Thursday, June 13, 2013
Adrenaline, luck, hair dryers part of Game 1
By Scott Burnside
CHICAGO -- Marian Hossa figured it was around 3 a.m. Thursday before the adrenaline finally seeped out his body and allowed him to fall asleep.
Which made his neighbor's home improvement activities a few hours later a rude reminder of Hossa's long night at the office.
"Woke up early. I think my neighbor decide he was going to drill in the morning. That was unpleasant," Hossa told reporters who gathered at the United Center some 13 hours after he and the Blackhawks had completed a monumental comeback and defeated the Boston Bruins 4-3 in triple overtime to win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.
“You know, hopefully he is going to get the message for next time, he won't drill," Hossa quipped. "Feel a little tired today."
In general, we're against having an extra day off during a playoff series. For the most part, the elongated break taxes players and fans and the media covering the series. Too much time covering the same old ground, too little hockey.
But in this case there was pretty much universal agreement from both teams that having Game 2 scheduled for Saturday night in Chicago was the perfect tonic for the Game 1 marathon.
And so instead of a day of thumb-twiddling, Thursday was a day of reflection and recovery after a game that took 112:08 to sort out before Michal Rozsival's point shot deflected first off Dave Bolland and then Andrew Shaw, and past Tuukka Rask to give the Blackhawks the win.
Zdeno Chara and Jonathan Toews leaned on each other for nearly six full periods, making an extra day off before Game 2 a blessing.
Players from both teams described the behind-the-scenes frenzy in the respective dressing rooms in overtime as trainers and other team staff worked to make sandwiches, prepare drinks, and get dry jerseys, gloves and other garments ready as the players came in after each of the overtime sessions.
Portable dryers, hair dryers and anything else that could help in the drying process were employed.
"It's a long game. You know, I think guys were really focused on getting drinks in their system. Guys were eating stuff. Guys were changing out of wet equipment and all that," Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "We got a great equipment staff, great trainers that give us every opportunity to get good things in our body, taking care of drying equipment out, drying skates and stuff like that."
"Everybody in overtime was running for us whatever we needed. It was unbelievable," added Hossa.
"Seems like we had more trainers than the players in the dressing room at that time. So that was nice to see," he said. "Basically anything we asked for we got. So we are pretty lucky."
Neither team skated on Thursday, understandable given the rigors of Game 1. And the extra day off will help both squads internalize all that took place, all of the missed opportunities, all of the fortunate and unfortunate bounces.
Naturally, that's a process that should be easier for the Blackhawks after having won a game in which they trailed 2-0 and 3-1. Still, as Patrick Kane pointed out, having come back that way, it would have been tough to swallow had they lost.
"It's one of those games being down 3-1, you come back to tie it 3-3, you feel like something was left on the
table if you didn't come back and win it," Kane said. "It's definitely a good feeling winning in the third overtime when it does go that long. Huge win, for sure."
The Bruins, of course, will make the more interesting case study, having uncharacteristically blown those leads and then being unable to close the deal in overtime in spite of a handful of glittering chances.
"Yeah, there's no question that it's a tough loss. At the same time, it was a game that could have gone either way," said Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid. "Take the positives from it. Today is a new day. We kind of start over and just have to get ready for Game 2."
Indeed, if there is a team that is built to turn away from such a gut-wrenching loss, it's the Boston Bruins.
This battle-tested team two years ago dropped the first two games of its opening-round playoff series against Montreal at home, then won that series in seven games. Later in 2011 the Bruins lost the first two games of the finals to Vancouver, then won that series in seven games to claim their first Stanley Cup since 1972.
"We've been through a lot," head coach Claude Julien said Thursday at a press briefing at the team's downtown hotel. "I don't think much is going to rattle our team. We're a pretty resilient group of guys. We live in the moment. This was a game we all know that it could have gone either way. Both teams had great chances and we could be sitting here today up 1-0 as easily as we are down 1-0.
"Wasting our time thinking about what could have and should have been is a lot of wasted energy," Julien said. "What's done is done."
Funny how the game goes sometimes.
In Game 1 the two teams went hammer and tong at each other for the equivalent of almost two regulation games, and yet some of the most pivotal moments seemed to come down to plain old luck.
Both the tying and winning goals came on deflections. Still, no one on the Boston side was suggesting the Bruins had been the victims of bad luck. Nor were they lamenting the missed opportunities or breakdowns.
"Ah, that doesn't matter. You'd drive yourself crazy at this point. I might have when I was 22 or something like that, but at this point it was out of my mind on the next shift," said Boston defenseman Andrew Ference, who inadvertently had the tying goal go in off his skate at the side of the Boston net in the third period.
"At this point you almost kind of shake your head at it and say, 'What can you do?' You hope somewhere down the line you shoot one off of one of their feet. That's the way playoffs go," Ference said. "There are certain plays you can control and there are certain plays you wouldn't change a single thing you did and the puck goes in. I'm not wasting any energy thinking about that."