By Michael Calvert
The good news is – usually when you start with the good news, it’s followed by some bad news – Well, I don’t have any of that. The good news is the Hawks ‘to be determined’ challenger for the Western Conference Finals is going to be playing at least one more, likely, very physical game.
The better news is the Hawks this season are a combined 5-0-1 against Anaheim and L.A. I personally don’t think either team is going to do anything close to rolling over and dying for the Hawks, but I like that stat just the same.
Corey Crawford has become a star and will, in my opinion, be the top goalie in the upcoming series, which is saying a lot with Jonathan Quick and the young phenom that is John Gibson.
Tuesday night’s Game 6 in Minnesota itself went as this series had previously gone, tightly played with few shots.
All series long the Wild had kept the Hawks opportunities down, game 6 was no different. The Hawks were outshot 35-27 in this game but again showed a resiliency and an ability to score the ugly goal. Kane’s goal was a beauty but Versteeg’s came out of a crease battle. For a long time it has been that the Hawks need to stop trying to score the pretty goal and need to get more of the grind it out ugly goal. I really don’t think that is the case, it looks as though they are on top of their game and getting it done however it needs to be, clean, dirty, pretty or ugly.
1st period: The Hawks struck first and early. The trend for scoring first equals win ended game 5 hopefully the Away team loses ends in this game. Kris Versteeg scored early in this game just under 2 minutes. This did not start a trend, the game looked like it might feature a lot of offense but both Crawford and Bryzgalov were very good. Bryzgalov was surprisingly good the whole series. I thought early on it would be short and ugly with him in net, and his numbers suggested nothing different. I admit I was wrong on that he played very well all series.
Bryz and Crawford staved off back to back breakaways during a crazy couple of minutes in the first period. Then after that the game really calmed down. Crawford definitely had to make some big saves, but for the most part he was up to it.
2nd period: The Wild really started to assert themselves in the second period, out shooting the Hawks 14-8. It took Erik Haula not much longer to score in the second than it did Versteeg to score in the first. Haula beat Oduya badly on a loose puck right down the middle. Oduya was able to catch up to him, but credit Haula for keeping puck possession and burying the wrister; cue obnoxious Holla voice. Crawford should have had this one in my opinion but, he shouldn’t have had a number of them, ( especially the two door stop opportunities by Justin Fontaine) so it’s pretty much all good. After that the Hawks really did a solid job of limiting the Wild. They were being outplayed up until midway through the second.
3rd period: All you can really say about the third is that it was the precursor to OT. Both teams in the 3ed period protected what was likely viewed a precious tie. No one wanted to be the one that made a series ending mistake, and really who could blame them. The shot total for the period was only 13 combined in the 3rd with the Wild taking a one shot advantage.
OT: It seemed fairly inevitable that one of these games would go to O.T, it had been the only series not to.
A lot is being said, or whined about on Patrick Kane’s goal that it basically took a bounce that does not exist at the Energy Center. The puck came off the back boards and somehow found Kane’s stick, not a good thing if you are a Wild or Wild fan. Kane put pretty much the same move on Bryz that Sharp attempted in the first, but instead roofed it on a beauty. Again Kane seemed to be the only person who knew it went in, anyone remember another goal like that? Kane is simply amazing and back to the Western Conference Finals where this team absolutely deserves to be.
-Is Patrick Kane turning into a red head or did he just patch on some reddish looking beard?
-Minnesota is good, I think the assumption would be that the Hawks and Blues would be battling out for supremacy of the Central for decades to come, but don’t discount the Wild.
-The Hawks are now 14-0 after taking a series to 2-2 since 09, that’s just killer closing, this is a championship level team yet again.
-Damn it feels good to be a Hawks fan.