Cross Checks: Boston Bruins
BOSTON -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane didn't feel exactly worthy when he accepted the Conn Smythe Trophy on Monday night.
There was someone else Kane believes really deserved it -- Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford.
Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.
A season ago, that statement by Kane seemed unfathomable. Crawford's name was being associated with obscenities and negativity when the Blackhawks' playoff run ended in 2012. Many fans and critics blamed Crawford for the Blackhawks first-round departure last season and would have rejoiced if Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman had gone in a different direction for a No. 1 goaltender this season.
BOSTON -- There will be a tendency to suggest this dramatic Stanley Cup win by the Chicago Blackhawks over the Boston Bruins is simply about speed and skill triumphing over a more physical grinding style.
But that would be to sell this Blackhawks team and this final series far short.
That would be to overlook something deeper, more complex, something that was revealed in the final moments of yet another to-and-fro, emotionally draining game. To say this was only about the Blackhawks' skill would be to deny whatever it is that allows a team to score twice in a span of 17.7 seconds in the final 1:16 to steal a Stanley Cup victory from the jaws of Game 6 defeat.
“This group of guys right here, they make you look good every day. It’s a special group, special team,” said Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, the sweat still dripping from the bill of his new Stanley Cup championship cap as he talked to reporters on the TD Garden ice.
“They deserve it more than anybody."
Toews once again delivered in the clutch, scoring Chicago's first goal of Game 6 after the Bruins had taken a 1-0 lead in a dominant first period -- then set up the tying goal late in the third.
Toews' assist was part of a frenzy of activity in the final period, as the Blackhawks withstood a Milan Lucic goal that broke a 1-1 tie and looked like it would send this terrific series back to Chicago for a seventh game on Wednesday. Chicago stunned the Bruins and their fans, first with a goal by Bryan Bickell off a great feed from Toews with 1:16 left, then with a goal by Dave Bolland with 58.3 seconds left in regulation after a Johnny Oduya shot hit the post.
As if by magic, hundreds of Blackhawks fans, most sitting in one section of TD Garden after having traveled to Boston with the team, made their way to the glass on both sides of the rink to cheer on their unlikely heroes.
Patrick Sharp, one of a handful of Conn Smythe trophy candidates as playoff MVP, skated by with his daughter in his hands -- she too sporting a Sharp jersey -- yelling “Two, baby,” driving the already delirious fans around the bend.
And there’s the rub, no?
Both the Bruins and Blackhawks were teams that had been down this road in the recent past, Chicago winning its first Cup since 1961 in 2010 and the Bruins erasing a long drought of their own with a championship the following year.
This final reflected that kind of maturity and experience.
As much as there were stark differences in style, these two teams were full-on heavyweights who embraced a series that was just as much about punch and counterpunch.
It was a series about players who refused to be bowed by lead changes in games or the series itself.
It was about players overcoming incredible pain and injuries to push their respective teams forward in an achingly tight series.
Nathan Horton played with a dislocated shoulder.
Marian Hossa played with a disk issue in his back that caused him to lose feeling in his leg at times.
Bickell was also injured, and head coach Joel Quenneville admitted he was surprised the big winger was able to keep playing on a regular shift.
Toews, who did not play in the third period of Game 5, did not elaborate on his injury status -- nor did Boston captain Zdeno Chara, who was a horse in this series.
Michal Handzus also played with a wrist injury.
“They're deep," Boston head coach Claude Julien said. "They got stronger as the series went on, and they’re a great hockey club. They need to be congratulated on that.
“But at the same time, I'm going to stand here and tell you how proud I am of our team, how those guys battled right until the end. Without getting into all these injuries today, because it's not the time, we battled through a lot.
“You know, when you realize that you're a couple wins away from a Stanley Cup and how those guys push through a lot of things, I have nothing but good things to say about it.”
It was not surprising, perhaps, that a series as close as this turned on a rebound off a goal post. And maybe as time passes, that will imbue this championship with a special quality for the Blackhawks who were there to revel in the moment.
“It’s a great feeling," Blackhawks president John McDonough told ESPN.com. "I didn’t think the first one could feel any better. This one feels better.
“The Stanley Cup feels heavier for some reason. I’m really proud of this organization. This is an incredibly resilient group. Sixteen wins in the postseason, too much overtime, too many dramas, but they play their absolute best when their backs are against the wall.”
