Saad TB gm 4

Corey Crawford, Blackhawks Hang On To Tie Series

A few heartbeats may have been skipped in the final minute of regulation, but Corey Crawford and the Blackhawks held on to tie the Stanley Cup Final with a huge 2-1 win at the United Center.

With Tampa starting 20-year-old goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, the plan was obviously to test the youngster early. The Blackhawks failed to accomplish that, putting only two shots on net in the opening 20 minutes of play.

Coach Joel Quenneville threw his lines in a blender from the get-go for the must-win game. Andrew Shaw started the game with Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane, and Patrick Sharp bumped up to the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. The new-look lines didn’t show any consistency early, and missed passes became turnovers on too many occasions. But strong shot blocking and good rebound control by Crawford kept the scored knotted at zero.

Chicago opened the second period with a minute of power play time, and started to find some offensive momentum. In perhaps the least surprising news of the night, a strong shift by Toews and Hossa created an opportunity and the Blackhawks’ captain scored the first goal of the game. It was Toews’ tenth of the playoffs, with the assists going to Sharp and Hossa.

Unlike Game Three, the Hawks held the lead for more than 13 seconds on Wednesday night. In fact, they held it for 5:07… until Valtteri Filppula made a great pass against the grain from behind the net to Alex Killorn, who scored his ninth of the postseason to bring the score even at one.

The Hawks successfully killed four Tampa power plays in the first two periods, which was especially impressive considering Brent Seabrook was in the box for two of them and Toews was in for a third. But the Blackhawks defense was on point all night, and extended into the third period.

After failing to register a point in the first three games of the series, Kane finally got into the swing of things with an assist on Saad’s game-winning goal at 6:22 into the third.

In the 13-plus minutes that followed, the Blackhawks did everything they could to block and clear pucks and Crawford played his best period of the series to preserve the victory.

Predictably, Toews played huge with his team’s back against the wall. He won eight of 14 faceoffs, blocked four shots, was credited with four hits and led Chicago with four shots on net in 21:25 on the ice. Hossa was also credited with four hits, one blocked shot and added an assist in 21:01, and Saad racked up two blocked shots, three hits and the game-winning goal in 18:42.

Duncan Keith skated 29:05 and finished tied with Johnny Oduya for the team lead with five blocked shots, while Brent Seabrook led Chicago with five hits and added two blocked shots.

Crawford finished the night with 24 saves against 25 shots, while Vasilevskiy faced only 19 shots in defeat.

We now know there will be one more game at the United Center. We do not know which team will be playing to hoist the Cup on Monday night. That will be decided in Tampa on Saturday, when the teams are back on the ice for Game Five.

94 thoughts on “Corey Crawford, Blackhawks Hang On To Tie Series

  1. I am, a Proud Scotsman (Clan Morrison). Dunks is a Scottish Warrior.

    The Crow. “Suck on thaaat’.

  2. An ugly win, but a win non-the-less. This Tampa team is really good.
    I called a Sharp goal and it almost happened-he played better.
    The big question is can the Hawks elevate their game? They may need to gut it out. They don’t look right but this may be a combination of the Lightnings’ style of play, their speed and a team that’s flat out fatigued. (I know their will be some who really dislike the idea of a tired, physically spent team–but they’ve never played hard, intense hockey for 2 months)

  3. Both Timonen and Versteeg in the lineup, Troy Murray tearing the Hawks a new one for most of the game and they still get a win. Unreal.

  4. I have no more fingernails so I’ve moved onto the toes. Near heart-attack on that Stamkos shot with 30 seconds left. I think I just heard another ping from a Hawks shot banging off the post. 4 of 4 games where the first team scoring wins. Memo to Hawks – jump on the Bolts in game 5. Let’s not wait over halfway through the first to post our second shot on goal.

  5. Even the NBC announcers had to comment on the Hawks bad zone exit plan. Again, I think the coaching staff are saving a lot of their set-play zone exits and other counter strategies until chips are down and Cooper doesn’t have time to adjust and respond. You all saw how one zone entry set play on the PP completely changed the way TB planned to hold the Hawks up on subsequent entries. That kind of stuff is what will open up Kane for showtime… This was a gritty win that, frankly, could have been 5-1 with a little more puck luck… Hell, Timonen nearly netted the winner…

  6. “4 of 4 games where the first team scoring wins.”
    Hey Chevrier-didn’t the Bolts score first in Game One?

  7. Crawford bailed the boys out tonight. They were outplayed most of the game. Poor zone exits, non existent forechecking, many turnovers and poor passing. They must play better than tonight in order to have any chance of winning the series. TT on the fourth line is a complete waste of his talent. I watched the Cooper press conference and he is an arrogant asshole. Hope the Hawks bring their play up a notch so they can wipe the smirk off Cooper’s face.

  8. I don’t get the hate for Versteeg. He played well in limited time and brought energy.

    Kane looked off again but got an easy assist.

    Saad is a monster who is looking at a HUGE payday.

    Goalie win for Crawford. Battled hard and that last second redirect in front of the net resulted in many a heart attack.

    Let’s go Hawks!!! Steal one in Tampa and raise the Cup at home!

  9. The Hawks have not played their best game yet and they know it. Bodes well for the rest of this series.

    Musical chairs in the 5th and 6th hole on defence proves one thing. None of cumiskey, tvr, kimmo, runblad, are upto this level of competition. I am not crapping on them, just stating the truth.

  10. Great move by Q putting Sharp on the first line. Horrible move taking Shaw off the 4th line. Horrible move splitting up Vermie and TT. Two centers on the same line with Vermie and Richards? Shaw is not a center. He does much better playing wing on the 4th line. Hawks won tonight in spite of Q.

