04/21/2010 2:40 PM - By Chad Huebner
Just want to get to a few things before I get to the arduous task of covering Game 3 while drinking beer while covering the game while drinking beer (yep, started the drinking part about an hour ago):
--Sports radio wags are saying not to panic, even though my beloved ‘Hawks are not up 2-0 in this series. When they speak, at the time I listen to them and buy into their soothing words.
Then I do something else, and my mind keeps thinking “And yet. . . and yet. . .”
And yet nearly every series is so closely contested, a 1-1 start to a series has to be a concern to the favored them. They say sometimes the puck bounces funny, and that just happens. And yet, can you sit there and seriously tell me the San Jose Sharks are not doomed to the whims of fate for yet another year?
In short, I won’t really start to relax for a little while until the ‘Hawks are up 3-1 in this series. Or until they win, whichever comes first.
--I’m glad my beloved ‘Hawks played down to the level of the Preds in Game 2, and everyone was showering the ‘Hawks with praise, saying they can adjust their game to their opponents level, they can go from a freewheeling, puck-carrying dynamo to a slow and plodding, dump and chase sloth, etc etc etc.
And all I can think of is why the frak couldn’t the ‘Hawks play that way in Game 1? Maybe they’d be up 2-0 like they should be?
I mean, it’s no surprise as to what kind of style the Preds play. It’s a system that’s been in place ever since Barry “Edward G. Robinson Look-a-Like” Trotz coached the Preds in 1998. And in case the ‘Hawks forgot what style of game the Preds played, there’s always that wonderful invention of the videotape to remind them what to expect.
Siggggghhhhhhhh. . . Oh well, time for another well-deserved beer, but it’s also time for the start of Game 3.
I was wondering who Trotz reminded me of, then I watched “Boondock Saints” last night and then I knew: he looks like one of the tough guys in the South Boston Italian mob. I could conceivably picture Trotz packing heat while on the bench. “Hooking penalty on us?! I don’t think so, ref boy.”
I like the makeup of the ‘Hawks first 2 lines: Line 1-Toews, Hossa, Ladd; Line 2-Kaner, Sharp, Bolland. It’s a nice distribution of all that talent, with the understanding you could put Kaner, Hossa, Toews and Ladd, Sharp, Bolland and not miss a beat, considering the last three played most of the playoffs together a year ago.
More frustration for the ‘Hawks as Versteeg has a nice little breakaway and Rinne stones him with a pad save. I’m wondering how good the tech business is in Finland, because Rinne seems to be put together with the best microchips and software money can buy.
Preds are knocking ‘Hawks all over the place. So much for the ‘Hawks continuing the physical play from the last game. Kopecky gets whistled for a roughing penalty, and now we’ll see on the Preds latest PP if Niemi was made by the same manufacturer as Rinne.
I take my eyes off the TV screen for a second and I miss an almost sure handed shortie goal by John Madden. Rinne makes what could’ve been a huge mistake in handling the puck in his crease, and Madden had a wide open net for .25 of a second. Not enough time, of course.
Wow, not only have the ‘Hawks been stifling on the PK, they’ve also been opportunistic with the shortie chances. Two nice shots in a row on Rinne, who looks a tiny bit shaky for the first time this series. I blame faulty wiring.
Oh, and before I forget, we get Eddie O for at least the next two games (maybe even Game 5 on Saturday on NBC). Good to hear him say “Stop it right here” for the 1,862nd time (which never, ever, EVER gets old).
Frak, another PP to kill for the ‘Hawks, this time Ladd is accused of taking one too many steps into the physical play land area.
Eeeyah! ‘Hawks try to make an attack on the Preds PP, but get caught up ice as David Legwand has a breakaway on Niemi. Niemi stays rock solid (is he the Finnish Force Field?) and the puck bounces away. There is no question anymore, folks, he IS the ‘Hawks number one goalie!
And then dammit, the Preds take the lead. Steve Sullivan takes a rocket of a shot that Niemi deflects, right to Joel Ward who bangs it home. Really wanted the ‘Hawks to take that opening lead on the road, but now I hope they keep the pressure on Rinne, see if he’ll eventually crack.
Now I think the ‘Hawks are playing a bit dumb. Versteeg leaves the ice to deliver an elbow which of course is a definite no-no, and the ‘Hawks have to play shorthanded for the third time in the period. You can’t keep doing this and expect Niemi to keep out everything while trying to generate some offensive momentum. Glad I have plenty of beer.