When the team won four years ago, Stan Bowman was a GM in his first year on the job, having replaced Dale Tallon the previous offseason. In the wake of the win there was much discussion about the credit that was due Tallon and former executive Rick Dudley.
This time, though, the praise rests with Bowman, who had to divest himself of core players in the wake of the ’10 Cup win to get under the salary cap. In the interim he drafted shrewdly, acquired depth along the blue line in Oduya and Michal Rozsival -- both of whom played key roles during this playoff run -- while locking up key components to long-term deals.
“Pretty special group," said Sharp, who joined this team when they were an afterthought in Chicago and now owns two Cup rings and has elevated his status as one of the game’s top leaders and producers. "We didn’t quite know what we had during the lockout. [To] start the season the way we did, I think this was definitely a goal of ours that could be attained.
“It’s never easy getting here, but the fact [is] that we beat a lot of good teams along the way. I’m proud to say we’re champions."
It was a sentiment not lost on youngsters such as Ben Smith, who got into one game in the final and will have his name inscribed on the trophy as a result.
“It’s unbelievable," Smith told ESPN.com. "Kind of [a] year that I had not been around too much, but just [to] have this experience and be a part of it, it’s huge. I think it was important for those guys wanting to share it with all of us young guys that had kind of come up together, and hopefully it’ll be our turn to pay it forward at some point."
And to hold the Stanley Cup over your head?
“Honestly, it’s a bit surreal," the Winston-Salem, N.C., native told ESPN.com. "It’s hard to explain. I’m sure I’ll think about it this summer that moment and how special it was. Hope to get ahold of that thing a couple of more times before I head home for summer."
Rocky Wirtz, the man who rescued this team from the backwaters of the major sporting world after the death of his father, William Wirtz, admitted he enjoyed this Cup celebration more because he has had two knee replacements since the ’10 Cup win.
“It was a heck of a lot easier to lift it up, and I can actually stand up and not need about 14 Advils,” Wirtz told ESPN.com.
He, too, praised Bowman for the work he has done in redefining this team so quickly after the last championship, a feat that vaults the team to the top of the hockey ladder -- certainly since the introduction of the salary cap in the 2005-06 season.
“What Stan Bowman has done [in] hockey operations is second to none," Wirtz said. "We have nine players back and you realize, you see how we develop players, and he filled the positions. People like Rozsival taking a big pay cut to come to Chicago says a lot. And Johnny Oduya last year. We wouldn’t have made the playoffs, in my humble opinion, without him last year.
“He should be the GM of the year as far as I’m concerned, because it’s easy to talk about [but] it’s hard to do.”
Not far away, the soft-spoken GM admitted that this season was special, starting with 24 straight games with a point after the lockout ended in early January.
"The first one is incredible," Bowman said. "But this one, the feeling is different because it’s just so hard to win. You realize that. You can appreciate the task that we pulled off this year. Not only to win it all, but to win it the way we did. To be on top all year."
As time ticked away in the third period, Wirtz admitted his lucky coin got a pretty vigorous workout.
“I got ahold of my lucky coin; I was rubbing it, rubbing it, rubbing it," he said with a smile while showing the silver coin. "I’m lucky it didn’t tear my pocket off."
On one side is a sun in raised relief. On the other, the word "gratitude."
“Because we’re sure grateful we’re here,” he said.
"Actually there was a disc in my back, shooting in my nerve," Hossa said. "Basically I didn't feel my right foot. It was all numb all the time. I just thought I could skate on one leg."
Hossa was a surprise late scratch before Game 3 and took criticism from former Blackhawk and current Bruins television analyst Tony Amonte for sitting out. Hossa played the rest of the series but was limited in practice and game-day morning skates.
After winning his second Stanley Cup in four years, Hossa's injury was the last thing on his mind.
"Right now I don't feel any pain," he said. "Obviously you guys could tell I could not skate.
"Everybody was banged up. We find a way to win, which is important."
Hossa finished with two assists and 22 shots on goal in the Stanley Cup finals.
"Game 3, we were disappointed with our offense," Quenneville said of the 2-0 shutout Monday. "So we went to the well. I'm sure they're excited about returning together. Maybe it looks like I didn't know what I was doing."
