There’s a saying in Spanish that I think describes the game well: "jugaron como nunca, perdieron como siempre"* which loosely translates to "the Hawks may stink right now and be without Jonathan Toews but Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa are pretty good and also the Leafs are not good". The loss has left the Buffalo "$80M salary expense" Sabres and the Tampa Bay "Hilarious Goaltending" Lightning 1 point back of the Leafs with each having a game in hand on the Heroes. The Carolina "Non-Hockey Market" Hurricanes and the New York "Rebuilding Forever" Islanders are only four points back with a game in hand. In fact, the Leafs are about one bad week from being in a position to draft in the top five. So it’s not all bad.
There was a little bit of hope for the Leafs because the Chicago Blackhawks have also been awful in February. Just kidding, if you had hope for this game then you didn’t read Steve Burtch’s expected win percentages post. Things are likely not getting better but at the end of the day that might turn out okay. It would be like missing your flight because you got in a car crash and broke both of your legs but then finding out that your plane crashed. Feel free to fit that analogy around the current situation however you want.
Fellow Kopite Sam Fels of Second City Hockey offers his take:
Only the Hawks in this current state could score five goals, get a win they absolutely have to have, and I don’t feel any better when I walk out of the UC. Whatever, two points, right?
To be fair, I thought the Hawks were the better team by some margin in the first two periods, but every chance the Leafs had went in. Some defensive goofiness, a penalty kill that got wonky again, and a bouncing puck combined with a flopping goalie, and there the Hawks were down 3-1.
That said, I guess there’s a certain amount of rocks to not panic and come back from that and actually make getting to the lead look rather routine. Though that could have something to do with the wide open spaces the Leafs leave for you to sing you song in.
Slaky from the only other Hawks blog worth reading** HockeeNight:
This one is going to have to be short and sour given the Hockeenight’s staff’s apparent penchant for
week long heroin bingesbeing busy with work and family. The Blackhawks and Leafs came into tonight’s game as the two worst teams in the league since the month of February began. At least I’m pretty sure I read that somewhere tonight. With both fan bases expecting the worst – that’s exactly what they got.
This game was dreadful from the word go. There was no structure, no goaltending and no real plan by either team except to see who could fill up their collective hockey shorts with less shit. Sure enough the Leafs had a metric unit’s shit more than the Hawks as the Men in White (a rare night for the home whites) came away with a one goal win.
For a nice change of pace, the Leafs jumped out to a 3-1 lead which probably surprised Ron Wilson more than it did Leafs fans because since we knew the team would lose we assumed that it was about time that the Leafs found a different script from "go down 2-0 in 45 seconds, flail about for 59 minutes". I then joked that I wonder which members of the Toronto media which had spent the day talking about how the Leafs had clearly given up on Ron Wilson would then change their mind and say that a possible win was evidence that they were playing for their embattled coach. Of course, as soon as I conceived of the thought the Hawks scored to make it 3-2 which I immediately noted made my question moot.
However, it didn`t stop actual members of the media from suggesting it. Bruce Arthur must have been reading my mind because he did it sarcastically (I hope) almost simultaneously. Later on, the TSN panel, led by Bob McKenzie expressed the same thoughts. And the piece de resistance:
One of my great complaints of the Toronto media (and really the entire media) does line up with Burke and Wilson: they don’t care about Xs and Os. At no point this year have the majority presented an in-depth look at why the Leafs have been performing the way they have. They love their narratives. So long as the narrative isn’t that the media has an adverse affect. Oh, no. Burke goes on the radio and calls them dirtbags and they proceed to reel off a week’s worth of "FIRE EVERYTHING" articles. Burke suggests that human players have human reactions to the constant talk of being traded and we get a few days of "ho ho ho looks like this loss can be chalked up to pressure #LOL" on Twitter. And now, rather than examine what Ron Wilson’s problems are they reel from "he’s a jerk so the players suddenly quit after killing themselves to get into playoff position" to "wait! turns out they love him!"
*It actually means that they played like never before (only compared to their recent play) and lost like always (factually true)
** Full disclosure: I’ve only read two Hawks blogs but I do know that Chris Block is a penisloaf.