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Make Them Believe: Hawks at Ducks Game 2 Preview/Pregame Thread/Soakin’ It

Hawk Wrestler vs.howard_the_duck

PUCK DROP: 8pm (or 20 minutes later) Central
TV/RADIO: NBCSN, CBC In The Great White North, WGN 720
MICKEY GROPERS: Anaheim Calling, Battle Of California

Now that all the teeth-gnashing and forcible hair removal after Game 1’s loss has faded, the Hawks get down to the business of trying to grab a split in Orange County, which is what they needed when this all began anyway. Nothing is fucked here, Dude.

As you may have seen the debate rage on Twitter last night, it looks like there’s going to be one lineup change for the Hawks tonight as Kyle Cumiskey will come in for David Rundblad. Let’s be clear, neither is an answer to any question anyone is asking. This isn’t about one being better than the other. But it is highly strange that after it was clear that Rundblad was struggling with rust after not playing in a month combined with the deficiencies in his game, that Q would then opt to try another d-man who hasn’t played in a month and hasn’t even been playing in the NHL this season save for six games that weren’t all that impressive. It’s unlikely he’ll play enough to make a difference, but then we thought that about Rundblad, didn’t we?

What is likely tonight, on the road and unable to completely shelter Cumiskey and Timonen, is that Q will completely burn out his top four, unless the Hawks can get a comfortable lead. He hasn’t quite red-lined it yet with his entire top four yet, though he has with Keith. We will see that now, though I think Kimmo is more than capable of skating 10 minutes. Cumiskey will be trusted on his off-side, where he can be paired with Keith and Oduya who specialize in putting out fires.

But other than that, the Hawks don’t have to change much. They were thoroughly in control of the first 40 minutes though the score didn’t reflect that, and if they do that again they probably won’t have to worry about trailing in the 3rd where the Ducks can put the clamps down as they did on Sunday.

One thing the Hawks are going to want to focus is how to get the 2nd and 3rd lines in on the possession party. Richards’s line mostly saw the Getzlaf line, which makes it tough on them but the Hawks need more than one shot from Patrick Kane, even if that shot should have gone in. On the road it’s hard to avoid matchups, but the Hawks are going to have to figure out something.

Teuvo-Vermette-Sharp looked really good in the 1st period but faded after that. It was the same story in Minnesota, so it may just be a road game thing but the Hawks can get more from this line over 60 minutes. It may just be a matter of sending them out there and letting things correct.

Other than that… I don’t know, cash in on a power play? But they don’t really need to if they do the things they’re supposed to.

As for the Ducks, there will be no changes I would imagine, but their coach is looking for them to play better, as even he admits they sort of got away with one on Sunday and have their goalie to thank for the 1-0 lead. I would imagine they’re going to be more physical tonight, trying to make it hard for the Hawks along the wall and making it harder to get to the middle of the ice where the Hawks mostly ran the show. But the faults we pointed to before the series are still there, and they’re mostly on the blue line. They’ll want to clean up the horrific turnovers they committed that went unpunished in Game 1, but I doubt they can be perfect.

For the first two periods on Sunday, the Ducks were pretty terrible in their zone and the neutral zone, simply allowing the Hawks to traipse through and into their zone with speed. I don’t know that Boudreau has a throttle-back gear, and I don’t know that his forwards or his defense are geared to play it. Vatanen, Fowler, and Hampus! Hampus! are not built to sit back. Their forwards are on the go as well. But at some point you’ll pay for giving the Hawks a freeway into your zone. They dialed it back in the 3rd, but I doubt they will from the opening draw tonight.

Just because the first two series went smoother than anticipated, in that the Hawks never trailed in those, this isn’t something with which the Hawks are unfamiliar. They beat Detroit after trailing 3-1, the Bruins after trailing 2-1, the Blues trailing 2-0, nearly beat the Kings after trailing 3-1, and if we go farther back they beat the Canucks twice after losing both Game 1’s, and also the Predators after losing Game 1 and trailing 2-1. They most certainly aren’t worried, and neither should you. This isn’t must-win either, as the Hawks could easily hold serve at home and pick one off at Honda Center in Game 5 or 7. But it certainly would help everyone’s nerves if they did.

Let’s Go Hawks.

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