  11. Crawford won this for us. How we hung on for that last 2 minutes is beyond me. Don Cherry stated on Coaches Corner that they Blackhawks were really banged up from the Ducks series and hurting … Used that quote ” no human being can withstand that kind of repeated punishment “….it has come home to roost now.. The Sat. start and time off will greatly benefit the Blackhawks. Poor Johnny Oduya out there with one arm working! Warriors! These jackals are all over the lion. Can we withstand much more? Thank you Corey Crawford for maintaining your cool, thank you Saad for that great second chance shot thru the five hole, thanks to the D for all the lifted sticks. Cooper… Leader of the jackels and hyenas… Someone throw him a banana and shut him up.

  12. Crow being Crow! Gotta love him as a teammate. After 3 shots off the pipe, thankfully the hockey gods evened it up by having Stamkos’ shot into an open net deflect off Seabs stick. As I said after game 3 – we are gonna do this the hard way.

  13. Crawford played. Hawks lucky? – two posts and a crossbar (TOO BAD Timonen didn’t score). Great effort by Oduya. The line shake-up – I get it (I think…), but I hope Q returns to the (20/19/81, 23/91/88, 10/80/86, 11/16/65) “usual” lines in Tampa, without the last change. They did not outplay TB, but they won – hopefully, they will take-it-up-a-level (or whatever) Saturday. 2 of 3 — GO HAWKS!!

  14. I’ll keep this simple, I’ve worked the physics of this game down to one ample mathematic expression: (Ha! X 186).

    Rest up, this series could get interesting.

  15. FTR-of course we do….hope your theory on tactics and strategy are correct, it would be a nice surprise to unleash a secret weapon or spring a trap. We have not seen the best from this Blackhawk team in this series…I think we are really banged up right across the board and hurting. Oduya has one arm working for cripes sake. Team has visibly slowed down…the Ducks took a toll…thing about a physical series is that its the next round that will get to you, another reason why its a dumber strategy plus you hurt yourself as well ala Ducks. So lets hope Q has withheld the best strategy for the last and we jump them jackals. The Stanley Cup Champion comes out of the Central and that would be us!

  16. FTR, I agree puck luck kept the game close. In the end, however, 3 posts/crossbars = Seabrook’s skate blocking Stamkos’ shot.

  17. Too many giveaways under a withering forecheck … but somehow they won the game which is all that matters.

    Can’t 2, 4, 7, 27 all just play 30 mins so we don’t have to see the other guys during the game. Timonen now has his one game in SCF so he can get his name engraved should the Hawks win the Cup – so please just go and sit down.

    Crawford was fantastic tonight. More of that please.

  18. Ftr- If the Hawks have a different zone exiting plan they better use it in game 5. I don’t know if I have ever seen them struggle to exit like last night. Even 2 was having a tough time. I agree Dickie, they won the game but the Hawk lines did not mesh other than Sharp got a boost playing with the first line. If they want to keep Sharp on first line then fine, put 65 back on 4rth line, 91 on 2nd line with 20/88 and TT back with 80 on 3rd line. TVR had a tough game. 5 is next in line.

  19. Where to start? I have been to countless reg season and playoff games over the years. I cannot remember such a strange game, ever. Hawks had very little energy, and Bolts had plenty. Q jumbles lines in the 1st and it was just a mess. No offensive pressure, and It felt fortunate that the game was scoreless at the end of 1. Two shots on goal in the first stanza in a must win game? WTF?? Over passing and looking for the perfect plays instead of just blasting away. I don’t now about the rest of you, but normally I get aggravated at the games when people keep screaming “shoot”. Well, I was one em last night. It was just bizarre to watch.

    Little to no forecheck pressure by the Hawks to contain Bolts breakouts while the Hawks struggled mightily all night just to get the puck out of their own end. It almost became comical to watch the Hawks just try and put a puck past their own blue line and fail. Buzzing Bolts everywhere. All pucks went to these guys even when they weren’t looking for it. Hawks again with zero physical presence while Bolts just kept pounding Hawks into the boards. No push back.

    Thanks to Crow for bailing his team out. The pressure at the end of the game when the Bolts threw the works at the Hawks was as intense as I can ever remember. People were screaming and shrieking everywhere as pucks came close to going in. Edge of your seat, white knuckled OMG stuff as you will ever see. The clock seemed to not advance in the last 3 minutes.

    Tampa simply blew a grade A chance to bury a dead on their skates Hawks team and they let that chance go. Big mistake. Hawks are back in this series. Bishop is injured, and their young Russian looked very nervous. If Hossa and Saad can dig down, then the others can as well. Sharp looked much better last night. Hawks have not played anywhere close to potential, but Bolts get credit for just closing the Hawks down all over the ice with their quickness. Bolts have played their best hockey and all they have for it is a 2-2 series. I believe there is a big effort coming for the Hawks we have not seen yet in this series. May it please be Saturday so we can watch a Cup raised here next week??

    Hawks found a way to claw through and win a game where they looked gassed. Huge win last night. Even Father Time Kimmo rang one off the bar!! What if that had gone in?? Would have been fitting last night for what we watched.

    The extra day off should greatly benefit the Hawks IMO. Me too…..

    Lets Go Hawks!!

  20. I guess Q got his hands on my posts… 10/19/81 looked good. Best 10 has looked in a few weeks. 20/88 is just a very good paring. 88 is 88 and 20 can finish when 88 defers.

