Now that the Caps have been sent packing, I need a new rooting interest for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Fortunately, I do have a Western Conference team: the Chicago Blackhawks. As noted in previous posts, My Wife favors Chicago teams inasmuch as she cares at all. On her way to bed last night, she took a minute to check the score of the Hawks-Canucks game I was watching and expressed genuine dismay that Chicago was down a goal at the end of the first period. By her standards, that's passion!
I enjoy watching the Hawks. They are, in many ways, the Caps' Western equivalent: a young team bursting with offensive talent. I enjoy their style of play as well. Team speed is a highly admirable quality in a hockey team and they've got it in abundance. They also appear a bit more methodical in the offensive zone than the Caps. I get frustrated with Washington as they often seem to be just firing as many shots as possible in hopes that enough of them will go in. The Hawks, on the other hand, seek to create traffic in front of the goal in order to screen the goalie, thus creating better shot opportunities. A top NHL goalie, and there is none better than Vancouver's Luongo, is at a great advantage when he can see what's happening and anticipate the play. Luongo proved that on several breakaway opportunities last night. A good offensive team creates distractions and the Hawks did a very nice job of that.
Chicago also got a great game from their goalie, young Antti Niemi of Finland. The Caps could have used more of that, too. Sigh...
Ultimately, the Hawks won 4-2 to even the series at a game apiece. On to Vancouver for Games 3 and 4.