9:20 AM CDT, June 13, 2013
I thought the Blackhawks had blown Game 1. Just blown a great chance to take control of the Stanley Cup Finals.
They had blown a power play, then blew a 5-on-3 advantage, then blew another power play, all in a one-goal game. Killer stuff, that.
Down a goal, the Hawks suddenly had a 5-on-3 power play for 77 seconds. That’s a lifetime, not to mention a game-turning situation. The Hawks could tie the score and even take the lead on the back half of the advantage.
Instead, they managed zero shots during the 5-on-3.
So much talent on that power-play unit, so many millions on that power-play unit, so little production from that power-play unit, and we’re talking a couple seasons now.
The Hawks had regained control of Game 1 after Brandon Saad’s goal. Every line jumped the puck hard. They were creating chaos in the Boston zone.
And then came the two-man advantage. And then came nothing.
The Hawks couldn’t get that big shot from Marian Hossa. They couldn’t get Jonathan Toews open in the circle. They couldn’t win faceoffs. They couldn’t get anything.
When they did control the puck, the setup seemed wrong. Patrick Sharp, a right-handed shot, was on the right side. He’s much more dangerous one-timing passes on the left side. That’s why Hossa, a left-handed shot, was positioned on the right side. Aggravating.
A couple minutes later, the Hawks went on another power play. But they refused to chip in the puck and never really set up the way teams in the championship round ought to.
Teams can’t blow those sorts of game-turning opportunities, especially on home ice, no matter how badly the Hawks power play has been going.
But the Hawks did, and I thought they were dead when the Bruins converted a power play of their own for a 3-1 lead with 14 minutes to go.
Admit it, you thought the Hawks were dead, too.
But no. The resolve of a former champion showed. Showed for three more periods, in fact. The Hawks pulled off a remarkable rally, and look who did it.
Dave Bolland, the third-liner and sometimes fourth-liner who has looked as if he’s playing injured, one-timed a sweet Andrew Shaw pass.
Then a little more than four minutes later, Johnny Oduya converted some nice work by fourth liners Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger with a slap shot that clicked off Boston defenseman Andrew Ference’s skate.
Just like that, it was 3-all. It would stay that way until midnight.
The battle between two great teams grew urgent and became magnificent. Overtime after overtime, it raged. Play turned ragged at times because that’s what happens when players face an unscheduled double-header.
Finally, mercifully, at 12:08 of triple overtime, Shaw deflected Bolland’s deflection of Michal Rozsival’s shot. If the Blackhawks’ big names weren’t going to show up, then the role players would be the stars.
That’s the type of goal and the type of win that can turn a series. Boston must feel devastated in blowing a 3-1 lead. Fatigue hangs heavier when you choke. The Hawks, meanwhile, are jubilant and undoubtedly have all kinds of energy. Heck, they probably want to play Game 2 right now.
OK, maybe not.
I know the playoffs are all about adversity, but the Hawks -- and their fans -- probably could use a little less of it.
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