Watching the first two games of this series reminded me both of how entertaining a series can be and how bizarrely similar close these two teams are. A quick recap before game 3:
Boston came out and dominated early in game 1. I clearly remember saying something about Crawford and the Bruins inability to finish as being the only reason this game is still close. Needless to say the Hawks regained their legs, their offense and their scoring touch. Even though the game ended on a double secret deflection, the Hawks were still the stronger team in the end.
Flash forward to game two. The Hawks came out strong. They totally controlled every aspect of the game, including hitting. Amid groans of passion and pain usually reserved for fireworks displays (and other moments that I’ll leave to your imagination) I clearly remember saying something about Rask and the Hawks inability to finish as being the only reason this game was still close. The Bruins controlled the game from the midpoint on and ended it on as perfect a shot as a player can hit.
I wasn’t to bothered by the disallowed goal. It happens to every team at some point and it was reasonable to believe that the official lost sight of the puck. Such is life. It’s not the reason for the loss.
The bottom-line reason the Hawks lost was something that bothered me long after the game was in the books and I was snuggled in bed. Boston’s big bodies on the bench and the ice not only recovered from the early bombardment, they gained strength and speed and took over the game during the third period and overtime. I really didn’t see that coming. Yes, I was worried about the game, but more in terms of acouple of fluke goals, not a change of team energy. Mirror, mirror in games one and two.
Game three? We’ll see in a little while. Can the Hawks take one back from Boston? It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…..
I want to get off the narcotic painkillers as soon as possible, so, during the hours when I’m not working-out I’m using ibuprofen to ease the pain. I’m getting some really deep aches in my hip, rear and quad area. I think its because my right laeg is a little longer now that its straight again. I was proud that I could dress myself, even my shoes! Exercises are VERY painful! Quad sets are real screamers! I take every opportunity to be outside during this beautiful fall weather. I asked my wife to take some video of my walking stride with the crutches. Watching it on the computer confirmed how stiff my stride is! Nearly all of my waking time is devoted to my recovery.
Once upon a time in Chicago….
Triple overtime was actually the least entertaining aspect of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Blackhawks and the Bruins. Overtime periods just make me tired-it was the hitting, the chances and the spectacular goaltending that kept me on the edge of my seat. This is the fairy tale ending to an otherwise embarrassing "work stoppage" season that nearly doomed professional hockey. We’re watching a matchup of two original six teams, both recent Cup winners which is pitting marquee skilled players versus the quintessential team concept. Its not just a contest between teams, it’s a clash of concepts that will determine how teams will be built in the future.
The Hawks have speed and tape to tape passing skills. They forecheck, chase, pester and steal the puck off defensemen’s sticks. Any lazy passes, casual breakout plays or general lollygaging by Boston have the potential for a turnover and a Hawks goal. They break out quickly and have a high pressure penalty kill.
Boston comes at you with big bodies and they do it in waves. They hit anything that stands still for a nanosecond and make their opponents think twice when they chase into the corners. Their forward’s play as cohesive units that anticipate each other’s positioning very well. Chara has the reach of a giant squid but also possesses exceptional talent and a slapshot that strikes fear into the most courageous shot blockers heart, and shins, and ankles and other places that send chills up my spine.
Which style will win the series and the Cup? Health will have a lot to do with it. If the Hawks can stay healthy you have to like their chances. Boston already has a problem with Horton’s sore shoulder. The jury’s still out on whether the playoffs leading point producer will even play in any more games or at what level if he does. Crawford is turning me into a believer between the pipes. Kaner is finding himself in the right place at the right time-which is usually somewhere opposite Toews and the two or three guys converging to stop him!
It’s heart stopping hockey at the end of a season that almost didn’t happen. That’s entertainment!
