Observations From Section 321 : Bleeping Unbelievable

The Blackhawks come from behind and outlast the Bruins in a triple overtime classic.

How about that for the opening game of the league's pinnacle series? If you couldn't enjoy the display that was put on for you last night you need your head examined. After what we have seen from the Blackhawks, over the last couple of weeks, how could not expect them to come back from a 3-1 deficit? The Bruins must have been caught off guard playing a team that doesn't fold after going down a goal or two. Claude Julien was fast to bring up the 2011 Final in his post game presser; "Last time we won the Cup, we lost the first two games to Vancouver. It never stopped us from coming back. This certainly won't." Well let me clue you in on something coach, you are not facing the Vancouver Canucks. The Blackhawks are not a team of mental midgets that will implode at the first sign of trouble. I think we have ourselves one hell of series on our hands. Game 1 could be the foundation of a Stanley Cup Final for the ages.

The first period started with the Blackhawks coming out with a full head of steam. They looked to be sending a message that they are not intimidated by the Bruins physical presence. The display in hitting definitely got the United Center crowd into the game but did not create any solid scoring chances. After about the first 8 minutes of plays the Bruins started to get themselves into the game. Their forecheck started to create some sloppy play by the Hawks in their own end. Corey Crawford kept the game scoreless when he robbed Brad Marchand with a beautiful glove save at 11:47. The Bruins got on the board with help from a defensive breakdown. Nikjals Hjalmarsson went for a big hit on David Krejci but the problem was Johnny Oduya was already behind the net as well. This left a wide open Milan Lucic in front of the net who ripped a slap shot past Corey Crawford for his 4th goal of the playoffs at 13:11.

The Hawks started the 2nd period with a bit of jump to their step but it did not last long. The Bruins took advantage of a mismatch when it was up to Patrick Kane to win a puck battle with Lucic. I love Kaner, but he is going to lose that battle 1000 out of 1000 times. This left Lucic with plenty of room in the middle of the ice to blast a slap shot past Crawford for his second goal of the night at :51. To the Hawks credit they came right back at the Bruins. Brandon Saad, who has been so close to breaking out, finally cashed in for his 1st career playoff goal. Marian Hossa caused a turnover deep in the Boston zone which lead to Saad's wrist shot past Tuukka Rask. The Hawks would get a few more chances but couldn't light the lamp, including nothing to show for a 77 second 5 on 3 power play. The Hawks would get another late power play chance but could barely get the puck into the offensive zone. They could only muster 2 shots on goal during 3:26 of power play time. They did out shoot the Bruins 16 to 5 after the Lucic goal.

About six minutes into the 3rd period, Michael Frolik got sent to the box for tripping Zdeno Chara. I always get nervous any time Frolik or Marcus Kruger get sent to the box since they are both so good on the penalty kill. Patrice Bergeron made the penalty hurt by scoring his 6th goal of the post season just 18 seconds into the man advantage. Lucic won another puck battle along the boards and centered the puck to Tyler Seguin, who quickly passed to Bergeron. There were two things in common with all 3 Boston goals; the shooter was given way too much space in between the circles and Niklas Hjalmarsson was on the ice.

Down 3-1 to this red hot Boston team with a goaltender who has been playing out of his mind should have spelled certain doom but nobody told that to the Chicago bench. Dave Bolland, yes that Dave Bolland, had an answer less than two minutes later to cut the lead in half. Andrew Shaw jumped all over an errant Tory Krug pass at the blue line and lead the rush towards the net. Shaw got a great pass across the crease to Bolland who buried his one timer into the back of the net. The Hawks would even up the game at 12:11 with a goal from a defensmen while the 4th line was on the ice. Johnny Oduya blasted a shot from the point that went in off of Andrew Ference's skate. Ference was breaking to his left to cover Frolik who was rushing the net hard.

Little did we know the game tying goal game at the midway point of a long night. The first overtime period was pretty wide open with both teams getting space. The Bruins out shot the Hawks 12 to 8 and had a power play for the Hawks getting caught with too many men on the ice. The biggest play of the first overtime came when Nathan Horton left the ice with an apparent injury. It didn't look like much of a hit, but Horton was in obvious pain and never returned to the bench. To his credit, Tyler Seguin did a pretty good job filling in on the top line. He had a few chances to end the game and was very noticeable on the ice.

There wasn't too much excitement in the second overtime period as both teams were obviously gassed. The Hawks got called for another "Too Much Man" penalty with 52 seconds left. When did the Hawks start using the Darryl Sutter method of line changes? The Hawks were able to kill off the rest of the period and the remainder of the penalty to start the third overtime session. The Hawks would finally complete the comeback 52:08 after regulation ended. Michal Rozsival got a shot off from the blue line that deflected first off of Bolland and then again of off Shaw for the game winner. I still have no idea how I didn't jump up and yell in the press box when the puck went in but I was able to keep my composure. I am sure both teams are thankful for the extra day off, so we have to wait until Saturday night to see what they can do for an encore.

