A Day Off and Other Crap
First of all, enough bitching about "the hit".
There's been a lot of bellyaching from both sides over Niklas Kronwall's crushing hit that knocked out Marty Havlat in Game 3. I've been getting sick of listening to all this pissing and moaning and then suddenly I remembered I have a blog (seriously, if they hand out a Conn Smythe for blogging, Fork should win it for dragging my sorry ass through these playoffs) so I've decided to enlighten everyone on the situation.
First, my fellow Blackhawks fans, that hit was legal. Look at the replay, Kronwall only impacts Havlat's head because Marty put it down, the puck is about an inch from Havlat and Kronwall's feet stay on the ice at contact, initiating with his shoulder. Kronwall goes airborne afterwards, but mostly because Havlat's already out on his feet, thus providing no resistance at all. Imagine what would happen if you tried to run into a brick wall, only to find it was paper mache as you went through it. And I'm not sure what Kronwall was supposed to do. I mean, if Brian Campbell gets a shot at Marian Hossa in the same situation and he pulls up, every meathead in Chicago would be screaming about how Campbell was a $7 million pussy.
Second, to Red Wings fans, the officials made the right call. You can bitch and moan about that call all you want (and you will, right up until Detroit wins the Cup, then you'll spend all summer stewing about how Gary Bettman's referee's tried to steal it from you), but it was the correct one. The only reason I believe that hit was legal was because I saw it 14 times in slow motion replay. The ref has only a few seconds to make a decision, after seeing the play at full speed. So what the ref saw was a flailing, airborne Kronwall and an unconscious Havlat. Based on the evidence presented, the logical conclusion is that Havlat suffered a blow to the head (that's where concussions come from) from Kronwall's arm or elbow. The 5 minute major was the correct call, and the ejection was the correct call, if only to keep some semblance of order in the game.
It's also pretty clear that the ejection may have won the game for the Hawks.
No, not because the Wings can't win without the great Niklas Kronwall, but because the Hawks couldn't spend the rest of the evening attempting to murder him. Instead, they had to focus on the task at hand, and other than 5 minutes from hell in the 2nd period (during which their starting goaltender injured himself), the Blackhawks did just that. They outplayed Detroit and won the game in overtime.
Unfortunately, the Hawks couldn't maintain that focus. I was getting worried on Saturday, when all the word out of the Blackhawks camp was how it was a dirty hit and somebody was going to get Kronwall. That kind of talk is fine during the regular season, but in the playoffs, especially against Detroit, the sole focus has to be on winning that next game. Any other kind of nonsense can wait until next season. Instead, the Hawks came out looking for blood, and the Wings took full advantage. Even now, people are blaming the referees for the loss, with Joel Quenneville calling Matt Walker's roughing penalty "the worst call in the history of sports". I guess what the Blackhawks failed to realize was that when you spend an entire day telling the press you're going to kill somebody in the next game, the referees are going to be watching you pretty closely during that next game. And as for the impact of Walker's penalty, did it really make that big a difference? To paraphrase Sammy Baugh: sure, the score would have been 5-1.
Oh, and as shitty as Huet was on Sunday, I'm not ready to completely write him off based on this one start. No, I didn't like the signing at the time, and I'm still not thrilled with his long term deal, but to assess the guy as a bust because he got his first start in over a month against the best team in the league and looked bad, well, that's fucking stupid.
Anyway, the Hawks have a go at the Red Wings tomorrow, with a chance to extend the series and come back to Chicago for another game. Hopefully, Brian Campbell and company have gotten it through their thick skulls by now that violent revenge is a dish best served in the regular season. The only vengeance that matters in the postseason is getting your name engraved on that big silver cup.
Sadly, I think the Blackhawks may have tossed away their best chance at that revenge with their childish outburst on Sunday.