Lousy sleep, lots of pain. There’s no good position for me. I had home healthcare come over to take my vitals, make sure I had everything set up, and show me how to inject myself with the blood thinner. I didn’t know I’d have to do that everyday for the next month-its not awful, but its no fun. I have to cover and wrap my knee each morning and cut and apply lidacaine strips either side of the incision. My home PT came over and did some measurements and showed me some excersizes. He left me with some illustrations of proper work out form and the numbers of repetitions and sets of each. I ice 4-5 times a day for 20 minutes, work out twice a day and walk with crutches twice a day outdoors as well as my required moving in the house. I use the CPM (which was also delivered today) three times a day, but it seems to move quite a bit and doesn’t seem to fit quite right.
I can’t wait to leave this hospital!!! Before bedtime they’d asked if I’d like to be left alone to sleep, "YES!!!" The nurses said they’d leave a notation for the night crew to let me sleep. Didn’t happen. I was woken 4 times by nurses during the night. One time I awoke to find a woman in the corner of my room by my unpacked suitcase in the dark! I asked her what she was doing in the dark-she said she was just checking up on me! Right…..in the dark, without a BP machine or thermometer? I had a little breakfast but was pretty nauseous. I have quite a bit of pain in my thigh. PT came back, I walked some more and tried doing some stairs. I was very tired, very sleepy-and because I had that period when I wasn’t medicated, I was very nervous about causing even more pain. I was released just after noon, so I didn’t get any lunch. My wife was coming over from work to get me, but we hadn’t planned on going home in her small car. At this point I no longer cared about the logistics-I just wanted to get out of this place!!!!! I have no clue how I managed to get into her car, but I was back to home sweet home by 2:30 pm. The rest of the day was sleeping, arranging my home PT, icing and dinner.
The next morning was boring. Physical Therapy never showed up, they told me they should have been called in to set up the Continuous Passive Motion machine but the nursing staff had never called them! The CPM is a motorized machine your leg is strapped into which slowly flexes and extends your new knee. After it was hooked up later in the day, and while under pain/nerve block, I had full extension and flexion to 120 degrees. I could also do a leg lift while the nerve block was still active. Don’t get too excited by this-trust me, after the nerve block wears off it’s a different story! After lunch the Physical Therapy team arrived, but because of more nursing screw-ups, it didn’t go as well as it should have. The catheter was supposed to have been removed first thing in the morning, but no one did. The blood-filtering machine was supposed to have been disconnected, but no one did. I hadn’t been given any pain medication since midnight and by now the nerve block had worn off so I was feeling every painful moment! I was supposed to try walking, go the bathroom and be measured for flexion, but I was in tremendous pain and tethered to an I.V., catheter and filter machine! I felt weak and depressed. I could feel every incision and stitch. This was my lowest point in this process so far. PT got a nurse to remove the catheter and another to administer morphine and disconnect the I.V. No one knew how to deal with the blood filter so I had to try to walk and bend with that machine wheeled behind me and the hose protruding from my leg! My flex was measured at 65 degrees and they were very happy with my walking about 100’ down the hall. After a few hours of rest, Occupational Therapy visited. The blood machine was finally disconnected. I was allowed to go the bathroom by myself (successfully by the way, a lot of people have trouble in that department). My Doctor arrived at 6pm for a visit. He removed the drain hose from my leg and expressed his displeasure with the level of my care and promised to have me released the following day. That was the best news I could hear. The stress of wondering what the next mistake the nursing staff was going to make was really giving me stress and my blood pressure was soaring!
