To quote Jay-Z, it’s on to the next one for the Blackhawks. After disposing of the Vancouver Crybabies 5-1, they are on their way to San Jose to face the number 1 seeded Sharks. This Hawks team boggles my mind. They looked lost, bored, and hungover in Game 5. I made up the hungover part, but after those pictures in the limo…….Oh, never mind. The Hawks played at their pace on Tuesday night. They looked like the team from Games 2, 3 & 4 and not the lugs from Game 5. All that matters is they are moving on and are 8 wins away from bringing The Stanley Cup back to Chicago for the first time since 1961…..It needs to happen, because I don’t want to have the look on my face that the Canucks fans had after the game last night. Thank you, Canucks fans, for making my night even better. They, collectively, looked like Dustin Byfuglien shot their dog. It was fantastic television. At least Vancouver has………Um…..Um…..Anything? Oh that’s right, they wait for the Hawks to kick their ass right out of the playoffs every spring. I knew I could find something.
You know a team is on a roll when every player is contributing. The Hawks got goals from Chris Versteeg, Dave Bolland, and Troy Brouwer (he hasn’t played since Game 2). I even have to give some props to Brent “Men’s League” Sopel for standing in and, repeatedly, taking shots for his team. Obviously, as this Sharks series goes on, the Hawks will need the big money players to carry them, but they are a deep and complete team who are like the line from a Snoop Dogg song, “Serial Killa”……6 million ways to die…..choose one.
Seeing Brouwer get interviewed in the post game was what sports are all about. His father recently had surgery for a blood clot on his brain, and it has obviously weighed on his mind. He hasn’t played well since the end of the season, but his inspired play in Game 6 is another reason to think some interesting things are happening with this team. The pass that Patrick Sharp centered to Brouwer could have been deflected, but it made it through and it was on from there.Once the Hawks took the lead 1-0, my confidence grew quicker than Joel Quenville’s mustache’s popularity.
Side Note: Coach Q will become a celebrity in this town, Ditka style, if the Hawks win 8 more games. Coach Q, a fine restaurant, cheap wine, bad hotel resorts, and a limp are in your future….
Patrick Kane scored on another “video game” goal, as I call them, to effectively seal the deal. The Sharks are a big, talented team who just beat up the Red Wings in 5 games. The Hawks best players ( Toews, Kane, and Hossa) will need to carry the load so their role guys can do their jobs like they did in Game 6. This series vs San Jose will, undoubtedly, get tougher for the Hawks– which is why it’s time for their big money players to carry the load. This is when Marion Hossa proves he’s worth a 12 year deal– this is the series when Jonathan Toews, aka Hockey Steve Sanders, takes his first steps towards Yzerman status, and this is the series where Patrick Kane puts his stamp as, potentially, the best American born player in the world. You know the saying…..Big players….Make big plays….In big games.
Speaking of big players, kudos to Antti Niemi who outplayed the Roberto Luongo in 4 of the 6 games. I don’t claim to be a hockey savant, but when are people going to stop calling Luongo a great goalie? The guy is as fragile as post prison Mike Tyson. Niemi was huge in the first periods of Game 3 and, again, last night when the Hawks took the Canucks best shot. The Hawks faced goalie questions all year, but it’s becoming obvious they have a goaltender of the future. If that’s the case, we’ll be watching a lot of deep playoff runs by the best team in Chicago. The old adage goes, if you have a “hot” goalie you can ride him to the cup. When does Niemi qualify as a “hot” goalie? Fair question, and I think the answer is now. I don’t know what will happen in this Sharks series or beyond, but until that series starts, I’m going to enjoy this. For the Hawks, it’s on to the next one…..