Clear the puck, clear the puck, CLEAR THE FRAKKING PUCK!!!! AHHHH!!! BARF!
Phew! ‘Hawks kill another penalty, which has been one of their strengths this game. The other one is parked between the pipes.
Another $#@! penalty?!
Ah, oh, it’s on the Preds. For a while there, I was getting used to the idea of having at least one ‘Hawk sit alone in a box for about 2 minutes or so.
And they only take 15 seconds to hit pay dirt. YEESSSSSS!!!! Kopecky, parked in front of Rinne, takes a pass in the slot and spins around to backhand it into the net. Love to see a guy who takes a dumb penalty redeem himself with a PP goal.
And it doesn’t take long for the Preds to be down a man again. But this PP starts to look like a lot of others for the ‘Hawks against the Preds, in that they can’t get set up and always seemingly skating back to their own end of the ice. Period ends with 5 seconds left on the PP (which means it’s virtually done). I feel spent, folks. I hope the next two periods aren’t just like this (oh yes, you do, you pray for such games to happen, you sap!) or my brain will turn into custard and I won’t be able to type clearfhfhnfhfjgfjkgkjfhkjfghj.
Preds get hit with their third straight penalty, this time Ward, who opened up the scoring in this game, sits for awhile. Will this be a productive PP or a screwed-up one? We nearly had our answer as the Preds’ Marcel Goc fires point blank at Niemi, who saves the ‘Hawks’ bacon yet again. ‘Hawks had some good chances, so I’ll call this a middle of the road period.
But the Preds draw yet another breakaway, this time Sullivan and Legwand, and Legwand pots it to retake the lead. I see the ‘Hawks trying to finesse the puck up the ice too much, and they’re getting away from what worked in Game 2. I just don’t get it.
When it rains it pours, and since the Preds are adept at keeping the puck in the ‘Hawks’ zone, sooner or later they’ll get called for a penalty. But the Preds during their latest PP get Legwand sent to the box for holding Bolland’s stick. This is definitely not good behavior coming from two teams who were in the top five in fewest penalties taken in the regular season.
Here’s something else you might not expect: Nashville leads Chicago in shots taken 17-10. Well, some of that comes from the penalties, but it just seems the Preds are playing a more aggressive forecheck than the ‘Hawks.
Ugh. As I was saying, the Preds get another goal due to camping themselves in the ‘Hawks zone. Shea Weber takes a blast from near the blue line, which bounces off of Hossa and slips underneath Niemi with still a lot of force. Ugh again.
Duncan Keith is trying to get some sort of spark going with a flurry of big hits. Now if he could move the puck and score a hat trick in the next few minutes, the ‘Hawks will be all set.
Period comes to a merciful end, and I just feel numb right now. Not sure what’ll it take for the ‘Hawks to jump back into this one, and even if I did, I don’t think the ‘Hawks are capable of taking it to the next level. I sound like a sourpuss, and you might be slightly right in that assessment, but the Preds are looking like the more dominant team at this moment of the series.
Okay ‘Hawks, show me something. Show me you can overcome everything that’s happened so far. Show me you can dump and chase like no one’s business. Show me you can shut the hell up this Nashville crowd.
The Preds are spending so much time in the ‘Hawks section of ice they’re already building McMansions they’ll sell at twice the price to people who have little or no credit rating. Hah. Good to see I can still laugh every once in awhile, even if it’s a lame real estate joke. I hate being an adult sometimes.
Second time this series I heard Foley call Niemi Rinne. I guess we all know who the better Finnish goalie is so far.
Seems like anytime the ‘Hawks get something going in the offensive zone, the Preds do something to frak things up. A stick block, a pad save, a hip check, it always stops the ‘Hawks in their tracks. Frustration to the Nth degree.
Figured one of the Preds’ breakaways would lead to a penalty shot. Martin Erat’s had only one penalty shot in his career, and he missed that attempt. So naturally, he makes it, and pretty much secures this game for the Preds. This is all just a nightmare, right?
Eddie O’s getting the giggles, and someone flips on the mike and catches some random chatter from the production booth. Yep, it must mean this game is pretty much over, thankfully. Sharpie gets a little chippy, which is about the most I’ve seen any ‘Hawk get tough tonight. Yes, the Preds get a PP out of it, but I really wanted to see the ‘Hawks deck someone, just to regain some of their swagger.
And yet. . . ugh.
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