The Hospital Experience
I packed some boxer shorts, workout shorts and baggy t-shirts. You won’t need much in terms of clothes. My surgery was scheduled for 9:30 am, I was asked to be at the hospital at 7 am. Checking in was quick and easy and within a half-hour I was in a pre-op room and had changed into my hospital gown. A very good anesthesiologist tested my leg muscles for the correct placement of the nerve block. The nerve block completely deadens the affected area, numbing it for a day or two. I recommend it if you have a choice. My doctor met with me and gave me one last chance to back out of the surgery, but I knew it had to happen. I don’t remember anything after that until I woke up in the recovery room. I came out of anesthesia easily and comfortably and at this point I felt no pain. My doctor met with me to reassure me that all went well and that he’d been able to save my patella (something neither of us had expected). The actual surgery took about 45 minutes. I was given a patch for nausea, which also seemed to work well, since I was already hungry! My knee was wrapped in a soft immobilizer with a drain tube protruding from it. The tube was attached to a computerized portable filter, which would clean my blood for reinfusion. I had one I-V tube for antibiotics and administering other drugs and painkillers. I also had a catheter, which was inserted after I was put out (thankfully!), but I still didn’t appreciate it.
Although I have nothing but praise for the surgical team, the same can’t be said for the hospital support staff. I hate to say this, but based on my stay, you’d better have your wits about you and be assertive, and have an equally assertive advocate while in the hospital. I was wide-awake and aware as the staff scrambled to find anyone who knew how to use the blood-filtering machine. Meanwhile, my wife had been told that I’d be up in my room by 12:30. At about 2 p.m., after a stranger was wheeled into ‘my’ room, my already anxious wife asked where her husband was! They told her they simply didn’t know and that there must have been a problem with my recovery! I was fine, but she didn’t know it and was nearly scared to death! It was all very irresponsible and inconsiderate. I was finally brought to my new room at 2:30 to the great relief of my wife. I watched in fear as the one person who knew how to operate the blood-filtering machine tried to teach the floor staff how to use it. Most of the staff was less than literate in English, and the worse part is that they would be teaching the next shift from their fragment of new knowledge! More on the staff problems later. I didn’t realize it at the time, but there was an air-massage device wrapped around my left calf, from my knee to my ankle. The device was designed to be attached to an air pump that would sequentially inflate sections of the device to promote blood movement and lessen the chance of blood clots forming. Unfortunately, none of the nurses bothered to bring in a pump so it was actually counter-productive. It acted as a tight compress on a leg that needed blood flow! A pump was finally brought in and attached about 20 minutes before my Doctor came in for his visit the following afternoon!
I was happy to be quickly moved from a liquid diet to an unrestricted diet by suppertime of the first day. I had no problem with my appetite! I was given a painkiller through my I-V once every twelve hours, but since I received the nerve block, I had virtually no pain in my knee the first evening. That night, nurses drew blood for testing and dropped off what my nurse called "a breathing machine" which came with no instruction. She told me it was something I was supposed to "blow into a few times an hour". As I experimented with it I figured out that you actually were supposed to inhale and try to maintain a specific volume of air at a specific rate. Unfortunately, with no instructions the numbers on the device were meaningless! During the course of the evening I had a good dinner (no restrictions on my diet), watched tv, had blood drawn and got about five good hours of sleep.
Preparing the house:
I borrowed a walker, but never used it. I already had crutches from my ankle surgery. I bought a shower chair for the bathtub from Wal-Mart for $30 and a Moen 5’ shower spray from Lowes for $20 and changed out the showerhead in the tub. I also did the Halloween decorations early! I put a tall chair in the kitchen for cooking and an armchair on the porch. I bought a single serving juice and milk chug to refill (easy to stuff in a pocket and won’t spill on the way) and prepped some small plastic grocery bags to be able to keep in my pockets to carry the chugs or any other small objects when on crutches. I poured my cereal out of its box and into a large zip bag and kept it near my chair in the livingroom so all I’d have to carry in my grocery bag was the bowl, a spoon and my milk and juice chugs. It all worked very well! The same basic process worked fine at lunch with sandwiches.