That last self-deprecating sentence was said with a laugh. But make no mistake, Quenneville knows exactly what he's doing. That's not to say every decision is right, but there are moves to be made in a best-of-seven series that don't always seem obvious.
When he says they "went to the well," he means reuniting Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell on the Hawks' top line. That trio combined for five points in the win, making the coach's decision in delaying its return a curious one.
"From a coaching standpoint, you're always looking for different matchups," Kane said Wednesday night. "You can understand where they're coming from when they split us up after the last series."
BOSTON -- The last people on earth to go to for perspective after a barn burner such as the Chicago Blackhawks' 6-5 overtime win Wednesday night are the players.
They haven’t got a clue about just what happened to them.
Oh, they know Brent Seabrook ended this white-knuckle thrill ride at the 9:51 mark of the first overtime period, with yet another big-time cannon shot that eluded Boston Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask and tied the Stanley Cup finals at two games apiece.
But if you ask them what it’s like to be at the center of a maelstrom of a game -- how it felt to be on the ice as these two deep, disciplined teams traded a series of what looked like knockout blows, only to see first one side and then the other get back up off the mat and throw another haymaker -- they have no idea.
How could they, really?
They were living a night that saw Chicago own eight different leads -- including 1-0, 3-1, 4-2 and 5-4 -- and still very nearly find itself down 3-1 in the series heading home for Game 5 on Saturday.
“I hope it was entertaining for you guys," Chicago's Niklas Hjalmarsson said after. "Personally, I didn't really like that at all, as a defenseman.
“Five goals against is too much for me, personally. I was on the ice for three of them. As long as we win, I'll be minus-3 every single game. I'm just happy we won the game."
Game 4 marked the third time in this series that overtime was required to determine an outcome.
If this series goes down as a classic -- and how could it not, given that we are now guaranteed six games at a minimum? -- it will be so because of a game such as this one.
After winning Game 1 4-3 in triple overtime, the Blackhawks had managed to score just once in losses in the following two games.
After the Blackhawks were shut out 2-0 in Game 3 and looked poor in the process, the prevailing thought was that the Bruins were about to strangle the life out of this series en route to their second Stanley Cup in three years.
And the Blackhawks somehow tossed aside that script by putting six past a Boston netminder who had allowed two or fewer goals 14 times this spring and whose name was already half-inscribed on the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
“I don't think anyone expected that before the game,” said Rask, who performed a minor miracle by allowing just six goals while still turning in a handful of brilliant stops.
“Yeah, you know, you think you have a good lead at 3-1," said Patrick Kane, who got a monkey off his back with his first goal of the series (which gave the Hawks a 3-1 lead) after being reunited with captain Jonathan Toews at the start of the game, and who drew an assist on Seabrook's overtime winner. "They make the score 3-2. We score a big goal the next shift; 4-2. Then they score on a power play. It was just kind of back and forth the rest of the game.
"I guess it was just our turn to score again."
What makes a night like this memorable is that all the moments you consider pivotal or defining -- a great play, a horrific turnover, a shot that beats a goalie high glove side -- become dust, specks on the canvas of the game.
Remember the first goal? Chicago's Brandon Saad, a nominee for rookie of the year, stole the puck from Tyler Seguin during a Boston power play, raced the length of the ice and saucered a great pass to Michal Handzus for a shorthanded goal.
Yeah, sort of remember that, even though it feels like it might have been part of another game altogether.
Also, Boston continued to dominate the power-play battle in this series, scoring twice on five chances, and that hardly qualifies as part of the narrative.
Patrice Bergeron continued his MVP-like spring with two more goals, but it was a sidebar, a notebook item.
Kane took an offensive-zone hooking penalty late in the second period, and the Bruins scored to narrow the gap to 4-3 and then tied it early in the third.
Milan Lucic’s giveaway midway through the third period forced David Krejci into a hooking penalty, which the Blackhawks then turned into their first power-play goal of the series and a 5-4 lead.
Just another brightly colored thread in the fabric of something so much more.
Sometimes a game just decides what it’s going to be.
Regardless of what the coaches plan -- and trust us, neither Bruins coach Claude Julien nor counterpart Joel Quenneville planned on a 6-5 win -- and how the players hope to play, the game on those rare nights takes on a life of its own.
