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THE FAR SIDE OF THE POND: 2010 Stanley Cup Final Game 5: Line Changes, Mojo Changes, Add up to Emotion-fueled Win

06/08/2010 8:24 AM - By Chad Huebner

If you know anything about Chicago sports fans during the playoffs, it’s that when things start to turn against their favorite teams, most will probably either say or ask “here we go again.” Making that into a question makes it seem like there’s still hope. Making that into a statement makes it seem like we’re going to experience what we’ve experienced before. I’m still asking it as a question, but I certainly question the fire and determination in my beloved ‘Hawks. The Flyers outworked and outhustled the ‘Hawks for most of Games 3 and 4, and while the ‘Hawks made it close in both losses, it was a feeling of too little, too late.

Back when the Chicago Bulls were playing in their last NBA Finals in 1998, they were tied 2-2 and going into the fifth game wondering if they could pull this out one last time. Well, they did and went on to win their sixth championship, and the reason for that was the ultimate superstar/game changer, Michael Jordan. Who on the ‘Hawks have someone like that? Johnny Toews? Patrick Kane? Marian Hossa? We know Antti Niemi will keep the ‘Hawks in close games, but we need someone to step up and score that determining goal. If the ‘Hawks have any hope of winning their first Cup in nearly 50 years, they need to win tonight, to give them a bit of a cushion going back to that pack of mangy, rabid dogs known as Philadelphia.

As for the Chicken Carb mojo, well, I brought it back for Game 4, thinking it could rebound to win that game. Since that didn’t happen, I will go without the Chicken Carb before a ‘Hawks game for the first time in weeks. Like hockey players who change their supposedly lucky, smelly underwear after a couple of bad games in a row, I will change up my eating habits. The beer stays. It’ll probably be the only way I’ll get through what I figure will be close, tense game.

1ST PERIOD

Crowd is definitely up for this one. I guess they, and the rest of us ‘Hawks’ fans, figure that the more cheering they do, the more positive energy they give to the ‘Hawks. Sure, most of this 2010 postseason has been marked by the road teams stealing wins (including Chicago, at least until Games 3 and 4), but I think that all changes in the most important of games. Getting that first goal will go a long way to stopping the Flyers’ momentum for at least awhile.

Joel Quenneville’s breaking up the Toews-Kaner-Buff line. Hope this is not a strategic move based on desperation. You don’t see the Flyers blowing up their lines. That Briere-Hartnell-Leino combo needs to be contained ASAP.

Nice steal by Buff leads to a nice backhand attempt. Leighton stones him, but it’s a nice feel-good play all around. I don’t want nice. . . I WANT A GOAL!

Toews makes a nice rush in the Flyers’ zone, but a stick at the last second prevents a shot attempt. That seems to happen way too often: a breakup on a nice ‘Hawks’ rush at the very last moment. Still, Flyers get penalized after that. ‘Hawks try their darndest, but still come up empty. Yep, I’ll say darndest, tar nation!

If I hear Doc say something like “‘Hawks shot is wide!” one more time, I’ll scream. That’s been absolutely maddening. Still, the crowd is eating up all the close calls, and yeah, so am I.

Speaking of MJ, he’s at the game, wearing a Toews jersey. Hope the Hanes Guy can provide some serious mojo. No really, it was weird I was talking about him in the pregame and here he is.

Now the Flyers have a min-run going, and of course the ‘Hawks get called for something. The Flyers are just copycatting us. . . and having a little more success. Flyers are 31.3 on the PP in the Final, which is absolutely ridiculous. But the ‘Hawks fend it off with taking the puck deep in the Flyers’ zone, and a little luck. Then Scott Hartnell, the Geico Caveman gets called for high-sticking/tripping/all of the above.

But OMG! The ‘Hawks score on the PP!

No, really, I’m not making this up: THE ‘HAWKS SCORE ON THE PP!!!!!!

And it was. . .  thaaattttttt cloooosseeeee. A Seabs shot bounces off of Pronger, and the puck squirts into the net between pad and post. But frak it, the first goal is what they needed, I don’t care how they got it.

And then it’s DAVEYYYYY!!! DAV-EY BOL-LAND!!! KING OF THE BACK OF THE NET!!!!!!!

(And I’m sure everyone 30 and younger doesn’t get that reference, but I don’t give a frak!)

Just one of those traffic jam goals where you just don’t who shoots it in the ne, you just see it there and go crazy. Leighton looks frazzled, ‘Hawks feed on the emotion like a Dark Lord of the Sith.

It feels so good to be so bad. . . MWA-HA-HA-HA!!!!

It looked like Versteeg’s shot was a direct diagonal line from his puck to the right corner of the net, but sideways angle shows Leighton got a piece of it, and he still couldn’t stop it. You begin to think the Flyers can’t stop anything right now.

 Without question, the ‘Hawks played their finest first period of this series. Don’t let up on the pressure, and guard any Flyer rushes, because you know they’ll come up with something to begin that second period.

2ND PERIOD

Curious move to me: Flyers pull Leighton for Boucher in net. I’d figure Flyers would’ve given Leighton one more chance before yanking him. A desperate move?

Hmmm, maybe Peter Laviolette is a genius, because the Flyers score 35 seconds into the second period. Niemi stopped the first shot, but lost sight of the puck, which skittered to his right in front of the wide-open net and Leino simply taps it in. I told you the Flyers would come out fighting to start this period, I just wish the ‘Hawks would listen every once in awhile.

