Monday, May 25, 2015

PLAYOFFS: Blackhawks at Ducks
5-4 Game 5 OT Loss Recap

by Patrick Stankus

On Monday night, the Blackhawks and Ducks saw their series shift back to Anaheim for Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. Once again, both teams were faced with the task of a quick turnaround following a marathon multi overtime game. Everyone has been asking when the Blackhawks would break due to the long minutes their top 4 defensemen have been logging along with the punishing hits the Ducks have been laying on the Hawks. Would Game 5 start to show signs of the breakdown, or would the Hawks shrug it off again, and defy hockey 101?

The Blackhawks came out on their first shift with some jump to their step and lots of pressure, but couldn't generate a shot on goal. That would be a theme in the period for the Blackhawks. The Ducks would shake off that opening shift by the Hawks, and unload a flurry of goals just past the 5 minute mark of the first period. After failing to win a board battle, the puck found its way to the point, and Cam Fowler fired a slap shot that beat Crawford, who was battling traffic in front. Then just 32 seconds later, Kyle Cumiskey couldn't clear the puck, and a point shot was redirect by Kesler, past Crawford to give the Ducks a quick 2-0 lead. With just over 5 minutes remaining in the period, off a face off win a point shot by Vatanen beat Crawford after Desjardins made a weak attempt to block the shot. The Ducks scoring was one problem for the Hawks, but the other problem was the fact they didn't register their first shot on goal until 5 minutes were remaining in the period. As the horn sounded, the colossal shit show of a period ended with the Hawks facing a 3-0 deficit.

The start of the second period featured a complete 180 in the play. Unlike the first period, the Blackhawks came out with a spirited attack and it paid off early. Teuvo Teravainen was able to beat Andersen with a wrist shot just over a minute into the period to cut the Ducks lead to 3-1. Throughout much of the first half of the period, the Blackhawks dominated the play and held the Ducks shot less. The Hawks momentum started to wane a little bit as they took their dreaded too many men on the ice penalty to give the Ducks a power play. Luckily for the Hawks, they were able to kill the penalty off. Any momentum the Ducks had from their power play opportunity didn't last long. The Hawks simply dominated play in the 2nd period, and it was quite obvious that the Ducks were trying to survive with a 3-1 lead till the intermission. With the Ducks sitting back, Teuvo Teravainen decided to clown the Ducks defense, and fed Brent Seabrook with a nifty pass to cut the Ducks lead to 3-2 with 25 seconds remaining in the period. That late goal from Seabrook would end the scoring for the period, and as the horn sounded the score would be 3-2 in favor of the Ducks.

The third period picked up right where it left off for the Hawks. They simply dominated the play and to say the Ducks were on their heels would be an understatement. The Hawks were handed an opportunity early on to tie the game thanks to a holding penalty by Clayton Stoner. With just over 5 minutes remaining, Patrick Sharp failed to get a puck out along the boards, and it resulted in a tic tac toe type passing play that led to a Patrick Maroon to give the Ducks a 4-2 lead. With their backs against the wall, Jonathan Toews scored not once, but twice in the final two minutes of their period to tie the game at 4. With the game tied at 4, the final 38 seconds featured both teams with a chance to score, but neither could and we would head to overtime.

Unlike the previous overtime games, this one would not take long. It shouldn't come as a surprise either based on how the 3rd period ended. Bryan Bickell decided to do his best Duncan Keith impression and fired a dump in "attempt" right into a Ducks' defenseman's shin pads, which put Ryan Kesler in a two on one. Kesler shot the puck low on Crawford and the rebound was kicked out to a wide open Matt Beleskey and he ended the game just 45 seconds into overtime to give the Ducks a 5-4 win, and 3-2 lead in the series.

The Good
- The bounce back by the Blackhawks after that dumpster fire of a 1st period was another reason why you can't count out a team led by Jonathan Toews. They got one goal early in the 2nd period and it gave them some confidence. They kept building on it and building on it, and frankly the Ducks didn't have an answer for it.
- After the Ducks made it 4-2 it seemed like the game was over, but Jonathan Toews scored two goals in 1:12 in the final minutes of the third to tie the game. Remember when people were complaining about him? Well tonight he showed you why he is a leader.
- Teuvo Teravainen was excellent tonight. He had a sweet pass to Seabrook that led to the Hawks first goal, and also had the Hawks opening goal. In addition to the score sheet he was noticeable on the ice generating chances.
- The Hawks penalty kill came through when needed tonight. They killed off both of the Ducks chances at times when the Ducks looked like they could build some momentum.

The Bad
- None of the 1st period goals by the Ducks were the result of bad goaltending by Corey Crawford. The 1st one was the result of traffic (3 players) in front of Crawford, the 2nd Kyle Cumiskey couldn't clear the puck and a point shot ended up being redirected past Crawford, and the 3rd was a lazy, pansy ass attempt at a shot block by Desjardins.
- Speaking of goaltending, Frederik Andersen certainly looked average at best tonight. The Teravainen goal, and Toews 2nd goal were woof to say the least.
- The Hawks were dominated at the dot tonight, 41-23. One of those faceoff losses led to the Ducks third goal. The importance of a defensive zone draw can't be underestimated.

The Ugly
- Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers, are so magnified at this time of the year. How many times do you recall the old ESPN days and hearing Gary Thorne say "giveaway, shot, SCORE!!!"? I remember those like it was yesterday. Tonight, two of the Ducks goals resulted in turnovers. On the second Ducks goal, Cumiskey couldn't clear the puck, and on the Ducks fourth goal, Sharp tried to get too cute after a pass from Timonen. Keep it simply. Fancy plays bite you in the ass this time of the season.
- Speaking of turnovers, this one deserves its own bullet mark. What the hell was Bryan Bickell thinking in overtime? Your team is trying to make a chance, and you decide to fire the puck in on a slap shot, let alone right into a defenders shin pads. Just a ridiculous play by someone who should know better.
- If Teravainen and Vermette haven't given Q the middle finger salute yet, they should.
- Not surprising either, but the power play went 0 for 2. Its either feast or famine with this bunch.
- That 1st period by the Hawks was embarrassing to say the least. They didn't register their first shot until the 15 minute mark of the period and ended the period with 3 shots.


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