Wow. What a series. The Chicago Blackhawks staged an impressive comeback against the Detroit Red Wings to oust them in 7 games. The most impressive battle was not the one on the ice but between the gentlemen perched behind the bench. Babcock and Quenneville went back and forth like the epic chess match of ’72 between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky.
Babcock and Q weren’t using their queens much, it was almost as if they had a board full of kings. The warriors from both, the Hawks and Wings fought to the end. I won’t touch on the Stephen Walkom miscue (see: worst call in NHL playoff history) because people make mistakes, all I’ll say is I wish the league should have come out and stated their apologies after the game rather than praise him as “one of the best referees in the game today”.
The past is history and the Hawks have already forgotten this error as they prepare for the Conference Finals matchup vs. the L.A. Kings. Now if the movie Bring It On has taught us anything, it’s spying on the other team does you no good and you should just worry about your own moves. Who cares if they’ve stolen your routine? That was the moral of that story right?
However, planning is important and getting to know your opponent is valuable in building a successful gameplan. As a fan, I think people get caught up too much in their own team. It’s still nice to get an outside perspective so you can manage expectations, also eliminating the possibility of a heart attack.
I did not send someone over to the gymnasium to spy on the Hawks or Kings but what I am going to do is share with you the unique perspective of a Hawks fan answering question on the Kings and vice versa. Hopefully this sparks a great water cooler conversation with that Kings fan you hate in your office.
Anonymous KINGS fan:
1) Blackhawks most underrated player?
Johnny Oduya..unless you’re in a pickle then it has to be Bryan Bickell
2) Blackhawks most overrated player?
Nick Leddy, I’m under the impression he hasn’t become what he should (better than Cam Barker though). I wanted to put Dave Bolland in this spot, but he’s a personal favourite.
3) What scares you the most about the Blackhawks team game?
Their transition game, quick puck movement that can beat a trap is the Kings’ undoing. Also, Chicago has forward depth, San Jose and St. Louis didn’t; the Hawks’ forward speed will be a challenge for Matt Greene, Regehr and Scuds.
4) What part of the Hawks team game can the Kings take advantage of?
The Hawks D handle the puck a lot, LA’s forecheck and responsible forwards can cause some turnovers, that’s where the goals will come from. On the same note, the more Keith and Seabrook handle the puck, the more they will get hit. LA will try to wear them down over 6-7 games.
5) Who wins and in how many games?
I think the Hawks take it in 6. They’ve had the Kings number all year. LA also cannot win on the road.
6) Three words to describe Joel Quenneville?
Moustache, Respected, Demanding.
7) Do you want Jamie Kompon back?
No…until this year I didn’t know you were actually supposed to score on the PP.
8) One player on the Kings that the Hawks should watch out for?
I’m pretty sure everyone knows about Slava Voynov now, so he’d be the obvious answer. I’ll say Trevor Lewis, great on the forecheck and has a knack for scoring big goals, also very fast.
9) Is Jonathan Quick the best goalie in the league?
He had a very average regular season, coming off back surgery but he’s found his groove again. I feel safe saying he’s the best goalie in the Western Conference.
10) Is Jarret Stoll still dating Paulina Gretzky?
That’s an emphatic no..sadly she’s dating Dustin Johnson. I just hope he’s back for this series, LA misses him.
11) Your favourite player that played for both teams *added by anonymous KINGS fan*
Bernie Nicholls, followed by Kyle Calder.
Anonymous HAWKS fan:
1) Kings most underrated player?
Dustin Brown, the guy is a winner and a battler.
2) Kings most overrated player?
Drew Doughty, he gets a lot of hype but not impressed by his overall game.
3) What scares you the most about the Kings team game?
Their size and Jonathan Quick. Mostly, Jonathan Quick!
4) What part of the Kings team game can the Hawks take advantage of?
Their speed, or lack there of on the back end. I know the Kings have a mobile defenceman paired with a molasses-esque player on each pairing. The Hawks will look to exploit those guys specifically.
5) Who wins and in how many games?
LA in 6
6) Top Celebrity spotted in the crowd at the Staples Center this series?
Justin Beiber, that is if Keyshawn Jackson hasn’t caught him and turned him into a pretzel.
7) Would you be ok the Hawks give them Jamie Kompon back?
No – Hawks had a pretty stellar season so at least keep him around for now!
8) Which Blackhawk will answer the bell physically?
Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell. I think they were leading the way in hits during the first 2 series.
9) Who is more impressive this post season – Corey Crawford or the Blackhawks defence?
The Hawks Defence. Don’t get me wrong Crawford has been good but the overall team defence has been more beneficial towards success. Crawford might have to steal a game or 2 with Quick at the other end this round though.
10) Pancake eating contest, who wins – Dustin Penner or Bryan Bickell?
Bryan Bickell wins. Dustin Penner has to chug a jug of maple syrup for losing.
So there you have it. Game #1 is around the corner! Let’s see what transpires.
Let me know if you agree or disagree with either anonymous responder!
~ Here are some interesting comments from the men in charge of these teams, courtesy of ASAPsports.com:
Q. What move has Joel made in these playoffs that has impressed you, that made the biggest difference?
STAN BOWMAN: I don’t know if there’s one specific move. There’s always little adjustments you make, line combinations, matchups against the other team.
We faced some pretty good players here back in the first round. Obviously we had good matchups, a good plan to be able to accomplish that.
I think more so just finding smaller adjustments, maybe within games, game to game, things you notice on the other team. Our penalty killing has been strong, been that way all year. Got the power-play going briefly there a couple games, gave us a boost. Hopefully we can get that going again.
Q. Dean, is the size on this team by design? Is it a philosophy of yours to build a big team or did it just almost develop that way?
DEAN LOMBARDI: Yeah, kind of (laughter). I think Darryl and I agree with what wins in this league. We’ve been together a long time. Basically a very similar model we used in San Jose. Part of it is size. But if that size doesn’t compete and have the will to win, it doesn’t matter. It certainly is an asset just like speed.
We see in the playoffs, we see how hard and physical it is. There’s never going to be much space. It does have an advantage. But whether you’re scouting or building a team, to just grab size can be a very dangerous philosophy if you don’t look at the other elements. But I’d say for the most part it’s a similar model we used in San Jose.
~ And finally, no matter where I am, I can still find a way to catch the Blackhawks game. I was in Mexico for games #3, #4, #5 and #6 of the Detroit series (hence my lack of blogging) – here are some pics of my relentless pursuit to find a place to watch/listen the the games
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About the Author: I am a rare Chicago Blackhawks fan from Canada, one might describe me as a hockey connoisseur and a solid checking line centre to your local rec hockey team. I once lived in a town of 500 people and now work in the hockey mecca that is Toronto. I work for the Score Television Network so I couldn't get away from sports if I tried. These opinions are one of my own and not of Score Media Inc. - don't get it twisted.