But you know what’s really good for dulling the pain? A shot of novo-KANE!!!

‘Hawks are getting an unusually high number of breakaway and odd-man rushes. I say “unusually”, because the Flyers have been pretty good on their backchecking coming into this game. Perhaps it’s because they’re bringing everyone into the offensive end, leaving the backside vulnerable? Eh, I’m no hockey expert, only a lucky schmuck able to write about this wonderful game.

But then I have to write about the bad moments, such as when the Flyers score to make a two-goal lead seem shaky. They’re pretty good with loose pucks in the slot. Briere and Leino have two assists apiece. So much for containing those guys.

Here’s the latest “WHOAAAAA!” moment” Buff simply upending Pronger. I mean, he flips him and Pronger does a face-plant on the boards (all legal, of course). Gotta looooove this game!

The Geico Caveman delivers an elbow to the back of Tomas Kopecky’s melon. “So stupid, even a caveman can do it!” Flyers do a credible job making pests of themselves and killing off the penalty. There’s no quit in these guys.

Seabs called for “closing his hand on the puck.” Palming the puck? Anyway. . . #156 time of “NIEMI SAYS NO!!!!” on a lovely pad stop.  A few more breathtaking stops, and it’s back to business as usual. . . crazy business, of course.

 Didn’t hear the DING! but Hossa did hit the left post. Even if he didn’t, Boucher probably could have made the save. He’s been Niemi-like in his time in net.

But all those shot attempts usually lead to the defending team to commit a penalty, and Pronger comes through with the latest one. Naturally, crowd goes wild over that one.

And ye-. . . wait, did Boucher smother that one? Nope, so YESSSSSSS!!!!!! Sorry, there was a bit of a hesitation on the celebration on that one. Keith to Toews to Buff. I’d like to see Johnny get one, just to get him off the schneid, but just glad to see Toews and Buff clicking again.

SMACK! as Simon Gagne’s stick meets Brian Campbell face. . . and no call at all? WTF?! Officiating is once again suspect this series.

But with all that fuss and bluster, the ‘Hawks still hold a three-goal lead. To invoke the great spirit of Herb Brooks: play your game. Just play your game. PLAY THE FRAK OUT OF IT, OKAY?????

No, I’m not hyper, why you ask?

3RD PERIOD

Toews-Kopecky-Hossa? Heck, why not? Show Philly something they’ve never seen before and see what they do. But I think having Toews and Hossa together is working well. Hossa’s the playmaker, Toews the driver.

I feel very comfortable right now (something the beer is partially responsible for, but you get the idea). But once again, the ‘Hawks need to guard against the Flyers controlling the puck. That’s how they got the first goal of the second period.

Pierre’s talking about how this is the best game Chicago’s played so far this series. Edzo’s talking about how the ‘Hawks, down by three the last game, made a game of it, how the Flyers can do the same, etc etc etc. For once, I have to side with Pierre, and tell Edzo “shhhhhh!”

Told ya, Edzo! Say stuff like that and you have a James van Riemsdyk score on a rare, juicy rebound coughed up by Niemi. The Flyers will not go quietly into that good night, or whatever the frak Rodney Dangerfield said in “Back to School.”

Kimo Timonen (or is it Tim Kimonen?) decks Hossa from behind, and he’s gone. Bolland hit in the midsection with the puck. It truly is gut-check time for the ‘Hawks. Over 11 minutes to go, tons of time.

Buff makes a Timonen sandwich with one of the refs as the other slice of bread. No, we’re not cheering the hit on you, ref, we’re cheering the hit on Timonen, really?

Meanwhile, Daniel Briere gets hit with the puck and is making cherry Slurpee with his blood. This period is getting pretty. . . umm. . . bloody brutal? I can’t tell if I’m swearing British style right there.

Versteeg with the errant stick hits Pronger above his left eye. I liked it when Buff was hurting him, because it didn’t cost us, you know? Keith thwacks Briere under his visor off of a faceoff, but the refs don’t catch that one, a big bullet dodged there. . . unfair to the Flyers, I’ll admit. Flyers have a lot of fight left, but so does the ‘Hawks’ PK.

‘Hawks and Flyers are tattooing each other along the glass. It’s like watching “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” on Starz, but without the loincloths.

‘Hawks outhustle Flyers along the boards, get a three-on-two, Kaner lays it off to Sharpie and boom! goes the goal! Ahhh, it’s finally nice to have some cushion at the end of a game. Last time they scored six against these guys, we still didn’t know what the outcome of the game would be.

And I guess we still don’t, as Keith loses his stick, and Leino lays an easy pass to Gagne. Damn! Here we go again with the jitters.

Flyers pull Boucher, I’m not surprised by that. But Buff scores probably the easiest goal of his career. He just pushes it right down the center of the ice, and it slides into the net. It’s been a decade since a team scored seven goals in a Cup game, and no surprise it was the ‘Hawks. Defense might be suspect, but no worries about the offense.

Crowd on their feet for the last minute, and momentum swings back to the ‘Hawks’ side. Crisis averted, and in impressive fashion. At least the ‘Hawks have a cushion going into Game 6. Sure, I want to see them hoist the Cup in front of the Philly mongrels, but it’d still be sweet to win it at home, won’t it?

Ehh, that’s for later. For now, it’s time to bask in the glow of a must-win win. MJ, you’re our new mojo. Chicken Carb, despite your delicious goodness, you’re benched for now.

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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