    But all that said, this was a very uneasy game. The entire team looked like a mistake waiting to happen. Fortunately, Tampa had some missed opportunities and the Hawks did enough to hold on. But all things, said it was vs a back up rookie goalie, so that doesn’t inspire much confidence. And while you never root for an injury… hopefully Bishop stays out…

    As for the Dman narrative about our top four and wearing down/being tired… I just dont see it. They play tons of minutes, but at no point did i think they looked any worse for the wear while the clock was ticking. You could see their depletion in the postgame, but they dont let tired legs stop them. Hats of to all 4 of them.

    I said it with game 4 and i’ll say it again… the hawks have to play like its must win. With 2 days off they need to cool the jets, recharge, and steal a win Saturday regardless of who is in net for TB. If you do that, I feel like we will close out at home. Here’s to hoping…

    Other notes:
    1) Hossa is playing his best hockey right now.
    2) Hammer could be a #1 dman somewhere.
    3) No more lineup changes… make or break with the guys who were out there last night.
    4) TB is clearly a very good team. They will be fun to watch for the next 2-3-4 years.

  21. Other note:
    5) They UC crew will probably want to knock the dents out of the goal posts… man, did we hit a lot of them last night!

  22. The Tampa Bay Lightening have to be asking themselves………

    How does a team that looks like they were skating in quick sand, with only 3 healthy defensemen, that gets terrible game starts, that has a top 6 forward with a bad back(Hossa), that plays a rookie defenseman, that plays a defenseman older than dirt, that has an “inconsistent” goalie, beat us?

  23. “Great move by Q putting Sharp on the first line. Horrible move taking Shaw off the 4th line. Horrible move splitting up Vermie and TT. Two centers on the same line with Vermie and Richards? Shaw is not a center. He does much better playing wing on the 4th line. Hawks won tonight in spite of Q.” ……

    Nice analysis, Milton!

    Teuvo on the 4th line at this point? ….. WTF

  24. They have lost when they played good, then won when they have played poorly.

    I dont know what to make of this team! It was nice to see the ghost of Sharp make an appearance.

  25. I’d like to see one switch on Morrison’s lines:


  26. I hope the Timonen and TVR are scratches rest of the series. Never thought I would say that Runblad and Comiskey are preferred. Look, Hawks have not played their best game yet and Toews, Hossa, Kane, Sharp, and Hossa have one goal. They will get it going, reason to be very optimistic.

  27. Hawks have trouble exiting their zone because Tampa is playing great defense. They use their speed and relentless puck pursuit to stymie the Hawks breakouts. Add to that the inconsistent line combinations that mess up timing and it makes the Hawks look bad. Great effort by the Hawks to play through all that and pick up the win. Two very well matched teams.

  28. Phil -great post… I will disagree w one thought… Russian Kid- didn’t look nervous to me.

    Reg- completely agree on your thought… I will add… That is probably why Cooper is so Frickin smug… Cooper KNOWS there is no way Hawks can beat TB!!! Cooper knows the Hawks are on the ropes!!!

    Crow was great… for sure!!! Excellent game-

    But at the end of the day… It took 2 D-men (who make $5M+) to make HUGE goal saves behind Crow (#2 on Kut-cher-cock-ov’s reach around) and #7 stick on 91…

    Problem – like others have said- Hawks have only 3 /4 D men right now… It sure would be nice to have $5M more to lace up one more Great Dman!!!

  29. Bolts have earned this series with an incredibly disciplined “system”
    As the world knows the system is built on speed but for fans it’s built on discipline, speed you can draft and see, but discipline is coaching. Bolts system getting to areas on the ice consistently on the fore check and what I call the “full court press.” Hawks don’t have the speed, size or skill to do this and Bolts are doing it to perfection with “good players” not great, repeat not great players, No Perry, Kesler or Getzlaf. But they each cover a zone, stay in that zone, rotate and keep heads up square watching the puck. Hawks are a very predictable team. They rotate to the front of the net with the best, very quick no delay, hawks are horrible. As someone mentioned hey what about the Bruins, Philly Cups and Kings and Ducks series those are really “undisciplined physical teams” that run at the body first trying to separate you from the puck and take bad penalties. Bolts are physical and the same size as Hawks (hedman a fluke and rated on defense) they give you just enough body but use “smart body stick” to move YOU and the puck (herd /trap) to a spot in the corner. They don’t ever send 2 or 3 guys in recklessly like bruins, ducks, kings and even hawks, they have what is called an “Trap Assignment” they stick to that assignment and don’t break back on defense until the Puck has been “exited out” of the hawks zone, which in 4 games seems like never. They close the point down low, they don’t rift back like “slower hawks” defense, like Seabrook and Hammer who are so slow on the turn their a risk.

    Bolts are never in a hurry to get back on defense, they Hold the “trap” longer maybe only 3 seconds longer but they hold it! They have more team speed not just a guy who once in awhile has a burst so they don’t have to worry about getting back. They do everything as a unit! Every time they cross the blue line it is 3 across, always. Every line, every time, in perfect timing. They get back as a unit, they are fast enough to “catch up” hawks catch up but Reaching with sticks not catching up to the body. Bolts on defensive entry are as disciplined as they are on offense they can skate so they CLOSE as we say in the business, they close fast, no long poke checks . . .THEY CLOSE WITH THE BODY AND TAKE AWAY SPACE, hawks defense if we are watching always and I mean always drift back, back pedal, they seldom stand up at the blue line and seldom close up near the face off dots, Bolts close that space, yes poke a little, but just CLOSE THAT SPACE they are not even interested in knocking you down a la LAME BLOGGERS WHO THINK THIS IS 1990 or Bobby Clarke era again. It’s over, just take away space and all that is why this BOLTS team is actually good to watch. It is why Yzerman and especially Cooper deserve some respect and acknowledgment of Lombardi like proportions. This is the future but having the discipline to play this system on all four lines with no “slow holes” which is much more complicated than I’m sharing.