Bed and bath:
I had a tall, elongated toilet installed and I strongly suggest it! I removed all of the floor rugs and practiced getting up and down off the toilet with my right leg outstretched. I didn’t need any support bars put in because I could grip the windowsill for support when getting up. I already had a tall bed and bookcase headboard and that really helped. You’ll need a place to keep water, crackers, a portable urinal (which the hospital provided in my case), medications and a telephone within easy reach. Near the bed I needed a place to store my CPM (continuous passive motion machine-some doctors order it for home rehab) and my Polar Ice Machine. If you can get one, I highly recommend the Polar Ice machine. It consists of a 10" box that you fill with ice cubes and water, a 5’ hose and a wrap that surrounds about 10" of your knee area. It constantly pumps cold water into the wrap. The difference between it and ice packs are the fact that your knee will produce so much heat after surgery that cold packs would go from freezer to (literally) HOT in just a few minutes! One fill up of the Polar Ice worked for more than ten hours of cooling.
Your COMMAND CHAIR.
Yes, you need to really think out your daytime situation. You’d like a chair that is versatile enough to let you sit upright, bend your leg, recline to sleep, and elevate your leg. It has to have solid footing, enough height to allow you to stand and it can’t be a rocker. I had a reclining love seat that worked perfectly and gave my wife room to join me for some all-important cuddling from time to time! My seat was right in front of the t.v. and I put two end tables together directly to my right. The end tables held my Polar Ice Machine (my wife would fill it before she’d leave for work and put the CPM machine on my bed so I could easily use it during the day), cell and cordless phones, t.v. remote, medications, wraps, tapes, syringes (I had to self inject a blood thinner every day) books, magazines, journal, salt and pepper, cereal baggie, am radio my wifi laptop and lapdesk.
Where I’m at today, one month out.
Tomorrow will be the one-month anniversary of my TKR surgery. My Physical Therapist tells me that I’m doing phenomenally well. Part of her job is to be encouraging, so take that for what its worth. I’m still not sleeping well, usually only catching about 4-5 hours a night and often waking in pain. I’m taking prescription meds only when I know I’m going to Physical Therapy or putting myself through a strenuous work out. When not on prescriptions I’m still alternating between Tylenol and Ibuprofen for swelling and mild pain. I use my Polar ice machine at least 4 times a day and do my workout and stretches at least twice a day. I gave back my CPM machine this afternoon. I have 110 degrees of measured flex. At rest I usually have little or no pain in my knee, but overnight and during workouts I can still have a lot of pain, and not just in my knee. I walk without assistance from a cane, crutches or walker and barely limp. I can already do a lot of the ‘little things’ that make life more normal like getting in and out of my car normally, driving, crossing my leg to put on my socks, and pivoting with full weight on my repaired leg. Two days ago I did some yard work, using my gas blower and riding my lawn tractor. I put up Halloween decorations and got up and down to pass out candy to avoid the tricksters! My doctor doesn’t know it, and wouldn’t approve of it, but I’ve been riding my bike several miles a day over my park trails and along the river trail. My knee is a bit stiff for the first half mile of my bike ride but I have fluid motion by the end. I didn’t get on my bicycle until I knew I was comfortable doing cycle revolutions on a stationary bike.
I have quite a bit of connected pains in my calf, my quad, and my hip. A lot of muscles and tendons are being stretched in ways they haven’t been for more than 30 years! My knee is still really stiff and ’sloppy’ much of the day. In spite of all of my pre-surgical workout prep, I’ve lost a LOT of muscle! It still feels very odd that my repaired leg feels so much longer than it used to be, but either my body is correcting my posture to compensate or the feeling is diminishing on it’s own. I’m pretty happy with the surgical scar, its long, but my doctor seems to have done a really good job. Maybe it will get wider in the future than it is now, but as I type, the incision is only about 1/32" wide and the staple marks are fading. I’ve been able to stick with my weight loss program which was really simple: portion control, eliminate almost all sweets and don’t eat again after supper unless its half a graham cracker and water when taking a pain killer at night. I don’t feel deprived at all and I’m craving sweets less and less. I’m pleasantly surprised to report that although the weight loss pace has slowed down with less activity, its still working and yesterday I dropped from the 292 I weighed a month before surgery to my current 258 lbs. ! It’s also important to point out that at therapy I also see a much younger man who has gone through a partial knee replacement, expanded to a total knee replacement, and has now had a revision all within the span of three years and he’s very upset with his progress. Another man is approximately my age, is on his 5th week and has only 65 degrees of flex, has never been outside to walk, and hasn’t progressed past using a walker. As I said in the beginning, each circumstance is very unique.
