My, oh my what a surprise start to the series. We get all ready for a defensive matchup featuring some of the best defensemen in the NHL...and then things happen to make writers look really stupid. As long as the Hawks win, though, I'm not complaining.
Instead of simply telling you all what you watched with your own eyeballs last night, let's take a deeper look and form some opinions on the game, shall we?
- Remember when we were all worried that Bolland's back surgery had pretty much ruined him? Well, Bolly now has the exact same number of points in this year's playoffs as he did in last year's (both in 17 games). The kicker there is that he has 2 more goals this postseason and is a +6 instead of a -1. That has come against players such as Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Thing 1 & Thing 2 (also known as the Sedin twins), and currently, Carter, Gagne, and Richards (the trio who went scoreless in game 1 for the Flyers). In the three games since Joe Thornton said Bolly was too small to be effective, Davey has 2 goals, 6 points, and is a +3, all while getting big PK minutes. Score one for the little guys.
- Flash back to July 1st, 2009. On that day, if I were to tell you the Hawks would win game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, who would you predict would score the game winner? Yeah, I would've been wrong too. But now, think of your answer on January 1st. Still wrong? April 11th? Okay, for real this time: at 7 PM on May 29th. That, my friends, is why I love this game. Just when you think you've looked at every angle and scenario that could play out in a series, Tomas Kopecky fills in for an injured Andrew Ladd and makes your head ASPLODE.
- I'm not one to go about and question the decisions made by an NHL coach, but I'm a blogger...so yes I am absolutely one to question decisions made by an NHL coach. Peter Laviolette made some poor decisions for the Flyers in game 1. Ryan Parent was on the ice from 7:05 to 7:46 in the first period for a grand total of 41 seconds of ice time. Nothin like trying to shut down the fastest team in the NHL by using 5 defensemen. Seriously, even if you have that little faith in the guy, throw him out on his own blue line and make him just stand there while the puck is in the offensive zone so someone can get a break or something. Or hell, dress me instead! No paycheck needed. I'll just stay quiet, sit on the bench, and watch the game. Ben freaking Eager got more ice time than that, and most of the time he's out there he's dreaming of going back to the sandbox to play with his toys!
- Usually there are two reasons to pull a goalie. 1: He isn't playing well, yet you're still in the game and you think the backup will give you a better shot to win. 2: Your team is getting blown out and you want to rest him. Well, the Flyers were still in the game, so Petey over there on the bench must have looked at Boucher and thought "Hey...that guy can win a Stanley Cup Final game for us." Hahaha no. Our friends over at The Goalie Guild were baffled by this decision and said only bad things could come of it. It wasn't like Leighton was playing himself out of the game, and now you have to deal with a goalie with confidence issues (Welcome to the Cristobal Huet School for Rattled Goaltenders). To make matters worse, Laviolette wouldn't name his starter this morning after practice and both goalies said they didn't know who would start game 2. There's a vote of confidence if I've ever seen one!
- There were three players who were minus for the Hawks: Kane, Toews, Byfuglien. Ouch. In other news, Depth at the forward position!
- The Hawks won 62.5% of the faceoffs. In the words of Gary Bettman, "Bizonkers." Leading the ridiculous onslaught from the dot was Toews, who went 18 for 24, good for 75%.
- Tough night for Nemo. He was slightly off his angle on the goal from Betts and got beat moving to his right on the one timer from Asham. The other three were all loose pucks that he left in front of him. That area has to tighten up. Rebounds are the most highly converted shot in hockey. Can't be giving up a whole lot of those. I'm glad he averted disaster when he made the really dumb play coming way out of his net. He isn't as big of a liability playing the puck lately, but holy cow what in the name of sweet baby jesus was he doing there?
- I'm still trying to understand how Brian Campbell got called for a penalty that he didn't commit, and the Philadelphia Flyers didn't get a "Two Minutes For Having A Reputation That Was Set For You In 1975 By The Broad Street Bullies."