    About the Hawks. Q in contrast to my above “rant” has to rotate lines to get production from key players means players are not accountable not disciplined in their role. Period.

    Hawks rely on possession and over passing and waiting, Hossa holds the puck way too long, missing 4 or 5 key passes for easy goals in the series as he holds and hold, The bolts can be beat with faster puck movement, they don’t move much, they don’t over chase again discipline.

    Crow was a game saver. Vermette was working like a beast on the dot! Saad as plays better when he has the “responsibility” I have said for 3 years, which means own a line, get away from Toews and Hossa shadow and style of play. Saad should be the next captain and he won’t be until he is told to score, play hard very much like he did last night! Sharp on a good line shows his worth, great game.

    Hawk look like they have been on a penalty kill fo r4 games now, horrible. Long icing bad passes just weak an unfocused.

    Even in post game interview hawks look confused, tired and about ready to pack it in. They and our GM and COACH have no answer I do but you wont want to hear it. They can play a physical undisciplined team but speed never. Let just hope the rest of the league doesn’t get sooo fast.

    Also do yourself a favor and watch how Babcock figured out a way to slow them down, with old guys who know how to hold, interfere and read the ice, brilliant if ya know what to look for hawks are too small and slow to even hold them to slow them down or screen or pick them off, Babcock smart man!

    Not a fun game to watch, even with a win and that is an odd feeling!

  30. FTR you seriously think they have the silver bullet to easy exit in our zone? The exit’s now are not even close all the hawks are waiting for is the Bolts to skate themselves out of it . . ie. TIRED! But the BOLTS magic is they skate fast in zones, they don’t chase! So they don’t ever look tired.

    If q is waiting and he has the answer he should be fired before game 5! period!

  31. The Hawks have been soundly outplayed and outhustled in all 4 games of this series. Yet they still sit 2-2. Corey Crawford absolutely positively won game 1 and game 4. Without Crawford this series was already a four game sweep for the Lightning.

    The Hawks looked very tired and beaten down in game 4. They have run out of gas and can’t really compete with the youth, enthusiasm and ungodly skating ability of the Bolts. BUT, they remain in this series.

  32. Don’t blame all this on our d-men and over work of core four. It goes much deeper than that!! I thought every game in the series would be a one goal game thought the hawks would have the BIG edge in one goal games, they sort of do and don’t.

    My real insight repeating sorry, is this . . . THE BOLTS ARE NOT OVERLY TALENTED ON THE OFFENSIVE SIDE OF THE PUCK. period, Hedman is the offense. Yes Stamkos is very good but they are not full of “sharp shooters” like even the hawks have so they have speed. Hockey is interesting if we watch, watch the Wings vs Botls first 2 or 3 games and watch even how a Rangers team offensively challenged played them. B

    Not sure we are getting it? They draft speed, The Bolts are one or two (scorers) players from being a dynasty that can dominate! They are not an offensive desert storm. They play a trap, they hold the puck and they DO TAKE VERY VERY HIGH PERCENTAGE SHOOTS again discipline. They work that puck low like rock stars they just need one more guy and they cab AFFORD TOW MORE smart team.

  33. The so called Russian kid was not tested at all! Game four “Russian kid” in the net like 4 shots? All this chatter and it really comes down to that . . .again . . . in a game where your life depends on it you come out with 4 shots on a 20 year old. I’m just talking shots! Generate shots.

    The KID was average very poor rebound control and his rebound redirection was below average, big yes, good glove but Cooper handed it to us and dared the hwaks to beat them and wow, 4 shots says it all.

    The hawks are hoping Bolts slow down and get tired but the magic of the bolts is the zone skating, they move to a zone, hold, rotate and move, no real chase like poor Shaw and Marcus!

    Go hawks

  34. You are correct Danny Noonan. My bad. The world needs ditch diggers too. It does seem like that game was about a decade ago.

    Phil, totally agree with your post. Especially the part about everyone screaming “shooooooot” every time someone gets a pass at the point. The Hawks have always seemed to get those shots ringing off the posts to fall in. Not in this series though.

    The Hawks do look a bit like the punch-drunk boxer just trying to get to the final bell for the decision. But has just enough left for one more knock out shot. I expect nothing less than 1-goal games the rest of the way.

  35. PUCKLOGIC your right on he Coach Q Vitamix line changes ( all those big contracts and that is all he can do to motivate? ) but it’s not only chemistry which is a BIG BIG DEAL, it is sadly Hawks don’t have wingers who control the boards with size and body position on the exit up the boards. They all like to drift into open ice, they are not GREAT on the FORECHECK even we send in 3 guys Bolts send one good one in and one guy to go after the loose puck simple shit!

    But our wingers do not control the boards too small and light on skates, They are slow to the pass around so they get their late, and when the do get their head is DOWN, watch. heads down, fumbling for the puck to find it and easily tied up as they try in vain to poke it out of the zone. Border line pathetic?

    Also just on a pure clean exit on a bolts lien change and open ice Hawks are having issues!

    Once the Hawks are SET UP in the offensive zone then game on but so many unforced icing still trying for stretch passes, and just passes to the wrong guy in the wrong position.

    last point, YOU DONT HAVR TO BE FAST to cover the zones on the ice, it is just getting there. So much like NBA basketball . . . it’s guts and want and desire! Bolts have all 3!

  36. great posts, thank you Phil for the UC insight, the tenor is Bolts control play and this baby is ova without CC stealing games 1 and 4. FTR, no way Hawks are sandbagging on an exit strategy. Bolts are forcing Hawks to react to their forecheck. Hawks get 2 shots in period 1 of a must win? WTF, indeed.

