Thursday, April 8, 2010

"I went to a fight, and a hockey game broke out."

Tonight's game can pretty much be summed up with this picture.

Do you remember the scene in Bull Durham, when the coaches are discussing the game after "Nuke" LaLoosh's debut?
Joe: He walked 18.
Larry: New league record!
Joe: Struck out 18.
Larry: Another new league record! In addition he hit the sportswriter, the public address announcer, the bull mascot twice ... also new league records!

Well, it's been record-breaking week for the Men of Four Feathers: First division title in 17 years. New club record for games won in regular season (51). New high points (109). With this being Niemi's 25th win of the 2009-10 season, CSNChicago also reported that "Chicago is believed to be the first team in three decades to boast two 25-win goalies" in a season (as Cristobal Huet also has racked up 26 wins this season, lest anyone forget).

Tonight's game racked up 19 penalties covering 71 minutes. (Seabrook alone got 17 minutes just for coming to Hossa's defense, after Hossa was knocked into the boards.) I don't know if that's a new team record, but I haven't seen as many fights in a hockey game since that Rangers game I attended in NYC several weeks ago. The Blues, apparently, were ready to cause some damage on their way out the door, as they have not qualified for the playoffs.

Although the Blues knocked in the first goal, the Hawks immediately rallied and knocked in three in under 90 seconds. (6:17, 7:13, 7:43) By the middle of the second, it had stretched out to 6-1, and one could be forgiven for thinking this might end up being a game with a double-digit spread.

Then the third period happened, and the best that could describe what went on during those 20 minutes is "WTF?"

As coach Joel Quenneville said after the game, "In the first 40 minutes, we were in good shape. In the third period, we took our foot off the gas and almost gave it away."

While it definitely wasn't goaltender Antti Niemi's best night, letting in 5 goals total, which hit his GAA a bit. He also spent more time than usual roaming outside the crease, almost resulting in some easy goals. (Same thing happened last night in Dallas.)

But the whole third period was an ugly mess for the team as a whole, with the score ending 6-5 Hawks - another minute or two of play, and the game would've likely gone into overtime. Some physical scrambling at the end of the period resulted in a penalty shot (goal #5 for St. Louis) and reminding the team that just because you open up a wide lead, that it doesn't mean it's time to get complacent. Could they please remember that, already?

The play-by-play of penalties lets you know how physical the game went as it rolled on: roughing, roughing, fighting, misconduct, fighting, holding the stick, tripping, unsportsmanlike conduct, roughing, cross checking, cross checking, high sticking, delaying game, high sticking, misconduct, tripping, slashing, misconduct.

If that wasn't enough of a reminder that they weren't up to their usual par of play, the first star of the night was awarded to a player on the St. Louis team.

Everybody's busy saying, "Well, 2 points is still 2 points," and this is true. But here's hoping the team rests up and refocuses in time for their meetup with the Avalanche in Denver on Friday night.

1 comment:

  1. My two cents on the third period:
    It's perfectly fine for ME to think that the Hawks are a much better team than the Blues, and to think that they could beat them without their best effort. It's also okay for YOU to think that. It's NOT okay for the Hawks themselves to think that. The NHL is far too competitive a league for a team to consistently get away with anything less than their best effort. Out on the ice, there are no "standings" and no "stats". The good news for the Hawks is that this game will give their coaches an opportunity to remind them of these things just outside the pressure cooker of the playoffs.


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