If you’ve read our bios, you know that Carolyn and I are also Blackhawks fans, although our victory green runs a little deeper than the Hawks’ red. (Or a lot deeper, in my case, I can’t speak for Carolyn.) Last season I stopped expecting to feel conflicted when they play, or to feel any joy at the sounds of Chelsea Dagger when the puck is behind my beloved Kari.
Guess what? Hasn’t changed.
(Let’s talk about Chelsea Dagger for a minute.)
Disclaimers: possession numbers come from War On Ice, and if I mention them at all I’m only looking at 5 v 5, because I don’t want to do the math necessary to understand CF % on special teams.
To start with, can we talk about the announcing? I think local Hawks fans got to watch Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk on WGN, but Stars fans (because the game was broadcast on NBCSN) were stuck with whatever horrible NBC announcers got assigned to the game. It was HORRIBLE. I have this written observation:
It started when Mike Milbury (LOOK I CAN GET YOUR STUPID NAME RIGHT EVEN THOUGH YOUR OPINIONS ARE TERRIBLE) called Antoine Roussel “Dominic Roussel” (something which actually CONTINUED THROUGHOUT THE GAME by like EVERYONE at NBCSN, leading me to believe that everyone actually thinks that’s his name on that fucking station).
So the announcers spent almost the whole game crawling up the Hawks’ collective butts, and it started from the very beginning and them waxing poetic about that “Outdoor Classic.” You know Q, he loves those big classic outdoor games.
I don’t have the ability to bring you graphs, but I can look at numbers. Our possession in the first was . . . not as good as the Hawks. The Stars were playing out of their MINDS given that it was the second night of a back-to-back (you’ll hear that a lot in conjunction with this game) and they were playing the HAWKS at HOME in CHICAGO with fucking CHELSEA DAGGER. In the first 20 minutes, only 6 Stars had above 50% CF. Hard to get goals when you don’t have the puck that much.
But someone who did have the puck more than 50% of the time? JAMIE MOTHERFRICKIN BENN, who opened scoring tonight.
Only to lose that lead one minute and fifteen seconds later when Brandon Saad caught a ridiculously beautiful pass from Jonathan Toews and hit twine. The secondary assist was Brent Seabrook so at least I got fantasy points for it. I don’t know how the rest of you will deal.
If this “Stars pull ahead only to have the Hawks tie it” thing is painful to you, you may want to skip the rest of this recap.
I stopped for a bottle of Cupcake Cabernet on the way over to Carolyn’s, because we are the epitome of grace and class.
As you can see by this chart, there isn’t enough wine in the world.
The second started off with a bang when two minutes in JORDIE BENN SCORED. HE SCORED. WE SAW IT. HE SCORED. Welcome aboard the bandwagon, I’m your driver and Carolyn is handing out baked goods. The Benn brothers have played 132 games together, and this is the first time they’ve ever scored in the same game. Cue actual tears on my part, and then this graph:
As this pie chart shows, I have too many feelings to process.
At least the Stars waited one minute and forty-three seconds to blow the lead this time, when they let Patrick Kane have the puck. Look, Stars, I have this key to success when playing the Hawks: DON’T LET THEM HAVE THE PUCK. Because, like, you keep the puck away from Patrick Kane, and you still have Jonathan Toews to deal with. Or Marian Hossa. Or Brandon Saad. Or Brent Seabrook, who likes to score in OT to win games. (Although he was not tonight’s hero.)
(I will say, our possession was SO MUCH BETTER in the second. Only 7 Stars were under 50% CF, and that possession was led by frickin Brett Ritchie, who is basically my new favorite Star.) (Just kidding, Jamie, you’re first in my heart always.)
COOOOOOOOOLE scored less than a minute after Kane to bring us ahead again, and AMAZINGLY we held on to that lead through most of the second period. It was beautiful. Until Jason Demers slashes Jonathan Toews on a breakaway (stopping a definite scoring chance, but COME ON) and the Hawks score on the ensuing power play. (I wrote Goose on the graph but it was Demers. I’m sorry.)
Started off on a high point with Jamie Benn shrugging people off his liney/soulmate (hey if Ralph and Razor get to call them that, I don’t know why I can’t). The announcers called Klingberg “Klingman.”
COLE SCORED AGAIN, a beautiful tip in on a slapshot from Goligoski on the point. SO BEAUTIFUL. And Cole brought us ahead again.
Possession was good again, still only 7 Stars under 50% CF. They played SO WELL, it was NIGHT AND DAY compared to what they looked like back in November.
At some point we had Fiddler’s line (you know, our fourth line) on the ice with Kane, Toews, Saad, Seabrook and Keith. You know, the Stars fourth line against THE ENTIRE ALL STAR TEAM (and Brandon Saad). Not sure how that happened, exactly, but after the Hawks finished their line change (and it was the Hawks entire second line against the Stars fourth line) the flukiest goal by Brad Richards happened. Seriously, so frickin fluky.
I mean, you tell me:
I can’t tell where the crap the puck goes in. I’ve been told on twitter that it goes through Kari’s legs, but it also looks like Kari rocked the net, and the puck (especially from that angle) could also easily have come in under the netting. But hey, maybe we’re just conspiracy theorists. I’d still like to see some slo-mo review.
Upon Carolyn’s further review, the puck was elevated when it went in. Kari still rocked the posts, I still can’t tell where it crossed the goal line, and it was a flippin’ weird goal.
AND WE’RE OFF TO EXTRA TIME.
No that’s not the graph.
There it is. Overtime lasted a minute and seventeen seconds, when frickin Patrick Sharp scored. I mean it honestly felt like a solid minute was spent down in the Stars zone, with every single Star scrambling to keep the puck out of our net. We had one breakaway with an AWESOME scoring chance, but Corey Crawford is probably touched by God or an angel or something, because while flailing his way out of the net and sprawling on the ice he managed to get the puck underneath him, AGAINST ALL REASON, and then about 15 seconds later Sharp scored.
I have varying levels of acceptance about this loss.
As you can see from this graph, prior to OT starting I felt pretty good about it. We got a point! Out of the Hawks! On the second night of a back-to-back! And then Sharp scored and I remembered that they’re professionals paid millions to do this for a living and the second night of a back-to-back shouldn’t actually be that big a deal.
And then I thought, it’s a back-to-back, and I don’t care how much you’re paid, that’s gotta be hard. Especially in Chicago.
AND THEN I REMEMBERED THAT I DROPPED BRAD RICHARDS FROM MY FANTASY TEAM AND I DON’T EVEN GET FANTASY POINTS FOR THAT STUPID FLUKY GOAL.
And then I saw video of the goal on twitter, and now I hate it even more.
These Stars looked NOTHING LIKE early season Stars. We’ve got depth scoring, first line scoring, great defense going, and Kari finally seems to have found his groove again. Sure we only got a point, but WE GOT A POINT. And in this tight race to the wild card spot in the western conference, I’ll take any points we can get.