    This is a war of attrition, extra day off is a godsend. Forwards simply must, MUST, begin scoring to relieve pressure on D and CC. Clearly absence of 5/6 D forces 4 man rotation and these warriors are fading. They are human, even 2.

    The Heart of our Champions can produce Victory. Hawks have proven they never, never quit. Can you imagine the delirium of a game 6 clincher on home ice?

  37. 1. Crow was super good
    2. That game was painful to watch with the exception of the last ten minutes. It was awful. One of the least entertaining games I have ever watched.
    3. I loathe Patrick Sharp.

  38. Wait until Kane starts getting into the action. Game 5 is a good time to start. We win 2 more games and we are Stanley Cup champs. Go Hawks the mighty Blackhawks.

  39. Game 5 will have a few things worth keeping an eye on, here is my list

    1: The Bishop. Will Bishop play and if he does play how well will he play? I thought it was interesting that he didn’t even dress for the game.

    2: Who shows up 1st Stamkos or Kane. Neither 1st overall picks have shown up on the scoresheets. The 1st one that likely shows up will have their name on this years cup.

    3: Does Victor Hedman have a weakness? OMG this guy is playing insane, someone needs to get in his head or in his face or mess with him because he is on top of his game and playing at a level I had no idea he was capable of. He’s really good!

    4: How worn down are these Hawks? How much did Anaheim take out of them?

  40. Hawks are playing against a system and strategy. It would take Babcock Brain Storm to tilt this the other way, Slower Wings did it, shut out the Bolts twice. Niklas Kronwall gets suspended for game 7 and the rest is history as they say.

    Bolts do get out shot a lot but I say no team gets more and works more for “high quality” 10 feet and in, and heavy shots like they do and it doesn’t take 7 passes to get to it often 3, they just move a lot and into zones, tight zones, where they should be and they fight to get into that zone. hard to crack the code on that!

  41. MtM- great analogy on: Discipline/well coached team

    TB -forecheck
    TB- trap/ Discipline

    I will add… watching TB in their D zone… very Disciplined/size on Back end…
    Watched the Saad goal several times in slow-mo… the Discipline (to a fault- in this case for TB) was quite obvious… watch how all the TB/guys stay home- to a fault- Goal scored- cuz of “illegeal/legal” pick by Richards on the Player “responsible” for 20,,, then the rest of TB guys stay home,,, and fortunate bounce for Saad/poke-check…

    It really reminded me of the Bruins D/and relentless boxing out of Hawks around the net!!!
    I thought the Hawks “turned” the Bruins SCF… by shooting from Horrible angles/perpendicular to the goal… and by taking shots wide of the net… to both beat shot blockers/and get wide bounces/deflections away from the Interior D men…

    The Hawks PP- is really taking that approach –19 almost cashed in on 2 shot-passes shot wide…

    But- one big Difference with B’s and TB… TB has so much forward speed… they ATTACK the Hawks points… forcing them to get rid of puck quick… which keeps the Hawks D- from pinching and doing much in the O zone…

  42. The dismissal of Tampa Bay by many of you is insane. The Lightning by all accounts should have swept the Hawks in 4 games. We have not been able to really compete in any of these games, and but for the grace of Crawford in game 1 and again in game 4 the Hawks would be heading back to offseason homes today. Neither Bishop or the Russian kid have been really tested in this series…even a severely hobbled Bishop in game 3. Why? Because the Bolts have been devastatingly effective in their pursuit of the puck and keep the majority of action on Crawford’s side of the ice. Kane has been brilliantly squashed and neutered by the Tampa strategy. Ditto Toews and Richards in large measure. The have “let” Hossa and Saad do there thing as they have prioritized stopping / shutting down Kane and Toews. To Chicago’s credit, we have largely done the same on Stamkos. Honestly, I think this series is over in 6 games and Tampa Bay hoists the Cup. They have dominated an overwhelming portion of all 4 games and the Hawks just don’t have the energy, or frankly the right horses, to compete with that the Lightning bring to bear.

  43. I think I will simply look at it this way. My team, for all it’s faults, is tied 2-2 in the SCF. We are facing a team that is more similar to the Hawks (in style of play and types of talent) than any we have faced so far. We now have a best of 3 series and I am gonna love every minute of it.

    That said, Q plays a more important role in the next 2 or 3 games. TB has shown him what and who they have (save a breakout by Stamkos). Q must devise a way to beat TB at OUR own game. The Hawks have more experience and know how to win. Between Q and our players we should prevail. If we do not, TB is simply the better team this year…… happens.

  44. Bishop made 36 saves in game 3. Pretty good.

    From what I saw, the Ruskie was fighting off every puck. Leaving tons of rebounds. Toews SHOULD have had a hat trick in that game but he didn’t have enough strength on his stick.

    Every time Saad scores a goal I just think about how much more money he is going to make. And as much as I love Kruger/Shaw, anyone that thinks they are worth keeping over Saad is high. Wall- remember when we thought he wasn’t going to have the hands to get all the money? Well we were wrong, and he’s going to get all the money.

    This team loves Crow, it’s kind of cute.

    Timmo is still really good in the O zone… kind of wish they could actually keep the puck in the zone when he’s there. TB is ridiculously well coached.

    Wall- I don’t think any team is prepared for the injuries that the Hawks sustained this year on the back end. Rozy, TVR, Johns. If all of them remained healthy this year, you’re not complaining about the 5/6 defensemen. Also, I MIGHT be wrong on this, but I’m pretty sure TB is already over the cap for next season and they have absolute garbage in their bottom 5 forwards.

