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Picking up the pieces: A Game 3 Recap and a look towards Game 4
- I don’t really want to talk about the Torres-Hossa hit any more than I already have, but it’s impossible to give an accurate recap of the game without discussing it. It had an impact on every aspect of the game. Seeing Hossa carted off on a stretcher was a distraction for the players on the ice and the fans in the stands. I am not a yeller at Hawks games, but I was particularly quiet during this game. Seeing Hossa in that condition sucked the life out of the stadium. In many ways it didn’t feel like a playoff atmosphere. People were in a fog. Combine that with the boring style Phoenix plays and it made for a stadium that lacked energy. Hopefully the crowd is able to give the Hawks a boost in Game 4.
- The officiating was beyond deplorable. Obviously there should have been a 5 minute major and a game misconduct for Torres. Instead the Hawks had Bollig out with a 10 minute misconduct and having to kill a penalty. Then at the end of the 2nd period the Blackhawks were on a powerplay when a giant scrum ensued. All 12 players on the ice were involved, yet the refs send one guy to the box…Jonathan Toews. Negating the Blackhawks powerplay. I could go on and on, but I hate blaming officials for losses. I don’t think I have ever done it…until today.
- Frolik was fantastic. He scored a goal, which is great, but he was dangerous and dynamic all night long. I have ragged on Frolik in this space repeatedly because he has the worst contract on the team, but he was great last night. Responsible, active in all three zones, made the simple plays, used his speed. Terrific game. Maybe Frolik is just a “playoff guy”.
- Crawford might be a “playoff guy” too. I loved Crawford’s game last night with the obvious exception of the OT winner. That is a shot that Crawford has to come up with, and he said as much in the post-game. Overall though his angles were solid, his rebound control was there, and he competed hard. I LOVED him standing up for his teammates and challenging Mike Smith. Maybe Ray Emery is rubbing off on Corey a little. I think that really can do a lot for the team going forward.
- The Hawks have to find a way to be more effective on the powerplay. There were instances last night where I felt the neutral zone speed and the zone entries were solid, but overall the unit wasn’t effective. I thought the powerplay had been moving in the right direction, but last night was definitely a step backwards. Who knows how much Hossa’s presence was missed.
- Phoenix is trying to slow the game down to a crawl with their trap. It’s an effective game plan because the Coyotes are a tough team to dump and chase against. Keith Yandle, Ekman-Larsson, Rosival, Morris, and Klesla are all above average skaters and puck movers. It’s difficult to get on top of those guys. The Blackhawks may need to start using a powerplay type break-out to stretch the defense and open things up through the middle.
- The Blackhawks also need greater net presence. I honestly believe that Toews’s phantom goaltender interference call made the Blackhawks a little gun-shy going to the net. They need to shake that off. Smith plays so deep in his net that the best way to beat him is to shoot and go for screens, tips, and rebounds. Brunette’s goal last night being the perfect example.
- Quenville needs to give the 6th defenseman more minutes. I thought Olsen was very effective in the limited minutes he had(4:56). The top guys are going to get gassed if they continue to play 30+ minutes per night. I’d like to see Olsen’s minutes get bumped to between 10-12.
- Sounds like it’s going to be Saad taking Hossa’s spot in the lineup. I think that is the right move, but I wouldn’t have minded seeing Morin in that spot either. Although I am sure Q will try many different combinations, I think Saad is getting the call with the idea that he will be a top 6 forward. I think he has to play with the most responsible player…Toews. As much as I like Kane at center, I think the Hossa injury makes a move back to wing necessary. I would go Saad-Toews-Kane, Sharp-Kruger-Stalberg, Frolik-Bolland-Bickell, Brunette-Mayers-Bollig as the line combos. If Kruger can’t hack it as the number center, then go 43-19-25, 10-88-15, 67-36-29. 22-16-52
- I love Toews’s comments both post game and today. He is fired up. I think this whole thing will take Toews to Conn Smythe level. I believe he recognizes that he MUST put the team on his back…and I think he will.
- There is only one thing left to do….
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