THE FAR SIDE OF THE POND: Home is Where the Bounces Go Your Way

By:
04/27/2009 8:24 AM -

By Chad Huebner

Would I feel better if the ‘Hawks and Flames traded wins to get to this 2-2 series standoff, or that the ‘Hawks came from being down 2-0? Of course. But since they were up 2-0, the ‘Hawks have either definitely missed the friendly confines of the United Center, or playing in a crazy playoff city such as Calgary just got to them. Like an animal backed into a corner, the Flames have come out attacking: on the scoreboard, along the boards, even in the newspaper with Coach Keenan making the quip about Burish before Game 4. The question now is, do the ‘Hawks have it in them to win two of the last three games. Not sure about the answer to that one, but I think having two of those three at home helps somewhat.

PRE-GAME STUFF

The ‘Hawks brought out Stan Mikita for the ceremonial puck drop. I guess they’re looking for some sort of good luck charm. Having Mikita and Hull out there would’ve helped.

Another rousing rendition during the National Anthem. Crowd’s pumped, but I’m sure I’m not the only one with some concern for the team. We’re Chicago sports fans, after all, and should probably use some psychiatric help.

1ST PERIOD

‘Hawks don’t have to wait long to go on the PP, but they can’t convert the way they did the last game. That effort in Game 4 was nice. The ‘Hawks have to make sure what happened then happen more often the rest of the series. More PP goals=more wins. See: Detroit Wings.

Not only would I like to see the ‘Hawks lead a game in total hits, but to see some of the guys who normally don’t throw their bodies around do that at least once this game. Wouldn’t it throw the Flames off their game if a Patrick Kane managed to plaster a Todd Bertuzzi against the glass? How about a Sammy Pahlsson face wash on Dion Phaneuf?

The ‘Hawks also need more of a “net presence” in front of Kippy. If it doesn’t immediately turn into goals, at least it annoys the Flames, as in the case where they knock Dave Bolland down and he draws a penalty. And, yes! Nice pass from Marty Havlat to a wide open Seabrook who slots it in a wide open goal. It’s Seabs first, and he certainly deserves a tally after all the hard work he’s put into his career in Chicago.

Of course, this also means the ‘Hawks are going to lose, since the team that scores first in this series hasn’t won a game yet. That’s a trend I’d like to see the ‘Hawks break.

(And yes, I’m watching this game at my girlfriend’s, and again, she’s doing chores while the game’s played. That seems to be the best winning combo, since the ‘Hawks are 2-1 when this happens. Keep working, sweetheart!)

I won’t even try to individually describe goals two and three because they were about 3 milliseconds apart. Both came off of bounces behind the net right in front of Kippy. This was how the games went for the ‘Hawks against the Flames in the regular season, with them scoring early and often and taking guys like Iginla out of the equation.

Steve Konroyd brings up a good term to use to describe what the ‘Hawks have been doing this game, and what they were doing for most of the last game: being smart aggressive. I know it sounds something like a Hong Kong movie title, but I’m sure you’re smart enough to figure out what it means.

But if I ever come up with a good Jackie Chan movie idea, I got first dibs on “Smart Aggressive” as the title.

A great first period comes to a close, where the ‘Hawks are perfect on their passes, are getting guys to the front of the net, and are having the puck bounce their way on the scoring attempts (15-3 on the shots, 15-3!). In short, it’s like watching a regular season home game.

(I just hope the ‘Hawks don’t think they can sit on a 3-goal lead for two periods. Damn, there’s that neurotic, cynic Chicago Sports Fan voice in my head again.)


2ND PERIOD

I was afraid if this. ‘Hawks come out playing passive, Flames start playing aggressive and all the action is in Chicago’s zone, all of which adds up to a Flames goal. Okay. . . they’re still up by two. . . don’t lose your cool now. .

More fortunate bounces/redirections/etc of the puck for the ‘Hawks. Bolland throws a shot from behind the net, which goes off of Andrew Ladd and in the net. ‘Hawks score and I’m feeling kinda sunny again!


And Keenan pulls Kippy. A bit of a surprise, since they’re only down by three, and the last goal wasn’t really his fault with all the traffic in front of him. I’ve seen him give up softer goals than that. Now you’re putting your faith in (name here), a guy that’s only won one game during the regular season and is seeing his first postseason action? Kippy storms off to the dressing room ala Patrick Roy in his last game for the Montreal Canadiens. Not a good idea to tick off your ultimate starting goalie, especially during the playoffs.

Kippy’s back on the bench. He still doesn’t look too happy about what happened. Not wise to tick off a Steve Buscemi look alike. Ever see “Fargo”? Or how about his creepy role in “Billy Madison”?

(Which makes me wonder, if Buscemi ever got a tan, would it hurt his acting career? That pasty skin seems to be part of his look. Or would it possibly make him look weirder? You know, it gets a little boring when there’s a blowout, that’s all I’m saying.)

Just to emphasize that point, the ‘Hawks add more to the lead and Calgary’s misery. Barker becomes the leading scorer for the ‘Hawks for the moment. “He looked a little shocked that he scored the goal.” my girlfriend said. I had to explain to her that’s the way he always looks.

I mention to her that it seems this game is going by really fast, that with a blowout, it doesn’t feel like every second is moving at half speed. She says it could still go the other way for the ‘Hawks.

I tell her she could start doing chores again. She gives me the “look.”

Anyway, it’s weird to have some breathing room, any sort of breathing room in the playoffs. Now it’s time to wrap this game up while also making the Flames feel like they have no hope in this series, make them wish they were never born, things like that.

3RD PERIOD

This is what makes it hard to write about this game when my girlfriend is sitting next to me. I was about to write something about my girlfriend wondering why everyone calls the ‘Hawks “young” when they’ve been around for years (and, of course, make some snide remark about this) when she gives me another “look.” I try to explain to her that this running diary is about anything that happens during the game. This is another argument I don’t think I’ll win.

Why do I bring any of this up? Because I have a feeling there won’t be much else to talk about this game. Time to relax, and oh, enjoy a Ben Eager pummeling. I hope my girlfriend doesn’t get any ideas.


Konroyd called it correctly at the break, when he said the Flames are going to come out and try to make a statement with all the hits and scuffles in the third period. ‘Hawks need to remain calm (nothing wrong with an Eager pummeling from time to time) and get thru relatively unscathed.

But giving the Flames a 5-on-3 is definitely not part of the strategy. Granted, the Flames need a touchdown more than a mere goal to jump back into the game, but the playoffs are all about the little moments that decide an entire series. ‘Hawks kill both penalties with ease, hopefully making a lasting statement for the remaining game or games.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t me who thought time in the game was going by quicker than usual. First there were only seven minutes left, now there’s only 10 minutes left. Now the officials say there’s only over five minutes left. The time-space continuum is going screwy, someone get Stephen Hawking out of the hospital!

Quick shot of Kaner’s parents in the stands. When they showed Toews’ dad and grandparents, he had a good game, so maybe it’ll mean the same thing for the Kaner with three minutes to go.

So if there was a camera on my folks while I was writing, I would actually write better? Dunno about that, but it would funny/creepy nonetheless.

And that’s the end of what turned out to be a really easy night, a rarity in the postseason. Now we can only hope the ‘Hawks can carry this confidence back to Calgary and get their first road postseason win in a long time. And I can only hope I won’t be spending the night on my girlfriend’s couch.

(They won’t and you will! the cynic, neurotic Chicago Sports Fan’s voice jabbers in my head. And I wonder if it has a point.)

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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