Game 2: Every game gets bigger

Anyone else noticing a ton of people around Chicago rocking their Hawks gear all over the city?  The past two Cubs games have featured plenty of people wearing Hawks sweaters in Wrigley even though there's not hockey being played there for a change.  Someone will have to tell me if it's the same at Sox games since I don't watch those.  Driving around this morning I saw at least 3 Hawk jerseys.. I got so pumped that I had to yell "Lets Go Hawks" at some dude rocking a 19.  My girlfriend immediately called me a dork but it didn't matter. 

Unfortunately for me - I won't be able to watch tonight's game.  A buddy is getting married and the ceremony starts at 7:00.  Even more salt in the wound, the wedding takes place 6 blocks east of the United Center on Madison.  So get loud Hawks fans, I want to hear you all the way down there. 

Just about every site has posted this link prior to game two - and I won't be any different.  There's a hell of a lot of importance on game two:

In NHL best-of-seven series, the winner of Game 2 has gone 381-150 -- winning 71.8 percent of the series. Game 1 winners have gone 367-164 -- a 69.1 percent winning percentage.

Teams that have won both games to go up, 2-0, have gone 254-37 -- 87.2 percent.

Game 2 winners who lost Game 1 have gone 127-113 (52.9 percent). In contrast -- and fairly obviously -- teams that have won Game 1 but lost Game 2 have gone 113-127 (47.1 percent).

As if the stats weren't proof enough there's this anecdotal evidence: Whenever we'd go up to Kevin Lowe after the Rangers lost yet another series-opening playoff game (they lost 10 straight series openers from the '94 EC Final through the 2006 EC Quarter), he'd just laugh and say: "The series doesn't even begin until Game 2."

Here's what I think - The Flames threw everything they could at the Hawks in Game One and for most of the game, they were the better team.  But they lost.  That's gotta hurt. 

They punched the Hawks in the mouth, sometimes literally, and the Hawks were able to overcome it and still get the victory.  You gotta believe they'll come right back out and try that again tonight. 

Hopefully though, Q will recognize which lines worked in the first game and which ones didn't (Sharp/Bur/Eager).  As Sam wrote in the recap, there was all kinds of line juggling going on.  The Hawks started with:

Kane – Toews – Havlat
Sharp – Burish – Eager
VERSTEEG! – Bolland – Brouwer
Buff – Pahlsson - Ladd

But by the end of the game we had something more this:

D - Ladd - Soul (note: D was actually center, but the joke only works this way)
Kane – Toews – Sharp
Eager – Burish – Brouwer
Buff – Pahlsson – VERSTEEG!

Small changes, sure, but they worked.  We saw the D.Ladd.Soul line shut down opponents all year and the Pahlsson line gives us another line that can take on top opponents, especially with Buff finally playing up to his strengths. 

Over on Matchsticks and Gasoline, they're saying the Flames shook things up this morning in practice and went with these lines:

Glencross – Conroy – Iginla
Cammalleri – Langkow – Bertuzzi
Bourque – Jokinen – Moss
Boyd – Lundmark - Nystrom

The Flames needed to shake things up and the Flames fans over there seem to be pretty pumped about these lines.  They're also excited that Sarich should make a return for tonight's game that will make the Flames D even tougher.  Hopefully this doesn't mean the exit of Anders Eriksson, his -11 CORSI, -2 +/- and 22:44 TOI was a nice present for the Hawks. 

A big surprise was the solid play of Kiprusoff as well.  The Barker goal was a softie but he also robbed Kane and a few other Hawks.  He really is going to be key for the Flames and if he improves its going to be much harder.  But if he falters like he has in the past it might be too much for the Flames to overcome.

I haven't seen much talk about but one thing all Hawk fans need to do is keep an eye on Toews tonight.  You never would have guessed that was his first playoff game if you watched him on Thursday.  He got kind of a fluke assist on Barker's goal and only had two shots on goal but won 71.4% of his faceoffs, was on the ice for 17 minutes, recorded 3 hits, didn't give up a turnover, had the highest CORSI and did everything you'd want out of a young leader.  It wasn't his best game but it was a damn solid one.

The Hawks can't afford to come out flat two games in a row because they aren't going to get lucky everytime.  Hopefully the sloppiness of the Hawks can be blamed on nerves and the solid play towards the end of the game was what we can expect from the Hawks here on out.  It should be another good one.  If you're there, get loud.  If you're here, have fun. Don't forget your SPG picks.

Lets Go Hawks

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