Now that the dust has settled and the histrionics have died down with Game 1 in the books, if the shit wasn't real before, it's going to be now. The old adage is "It's not really a series until someone loses at home", but a Vancouver win tonight wouldn't necessarily put the Hawks square behind the 8-ball, but it eliminates a substantial portion of the Hawks' margin for error, something that they've been all too familiar with this season. After an impeccable performance on Wednesday, Roberto Luongo will be looking to continue to exorcise his demons by following it up tonight, something he's had difficulty doing in the past. While Luongo was helped by the iron on a couple-few occasions in Game 1, he rarely had to make any second stops, if he had to make them at all, and the Hawks will need to change that drastically in order to get anything by him tonight if he's still in rhythm. As for the skaters in front of him, there's not much more that can be asked of them to top of what they provided Wednesday, but the message undoubtedly has been that they'd like to tighten things up from what was shown in the final 40-50 minutes. As was noted in the wrap, the names "Kesler" and "Sedin" were rarely uttered after the second goal was scored. But therein lies the concern- were they invisible because that's just what they do, or were they invisible because they could afford to be? The burden of proof is still on them to step up during these times, but there's no light at the end of the tunnel for the Hawks if their maximum effort isn't even necessary.
As for the Men of Four Feathers, their top guns would be well-served to announce their presence as well. For all the MVP talk of Jonathan Toews a month or so ago, one goal (albeit a huge one) in his past eight games simply isn't going to cut it from him. The Hawks' bottom six has been a shit show of mismatched parts for the better part of the year, and Dave Bolland's absence, which continues tonight, exacerbates that fact. As does Tomas Kopecky's, which further drives the point home of how dire the scoring situation has been. Fernando Pisani will take TomoKop's spot along side Stalberg and Johnson, and anyone hoping for a repeat performance of his 2006 run with the Oil is likely to be sorely disappointed. No, the offense is going to have to come from the primary sources again, and it would help greatly if 81 got out of the passenger's seat. All the backchecking without the numbers to boast with it was all well and good last year when the goals were coming from other sources, but the Hawks need Hossa to contribute on the score sheet. There must be traffic in front of Luongo, and pucks will need to get deep in the Vancouver zone with authority for offense to be generated. The majority of non-rush chances came from work down low in Game 1, bodies in front with those types of opportunities only increase the odds. Making the Canucks pay on the power play would be a welcome sight as well, but perhaps that's getting ahead of ourselves. The Hawks have done best this season when playing a straight line, simplified game, but the problem has been getting them to stick to it as they labor under the delusion that they're still a circus act in the offensive zone. Commitment to that, as well as the lettered captaincy rising to the occasion, is imperative tonight if the Hawks hope to have any shot in this series.
The territory here is familiar, even if a lot of the faces donning white sweaters aren't. Those who have gone through this before need make their presence felt, starting tonight. Let's go Hawks.