he keep Toews facing Krejci the entire game as well? These are the questions that I just don’t have answers for but that I’m sure we’ll see very soon.
With the return of Horton, most likely not at 100% no matter what you read, it means the B’s get a little bit more depth in their roster as well when Seguin slides back down to the third line. The Hawks are going to need to trust their depth to win this series but having Seguin on the third line nullifies a bit of their advantage in this department. The bottom two lines for the B’s weren’t much of a threat in Game 1 but this will help.
Other than a few minor adjustments, I don’t imagine we see many changes from either side. The Bruins have to feel like they did just about everything right but came up a post away (along with a lucky two-player deflection) from taking Game 1 in the UC which has been notoriously hard. The Hawks looked markedly outplayed for long stretches and most of the OT. The Bruins likely believe they just need to go out there and execute the same game plan while hoping for a few better bounces.
Likewise, as I mentioned above, the Hawks only found themselves in a hole mostly because of two poor decisions from one player (Hammer). He didn’t have any huge changes to make but did seem to find a comfort level and most importantly just settle down and stop looking for a big hit. Keep his head on right and stay off the penalty kill and the game is a lot different as well. Having a PP that looked like a threat would be nice but… yeah, whatever.
Even with two days off, both teams are likely to be a bit tired and sluggish, especially as the minutes add up in this one. A big start could be the difference maker. Legs are going to get tired and hopefully the Hawks are able to respond and adjust better. Either way, prepare for a long series because heading over to Boston on Monday (while you’re watching the game with us at The Bottom Lounge) isn’t going to be a welcoming place for the Hawks. Let’s head there up 2.
Let’s Go Hawks
If you’re not heading to the UC tonight, you can get a Committed Indian right here: