Nothing is cinched yet, sadly. The Stars are already in the barn, the Yotes are up 3-1 after two as I write this, and the Ducks and Kings are knotted at one at the same point. However, we're here to talk about the Hawks, and a repeat performance Sunday of what we saw tonight, and nothing else is really going to matter a jot.
I'm sure Wings fans will say they weren't trying. I'm sure they will point to the injured Zetterberg and Kronwall (though I will say to my dying day that he sucks and nothing will ever change my mind), and either of those may be half true. Scum were certainly sluggish, second to every loose puck, and pretty much the drunken derelict at the bus stop in their own zone. It would be folly to think they would be like this again. But then they have been like this quite often the past couple...well, months. Especially in the Dresden West that is Joe Louis. And those same Wings fans wouldn't admit it, but are probably hoping they don't get any part of this in the 1st round, if we get there (always include the disclaimer).
Not to take away from the Hawks, who had their heads on straight all game. They were quick, determined, smart, and overall lethal. The Hawks had three prime chances in the opening 10 minutes, and buried them all. They got a good first shift, and I'm still not sure how Patrick Sharp found Brent Seabrook, but he did.
I've been screaming for the hills that Brian Rafalski is not the player he was, and his picking flowers behind the net while Valtieri Filppula completely fell asleep while in possession would be more evidence. Still, full credit to Ben Smith for sniping his chance top shelf for his first NHL goal. At some point, we're going to wonder why this kid wasn't up sooner, aren't we?
For the third, there's not much to say other than it's pretty glorious...nee, tingle in your balls glorious when you can take advantage of a Todd Bertuzzi mistake. And so it was as he was yelling "Pandemic!" on the street corner while 51 Phantom waltzed by him to score the 3rd.
Remember last year when we only required our goalie to make a big save here and there and then pretty much kick his feet up, start the grill, open a Heineken? Well, that's what Corey Crawford did when Filppula tried to make amends for his fuck-up at the end of the first. But Keith kept him on his backhand so Crow knew where he was going, and snuffed it out.
The Wings had a good shift at the beginning of the 2nd, but it mattered not. Then the absolutely incompetent (seriously, you're going to battle with this guy?) Ruslan Salei failed to notice the small matter of his puck being on his stick, got horsed by Jake Dowell, and hooked him. Once Marian Hossa made the breakaway he got on the power play seem so easy when everyone's trying to please me, baby, this game was over.
-There's no reason, barring injury, that the Kopecky-Johnson-Stalberg line should be broken up. Even if Dave Bolland emerges from his dark room (which was buzzed that he might very soon), this is your fourth line right here. Continually they caused turnovers, and though their attempts to finish look an awful lot like Homer's sperm clunking skulls until reaching the promise land, as long as they're in that end and not our own, I'm fine. And yet they were all -2, because the whiskey kicked in after 4-0 and I was only half paying attention. Still, I think I'm somewhat right on this.
-Ben Smith. Useful. Who knew?
-No Hawks was over Seabrook's 23 minutes, and no Hawk saw less than 11 minutes.This bodes well for Sundy.
-The biggest sign that the Wings just weren't at the races tonight is the mere 5 takeaways they had. Some of that has to do with a pretty tidy Hawks game, but some of that has to be the Wings not using their legs and not all there.
There's not much else to say, the Hawks kicked the dick in of a team that was going through the motions. Will they get the same effort from an opponent Sunday? Who knows? The Sharks merely need to win tomorrow night to assure that the Wings have nothing to play for, and Z and Kronwall will still be sitting. If the Ducks only gather one more point only tonight and tomorrow then the Hawks are in as well. It's not settled tonight sadly, but it's closer.
And with performances like tonight, no one will be rolling out the welcome mat next week if we get there.
Update: With the Ducks win tonight, it's going to Sunday. I don't like it, I'll throw up a minimum three times, but when you're in this situation you can't ask for much more than having it in your own hands. And all it takes is a point. But a three-goal first period again will be nice.