Well, The First 57 Were Ok: Morons 2 - Flyers 3
That was the kind of ending usually reserved for when I go to see the Hawks in an opposing building. I know there are probably some people who want me to rant and rave and declare it all over. But I'm just not that upset. It's an awful way to lose a hockey game, and a moronic one, but there are some positives to be taken, which we'll get to. But the first is that for 57 minutes, the Hawks played one of their better games against a team that I still think is going to make some serious noise in the postseason.
Even the though the first 40 minutes were scoreless, they were two of the more entertaining periods of the year. The Hawks carried most of the play, but that didn't necessarily translate into prime chances. The shot totals look imposing, but the Flyers did a masterful job of keeping the Hawks to the outside and clogging shooting lanes. The Hawks could have easily ended up having 60 shots, and still wouldn't have had many opportunities as you would think. I only remember Michael Leighton making a handful of big saves.
And then Brent Seabrook happened. I don't know how much more patience we can have for Biscuit. We're going on three months of ass-hoolery from him. At what point does Q decide to swap Seabrook and Johnsson and let Seabrook find his game against some less pressure and skill? We've got to be able to at least see it from here. Anyway, Seabrook started the events with just a moronic turnover in the corner that Dan Carcillo was only too happy to take advantage of, before he found Simon Gagne all alone in the circle. Why Seabrook was trying a blind pass into the middle when he had all of the sideboards open will be studied by scientists for ages. Truth be told, it was only a matter of time before Seabrook got burned. He was hesitant and out of position multiple times today.
But the Hawks responded, and on the power play even! Q finally realized putting Campbell on the 1st unit would work better, and then the 2nd unit chipped in after some nice play from Brouwer, Versteeg, and Hossa, which Versteeg converted. In fact, Steeger was everywhere today.
It got better. Someone name a Hawk of the past 25 years who had a quicker release than Marian Hossa. Take your time. Leighton never had a chance.
But then Brent Sopel happened. It's fine when he gets beat for speed, I don't expect him to outskate anyone. But to get out-muscled? That can't happen. Credit to Scott Hartnell, he made a hell of a play. But that's Sopel's job, no? To fight off big forwards? Right?
From there, I'm sure everyone assumed the game would fizzle into overtime. Apparently, so did the Hawks. Especially in the last 10 seconds. Look, Toews and Kane not skating back is not something we have to worry about happening regularly (despite what some neanderthals still claim about Kane). They got the ultimate lesson today on why not to. Pronger was all alone in front.
Observations and Ruminations
-This was Huet's best game since December. He was looking for the puck, and looked confident again. Long may it continue. But he's only going to be as good as his defense lets him, and they hung him out to dry in the 3rd.
-This was also Versteeg's best game in some time. He's been great this week, and you can tell because that naive, country-boy swagger is back.
-Brent Sopel absolutely cannot dress tomorrow, or the Caps might score 7. It's not his game.
-It's time to bump Buff off the power play. He's big, yes, but he doesn't fight hard in front of the net or along the boards. Your first unit has to be Campbell/Johnsson behind Daydream Nation and Hossa. Yes, Sharp is a wonderful sniper. BUT HE'S NOT MARIAN FUCKING HOSSA. As weird as it sounds to say about the second leading scoring d-man in the league, Keith is not really a power play QB. His shots get blocked far too often, and he's not as smooth with the puck as 51 Phantom. Put him on unit 2 with Sharp, Versteeg, and Brouwer, and either Seabrook or have one of Q's beloved forwards play point.
-Kane wasn't very good today, but that's been a rare occurrence. He tried to get to cute and obviously didn't hustle at the end. He's looking for Sharp too much, and hence Sharp reverts to that floating thing again, waiting for Kaner to hit his tape. Knock it off.
-The PK was nails, though, against a very good power play.
-I can't express how much I love that Ville Leino sucks. All I heard for far too long was how he was the next Red Wings legend, because everyone's research on him went as far as figuring out that he's Scandanavian and a Wing. So he must be good, right? The dude is brain damage, and it's wonderful.
-I don't know if Michael Leighton can keep up this standard, but if he can the Flyers are an intriguing team to watch. They're one of two teams in the East that can skate with the Caps, and they can go the other way too if they need to. No one will fancy catching them in the playoffs.
-Someone should take game film of Scott Hartnell and show it to Jack Skille, and tell him, "Do this."
Player of The Game
He was all over the ice, and it appears the knowledge that he's going to finish the year here has done him a world of good. Oh, and Ladd and Madden can make up for his occasional silliness.