05/03/2010 2:22 PM - I decided not to write a running playoff diary for Game 1 of the ‘Hawks Western Conference Semifinals series against the Vancouver Canucks because, for once, I wanted to just sit back and enjoy the game. Usually I can keep up with the frenetic pace of hockey to spout my well-read witticisms, but then I don’t get to fully enjoy the experience when the ‘Hawks score and/or win. Playoff diaries are always easy columns to write because everything is in the moment, and there’s no second-guessing or worry about not having enough to write. Conversely, playoff diaries have proven to be such a hard thing to do because sometimes I don’t get to fully appreciate the game. I feel a bit detached from the action, and I just can’t root with as much fervor for the ‘Hawks as I usually do during the regular season.
I also discontinued the practice of ordering a Quizno’s Chicken Carb for the pregame meal. Now, before you get all huffy and red-faced and say something like “Hey! It’s part of your game ritual! Hockey players have all sorts of rituals and things they do for good luck and they never, ever break them (unless the opposite works, of course). You shouldn’t either!” I logically thought that all the good mojo generated from ordering a Chicken Carb for the series against the Preds was only good against the Preds. Getting a pizza, I reasoned, would be the start of a new pregame meal for a new series.
Well, I’ll be back to writing playoff diaries and eating as many Chicken Carbs I can from here on out. Although really, I don’t think even eating a Chicken Carb the size of a double-decker bus would’ve helped the ‘Hawks in Game 1 against the Canucks. They brought this misery on themselves.
When they were down 1-0, I was a little disappointed, but I figured that this happens to the ‘Hawks all the time, and they are able to battle back from some small setbacks. But then that #$%$! goal was scored with a little over 10 seconds in the first period, and then I started to worry. When the ‘Hawks came out in the second period as flat as I’ve ever seen them play (and that includes the Dark Ages from 1999-06), was angry with them, because this should simply not be happening, not to any playoff team that has gotten this far in the postseason; it should be outlawed. And when the Canucks scored early in the second, “GAME OVER” flashed in my mind, even though there was so much time left. So if you’re keeping track at home, my level of emotions went from disappointed to worry to anger and finally resignation.
It didn’t help that “LUUUUU!” was on top of his game from the opening puck drop. Had he played a fraction less than he performed that night, the ‘Hawks might’ve jumped out to an early lead and might’ve been able to alter the course of the game. Instead, I felt like I was watching Pekka Rinne all over again when “LUUUUU!” made all the incredible saves and made sure all the simple ones were covered with textbook precision. This is “Mr. Rebound”, isn’t it? This was the guy who cried like a sissy after the ‘Hawks thumped him for seven goals in the deciding game a year ago (though most people forget that the Canucks scored quite a few as well, five to be exact, and actually kept the game alive until almost the very end).
But Mr. “LUUUUU” and the rest of the Canucks have been licking their chops for a playoff rematch since that 7-5 defeat last year, and have been punishing the ‘Hawks this year during the regular season matchups. Maybe it was more about the Canucks lashing out at the ‘Hawks, but you also sensed a change in their philosophy, too. They would try to be physical, but without going overboard every time they played the ‘Hawks. More of an intimidation game, and something I saw played to perfection last Saturday night. It has me a bit concerned for the rest of this series, especially for the two games in Vancouver later this week, where the fans might be as loud as they were when the Canadians defeated us Americans in the gold medal game in the very same building.
Game 2 suddenly becomes pivotal to the ‘Hawks and Canucks. I expected a split in Chicago anyway, but not done in quite this manner. All I know is I’ll be there on the couch, with my laptop on the coffee table and my Chicken Carb in my non-typing hand (yes, I have sizable hands, why do you ask?) hoping the ‘Hawks can finally be frakking consistent in this postseason and stay that way.
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