Everything Else

Willpower: Blackhawks 2 – Wild 1

In somewhat of a role-reversal, I couldn’t fucking sit still or stop swearing tonight (OK, I always swear a lot) and Fels was cool as a… well, not a cucumber. Maybe a zucchini? Are those cool? Some sort of squash or gourd, I guess. Are squashes and gourds even mutually exclusive? I don’t get horticulture.

While the Blackhawks didn’t make it easy for themselves, they never really seemed like they were getting outplayed. The early goal from the Wild (from Clutterbuck on a softie… because of course that would happen) didn’t inspire much confidence but it wasn’t a dagger in the hearts of the UC either. The Wild scored, we groaned but anyone who thought the Hawks would be shutout for the game was kidding themselves. The Hawks didn’t panic. They came back to their game and they found a way to score one on the advantage and then take it in a longish OT. 15.

So the Wild didn’t exactly come out guns blazing and throwing their hardest heaviest punches in this game. There’s still something left in their tank and they haven’t emptied the tank. And I still haven’t run out of cliches either. But the Wild did play pretty much exactly the kind of game they wanted or could have hoped for. They got the early goal. They kept the Hawks off the scoreboard for the first 20 and they had everything going for them. They aren’t as strong along the boards as others we’ve seen but they did a good job keeping the Hawks to the outside. They collapsed to the center and gave the Hawks a lot of trouble in getting their shots through – 21 blocked shots for the Wild (including 7 from Spurgeon alone).

And despite a strong effort from Minnehaha.. they’re down one thanks to a quick 2-on-1 and Bickell getting yet another OT playoff winner.

OBSERVATIONS:

  • I suppose the first thing on many people’s minds may be the absolute softie let in by Crawford only 5 minutes into the game. Anyone who was perviously concerned about Crawford’s play will certainly add it to their ammunition but it didn’t quite bother me given the way the rest of the game went. Of course, we don’t want to see the return of the easy goals but for the rest of the game Crawford was still challenged and responded every time. There was the big save in the last minute of the first and a pretty stellar OT. No one wants those shots getting past him but even if he gives up one of those every so often I don’t see it being a problem this series… but please don’t let those fucking things in.
  • Oh right, and there’s that other goalie situation too. We spoke quite a bit about Backstrom’s ability to steal a game but we didn’t really ever expect Harding to see the start in Game 1… and neither did he. The guy only played in 5 games all year. Yet with Backstrom out after injuring himself in warmups (no idea how serious that is yet), the Wild leaned on Harding and he didn’t disappoint. Neither Hawks goal was an easy save and he made a few incredible ones too. Wild fans would breath easier with Backstrom but Harding is no cakewalk either.
  • And there’s the whole issue the Hawks have always seemed to have with goalies who catch with their right hand too. It always seems to befuddle the forwards. Makes me a little jumpy but shouldn’t be too hard to get around.
  • Stalberg was all over the ice tonight so it was great to see him get the A on the winner. What a beauty of a pass from Oduya on the set up too. We’ve talked about secondary scoring being important.. this is a perfect example.
  • Not to say the top lines weren’t top lines either. Kaner gets a beautiful pass to Hoss for the equalizer just at the end of a PP. Sharp led the team in SOG. Toews won 70% of his draws. They may have not had quite the impact we wanted but they were far from fading away in the game. I still expect bigger things from all those mentioned in this bullet.
  • Christ, it is really nice writing this with the windows open and a breeze coming into my apartment. Just sayin
  • Jonathan Quick… ouch.
  • Q decided to stick with rolling four lines pretty much all game and didn’t get nearly as matchy-uppy as one might expect. Fairly even minutes throughout the likely suspects with the Rosival leading the team overall…. wait, seriously? Seriously.
  • On the other hand, Suter and Brodziak played 41:08 and 34:20, respectively. These two are the ones most thankful that the next game doesn’t start til Friday.
  • Surprisingly physical game from the Hawks. We’ll never be ones to really put much stock in hit counts but we certainly realize that throwing bodies around in the right situation can change a game. Stalberg, Shaw and Rosival all made a big impact. Shaw in particular as a hit from him knocked Stoner out for most of the first.
  • On to Friday.

Player Of The Game:

stalberg

None of us watched the game on TV, obviously. What’d Edzo have to say?

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