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THE FAR SIDE OF THE POND: Crazy First, Fluke Goal and a Wild Finish; Yep, My Brain Hurts!

By:
04/27/2010 10:05 AM - By Chad Huebner

Are you surprised that Marian Hossa wasn’t suspended for tonight’s game due to his hit on Saturday? I’m not.

Look, there are a few factors as to why Hossa is technically in the clear:

1)    He’s not a repeat offender. Repeat offenders usually get thrown out of the game where they make the hit, then for how many games after that. When Ovechkin laid the hit on Brian Campbell on the same ice as Hossa’s hit, Ovie already had a bit of rap sheet for questionable rough play. Hossa’s not like that. In fact, that’s the most action he saw in the series up until that point.

2)    The Preds’ Dan Hamhuis had the puck in this case, which was not the situation when Ovie ran Soup into the wall. It’s hard to ask of a hockey player not to pursue the guy with the puck. Maybe Hossa could have let up a little, but Hamhuis had his back to Hossa anyway, so what was Marian supposed to do? It’s “The New NHL,” not the “Wimpy NHL.”

3)    Ovie’s hit on Campbell was a touch more physical than Hossa’s. Ovie basically raised his stick and shoved it into Soup’s back like a crosscheck. Side-angle views of Hossa’s hit make it look like he was tapping the guy on the shoulder more than trying to hit him. “Uh, pardon me sir, would you be so kind as to allow me to take over possession of that little, rubber disc?” You could say Hossa guided the player into the wall, more so than leveling the guy.

With all that said, I do feel that Hossa made a bad, stupid penalty. That he was able to redeem himself by coming out of the penalty box, going hard to the net and tapping in the winning rebound, well, maybe that’s the Sports Karma Gods writing an incredible ending to an unbelievable story. The Preds can hoot and holler all they want: Hossa served the five minutes, and they couldn’t score on the ‘Hawks to take the lead and probably all but demolish Chicago’s hopes of moving on. As it is, and should the ‘Hawks win this series, don’t you have to think this is the most demoralizing point in the Preds’ history? It’s more than them making the playoffs, only to quickly exit. It’s almost like someone’s saying that this team will never win anything of importance.

I can dream, can’t I? I have no idea how this will all turn out. I’ve given up trying to figure out the result anymore. 

1ST PERIOD


(Man I feel nervous.)

Here’s a comforting stat: The Preds are 0-4 in elimination games. Barry Trotz is 17-0 in situations when someone says he looks like Edward G. Robinson.

Bridgestone Arena is close to being sold out. Hah! ‘Hawks would’ve sold seats from the upper support girders at the United Center if they could figure out how to put safety belts up there.

‘Hawks playing a bit on their heels early on, which I sadly expected them to. Toews gets clipped with a high stick, the refs dutifully ignore this. So much for the ‘Hawks being the NHL’s favored team.

Oops, replays show it was Toews’ newest teammate Bryan Bickell who gave him a close shave with his stick. My bad. Refs are a great bunch of guys.

‘Hawks take the first penalty. #@$!ing refs.

Preds are 0-for-21 on the PP this series. ‘Hawks PK has been off the charts. Doesn’t take long for the Preds’ “faithful” to boo their favorite team for making that 0-for-22 on the PP.

EEEYYAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!

Dunc’s goal (his first of the series), a high slapper from just inside the blue line with a ton of traffic in front of Rinne. Seems like I’ve said that about how the D scores goals in this series many times already. Crowd slightly quieter.

And that doesn’t last long as the Preds equal it with a defenseman goal of their own. Shea Weber, one of the fan favorites, gives the hometown renewed life, and it only took about two minutes for that to happen.

(Two steps forward and two steps back. . .)

How About the easiest goal I’ve seen in a long, loooonnnnggg time. On the faceoff coming back from a TV timeout, Seabs takes the puck and throws it at Rinne, but it ricochets off of Kaner’s foot. . . and Rinne’s moving away from the net for some unknown-and I mean UNKNOWN-reason. Puck caroms in the inside of the net.

Now, did Rinne think he could come out and cut down on the shot attempt? It didn’t look like he stumbled as he moved. He moves to his left, puck goes to the right.


I told you, I couldn’t figure this series out. At least it’s a piece of good luck for the ‘Hawks. But then again, aren’t quite a few hockey playoff series determined on wacky plays like this?

(Screw on backing off from beer drinking, I’m gonna need a keg and an IV after all this is said and done.)

YES! Looks like the floodgates are opening. ‘Hawks getting excellent forechecking once again, start battering the puck around Rinne, and Sharpie, who hits it last, gets the ‘Hawks third goal of the period. Hossa was part of the forechecking and gets an assist for his efforts, which, while he isn't generating a bunch of goals for himself, are benefiting the ‘Hawks in many ways.

This game is starting to remind me of the ‘Hawks Game 6 of the Conference Semis with Vancouver from a year ago, where they just ripped off a bunch of early goals and cruised to a win. Speaking of the Canucks, that’s who the ‘Hawks will play against if they hold onto this one. I’m sure the Canucks aren’t looking for revenge for what happened a year ago. . . nah, ‘course not.

Preds on PP yet again. . . but, error, now they’re 1-for-23. (Two steps-umm-Three steps forward, two steps back.) Patrick Hornqvist, the Preds leading scorer during the regular season, is making his first appearance in the series since Game 1 and gets credited for an assist. I’d make some sort of joke at this point about suggesting said team should get a famous star player out of retirement to play for them, but the Preds haven’t been around enough to warrant such a joke.

And now, I’m not laughing. 3-3 with less than a minute left in the period. Once again, the ‘Hawks had a 3-1 lead, and once again, they’ve let it evaporate too easily. ‘Hawks are unable to break any game wide open against these guys. It’s simply un-frakking-believable.