"There was a lot of our game tonight that was just average, and average isn't good enough at this stage of the season," said Julien, whose team had not allowed a six-spot in the playoffs since a 1996 series against the Florida Panthers.
No one outside of Julien, whose job it is to view the game differently, is likely to connect "average" and this game.
Twenty-two players had at least a point in Game 4.
"It felt like a roller coaster, that’s for sure," said the Bruins' Rich Peverly, who played his best game of the finals. "You score one. And I don’t know how many goals were scored repetitively, like one after another, within 30 seconds or a minute. Like I said, it’s a roller coaster, so you’ve just got to stay even-keeled."
At one point in the third period, Johnny Boychuk, another Boston goal scorer, nailed Patrick Sharp with a big hip check along the boards. Sharp came after Boychuk after the play, and words were exchanged before the two skated off.
Later in the third, it would be Sharp scoring what looked like it might be the winner, just past the midpoint of the period, with Chicago’s first power-play goal of the series.
The goal snapped an 0-for-23 drought with the man advantage.
After the game, Sharp was asked whether he was looking to drop the gloves with Boychuk, who, just for fun, happened to score the tying goal for the Bruins that erased Sharp’s potential winner and sent the game to overtime.
Sharp was a little incredulous.
"Did I want to fight? I want to win the Cup," he said. "That's what we're all playing for. Fights, goals, who cares? We're just out there battling, both sides are playing hard, playing clean, and it's a fun series to be a part of."
OK, so maybe there is a player or two who can help tell you what it’s like to play in a beauty like this one.
So here we are again.
The Chicago Blackhawks are at a crossroads heading into Wednesday's Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Boston Bruins. Down 2-1 in the series, all is not lost for the Hawks, but in some ways it seems like it is.
Unable to score a goal in Game 3, unable to win a faceoff and unable to simply look professional on the power play, the Hawks looked completely out of sync. The Bruins undoubtedly had something to do with that, as did the last-minute loss of star forward Marian Hossa. The Bruins have slowly taken control of the series over the past two games. They've gotten better while the Hawks have gotten worse.
"We're in a tough spot," coach Joel Quenneville said in Boston on Tuesday. "In the Detroit series, we found a way to get ourselves back into it. That's what we're looking for."
BOSTON -- Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero and agent Kent Hughes, who reps star blue-liner Kris Letang, are slated to meet here in Boston on Wednesday, a source told ESPN.com.
It only makes sense because Hughes lives in Boston and Shero is in town for the NHL's general managers meeting.
It could potentially be a pivotal meeting in terms of what transpires on the Letang front. The blue-liner has one year left on his deal, but Shero’s usual M.O. is not to wait it out. Just look at the Jordan Staal situation a year ago. After Staal, who had one year left on his deal, rejected a contract extension from the Penguins, Shero dealt him quickly thereafter.
It could be that Shero will get the ball rolling on trade talks if Letang rejects whatever offer might be coming from the Penguins' GM.
And know this, I don’t think Letang signs for any less than $7 million a season.
Wednesday’s meeting, therefore, will be a compelling discussion either way.
Daniel Briere will be an unrestricted free agent soon, with the Philadelphia Flyers deciding to buy him out.
A source told ESPN.com that Briere and Paul Holmgren met last week, at which time the Flyers' GM informed the veteran center of the team’s decision. No bitter feelings, though, as I’m told Briere feels Holmgren handled it with class.
The buyout will wipe out Briere’s $6.5 million cap hit for the next two seasons.
What remains to be seen is whether the Flyers will buy out goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, a decision that has been met with mixed opinions within the Flyers front office.
The decision is whether to do it now or wait one more year, when they can still get a cap-friendly buyout.
Perhaps what might push the Flyers into buying out Bryzgalov now is the availability of young netminder Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings.
My TSN colleague, Bob McKenzie, reported during our Insider Trading segment Tuesday night that the Flyers, Maple Leafs and Islanders were most interested in Bernier.
One source told ESPN.com Tuesday that five teams have serious interest in Bernier, the list cut down from the nearly dozen clubs that poked around about him.
Could the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks simply swap coaches this offseason?
We know Alain Vigneault will be the new Rangers bench boss, the official announcement imminent. But what about John Tortorella?