My overall health remains excellent!
And now….the knee replacement experience, day by day.
Ah, hockey back at the United Center –and there’s a scent of blood in the water! It has to be energizing for the Blackhawks to see Boston eliminate the Penguins, knowing that they can get the finals started quickly if they can get it done tonight.
I told you that I didn’t think the Pens had it in them to come back from the brink of death. I don’t know what’s caused their internal problems this season, but they’ll need some character rebuilding before they can make another cup run. Firing the coach isn’t the answer, but odds are the Penguin management will start there.
Meanwhile, the Hawks pretty much dictated the play in a game that should’ve had everything going against them. No home fans, last change, face-off advantage or that overused term, momentum. I’m not certain the Kings would have much of a chance if all things were equal tonight, but they’re not! I don’t want to minimize the desire to win a Cup, but the desire to do it quickly and get on with the summer is universal to hockey players. So forget momentum, fans and line changes, the Hawks will throw it all out there tonight just to get this one done and move on to the Finals and the Stanley Cup.
Why I chose TKR at this time.
This has probably been the most difficult decision I’ve ever made. I wasn’t experiencing the excruciating pain most TKR patients report prior to surgery. I had full range of motion, just short of full extension. I wasn’t using anything stronger than Tylenol for pain after tennis. I was active and having fun! My problems were all related to other parts of my body being affected by the degradation of my knee compartment and the bow-legged angle of it. My foot, my calf muscles and IT band were all terribly strained, nearly to the breaking point. As much as I hated to have the procedure, I knew it was just a matter of time before I’d be injured in another way if I delayed. This is also a nice time of year to do my initial rehab. The weather is crisp and the leaves are pretty. I should have at least another month to be able to walk outdoors before the snow arrives. Finally, I know how miserable surgery and rehab is and I’d just as soon take my pain in one big dose and hopefully be more pleasant to live with for my long suffering wife than having it hanging over my head all winter.
Pre-surgery physical prep:
The month before surgery I rode my bike vigorously every day. I worked out with weights, both upper and lower body. I swam about ½ mile everyday and did water calisthenics for my legs. I did 75 leg lifts and countless quad sets daily. I quit eating sweets and lost 20 lbs. I played as much tennis as I could and cherished every minute of it, thinking that I’d never play again after the knee replacement-but I’m beginning to think tennis of some kind may be a possibility someday. I went on-line and checked out others’ experiences with TKR and also called some folks who’d had it done in the past couple of years. My wife and I played tennis for several hours the evening before my surgery.
As I watched (and gasped and yelled) during last night’s Penguin/Bruins game, one phrase really struck me -"you still gotta play the game". It’s so true, you can look at stat sheets of teams and even head to head results and evaluate who the clear winner should be. Even when it looks like the team that should dominate is dominating, if the pucks don’t actually cross the goal line, you can’t win the game. Such is the fate of the Penguins and the best player in hockey, Sid Crosby. I’d kind of hoped for a rematch of the ’92 final series.
You know, the one the Hawks should have won.
The Hawks breezed through the season as the best team in hockey. They entered the finals refreshed after some easy series wins. Home ice. The Stadium insanity. They couldn’t lose.
I watched a bunch of guy’s skate around the Stadium ice that night carrying the Stanley Cup, but it wasn’t the Hawks.
