Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tampa Bay at Blackhawks
Game 4 2-1 Win Recap

Break Down The Wall
by Patrick Stankus

Coming into Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Blackhawks knew they were facing a must win situation. Going down in the series 3-1 is not an option. So coach Joel Quenneville did exactly what he likes to do in these situations, and hit the line blender button. The result, Kris Versteeg and Kimmo Timonen in, while Bryan Bickell and Kyle Cumiskey were out. Oh and did I mention that Ben Bishop was a late scratch for Game 4? So lets end the upset stomach talk when it comes to Bishop.

With the jumbled up lineup the Blackhawks threw out on the ice, you'd expect an energetic start. Unfortunately for the Hawks, the Lightning came out with pressure on the Hawks, and thus resulted in sloppy play that dictated the first period. It became quite obvious that the Hawks were not on the same page, and despite having two power play chances in the first, they could only muster two shots on Tampa's rookie goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. Yes, you heard me right, two shots. Despite the smoldering tire fire of a first period, the Hawks somehow managed to be scoreless with the Bolts after one.

As the second period got underway, the Blackhawks looked like they had a little, and I mean little bit more of a sense of urgency. While they weren't getting credit for shots on goal, they were getting pucks to the net. Johnny Oduya had a point shot go square off the post, and a few minutes later, Patrick Sharp, while on a breakaway found the iron. Later though, the Hawks were finally able to break through on Vasilevskiy as Jonathan Toews broke the scoreless drought to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.  But just like the leads the Blackhawks have had throughout the playoffs, this one wouldn't last long, as 5 minutes later Tampa would tie the game at one. As the horn sounded, that's how the score would remain after two, tied at one.

The third period got underway continuing with the excellent pace and intensity its displayed throughout. Just over six minutes into the third, Brandon Saad put the Hawks ahead 2-1, but as we all know, no lead is safe with the Blackhawks. The Hawks defense was put to the test in the final five minutes of the game, as the Lightning mounted a furious attack. With all the garbage talk he's taken by certain people, Corey Crawford stood tall in net, denying the Lightning's numerous chances. It also helps when Steven Stamkos misses an open net. Nevertheless, the Hawks were able to hang on for the 2-1 win, and tie the series at two as the series heads back to Tampa Bay.

The Good

- Brandon Saad's play continued right where it left off in Game 3. He had another strong game, and scored the game winning goal in the third period. The more he performs in the Stanley Cup Final the more $$$ you can add.
- After the chances he stopped in those final minutes, Corey Crawford deserves a lot of praise. He rose to the occassion when the Hawks needed him most. He finished with 24 saves.
- Another player who was taking grief was Jonathan Toews. Well Toews silenced them by scoring the Hawks opening goal, and all around had an excellent game.
- The penalty kill came through once again. This time they killed off all 4 of Tampa's power plays.
- The Hawks dominated at the dot winning the face off battle 38-20.
- Memo to Yahoo Sports NHL writers, that wunderkind Vasilevskiy is beatable after all.

The Bad
- The Blackhawks did their best to look uninterested in playing during the first period. They took 3 penalties, and were careless with the puck. Turnovers were the name of the game in the first period.
- After being "alright" in Game 3, TVR was terrible tonight. He was caught standing around in the defensive zone and lost his man on Tampa's first goal. Its tough to learn on the fly like this, but if that was Rozsival, Rundblad, or Cumiskey they'd be getting tarred and feathered.
- This wasn't the greatest night for the zebras, as several soft penalties were called. In the end though, none of them had an affect on the outcome, but you'd still like to see some more consistency.
- Speaking of penalties, the Hawks were sent to the box four times. In such an important game, the Hawks need to cut down on the sloppiness.

The Ugly
- You'd think while facing a rookie goalie, the game plan would be get pucks to the net early and often. The Blackhawks had one shot on goal through 11 minutes of the first period, and ended the period with two. Way to give the young goalie some confidence. The two shots in that period would end up setting a franchise record for fewest shots in a Stanley Cup Final bench.
- The line juggling that went on were as Gate would famously say "bat shit fucking crazy." Seriously someone unplug the line blender, or replace the button on it with one that says panic. Because that's what it looks like Quenneville is doing out of desperation.
- Duncan Keith looked like he was completely out of gas after the game. He played 29:07, while TVR played 6:37 and Timonen 5:46. Tonight it was very evident that the speed of the Lightning is catching up with the Hawks defense. Can they dig down and suck it up for a best of 3 now? Its going to be very difficult task.
- If you didn't find the final 90 seconds nerve wracking/exciting, then you need to rethink what you think is exciting. That was playoff hockey at its finest.


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