He has interviewed in Vancouver, and a source told ESPN.com that the Canucks were impressed with Torts. He is among the final four candidates for the Canucks' coach gig vacated by Vigneault. The others are John Stevens, Scott Arniel and Lindy Ruff.
The intensity that Torts brings and the accountability he would demand from players are elements that impressed Canucks brass.
Stevens would be a more cerebral coach, his defensive work on the 2012 Stanley Cup champion Kings not to be overlooked. Ruff is a stud candidate, of course, and Arniel is viewed by some in the industry as a guy who deserves another shot after what happened in Columbus.
Another potential candidate is Dave Tippett (whose deal is up), depending on what transpires with the Phoenix Coyotes' ownership front. If Tippett were to become available, my guess is both Vancouver and the Dallas Stars would want to talk to him.
Give agent Bill Zito a lot of credit. When he signed his client Tuukka Rask to just a one-year deal a year ago, some people criticized him. The gamble, though, was that Rask would excel in his first full season as Boston Bruins starter with Tim Thomas gone -- and boy, oh boy, has that been an incredible decision by Zito.
Zito and Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli talked about an extension back after the lockout-shortened season began in January, but then mutually decided it would be better to wait until after the season was over to pick it up again regarding the star netminder, a restricted free agent.
On the heals of the Penguins locking up star center Evgeni Malkin a year before he was due to become a free agent, the Detroit Red Wings and Pavel Datsyuk, while the Sharks have agreed to a five-year extension with Logan Couture worth $6 million a year.
A couple of thoughts on each deal: First in Detroit, where I wonder what the Datsyuk signing means for pending UFA center Valtteri Filppula. In a weak UFA class, Filppula can likely fetch north of $5 million on the open market, and I think that coin is too rich for Detroit. Expect the Wings and Zito, also Filppula’s agent, to meet next week at the draft though.
As for Couture, the term (five years) is reflective of how San Jose has managed to keep its top players from signing those lifetime deals that other stars get around the league, which allows GM Doug Wilson to stay out of a payroll/cap jam. Other than Couture now, not a single player on the Sharks roster has a deal that extends past five years, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau both signing shorter-term deals a few years ago.
Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray held a brief discussion with Jack Adams Award winner Paul MacLean about a contract extension last weekend and is expected to sit down with his coach next week at the draft. MacLean has one year left on his deal.
Murray has chatted briefly with captain Daniel Alfredsson, who is an UFA and undecided on whether to keep playing or not. In a perfect world, Murray would get an answer before Alfredsson goes back to Sweden for the summer next week, which would give the Sens the ability to hit trade talks/free agency with the knowledge of whether or not he’s back.
But if Alfredsson needs more time to think about it, Murray said it would be no problem at all. Meanwhile, other UFAs on the Ottawa roster include Guillaume Latendresse, Peter Regin and Mike Lundin, none of whom likely will get a contract offer from the Senators.
THIS AND THAT
Veteran agent Don Meehan expects to meet with Rangers GM Glen Sather in New York/New Jersey the week of the draft to talk extension for star goalie Henrik Lundqvist. That’s going to be an expensive re-sign.
The Carolina Hurricanes offered pending UFA Dan Ellis a new deal, but the veteran backup netminder informed them he was headed to market.
Speaking of the Hurricanes, they’ve gotten calls about their No. 5 overall pick for the June 30 draft, but the intention right now is to keep the pick.
Contract talks have been ongoing since the end of their season between the Kings and pending UFA blue-liner Rob Scuderi. The expectation is that veteran agent Steve Bartlett will meet in person with Kings GM Dean Lombardi on draft week. With Slava Voynov signing a six-year, $25 million deal Tuesday, Scuderi is now clearly the top priority.
No surprise at all but the expectation is that pending UFA center Derek Roy, who was dealt by the Stars to the Canucks at the deadline, is headed to market.
The NHL’s 30 GMs meet here Wednesday before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals, and while Patrick Roy will be handling trade discussions for the Colorado Avalanche, Greg Sherman will represent the franchise at the meeting.
The timing of Marian Hossa's injury remains uncertain, but Ed Olczyk doesn't believe the Chicago Blackhawks knew all day Monday that Hossa might not play in Game 3.
Olczyk said during Monday's broadcast that Hossa was hit by a puck in pregame warmups, but Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said nothing happened during warmups. Hawks captain Jonathan Toews added to the confusion after the game when he said the team wasn't surprised to learn just before game time that Hossa wouldn't play.
