THE FAR SIDE OF THE POND: If the 'Hawks Score, and You're not Around to See it, Did it Actually Happen?

By: Mike Peck
04/20/2009 8:56 AM -

By Chad Huebner

Now there’s something you don’t see every day, a NHL playoff game with an incredibly short OT. But at least that helps the ‘Hawks stay fresh without wearing themselves down from prolonged extra frames to play. It also helps calm their nerves due to such an inspiring win. I hope. I know I’m still a little nerve-wracked from the first game, I guess I’ll be a basket case before the ‘Hawks playoff run is over. Oh well, let’s continue my descent into madness with a blow-by-blow account of Game 2.

PRE-GAME STUFF

Steve Konroyd is taking Eddie O’s spot tonight. Eddie’s doing the NBC telecast this weekend, which is a good thing for him to get that national exposure, especially during the Cup games. Nothing against Steve, but I’ll miss “Stop it right here!” and “A bunch of happy humans.”

Game 1 we had Jay Cutler throw down the ceremonial faceoff. Tonight it’s Da Coach, Mike Ditka. I guess next time it’ll be Sid Luckman? Red Grange’s galloping ghost?

I don’t have the volume on the TV turned to the max, and I can still tell it’s another loud crowd during the National Anthem. I like Canada’s, though, so if we ever decide to take over that country (I’m sure conspiracy theory wackos are saying “But wait! That’s already happened!”), I’d like to keep their Anthem.

FIRST PERIOD

I’m hoping the ‘Hawks have settled their nerves after the first game. The quicker they get used to the intensity and quick pace of the playoffs, the better they’ll play.

‘Hawks continue the big hits from the first game. First it was Big Buff, and then Kris Versteeg, this year’s young star, came up with a dandy. Keep it up.

OMG! Ahhhhhhhh! Bulin Wall is impenetrable. Todd Bertuzzi stole the puck from Pahlsson, had an open breakout. He waits with the puck, waits with the puck, fires into a seemingly open net. . . and Bulin with the last second leg block! Bulin, along with Havlat, is putting his game into overdrive once the playoffs began.

Speaking of Havy, he managed to get a retaliation hit on a Flame that hit him across the back. I like that, he’s not backing down, and neither should the rest of the team.

Now they’re showing Rock Wirtz, son of “Dollar Bill”, in his usual seat in the stands. He’s proof that it’s not always “like father, like son.”

Konroyd says that these little spats after nearly every stoppage of play are good for the Flames. Maybe, but the ‘Hawks are being physical as well.

Eager high sticks a Calgary player, gets called for the penalty, and a team that has gone  0-for-forever on the PP cashes in. ‘Hawks have to come from behind again.

‘Hawks 0-for-4 on the PP in the playoffs. They have to cash in one of these times. HAVE TO. They can’t win every game without converting like they did in Game 1.

‘Hawks not looking too Sharp early on. Not that Patrick Sharp can’t help but be Sharp, but still. Anyway, passes aren’t as crisp as they should, and the Flames are spending way too much time in the ‘Hawks zone.

On lighter news, they showed Vince Vaughn in the crowd. He has Eddie Munster’s hairstyle for some reason and HDTV doesn’t do justice to his puffy face. “Swingers” came out 14 years ago, by the way.

You know what’s worse than taking a stupid penalty? Taking one when you have the man advantage. Johnny Toews, what are you doing, kid?

Bulin makes some nice saves, then he lets the puck get out of his reach to his left as he’s at the top of crease. No miracle leg save here: Adrian Aucoin, one of a handful of ex-‘Hawks players and coaches on the Flames, pops the gimme in, ‘Hawks down 2-0. And he couldn’t have done that during his time with us? Oh yeah, he was too busy being injured. Well, I did say the ‘Hawks would lose a couple in this series.

Here’s something I didn’t think I would hear at home during the playoffs, booing. Oh yeah, the ‘Hawks are on the PP again, that’s why. They’ll have over a minute on the PP starting the second period, but if there ever was a need to convert, it’s now.

SECOND PERIOD

I have to be honest with you. It seems that many times this season, the ‘Hawks score when I’m watching another channel. I’d be watching some favorite show, or even just flipping around at a time when I thought the game was in a commercial, and boom, ‘Hawks score. That seems to also happen in the playoffs, as I come back into the game with the ‘Hawks only down 2-1. Anyone know what happened? Anyone?

Ah, it was Toews. Good to see him score his first playoff goal. I’d something about something to do with a cherry, but I’m guessing kiddies read what I say. And if they do, may I remind you, once again, this is NOT Harry Potter, okay? He grew up, married Hermoine, had a kid, and lived happily ever after. It’s over, it’s done. Go with Bob the Builder or something else.

