An Inch Above Sand - Hawks 2, Sharks 1 (Hawks lead series 1-0)

YOINK!

 

So to try to describe the back and forth of the entirety of the game would give us all undue heartburn and night terrors, so here's the cliff notes version - both teams trade chances in the first, Hawks take too many penalties, Sharks convert  on a shot with eyes from Jason Demers, team trade even more chances, Sharp buries one on a rush, Niemi makes key saves, Hawks take control of the play in the third, Buff pounds one home off a draw, Niemi hangs tough. Just how they planned it right? Right.

 

Observations

  • Once again, Antti Niemi answered even more questions regarding his playoff readiness. After allowing a deflected shot on the power play from Jason Demers that it could have been argued that he should have had, he was an absolute rock in the crease, making numerous key saves, none bigger than a diving save on the ice sweeping the puck away with his left arm to save a goal.
  • The second period was quite possibly the best period played in the league the entire season by any two teams. Chances left and right with key saves, excellent passing, and physicality. 31 of 32 shots were stopped by both goalies. Six more games of this may very well send us all to Arkham Asylum, even though it was entertaining as shit.
  • Duncan Keith finally looked like a Norris trophy finalist after April. He was everywhere, controlling pucks in the defensive zone, keying the play ahead, and logging big minutes in all situations. He finished with 27 minutes played, an assist on Sharp's goal, a +2, and four shots on net.
  • If the fourth line can continue with what we saw this afternoon, the Hawks will put themselves in a very good position as the series wears on. Because San Jose really only rolls 3 lines, if the fourth for the Hawks can be physically disruptive and keep it 200 feet away from Niemi, that will keep the other forwards that much fresher. Ben Eager in particular was a physical force, playing with the speed and the edge that's necessary for him to be a factor.
  • As far as team speed is concerned, by and large for the entire game, the Hawks seemed like the faster team when it came to closing on loose pucks, rebounds, and generally all of the 50/50 plays.
  • Newly minted playoff legend Joe Thornton was -2 with one shot on goal. Just sayin'.
  • Coach Q shockingly didn't seem overly concerned with matching his forward lines, as the Sharks big line of Thornton, Dany Heatley, and Patrick Marleau saw time against all of the Hawks top three lines. However, Keith and Seabrook were out there for the vast majority of their shifts.
  • While there was a lot to like this afternoon, I would have liked to have seen more bodies toward Nabokov's net. A few more sticks and bodies in shooting lanes, even if the shots are coming from the outside, would have been far more preferable as well. The Hawks will not survive this series allowing 45 shots a game, or anywhere close to that.
  • Thanks once again to Mike, Steve, and Dino the bartender at the Bottom Lounge for having us for the game.
Player of the Game
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Antti Niemi came through with his best game of the playoffs to this point, making 44 saves, many of them spectacular. 



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