    I’m sure it will be ignored, but the Hawks are carrying the play at evens in this series. So if you think they are getting outplayed, they aren’t. You are seeing it wrong.

  45. Great post Phil.

    I’m not a metrics guy so I don’t know what the “numbers” tell, but my impression is that the Bolts had the better of the play last night, and in Game#2. Game#1 was pretty even with the Bolts owning the first 30 minutes and the Hawks having the edge the last 30 minutes. Only Game#3 do I give the edge to the Hawks and they ended up losing that game. In other words this series could be and maybe should be over by now and the Hawks are fortunate to be tied 2 games apiece. But so what – right? I mean that’s why it takes 4 wins to win the series and many more times than not the best team wins.

    So, we’ll see …

    If the Hawks end up winning the Cup, the Conn Smyth should be awarded to the top-4 d-men. Unconventional? Yes, but so is trying to win 16 playoff games with only 4 NHL caliber d-men. Yes, Rozsival was injured so that has to be taken into account, but he’s borderline NHL level anyway and the point that we’re now all wishing he was still in the lineup is damning evidence of the motley crew remaining to fill the 5/6 d-men positions in the lineup. Stan Bowman’s got some “splainin” to do.

    Tampa Bay is a very good team and aside from their smirky coach, I kind of like them. I’ve heard it said they remind people of the 2010 Hawks – I don’t see that myself, but the point is they are young and fast and should be damn good for the foreseeable future. If they should be the team that derails the Hawks on the supposed path to dynastic immortality … I can live with that. Better them than the Blues or the Nucks or even the Kings. I’m not conceding anything at this point because the Hawks have some phoenix in their DNA, to be sure, but just tossing a rose in the Bolts direction because they’ve earned it.

  46. Wow…what’s the point of even going back to TB for Game 5. You could split these 4 games gone into any combination of who wins due to a small number of key events and aside from a 4-0 Blackhawk sweep anything could be possible . Admittedly at this late point in the season, the Hawks decimated D and challenges of the Duck series and a very impressive (and mostly dominant TB effort) can lead you to question whether the Blackhawks will find a way. Which is a VERY different challenge then a comeback midseason. But it’s a 3 game series now. I’m there for Game 6, and so you know the outcome I’d want. But I think it goes to 7 and that would be anyone’s game.

    Just to contradict myself…the last 2 minutes last night and the Hawks inability to shut TB down (or even clear the zone) aside from Crawford’s efforts and some puck luck are a very ominous sign.

  47. This isn’t on Q to win. There are no more tricks to pull out of the bag or line changes to experiment with. Rather this is on a very tired, beaten down and short-manned Chicago team seeing if they have anything at all left in the tank to combat a very talented, young and energetic opponent. Tampa Bay has kicked our asses up and down the ice in all 4 games. To say anything to the contrary is to be living in denial. Tampa Bay has blown me away with how good they are. They are in my estimation the new class of the NHL. That is incredibly lofty praise, but I call them like I see them. What I have learned is that we really needed the NY Rangers to win the Eastern Conference Finals. In our current state we would have matched up better with the Rangers. If Crawford can stand on his head for two more games then I give us a fighter’s chance. We will need to win a low scoring affair because our offense isn’t going to get much done right now against Hedman and the ferocity of the puck pursuit and defensive discipline the Bolts play with.

  48. The only player on TBay who has played like a significant game changer is Hedman; he is charging up and down the ice like a wild horse. This is the first time entire playoffs the Hawks have had to deal w/ someone like him. Mr. Rufus placed the whammy on TBay, anointing them champions. Bishop has been a sieve at least once in every series; his time is coming — if he plays the Hawks will get to him. If he doesn’t, that other goalie is a kid, he was completely untested last night. Mr. Mayor, start planning the parade please, next Friday 6/19. Thank you.

  49. Re: re: lines… how about:


    Approved… get it to Q… LOL

    But i do think Q would flip Richards and Vermette if he were to actually go with that as the winger distribution. (also i got laughed at for suggesting TT as a 1st line LW, so we will see how this goes over)

  50. Rufus…Hedman can’t be on the ice for 60 minutes and he is only one guy.

    Iceman…should not say “start planning the parade”…That backfired on Toronto so bad they are still cleaning up the damage.

    The rest will benefit us more than them….the pressure is on the Bolts because they do not want to come into Chicago down 3-2. Not sure how we staved off that onslaught at the end but we did. The Blackhawks have scratched out many victories this year and drove us all nutty. I’m trusting our players, Q and the coaching staff all the way.
    Morrison…we need bagpipes, pipe the Hawks on to the ice …you and me ! Need a drummer for timing beats, a Committed Indian volunteer…get the blood flowing.

  51. RTF – I respect your opinion but will have to disagree with the comment that TB has “kicked our asses up and down the ice in all 4 games.” TB has been excellent and the better of the teams through 4 games but last night for example we hit three posts and Toews had two tips where he missed high percentage chances. In game 3 we missed 2 empty nets. My point is that its not like we are standing around like traffic cones getting run off the ice. At the end of the game its not who plays better or is the dominant team but who scores more goals. The pressure will be on Tampa to hold serve on Saturday. There is no doubt that we looked tired and slow last night but TB has injury issues as well – Johnson, for one, is clearly not himself. If Crow comes big again I like our chances.

  52. ……the hockey gods were with the blackhawks last night….. Understand the dilemma with injured defensemen… whats the problem?…..add Rundbland or Van Riemsdyk as forwards so you have more options….like Buflglen or John Scott in the past….somebody will step up and fill the fifth and sixth spots…..Rundbland thinks he is a forward anyway….lol…..something has got to click…..otherwise keep praying….

