It’s simple, really. We’re watching two teams which play the exact same style. They move the puck quickly, skate even faster and are ready to pounce on every single tiny opportunity the opposition presents. The Sharks’ problem? The Blackhawks are better, plain and simple.
What we saw Tuesday told the story of this series so far — the Blackhawks are the faster, deeper, more talented team than the Sharks. They take San Jose’s game and play it a couple notches higher. The ‘Hawks quickness, determination to get to every puck and extreme depth are too much for the Sharks to handle, and it showed in every aspect of Chicago’s 4-2 victory Tuesday at HP Pavilion.
What’s more is the Sharks absolutely know they were no match for this ‘Hawks team through the first two games, and that statement comes from the last few minutes of the game. The Blackhawks have a knack for forcing out the frustration of normally composed teams. They did it to Vancouver, and San Jose bit the bullet tonight.
Joe Thornton’s late, blatant slash on Dave Bolland at the face-off dot was bush-league. It was a tell tale sign of his frustration that he’s sinking back into The Old Playoff Joe we’re all used to watching. The skirmish at the end of the game further proved San Jose is at the point of pure frustration. They just couldn’t hold it in any longer.
The ‘Hawks have now won seven straight games on the road this post-season and are turning the Shark Tank into a glorified bait shop. We’re now headed back to Chicago up 2-0 in the series — something not even the most die-hard of die-hard ‘Hawks fans predicted.
Short and sweet tonight…
– Andrew Ladd is my player of the game for the night. It’s pretty sad it took him scoring the first goal tonight to realize just how valuable he’s been in these playoffs. Ladd has barely grazed the score sheet, but his intangibles are what’s making him so effective. Ladd’s forecheck and pure hustle — not only tonight, but through the playoffs — have gone largely unnoticed judging by the lack of mention. What we saw out there tonight was not the first time Ladd has skated his ass off to deny the opponent out of its zone and create chances for the ‘Hawks.
— I’m starting to believe the higher power is simply putting on the No. 19 indian-head sweater and disguising Himself as Jonathan Toews each night. Add another goal and an assist onto his playoff point total, which is now at 23 and counting. If this were the movie Junior, I’d bear his children.
— Troy Brouwer’s goal was the result of a fantastic Marian Hossa back-check behind the net which kept the play alive in San Jose’s zone. Done.
— I mentioned if Evgeni Nabokov played the same level of game he did in Game 1, the ‘Hawks would be heading back to Chicago even. Well, Nabokov shit the bed. Ladd’s goal was one that should have been stopped, and Niklas Hjalmarsson’s goal didn’t really blow my skirt up. Bottom line, the Sharks needed better tonight against a ‘Hawks team that looks as if they’re out to clinch the Cup every time out on the ice.
— Does anyone still have questions about Antti Niemi? I mean goddamn, it’s time to just realize the Blackhawks have the perfect netminder — does his job extremely well and has a short-term memory to forget about opposing goals, close calls and, above all, any sort of pressure the media continues to place upon him. Niemi has given up ONE even-strength goal through the first 120 minutes of this series. I’m done talking about how surprising this is, because it’s just not.
— As exciting as this 2-0 series lead is right now, the ‘Hawks have A LONG way to go. They’ve played next to dog shit at home in the playoffs, and that better changed Friday. Get a victory — I don’t care how — and start twisting the throat of the Sharks and don’t let go. Put this damn team away and move on.