Well, they do get their first shot at the PP. . . AND IT DOESN’T TAKE TOO LONG  FOR THEM TO REGAIN THE LEAD!!!!!! (Had to do something different than yell “YESSSS!” for once.)

What year is this: 2010 or 1986? Are the ‘Hawks playing against Gretzky’s Oilers in their prime?

Period finally comes to an end. Final score at this rate will be something like 12-9. Deep breaths, people, deep breaths.

2ND PERIOD

Guh. Bruh. Agga bagga. My brain is mush. Two more periods of this? Frak.
Most used hockey term of the playoffs: net presence. Nice sing-songy term. ‘Hawks and Preds have been really good at this at times.

Back to hating refs: ‘Hawks have a nice 2-on-1 rush going. . . and the refs whistle the Preds for too many men on the ice. Wha? I’m no hockey expert (though I act like one), but shouldn’t the refs blow the whistle when the Preds have control of the puck? The ‘Hawks are getting whistled for calls on the other team. Just adding more ingredients to this unbelievable stew of a series.

Fans are booing Hossa every time he touches the puck. Petty, and I don’t mean Tom of the Heartbreakers. Deal with it, Nashvillians.

Dummm-duh-duh-dummm. . . ‘Hawks get another PP: thank you for the slashing, Mr. Weber. It only took about 10 seconds to score the last time, maybe make it three seconds this time around. No such luck, but nice effort nonetheless. Yippee?

Huh, until now, I thought former ref’s last name Nick McGeough was spelled “Magoo.” All these years, and I thought he shared the name of that blind cartoon guy. All those jokes wasted. . .

In the meantime, ‘Hawks back on PP. Back and forth passing. Both teams well aware of the high value of these situations. Legwand ties up Kaner preventing a point blank shot. All the same, it’s more time off the clock. Not that I have any confidence the ‘Hawks will be able to hold onto a one-goal lead for the remaining 28 minutes.    

Wow, fourth-straight penalty for the Preds this period, a four-minute one this time. They’re still aggressive in the ‘Hawks zone, but the ‘Hawks are doing a better job of controlling the puck, so hence, the Preds are lashing out in frustration. Even if the ‘Hawks don’t score on the PP, they’re at least keeping Nashville’s game plan off balance. Still, it’s 10 minutes of man-advantage time and nothing to show for it. They’re giving the Preds another ray of hope.

Can you believe we’ve gone through an entire period without a goal? OMG! I know, like, it’s hard to believe, ya know? Well, I think I have the mind of a 14-year-old girl, time to end the period, have a beer, and look up that cute guy in Physics’ Facebook page during the break.

3RD PERIOD


Can’t. . . take. . . much. . . more. . . of. . . this. . .

Another good-news stat: ‘Hawks are 3-1 this series when they have the lead after two periods. Two were shutouts, the third was the miracle affair. Got a feeling this game will turn out to be more like the latter result. Just sayin’.

At the break, commentator (and former ‘Hawk) Steve Konroyd said the Preds would have a PP in the first five minutes of this period, and he was right, so blame him for Soap’s penalty. Seabs makes a big-time block with his lower body, and I say it that way because he’s behind the ‘Hawks’ bench right now in pain, so don’t be surprised if he suffered a “lower body injury.” ‘Hawks kill off yet another penalty. . .

And then right after I type that, Dustin Byfuglien gets hit with an interference call. Roller coaster ride starts all over again. ‘Hawks generate a couple of odd-man rushes. Crowd boos some more at their own team. Nice.

And then after I type all of that, it’s another ‘Hawks penalty! @#$!@##!@!~! What the @#$! is going on? Do the ‘Hawks want me to have a heart attack before I turn 40?

‘Hawks go two minutes without drawing a penalty. What a concept! Preds keep pressing, so until the ‘Hawks find an opening in the Preds’ backside, we might have to suffer through a couple more penalties before everything’s done.

First time this series ‘Hawks play-by-play man Pat Foley mistakenly calls Rinne “Niemi.” Usually it’s the other way around. Good omen for the ‘Hawks?

5:30 to go. Every pass, every save, every. . . everything is magnified 100x over.

Four minutes to go. It’s a staring contest. Who’ll blink?

Three minutes to go. Three periods in a game. Three goals for a hat-trick. Three is a magic number. Isn’t it? Isn’t it?!

Two minutes to go. Keep the puck 200 feet away from your net. Do the two-step, whatever it takes.

1:20 to go, Rinne’s out of the net. This is it. . . again. Timeout, Nashville. Quenneville’s exhorting the troops. Trotz draws up a foolproof strategy with nothing but magic marker and a dry erase board.

1:20 to 7.8 seconds: Preds keep it in the zone, ‘Hawks keep it away from Niemi. Bodies are strewn on the icy battlefield. And then. . . and then. . .

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

It’s an empty-netter by John Madden! The cagey playoff vet gets a tally to seal the deal.

Hard to believe it, but the series is now over, and before my brain officially shuts down for the next 24 hours, let me say I have never seen a team battle as hard as the Nashville Predators did. It was almost tragic to see the Preds lose this series the way they did. They gave the ‘Hawks all they could handle, but Game 5 was the turning point of the whole series. PK was a key factor in this series, but just like in this series ender, it’s always the little, quirky things that determine who wins. Had Rinne not suffered a mental fart, this game would be going to OT well into the wee hours of the morning.

It’s only one step closer to the Cup, but it’s a big step, and now it’s time to face a team eager for revenge. Bring them on, that’s all I have to say for now.

Remember; e-mail me at chadhuebner1972@yahoo.com for anything on your mind. Best responses and/or questions will be answered publicly.




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