  53. JS- Re: Saad/hands… his shot is way better than it used to be… and can still get better… even more importantly… he is improving his patience… and that to will get better…

    How did Kucherov go in 2nd round? How did so many teams pass on Killorn too?
    At least with Saad in 2nd… he was injured/a lot of that draft year…

  54. There was a five minute stretch in the 3rd after the Hawks took the lead where the Hawks forechecked like crazy. They didn’t really ever get control of the puck, but the Bolts would shoot it in the Hawks zone and it would come right out. Saad, Kruger, and TT forechecked all the way to put the Bolts D in their zone. Again, the Hawks never really had control of the puck, but the Bolts were somewhat frustrated by never being able to establish anything. Unfortunately, it appears the Hawks are too tired to consistently put forth this effort for an entire game.

    I think TT needs more than 10:46 of ice time. He frustrates the Bolts Dmen.

    I believe Q stopped matching up forwards against 77 in the third and instead made sure Seabrook was on the ice everytime 77 was.

    Finally, the Bolts look better than the Hawks. They have controlled some serious stretches in all four games. Perhaps, one thing the Hawks have going for them is that it may get in the Bolts heads that the series is tied 2-2. I know the Hawks can play better, I do not know if they have the energy to. If the Hawks win the Cup, it will be through workmen like efforts, much like last night.

  55. ….. Understand the dilemma with injured defensemen… whats the problem?…..add Rundbland or Van Riemsdyk as forwards so you have more options….like Buflglen or John Scott in the past….somebody will step up and fill the fifth and sixth spots…..Rundbland thinks he is a forward anyway….lol…..something has got to click…..otherwise keep praying….

  56. re: anthony justin – Yes! Let’s take players who are bad and put them into a new position during the Stanley Cup Final! Maybe we can play on sand instead of ice while we’re at it!!

    [punches self in crotch]

  57. Tab: w/ nearly three full days until the next game, can you kindly dig out the best of Mr. Rufus posts from yesteryear — maybe like a top 10 Letterman list? TX

  58. ……hey Rufus maybe you start another blog and call it…….NUTS AnD BOLTS….lol…

  59. “What a refreshingly optimistic blog this is” – Said no one ever!

    The Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy to win for a reason…..

    Enjoy the ride ladies & gents, a lot of you are missing the forest because of the trees……

  60. Pretty sure there is at least one Rufus sock puppet but that last one was pretty hilarious. +1 on JS and MS. Tampa has been better but the better team doesn’t always win. The team with the most goals wins. And we’ve scored enough to make the series even. The Hawks have come back from the dead before.

  61. I agree JZ… yes the Bolts are a great team or else they wouldn’t be in the SCF but lets not crown them as the 1972 Dolphins. the series is 2-2 and really either team can win a best of three

  62. Can’t wait till me secret decoder ring comes in the mail so I can understand “interpret” some of these posts.

  63. Hopping on the band wagon – nice recap Phil. Never have seen the Hawks dragging like this, never saw them having such a problem with the transition game out of their zone, and never saw them poking and swatting at the puck because they could not get to them before the Bolt’s players. They WON!!! How draining it us to watch!!! Can’t imagine how they feel playing.

    How about dressing 13 forwards and 5 dmen (top 4 and TVR). Dress Hartman with his fresh legs and tell him we need him to hit the triplets, 77, and Stralman as often as possible. If he gets 20 hits and no penalties, we’ll give him at least 20 games in the NHL to prove himself next year. That would help tire out the Bolts.

    Go Hawks!!!!

  64. WALL once the hawks have possession in the Bolts Zone it is Game on! The Botls defense is not that good, no matter what the system, if the Hawks can just move the puck FASTER, they can get a lead and hold it, under pressure but hold it.

    I bring up Hossa as one who holds the puck, as does kane that big semi-circle he does EVERY TIME as we watch the Bolts sort just watch. . . we need to move the puck fast, i think Richards and Tevo are the only two guys aware of this? Plus our D-man need to make faster shots to the net, Keith got lucky with the head fake and drop step so now that is all he does!

    Faster passes and quick puck movement 2 passes and shot, and get the rebounds. No one near that net! Ever it getting old.

  65. Is there anybody on the coaching staff that can say to Q , hey enough already of the lineup blender, or are they just his guys acting like bobble head dolls?

  66. I would strongly suggest one thing to Coach Q that would guarantee a Hawks Victory on Saturday.

    GIVE THE HAWKS ALL 3 DAYS OFF! period, just show up on Saturday for the shoot around, wipe the slate clean and rest. I’m serious . . .

    You guys and these line changes? My head hurts! It about balance, hawks have a lot of player “duplication” as a gm mummmbles to himself. So we dont have much to add as i have said for years it is TOEWS that needs to moved around on lots of line, i would love to see him even floating on that 4th line.

    So beside just BURNING OUT LIMITED TALENT they do the Q-villle Shuffle?

    weak imo

  67. Re line combinations, just for fun I put all the numbers in my Hawks cap and drew out four lines at random – just like Q does. Here’s what came out:


    So some guys play out of position. That’ll mess Cooper up. Funny how Toews comes out on a first line even in a random draw.

  68. Tab, please save this and post it again next year:

    “The dismissal of Tampa Bay by many of you is insane. The Lightning by all accounts should have swept the Hawks in 4 games. We have not been able to really compete in any of these games, and but for the grace of Crawford in game 1 and again in game 4 the Hawks would be heading back to offseason homes today. Neither Bishop or the Russian kid have been really tested in this series…even a severely hobbled Bishop in game 3. Why? Because the Bolts have been devastatingly effective in their pursuit of the puck and keep the majority of action on Crawford’s side of the ice. Kane has been brilliantly squashed and neutered by the Tampa strategy. Ditto Toews and Richards in large measure. The have “let” Hossa and Saad do there thing as they have prioritized stopping / shutting down Kane and Toews. To Chicago’s credit, we have largely done the same on Stamkos. Honestly, I think this series is over in 6 games and Tampa Bay hoists the Cup. They have dominated an overwhelming portion of all 4 games and the Hawks just don’t have the energy, or frankly the right horses, to compete with that the Lightning bring to bear.”

