|English: NHL Commisioner Gary Bettman in 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The Big News off the bat is that both teams suffered key losses in this game. In the second period, Bruins star Patrice Bergeron left the game having only played 49 seconds of the second period. He never returned. He went to the hospital via ambulance between the second and third period.
This is a HUGE loss for the Bruins, but a baffling loss for those of us fans who watched the game. The commentators tried to rationalize and tell us what happened but when you see his last full shift (playing on a 4 on 4 at the time) he seems to stand up straight and cannot seem to gather any speed or ability to quickly change direction. However, he doesn't favor any leg or even seem to wince in any sort of pain. Initially, I thought it might be a muscle spasm in his lower back, hip, or left side. But I have absolutely no clue. The injury occurred while he was along the boards alone. No one touched him. In fact, the replay showed that there was no other player in the picture. VERY odd.
The second injury came to former UND standout Jonathon Toews. He got absolutely CRUSHED by Bruins defenseman Boychuk. And yeah, folks, it was a CLEAN hit. Toews was between the circles lining up for a shot when Boychuk comes from out of the picture from center ice and a high rate of speed and absolutely destroys Toews. The hit occured on Toews' left shoulder. However, I believe the injury occured when Toews hit the ice. The hit occured so fast and so violently that Toews had no time to cushion is fall, so he took the fall on his right shoulder and his helmet bounced off the ice. Take into consideration that Boychuk also fell on top of Toews with his knee ending up either hitting his shoulder or coming awfully close to hitting Toews' head, and it's very plausible that the injury occured on the play. The Hawks have him listed as "Day to Day with an upper body injury." Toews did not play the entire third period but he was on the bench and skated out to do the stick salute after the game. To me, this is good news as I doubt Toews would be allowed to do this if he had a concussion.
In News that reeks of the more things stay the same...
Officiating was again brutal. I noticed several absolutely BRUTAL noncalls. To start the game, Chara armdragged Bickell (I think?) to the ice by his arm, an act that took Bickell from in front of the net to almost beside the goal post, and there was no call.
Second, Boston was assessed a hooking or tripping penalty when Frolik grabbed the stick of the Boston player and fell to the ice. It may have been a legit call on Boston but come on!
Third, absolutely loved the noncall when Lucic was high sticked by Kane. Saying that sarcastically really. First off, I don't like Lucic. Second, I'm no fan of Boston. However, you HAVE HAVE HAVE HAVE to make this call! YOU HAVE TO! It's a PLAYER SAFETY issue! I'm becoming more and more concerned that the only way you will see penalties in the finals is if there is an injury involved! Don Adam officiating is dangerous! Just ask Chay Genoway, Robbie Bina, and that UW player... Smith? I can't recall right now.
Finally, assist to the officials on the empty netter. Frolik (again) BLATANTLY tripped B's defenseman Krug that set up Bolland for the empty netter. You could come up with some hair brained excuses for the previous three penalties or non calls but this one? I was rooting for the Hawks (sorry Goon) and good LORD!
I'll reiterate my conspiracy theory and Doc Emerick stated part of it early in the first period: The officials aren't making any calls so there is lots of action! This is Gary Bettman's plan. The NHL is hurting for ratings and media attention. Instead of looking at the PR campaign that everyone knows was pretty poor, he decides to have the officials pretty much ignore the rule book. If everything goes, the game flows. Maybe that's Bettman and Campbell's slogan. Sorry, I don't buy the NHL officials being poor or incompetent. There's REAL accountability in the NHL (even if it is a moving target for players thanks to the sad interpretations by Shanahan). It doesn't go from "ok" to "Bad" depending upon regular season to post season. It just doesn't happen. This is all Bettman. All of it.
The first period was pretty even, in my opinion, if you take out statistics. Statistically speaking, Boston dominated the first period in shots on goal and hits. They dominated the entire game in hits to be honest. And they targetted Toews... A LOT. And Chara had a VERY poor first and second period, which was unusual.
In the end, Kane ended the first period on a high note for the Hawks with a cleanup play from an Oduya shot that had puck luck written all over it. The Oduya shot hit and broke the stick of Seidenberg (or maybe it was Ference? Memory is hazy). This alterred the path of the puck enough for it to get behind Rask and slightly wide and behind the net. Kane came in and tucked it home.
Kane again struck in the second period after a nice set up by Toews and Bickell. However, again Seidenberg may have helped Kane and the Hawks when it appeared that he got a bit tangled up in Rask's pads preventing Rask from getting all the way over to make a play on Kane's shot.
The second period was ALL Chicago. It surprised me that Boston didn't give up any more goals during that period. Likewise, the third period was ALL Boston. Chara's goal was an exercise in stupidity by Chicago. Watch the replay. You'll notice only ONE Chicago player making any play at all to defend (Bickell IIRC). The rest are standing and watching as Chara comes in uncontested and snipes a shot high and glove side.
By the way, can anyone else name a goaltender with a worse glove hand than Crawford to make it this deep in the playoffs as the #1 goaltender? I mean, Crawford has given up 13 goals this post season, which is good, but of those thirteen NINE have been high glove side. NINE!
It's my opinion that Tuokka Rask is by far the better goaltender of the two. Unfortunately, he can't win games by himself that often.
That being said, both sides missed golden opportunities. Sharp is still kicking himself over an open net and getting absolutely robbed by Rask (though to be fair, if he'd've elevated his shot it would have been an open net). I think he missed just wide again in the second period as well. Boston should have tied the game again but Jagr's shot went high over the open net.
Where I currently stand
Ok, after game 3, I told Goon that there is NO WAY the Cup doesn't change hands in Game 5 or 6. Now, I think the series goes 7 games. And, depending upon Bergeron and Toews, that may very well determine who wins the Cup. If Bergeron cannot play I think that Chicago will win it all even if Toews can't play either.
But the big factor (pun not intended) is actually Chara. When Chara was playing poorly, especially the second period, Chicago was running away with it. Chara was much better in the third and the Hawks almost (perhaps should have) lost the game.
With Game 4 being an anomaly, my player of the playoffs has to be Tuokka Rask. That guy has been amazing.... and he was basically a throwin player from Toronto in the Kessel trade. It isn't as bad of a trade as the Wild trading Leddy for Cam Barker, but looking at Toronto's goaltending situation.... Leafs fans can't be too happy about it.