The Hawks turned to Ben Smith, who didn't warm up, to take Hossa's spot just minutes before game time.
"There's all this speculation, the quotes that guys knew there was a chance he wasn't going to play, but I've been around the block a few times, I don't know how you can buy into that with the aspect of knowing that if there was a chance that (Hossa) wasn't going to play you had Sheldon Brookbank and Brandon Bollig taking warmups and then neither one of those guys dresses for the game," Olczyk said Tuesday on "The Carmen & Jurko Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000.
"To me it was one of those 'OK, we've got to do something right now. We've got to figure this thing out now.' We're not going to find out a lot. Players on both teams right now are taped together just getting out there to play and with Hossa being out, taking warmup and then not playing the game ... to think that the Blackhawks had an idea that he might not play and then all of a sudden play a guy who didn't take warmups that just doesn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense."
Toews said playing without Hossa was "something we were prepared for all day, that he might not play."
"It happens sometimes. You're missing one of your best players and you've got to find a way to play without him. We always say it's an opportunity for the guys to step up. The guys that got more ice time (Monday night) played well. We've just got to find a way to win."
Quenneville said after the game that Hossa has an upper-body injury, and he is hopeful Hossa will be able to play in Game 4 on Wednesday.
Considering the circumstances, Olczyk believes Smith, who finished with a plus/minus rating of minus-1 and had just one shot, played well in Game 3.
"I thought the kid played a good game for a kid that worked his rear end off in practice in the morning, goes back to the hotel like he's done for every single playoff game and the next thing you know at about 7:55 local time he's tapped on the shoulder and told 'You're playing tonight' and he's had no warmup. I thought he played a good game. Did he make some mistakes? Absolutely, but I thought he was one of the top six forwards for the Blackhawks (Monday night)."
Game 3 Report Card: Boston Bruins 2, Chicago Blackhawks 0
Since the power play includes offense, the grade fits. You could count on one hand the dangerous chances the Hawks had. Duncan Keith probably had one of the best of the night, moving in close on Tuukka Rask early in the game but he chose to pass instead of shoot. It was that kind of night for the Hawks, who seemingly never overcame the loss of Marian Hossa. The offensive lines looked out of sync all night and Hawks coach Joel Quenneville will undoubtedly go back to the drawing board between games, especially if Hossa is out for Game 4. Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp missed the net one too many times.
The defense played fine, neither distinguishing itself in a good or bad way. Michal Rozsival threw a blind pass around the boards in the Hawks' zone, which led to the scoring sequence on the Bruins' first goal, but it wasn't an awful turnover. The second goal came on the continuation of a five-on-three power play and there wasn't much Brent Seabrook could do after Jaromir Jagr made a perfect door-step pass to Patrice Bergeron. But that's all the Bruins would get on the night as the Hawks limited Boston to a manageable amount of good scoring chances, at least during five-on-five play.
Corey Crawford did all that he could, once again getting little help in front of him. The power-play goal came after a picture-perfect pass from Jagr, and Daniel Paille's tally to open the scoring was a good shot off a broken play by the Hawks as they tried to clear the zone. Crawford stopped 33, playing an overall decent game.
The Hawks' power play was brutal once again, getting just four shots on net in 8:11 of man-advantage time. The Bruins added insult to injury getting a power play goal of their own, making it 2-0. The Hawks have had no answers this entire series or postseason when on the power play. In fact it has taken momentum away more than it has given them a boost. Boston had better scoring chances on the Hawks' power play than the Hawks did. That says it all.
CHICAGO -- Another officiating controversy has found the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks had a goal disallowed due to an early whistle during the first period of their 2-1 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals.
On the play, Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews skated behind the net and attempted a wraparound. Toews was stuffed in the net's corner by Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask's left leg. Rask quickly readjusted himself and laid his entire body the length of the net to cover the puck. As Rask was on the ice, Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa saw the puck under Rask's pads, jabbed at it with his stick and the puck crossed the line.
Behind the net, referee Wes McCauley was said to have blown his whistle to end the play. The play was reviewed and was ruled not a goal.