  69. Negativity again abounds. Bolts are playing so well, little room for improvement. Hawks stink and lots of room for improvement. Look out for teams that has room to improve and Knows it.

  70. Sock puppet = someone posting to make it look like someone else is posting. There have been quite a few Rufus posts that don’t really sound like him.

    MTM has been sock puppeted a few times as well.

    So if I’m reading the tea leaves, Q is a terrible coach, Bowman is a terrible GM, the Hawks are significantly worse than the Bolts and should have been swept. Guess I just freed up my Saturday because clearly this bush league outfit has no place in the final.

  71. Great Game. Loved it even the white knuckle ride at the end. I will put myself out there and call for Bickel to come back in place of Versteeg. We need some hitting and if Bickel can just do that it will help some. If Bickel is hurt then forget it and leave the lineup alone. GO HAWKS. I was so excited during the game I spilled my beer on the nice lady in front of me who has been a season ticket holder for 40 years. Sorry!!! but with the jumping and the tension I couldn’t help it. Actually I had drank most of it by the time I spilled it :)

  72. First cup final in years that neither team has had more than a one goal lead at any point. Hawks have outshot TB twice, TB have outshot Hawks twice. How is that getting your ass kicked. Hawks have played more hockey in the last seven years than any team in the league. TB is young, good and fresh. Yet Hawks still have a shot at cup. Pretty impressive Hawk fans.

  73. what has happened to the blackhawks we have come to know its like its an entirely different team is it all the lightning i think not the hawks have playd other skilled teams and it hasnt fazed them all i know is that the hawks were outplayed last night and came away with a lucky win thanks to the crow the hawks have not played their game since the start of this series when will they begin to dominate as in other series i cant take the stress i bought the giant size rum at costco to help me thru this series Bronco

  74. Don’t worry Bronco, everyone was fried watching that game last night. We have to remember that this is incredibly intense entertainment. It’s our guys in the Finals and we should breathe deeply in and out when wracked with nerves, and savor the fact that our team is within 2 wins out of three games of bringing home another Cup next week.

    In the meantime medicate as needed, and its ok to scream at the TV and at whomever(poor bastards)will listen wherever you happen to be watching. This stuff makes all us a little goofy. We live for this!!

    God help us all…and

    Lets Go Hawks!!

  75. Lots of gloom and doom after a win, some deserved. But usually you’re supposed to lose games when you hit 3 posts, the Hawks found a way to win. The Toews goal was as ugly-beautiful as hockey can get, the great leader willing his team to victory again, what a performance. That said, a lot of his exit passes, and Seabrook’s, were uncharacteristically horrid. Their mistakes were covered up, 57’s wasn’t, that’s just the way these playoffs have gone. Perhaps the slow, sloppy ice mentioned prior to the game due to the heat was a factor, at any rate, many of their passes sucked, and last I checked TB was on the same ice.

    Tampa seemed to have more offensive zone time last night than they had in 1-3, but I’m just not seeing the domination that the media and many fans are seeing, rather, many more missed opportunities by the Hawks than TB. I was disgusted that the Hawks gave away game 3, felt just fine about game 4 coming away with a W, stealing it or not. You may see old and beaten down vs young and fast, I see patient vs. frantic. Sure I’m biased, quite possibly delusional, but I’m not seeing a tired, defeated team on the ice.

    This series could go any way, but the Blackhawks are in the Stanley Cup Final, and either way it goes, it ain’t going to be easy. 2 days rest coming off a win for the Hawks, 2 days for TB to bathe in the media stroking their incredible awesomeness, with just a touch goalie circus. Meanwhile, they have potted exactly 0 more goals than the Hawks, and won 0 more games. We got em right where we want em boys! Joking, but I wouldn’t be any more surprised to see the Hawks raise the cup in 6 than to see any other outcome.

    Chevrier, have you got a Hallowed be thy Crow prayer in you?

  76. Not sure who will be in nets for Tampa, but the kid showed a 5-whole the size of Texas a few times.
    No way one team has dominated this series-it deserves to be 2-2, not much to separate the two teams-

  77. I’m glad I’ve not been booking anything based on blog posts. I like confidence, just not false guarantees. Based on how the Hawks have played the last few years, I’d be more surprised if they didn’t play better in Games 5-7 than they have in Games 1-4, but that trend will not continue forever so we’ll see Saturday if they can still raise their game like we’ve seen them do it before.

  78. Big picture… the Hawks as having the 4th best record in the Western Conference are now tied with the Bolts from the Eastern Conference who beat the Presidents Cup winner the NY Rangers to get to the finals. This is one of the closest ever Stanley Cup series with no team up by more than one goal the entire series. I think the Hawks and Coach Q have done a great job to this point win lose or tie!

  79. What’s not to like? 2 out of 3 -They got home ice and currently are just average there.

    TB guys have no idea the pressure that comes with trying to seal the Cup/eliminate us. No clue. If they do get a chance, they will wilt

    Sharp gets promoted and looks good? Who could have projected that?

  80. MTM that’s me, i think I was held hostage once otherwise the “ramblings” are mine!

    I appreciate the welcome and the comments and allowing me to share how it see the game.

    Go hawks

    thanks Tab . .. i know how much work goes into this, a lot!

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