Ahhhhhhhh! What a sweet pass from Kaner to Sharp, right on tape on the back side of the stick, and then like a magic act, the puck pops up in the net. A whole new game, and the ‘Hawks are looking good for the moment. Maybe they need to give the other team a small lead to get themselves going. Nah, I don’t see this happening if the ‘Hawks didn’t have home ice advantage. It’s the power of the crowd.

‘Hawks don’t kill another penalty, Bulin does it all by himself. Two great saves foil the Flames. If it wasn’t for him, Calgary’s number on the PP would look a heck of a lot better. I have to wonder why the Tampa Bay Lightning gave up on him after the 2004 Cup Finals. They may not have a lot of money, but wouldn’t you want to invest in as much as possible in the one guy that carried your team on his back? I wonder about the thought processes about some of these organ-I-zations, but then I remember about the team I’m rooting for, and I have to be darn thankful that Rocky is running the show.


23.5 ticks left in the period, Kaner takes a shot, Kippy leaves a juicy rebound, and Toews gobbles his up for his second goal of the game. Clearly the ‘Hawks are on a much faster timetable for a comeback than in Game 1. Go Johnny, go go.

(Another confession: when my girlfriend starts doing little chores here and there at her place while a game’s on, the ‘Hawks score. They scored both goals while she was doing something else. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a hockey fan, which is somewhat my influence. She just mentioned that I should write about how I kicked her out of the living room while I was watching the game, but I’m not that cruel. All I have to say is that she should just stay busy. When she works, the ‘Hawks work.)

2ND INTERMISSION STUFF

So the ‘Hawks have their usual skill shot, where a fan, a hottie girl and a local celeb try to get the puck through a small slot in the center of a board placed in front of a net (a five-hole goal, if you will). Ryan Dempster, a western Canadian who pitched for the Chicago Cubs earlier today, is for some reason wearing a suit with 70s colors and design: a brown plaid jacket, white shirt with tiny black dots, brown pants and a salmon and light blue striped tie. And you’d think the TV interviewer would ask him why he’s dressed like this (as in, did someone steal his real clothes, has he been shopping at a thrift store)? No! No explanation for this. Unless Dempster’s a big fan of Don Cherry, does anyone have any earthly idea for this?

THIRD PERIOD

Fans are doing their usual “LET’S GO HAWKS!” chant, but maybe they should be shouting “KHABI-BULIN!” or “JOHN-NY TO-EWS!” One is the reason why the ‘Hawks are in the game, the other is the reason why we’ve taken the lead. I’ll let you figure out which is which.

The latest stop of a Calgary scoring attempt, looks like it was yet another Bulin save, but in fact Duncan Keith alertly smothered the loose puck with his legs. I’ve seen many a shot block by this guy, this is the first time I’ve seen him cover up the puck like that. I didn’t think that was possible, but this is our candidate for the Norris Trophy. ‘Hawks are getting an all-out team effort in this game.

Havy gets physical again, this time with Jim Vandermeer (another ex-‘Hawk), but this time draws a penalty. So does Vandemeer, so we have a “pure” 4-on-4. No idea how good are the ‘Hawks in this situation, but I’m guessing having two less people on the ice opens it up just a bit, something a young, speedy team with a lead should take advantage of. . . but not this time. Oh well, shucky darn, we have the lead, that’s all that matters.

Maybe he realizes he has to take his game up a notch in the playoffs, maybe it’s because he has his dad and grandparents from Winnipeg in the crowd, but Toews is playing his best hockey of the year. From being physical to forcing turnovers to scoring twice with ease, he is playing a complete game. This is what the ‘Hawks wanted out of him and what we, the fans, want to see on a nightly basis. Let Kaner handle the sweet passes and the dispy-doodle moves in the offensive zone, Johnny can take care of the rest.

Bulin’s not the only one standing on his head tonight. Kippy may not be making the spectacular saves, but he’s made quite a few. Though I’m surprised the Flames didn’t pull him with under two minutes to go. After some outmuscling by Big Buff in the Calgary zone and a nice shot attempt, 30 seconds have melted off the clock.

52 seconds go, Kippy’s pulled. ‘Hawks don’t have to score, they get three nice long clearings to end the game. . .

But, it looks like the Flames might’ve iced the puck with less a second to go. Refs have a quick conference, and still decide the game’s over.

So the ‘Hawks are up 2-0 in the series, and while the nay-sayers will say it’s a weak 2-0 lead, and the Flames have something to build on, that doesn’t matter. It’s a young team playing in comeback mode, and with a ton of confidence, that makes all the difference.

That, and my girlfriend doing some chores.

Remember; e-mail me at chadhuebner1972@yahoo.com for anything on your mind. Best responses and/or questions will be answered publicly.

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