The western conference semifinals opened up, Wednesday night in the United Center, with the Blackhawks facing their most hated rival, the Detoilet Red Wings. This might be the storybook ending that the Hawks/Wings rivalry deserves. Next season they will be off to feast on the Eastern Conference, leaving the Hawks to muck it up with the likes of the St. Louis Blues. Repulsive, I know. Anyhow, the Wings were coming off an emotional game 7 and series win against the Anaheim Ducks. For that, I must thank the Wings. That was now in the past, so back to hating the Wings. Dave Bolland was replacing Stalberg in the lineup, as well as Carcillo making an appearance. This was going to, no doubt, be a rough series, but championships don't come easy. Live from the United Center in Chicago, this IS the Blackhawks and Red Wings.
The Hawks came out and had a Jeckyl/Hyde type opening period, in game one. They were buzzing around the rink, early on, and even took a 1-0 lead. As they have been known to do, though, they fell asleep and allowed Detroit to tie the game back up. Some stupid penalties gave the Wings some prime opportunities in the closing half of the period, who actually out shot the Hawks 7-6.
The Blackhawks made up for a 50/50 first period by coming out in the second and out shooting the Wings 17-5. Of course, none of those 17 shots resulted in any goals, but the pressure was seriously on. The Wings had to consider themselves lucky that the game was still tied, but that wouldn't last long.
It was only a matter of time, with all the shots that the Hawks were getting, before they opened up the game. The third period was that time. They scored 3 goals, while out shooting the Wings and unbelievable 19-9. That was enough for the Hawks to take game one, 4-1.
- In some of the first few shifts, Justin Abdelkader tried to throw a big hit at Michal Roszival and ended up eating the shaft of Rozy Val's stick. Probably dirty on Rozy's part, but sometimes you have to send a message.
- Something I didn't think I'd say, the Hawks opened up the scoring on the powerplay with a steal by El Capitan and Sharpie on Brendan Smith just inside the Wings blue line. Toews then got the puck over to Hoss, and who just rifled a one timer past Howard into the net.
- Dave Bolland was invisible in the first period, but he certainly showed up in the final two. He was obviously getting under the skin of the Wings, and had a third period break-a-way. I guess he really does like the third line.
- The Hawks jumped on yet another Wings lapse in coverage to tie up the game, almost halfway through the third. Oduya slid into a hole the size of the entire burnt out city of Detroit, in the Wings zone. Sharp found him with a pass, and Oduya surgically beat Howard on the glove side.
- I have to point out how nice it is to see Todd Bertuzzi in a virtually useless role. That guy can chow on a festering scrotum.
- Dream Warrior Kruger put the Hawks up by two, with 8:30 remaining in the game. The play was set up but Gorilla Salad's forecheck, and resulting possession. Mr. Gorilla Salad threw the puck through the crease and it squirted out to Kruger, who pitched it over a prone Howard. There was blood in the water.
- He didn't show up on the scoresheet, but Saad had several really good chances, and could have easily had 2 goals. That Quenneville wakeup call really did something for him.
- The usually solid Lucky Number Sleven saved a huge chance, late in the third period. A Crawford rebound was whacked over him and hit the crossbar. The puck was actually heading towards the net but Seabrook whacked it out of mid air and out of harms way.
- A late terrible Oduya turnover that ended up smack dab in front of the net, was saved by Crawford beautifully and then eventually turned around the other way, resulting in Shooter empty net goal. When it rains, it pours, Detoilet.
- Toews, Handzus, and Bolland were all over 50% at the dots, but Kruger and Frolik were a collective 0-13. Which clearly needs to be better in game 2.
- Sharp Dressed Man had three points and led the Hawks with 7 shots. Shoulder looks good, doesn't it?
- Just imagine the fits that Viktor Stalberg's speed would have given the Wings.
- That first fluke aside, the Blackhawks powerplay is still complete and utter dog dung. It boggles my mind how they could manage to completely screw up such great man advantages with the talent they have.
- The Hawks allowed Damian Brunner to bring the puck in from the center line in with little to no resistance, just about 2 minutes after the Hossa goal. The defense got completely crossed up and there wasn't a defender on Brunner's half of the rink. Seabrook closed the space, but Brunner still got a solid shot off. Crawford made saves on the shot and one rebound, but the second rebound was poked past him, tying up the game.
- Andrew Shaw ended up with not one, but TWO penalties in the first period. Neither of which were even close to tolerable. With second penalty, Shaw barely grazed an already fallen Kindl with his elbow. There is no need to even put yourself in that position, though.