* Corey Crawford continues to be amazing. He is quietly putting together one hell of a run worthy of the Conn Smythe award. After the game Johnny Oduya said that Crow "doesn't get the credit that he deserves" and called him the "backbone" of the team. Crawford made some spectacular saves in the extra time to give the Hawks the chance to win the game.

* I think Joel Quenneville was trying to set a Stanley Cup Final record for the most different line combinations in a single game. He was rotating his left wings around most of the night. I wasn't surprised by this due to his track record for line changes and because of not playing Boston at all this season. I hope the 3rd line stays with the combination it ended Game 1 with. If we are going to get the real Dave Bolland with a disciplined Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell the Bruins are going to have fits with their matchups.

* Yesterday I helped out the good folks at Boston Sports Today, and told them that Brandon Saad could be the sleeper in this series. All his hard work finally paid off with his first career playoff goal. The goal really seem to get him going because he was a beast all over the ice. He showed no fear in going into the corners and even battling with Chara in front of the net. There was a play in the first overtime when he was tripped up at the blue line and went down. Instead of trying to sell the trip or beg for a call, he got right back up and went straight to the net for a rebound. Plays like that are the exact reason why my man crush on him is so big. He was the only player in the locker room who didn't look completely gassed after the game. I guess when you're only 21you can play all night long and still be chipper.

* 5 on 3 for 1:17 and not a single shot on goal. I've been asked so many times how can a team with so much talent be so bad on the power play? Folks, if I had the answer to that I would be behind the bench.

* Tuuka Rask wasted no time throwing his team under the bus after the game. "We were up 3-1 in the third, then a terrible turnover leads to a second goal and then a tough bounce leads to the tying goal. We just gave it away" He is pretty much calling out Torey Krug, a rookie defensmen, for his pass that lead to Bolland's goal. Not sure that is the right way to handle that. Could you ever seen Crow making post game comments like that?

* Marian Hossa. We have him and you don't. What a monster!

* Anyone who was Tweeting that the United Center was quiet last night was not there. There were moments last night when I felt like I was back in the "Old Barn." It was a great atmosphere from the video intro all the way until the final goal horn.

* Got to give some credit to Brandon Bollig who was pretty solid in his Stanley Cup Final debut. He dished out 9 hits in less than 15 minutes of ice time. He played a very controlled game and never tried to do too much. There are some who are calling for Viktor Stalberg to return in Game 2 because he will be "fresh." Bollig did nothing to be taken out of the lineup and frankly Stalberg has done nothing to get his spot back. Besides, when was the last time you saw Q make a lineup change following a win?

Blackhawks Corsi Numbers

Player Pos ES TOI Total Shots For Total Shots Against Corsi Net Zone Starts Adjusted Corsi
Duncan Keith D 43:04 42 22 +20 +2 +19
Niklas Hjalmarsson D 36:29 31 15 +16 +4 +14
Brent Seabrook D 37:07 35 22 +13 +1 +13
Nick Leddy D 23:57 18 12 +6 +3 +5
Patrick Sharp R 29:07 18 13 +5 +7 +2
Marcus Kruger C 17:54 15 6 +9 -1 +9
Jonathan Toews C 31:51 35 11 +24 +5 +22
Brandon Saad L 29:28 34 14 +20 +3 +19
Michal Handzus C 28:29 23 19 +4 0 +4
Johnny Oduya D 35:49 31 20 +11 +4 +9
Bryan Bickell L 28:05 23 20 +3 +1 +3
Michal Rozsival D 29:48 25 17 +8 +4 +6
Dave Bolland C 26:28 19 19 0 +3 -1
Brandon Bollig L 14:24 14 4 +10 -1 +10
Andrew Shaw C 23:18 15 18 -3 +5 -5
Michael Frolik R 16:34 17 3 +14 0 +14
Marian Hossa R 29:39 31 18 +13 +5 +11
Patrick Kane R 34:04 29 17 +12 0 +12

Bruins Corsi Numbers

Player Pos ES TOI Total Shots For Total Shots Against Corsi Net Zone Starts Adjusted Corsi
Kaspars Daugavins L 15:09 7 16 -9 0 -9
Milan Lucic L 35:25 21 31 -10 -3 -9
Nathan Horton R 20:55 18 31 -13 +2 -14
Tyler Seguin C 26:14 11 21 -10 -4 -8
Daniel Paille L 19:22 7 9 -2 -3 -1
Andrew Ference D 43:51 24 39 -15 0 -15
Shawn Thornton L 9:55 5 10 -5 -2 -4
Chris Kelly C 25:57 7 16 -9 -11 -5
Zdeno Chara D 39:56 18 38 -20 -8 -17
Patrice Bergeron C 30:22 18 24 -6 -1 -6
Dennis Seidenberg D 43:54 24 47 -23 -6 -21
David Krejci C 36:55 20 35 -15 -4 -13
Torey Krug D 17:14 9 12 -3 -1 -3
Rich Peverley C 26:49 10 28 -18 -8 -15
Adam Mcquaid D 21:35 7 19 -12 -4 -10
Johnny Boychuk D 39:54 26 27 -1 +1 -1
Brad Marchand C 31:30 19 26 -7 +2 -8
Jaromir Jagr R 30:41 19 26 -7 +5 -9