If you would have told me, two weeks ago, that the Red Wings, Penguins, Sharks, and Canucks would all be eliminated before the Blackhawks, I would have laughed in your face, yet here we sit. Not to mention that the Stanley Cup Champs were one game from elimination as well. The Hawks have their own fish to fry, though. They were able to squeak out a gutsy 2-1 OT win Saturday night, but still had to win two more to move on. Not an easy task when your goalie has given up soft OT goals in 2 of 5 games and channeled the spirit of Cristobal Huet and Chris Mason, while the opposing goalie has channeled the spirit of Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden. Until Saturday, the top 6 forwards were invisible in this series. That is until Captain Serious whipped his ball bag out and tea bagged Mike Smith. The problem is that the Hawks need two more performances like that to just simply move on. Luckily, with the Canucks out, the pressure is much less. The Blackhawks weren't expected to go anywhere when these playoffs started, but they could use the momentum and make a run. Alas, it was not to be, as the Hawks joined the ranks of the golf clubs.
The Hawks opened up at a fierce pace, out shooting the Coyotes 16-2 in the first period. Unfortunately, The Hawks were still tied 0-0 going into the first intermission. Just as you would worry, when you grossly out shoot an opponent, but can't score, the Hawks out shot the Coyotes 12-6 in the second period, but came away down 1-0. They were up 28-7 after 2 period, yet were losing. That is sad! The Hawks opened up the third period yielding the second Coyotes goal of the game, to put them in a hole 2-0, and it all went downhill from there. The Yotes added 2 more goals in the third period, just to rub salt in the wound. Bad penalties, the failure to finish, and an atrocious powerplay spelled the end of the Blackhawks season. If there IS a next season, this team could look different in quite a few areas.
- The Hawks were as fast and aggressive as I've ever seen them all year, in the first half of the first period, out shooting the Yotes 10-1. They could have easily been up 3-0, but couldn't beat Smith. You HAVE to finish, when given the opportunity.
- Just a minute into the second period, El Capitan turned Derek Morris around like a top and drove right up the middle of the ice on a partial break-a-way. Smith was able to make the save, but it would have been a highlight reel goal, if he scored. But again, He couldn't finish.
- Stalberg, Toews, and Morrison had a gorgeous 3-way passing play about 5 minutes into the second period, and Morrison couldn't lift it up and over Smith's extended leg. If Morrison gets his shot up, it's an easy goal. Still, great pressure, though.
- Amazingly enough, the Hawks were 57% at the faceoff dots. Tazer was a cartoonish 15 out of 19, Kane was 6 out of 10, and Dream Warrior was even 5 out of 10. Bolland got clowned once again, going 4 out of 12. Might have been nice to have Jamal Mayers in there to win a few faceoffs, don't you think?
- The Coyotes used a late Toews interference penalty to take a 1-0 lead towards the second half of the second period. Sooner or later the penalty kill was going to break, and that was only the Coyotes SIXTH shot on net. Oliver Ekman-Larsson blew a long slap shot past Crawford, through some traffic in front of the net, on a pretty generic goal. When you're out shooting a team 24-6, you should be winning somehow. Fucking ridiculous. I get the screen threw Crawford off, but Smith showed that you have to be able to carry your team through rough stretches, and Crawford just wasn't up to the task. The Coyotes showed what a team with a half-assed powerplay can accomplish, while the Hawks were 1 for forever.
- The Coyotes took a 2-0 lead early in the third period. Leddy and Lepisto got worked and didn't pressure Chipchura behind the net, while Brule snuck in behind them. Chipchura worked a pass through the Hawks to Brule's stick, who roofed it past Crawford. Funny how a forth liner can get the puck about 6 inches off the ice, but no Blackhawks could.
- Antoine Vermette put a dagger in the hearts of all Hawks fans in the final minute of the 5 minute Jimmy Hayes major, picking up a loose puck in front of the net, and beating Crawford.
- Just for good measure, Kyle Chipchura was left wide open in the slot to beat Crawford, and give the Yotes a 4-0 lead with 5 minutes left in the game. Not even worth watching any more at this point.
- Hits and blocked shots were fairly even, but as in most Hawks games, the opponent held the advantage. Hits were 37-25 and blocked shots were 19-14 in favor of Phoenix. The Blocked shots worry me much more than the hits do.
- Opponent or not, Rostislav Klesla looks like he was accidentally clipped or kicked in the face with Brendan Morrison's skate. You never want to see a serious eye injury to a player. Luckily he came back later in the game without and lacerations.
- The Powerplay. What a piece of dung their powerplay is. Northern Illinois College of Clown Arts as I've affectionately named it. They can't enter the zone, they shoot from horrible angles, they have zero net presence, and no one moves. They would accomplish more if they just took retaliation penalties every time they earned a powerplay. The Blackhawks should be ashamed of themselves as professional hockey players, after this year's display of horseshit.
- With 11 minutes left in the game, Jimmy Hayes took a bad 5 minute checking from behind major penalty. He'll get a talking to, from Brendan Shanahan for that one. This was basically the end of the Blackhawks season.
- Just for good measure, Kaner's invisibility act ended with a childish misconduct for chirping at the refs. Way to act like a little bitch, kid. Thanks for the effort and for showing up in the series, Kaner! No goals, and a stellar 27.8% faceoff percentage for young Patrick.
- Speaking of the "name" players, where the hell was Sharp all series long? The only thing he accomplished was 23 hits, which was good for 17th in the entire playoffs. Surprising in and of itself, because that is not the stat line where Patrick Sharp belongs or should to be. ONE point and a minus 2 in 6 games.
- Hjalmarsson, Lepisto, O'Donnell, and Brunette were all minus 3 for the series, and Dream Warrior was a minus 4. Think that highlights where some improvement needs to happen?