Game 2 Report Card: Boston Bruins 2, Chicago Blackhawks 1
It started out a solid "A" after a dominating first period, but the Hawks went the other way on offense as the night progressed. Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa combined for 11 shots in the first period, and they finished with 14 combined for the game. In fact the Hawks had just 15 shots total after the first period, and remember this game went to overtime. Again, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were quiet while Dave Bolland and Andrew Shaw weren't able to bail them out this time. Shaw had a great chance in overtime -- about the only one for the Hawks -- but couldn't convert. That was half the story of the night as early chances weren't converted into goals and then the chances dried up.
The winning goal came on a nice counter play by the Bruins after a failed clear. Brent Seabrook couldn't close the gap or thwart Daniel Paille but overall the Hawks' defense played well, limiting the Bruins to just 28 shots on net. Boston had virtually no offense in the first period thanks in part to Hawks' defenders. And they kept David Krejci's line off the board, something they were unable to do in Game 1. But Jaromir Jagr picked up the slack as did Paille.
Obviously, Corey Crawford needed to make one more save than Tuukka Rask, and he wasn't able to, but he did his job for most of the night and the winning goal came off a great shot by Paille. The tying score came after Paille snuck around Nick Leddy, and in front of Crawford, with Chris Kelly finishing the chance. Crawford was fine if not spectacular. He didn't need to be on a night where Boston came hard late in the game. Crawford kept his team in the game for as long as he could.
The Hawks' penalty killers keep this grade above a D. The Bruins were 0 for 2 on the power play but the Hawks were 0 for 3. Maybe it's a cumulative criticism since their first attempt of the night wasn't bad and produced a couple of shots. But their second and third attempts were right back to being bad again. Unless something changes, the Hawks aren't winning this series using the man advantage as their springboard.
CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at the Boston Bruins' 2-1 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals at the United Center on Saturday.
How it happened: After Game 1 was decided in three overtimes, the Bruins needed just one overtime to get the job done in Game 2. Daniel Paille scored the game-winning goal from the left circle at 13:48 of overtime. Early on, the Blackhawks dominated play and outshot the Bruins 19-6 in the first period. Despite the shots on goal advantage, the Blackhawks had just one goal to show for it. Patrick Sharp scored at 11:22 of the first period. It was his ninth goal of the playoffs. The Blackhawks continued to control the play until midway through the second period when the Bruins found some life. The Bruins tied the game when Paille faked out Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy behind the net, got a shot on Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford and Chris Kelly knocked in the rebound at 14:58 of the second period. The Bruins killed off three Blackhawks power plays. Crawford made 26 saves, and Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask made 33 saves.
Player of the game: Paille was the difference-maker, scoring a goal with an assist.
What it means: The Bruins evened the series at 1-1 and gained home-ice advantage with the series moving to Boston. The Bruins improved to 6-3 on the road in the playoffs, and the Blackhawks fell to 10-2 at home in the playoffs. The Blackhawks were playing their third consecutive overtime game. The Bruins' penalty kill continued to roll. With three more kills on Saturday, the Bruins haven't allowed a goal in 22 consecutive power plays. The last power-play goal they allowed was to the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
What's next: The series moves to Boston for the next two games. Game 3 will be at 7 p.m. CT on Monday. The Blackhawks haven't won a Game 3 in the playoffs this season, and the Bruins haven't lost a Game 3.
Carcillo has not appeared in the playoffs since Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings on May 18. He has one assist and has averaged 6:41 of ice time in four playoff games this season.
Carcillo had two goals and one assist in 23 regular season games this season. He suffered a knee injury in the season opener and missed 15 games due to the injury.
No other Blackhawks player sat out Friday’s practice at the United Center. The Blackhawks did not practice Thursday following their three-overtime win over the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday.
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa could have done without his neighbor's handyman work early Thursday morning, but otherwise the Blackhawks said they were feeling good less than 12 hours after winning one of the longest playoff games in NHL history.
Andrew Shaw scored the game winner at 12:08 of the third overtime, marking the fifth-longest playoff game in NHL history.
"To tell you the truth, I fell asleep around 3 o'clock, woke up early," Hossa said on Thursday. "I think my neighbor decided he was going to drill in the morning. So that wasn't really pleasant. Hopefully, he's going to get his message for the next time and we won't drill."
Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane believes coming out on the winning end of the marathon game also helps everyone feel better physically on Thursday.