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Our thoughts from Game 2 of the Western Conference finals:
1. Hockey is a game of mistakes. In overtime in Game 2, Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell made a whopper of a bad choice that led directly to Detroit's winning goal.
The Hawks nearly benefited from a crazy bounce near the Wings' net just seconds before the puck went to Campbell at the right point early in the first overtime. For some reason, the offensive-minded defenseman tried to shovel a backhand pass across the blue line to fellow defender Cam Barker. That was a bad idea. Scratch that. It was a really, really bad idea.
In that situation, the play was simple: Get the puck toward the net or back down the wall below the dots. After all, Detroit was scrambling a bit. If Campbell had gotten that puck back down low, the Hawks might have gotten another chance to win it.
Instead, Campbell opted for the high-risk move, which isn't out of character for him. A terrific skater, he's a guy who will take those kind of high-risk chances. In this case, veteran Wings forward Mikael Samuelsson read the play and used his stick and body to take away the middle. In doing so, he knocked down the ill-advised pass. In a flash, the Wings' third line (Samuelsson, Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler) had a rare overtime 3-on-1 break. Fittingly, Samuelsson finished the play, ripping a wrist shot past Hawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin for the 3-2 win.
After the game, a disappointed Campbell told the local media that he would "do it again," meaning he would attempt the same high-risk pass in that situation.
Are you kidding?!
Noted physicist (and all-around interesting guy) Albert Einstein once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Brian, please, reconsider your options! You're going to drive yourself, your coach and your fans nuts!
2. It's funny how things work out. In the first period, Samuelsson probably wasn't feeling much like a hero. He took a crosschecking penalty at the 10:33 mark, and defenseman Brad Stuart followed Samuelsson to the box after getting a tripping penalty, putting the Wings two men down.
Detroit managed to kill the 5-on-3 portion, and Samuelsson was released from the box while the play was in motion. He joined his mates in the defensive zone, and the puck went right to him near the goal line. With a chance to clear the zone, Samuelsson failed to get the puck out. A few seconds later, Hawks captain Jonathan Toews bounced a shot off the left skate of Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson and into the net to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.
A younger, less experienced player might have been rattled by the play. To his credit, Samuelsson didn't dwell on it. He finished the night with five shots on goal, five hits and a goal to remember.
3. As I figured, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville opted to separate young stars Patrick Kane and Toews. The franchise kids worked together on a line with Troy Brouwer in Game 1. For most of Tuesday night, Toews centered wingers Brouwer and Dustin Byfuglien, while Kane skated with center Samuel Pahlsson and rookie Kris Versteeg.
The move gave the Hawks more offensive balance and enabled one their dynamic duos to avoid a matchup against six-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom.
In the early going, Detroit coach Mike Babcock looked to match pivot Henrik Zetterberg's line against the Toews trio. He also used Lidstrom in those situations. As the game unfolded, however, Babcock believed Kane was "having too much fun out there," and he began employing Lidstrom to work against the quick, clever winger.
The decision to shuffle the lines seemed to help Toews and Kane.
"I thought they played OK in the first game," Quenneville said after the bitter OT loss. "But I thought they were way better tonight."
Yes, Q, they were better. Toews scored both goals, and Kane was dangerous throughout the evening. If the Hawks are going to have a chance of getting back into this series, they'd be wise to use the same approach with their lines. I think it's their best chance for success.
4. Brent Seabrook probably has seen more than enough of Dan Cleary. In each of the first two games, after the club won offensive zone faceoffs, Seabrook had similar brain cramps that led to scoring chances (and goals) for Cleary.
In the second period of Game 2, Seabrook inexplicably tried to fire a puck right through Cleary up high in the offensive zone. The puck took a good bounce for the Wings forward, who sped off on a clean breakaway. The former Hawks draft pick beat Khabibulin through the five-hole to give the Wings a 2-1 lead.
For better or worse, Seabrook was heavily involved in the game. During the Hawks' two-man advantage in the first period, Seabrook missed the net on more than one opportunity. In those situations, you really have to hit the net. On one try from the left-wing circle, he boomed a one-timer so far wide, the puck carried out of the zone. That's just what you hope for when you're killing a 5-on-3.
On the plus side, the Hawks defender was credited with three shots, seven hits and six blocked shots. One of those blocks hit him right in the midsection and sent him staggering down to the ice. Luckily, he was OK.
Seabrook was a huge part of the club's earlier-round wins over the Flames and Canucks. In Game 3, he needs to be more consistent and a little more careful around Cleary.
5. Babcock didn't think his team really had its legs in Game 2. In his postgame news conference, he said he was really happy to have the extra day off between Games 2 and 3. He figures his players still are feeling some of the effects of their difficult second-round series against the Ducks.
The coach also said he's going to work veteran Kirk Maltby back into the lineup. I have to figure that means rookie Justin Abdelkader will be the odd man out. In Game 2, the former Michigan State star received just nine shifts (6:53 minutes). Maltby is an irritating player who does a good job of getting under the skin of opponents.
Babcock probably believes those skills might be useful in a hostile environment against a young and somewhat inexperienced Hawks team. While it's a small subplot for Game 3, I'll be curious to see whether Maltby can goad one of the Hawks into a bad penalty.