Allan Maki shares his opinion on the previous night's NHL action and looks at the early news of the day Monday through Friday during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It was there for the taking. And then it was taken from them, about as fast as you can say, "Yippee-ki-yay Paille …" If you're a Die Hard movie buff, you know how the rest of that line goes.
Coming off a Game 1 win in the Stanley Cup final, at home, in triple overtime, the Chicago Blackhawks had the Boston Bruins at their mercy. The 'Hawks were up 1-0 Saturday night. Another goal had been disallowed. Early into the second period, the shots were 21-6 for Chicago. It looked like a horse race between Secretariat and a Budweiser Clydesdale.
Then suddenly, Secretariat lost a shoe. "We didn't move our feet. We were too easy to check," said Chicago's captain Jonathan Toews. As for the Bruins, they tore a strip off themselves during a first intermission that was so heated forward Tyler Sequin, who wore a microphone on his shoulder pads during the game, covered them with a towel so no one could hear or replay what was being ranted.
In the end, the Bruins tied the score before die-hard Daniel Paille wristed a shot in off the post in overtime to even the series. It was a telling goal all around: it came from a line (Paille, Sequin and Chris Kelly) that was a combined minus-6 in in Game 1; it underlined how Boston was able to inflict its will on the speedy 'Hawks; and, it left everyone wondering how Chicago will respond in Monday's Game 3 in Boston.
Two games and 10 periods into this Cup final and what we've seen is the Tale of Two Styles: when the 'Hawks employ their speed, they're dangerous; when the Bruins flex their muscle, they can dominate. It's a matter of which side plays to its strengths and for how long; a test of resolve.
On Saturday, it took Boston time to shake off the mental and physical after effects of losing Game 1 in triple OT. The Bruins were sluggish. Their lone saving grace was how well goalie Tuukka Rask was playing. But the more the Bruins threw their weight around, the more things turned in their favour.
Boston's Milan Lucic didn't score a point in Game 2 but recorded 10 hits. For Chicago, Andrew Shaw, the OT hero of Game 1, and defenceman Brent Seabrook each had six. Now, when Shaw or Seabrook deliver a body crunch, it can hurt. When the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Lucic hits people, they lose sprockets and coils. Their games go wonky. Even those who don't get hit take notice and adjust themselves accordingly.
It's what the Bruins need to do tonight at home, where their record in the playoffs is 7-2. It's what Chicago has to avoid or counter smartly with enough quickness to make Boston hesitant.
"We're back in our building where we have our fans. I think our guys are going to be excited about that," said Boston head coach Claude Julien. "Nonetheless, we have to have a better start … When we get ourselves going and push pucks forward, (when) we finish our checks, we're willing to win races and battles, that's when we excel. That part of our game came on stronger as the game went on."
Moral of the story: If the Bruins tear a strip off their own hide, they're looking to do the same to the opposition, and that isn't good for Chicago.
Make Room for Shanny?
Yes, the Calgary Flames are keen to revamp their front office by adding a director of hockey operations who would oversee everything from scouting to personnel to Jay Feaster's work as general manager.
And yes, Brendan Shanahan was in Calgary late last week to meet and discuss matters with keynote Flames' owner Murray Edwards and Feaster, which had to have been at least a little awkward.
But honestly, what has Shanahan done to be considered for such a pivotal role? He's never scouted, never run a hockey team, never made a trade and never juggled a roster or a salary cap. He has worked on player safety for the NHL, issued suspensions and fines and he has initiated talks and ways to improve the game. Kudos to him for that, but converting that into a director of hockey ops gig is a major leap, one the Flames are in no position to make.
This is a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs in four years, an organization now in a rebuilding mode with three picks in the first round of this month's NHL entry draft. This isn't the time to hand the keys over to a novice and say, "Go take it for a test drive. See what you think."
Why are the Flames doing this? Ken King, their president and CEO, is going to step down shortly to be the point man on the team's pursuit of a new arena. Locations have been discussed, architectural plans drawn up. One insider insisted the Flames are much further along on this project than they've been willing to say, and they've said little as it is. So with King sliding to a new post, the time is right to remodel the team's executive offices.
Fine. But adding someone with little experience for such a vital job just doesn't make sense. Who does Shanahan think he is anyway? Mark Messier?
Ladies and gentlemen, let's hear it for hockey's favourite funny man, the one-timer of the one-liners, the far-side winger, from mullet to mutton chops to the Boston Bruins: Jaromir Jagr.
Really, Jaromir, Saturday's first period by the Bruins, how bad was it?
"If somebody would watch the first period, they would say, 'Give (Chicago) the Cup right now.'"
Rim shot. Laughter.
How about the Cup Final after two games and four overtime periods?
"Old people don't watch it because you might die just watching."
So, who's your favourite player?
What a Jagr-meister. He's here all series, folks.