So, as I watched that game late last night I remembered the blog I wrote about the Hawks when they were down 1-3 to Detroit. "Can it be Done?" I answered, "yes". Can the Penguins do it? I doubt it. I really believe that momentum only lasts until the first goal is scored in the next game, but that was a tough one to lose without some feeling that you’re doomed! My predicted finals rematch isn’t looking good right now.
I’d better flip over to the other side of the equation, the Hawks and Kings. The Kings didn’t look much like the team that I described to you in my pre-series blog during those first two games, but they regained their demeanor when they returned home. That was the Kings team that sent Hawk players to the lockeroom with bruises. That was the Kings team that annoyed the skilled Hawk players into cross checking contests and eventually got Duncan Keith suspended for a wicked retaliation. Can the Kings keep this up, not only in LA but back in Chicago? It will be tough tonight without Duncs. It’s critical for the Hawks to score first (ya, like when isn’t it!), and to try to give hits as well as receive. The bruising style of the Kings has a cumulative effect. Literal pain and injuries do not only slow players, they also tend to hurry plays and make mistakes. Passes don’t go tape to tape, inaccurate stretch passes get intercepted. The Hawks can’t be defensive tonight -that’s the key to observe.
They can’t turn thug and abandon the skill that got them here, but they will have to prepare for pain! Go Hawks!
THE FOLLOWING IS THE JOURNAL I KEPT AT THE TIME OF MY KNEE REPLACEMENT, IT’S UNEDITED, NO BACKWARD REVISIONS, NO HINDSIGHT AND WHAT I WROTE IS EXACTLY WHAT I WAS DOING OR FEELING AT THAT MOMENT IN TIME. REMEMBER THAT WHEN YOU READ ABOUT THE PAINKILLERS, MY MOOD AND SLEEP SESSIONS DURING RECOVERY.
Although I wanted to share my experiences with other folks getting ready to have TKR, I’ve already learned the most important fact of all-every circumstance is unique and broad comparisons have very little benefit. Since there are some things that seem to be universal to all TKR, I’ll try to emphasize those experiences. As I type this, it’s been a little more than a month since my surgery. I won’t change anything from my real-time journals, but I wanted to have enough time passage from the surgery so I could relate how some small advances eventually became meaningful, and so folks who might not have the time to read about my daily experiences could get a little overview.
I’m 54 years old, 6’2" and weighed 270 lbs. at the date of my surgery which was 10/5/2010. I first injured my right knee when I was 20 years old. I completely tore my anterior cruciate ligament and my medial meniscus. At that time I had a medial meniscectomy (took out the cartilage on the inside half of my knee) and a’Slokum Proceedure’ which wrapped my hamstring around the front of my knee in an attempt to help with stability. I’ve worn solid anti-rotation braces on my knee ever since (mostly during athletic activities), my last several have been made by Donjoy. In spite of being bone on bone for over 30 years, I’ve continuously played competitive tennis (4.5 because of mobility) and bicycle 6-12 miles a day.
The last knee surgery I had was about 12 years ago. My femur and tibia were drilled in order to promote the growth of scar tissue in place of my missing cartilage. This past July I had surgery on my right ankle (same leg). Although it was a very long and complicated procedure, my recovery was phenomenally quick and I used part of my rehab to prepare for the TKR. Dr. Mikund Komanduri performed both my ankle and my TKR and both were performed at Bolingbrook Adventist Hospital, just south of Chicago. If my recovery from the ankle surgery hadn’t been so quick and thorough, I never would’ve been able to have the TKR just three months later.
My Total Knee Replacement Journal
POSTSCRIPT: Before you begin to read the journal about my recovery from Total Knee Replacement (TKR) I thought it would be encouraging to know where I started from and how things have turned out. In a word, great! I didn’t go into TKR willingly, it was a calculated decision. I was injured nearly 40 years ago and as a result had no ACL (the primary ligament that holds the knee together) or medial (inside of the knee) cartilage in my right knee for decades. I had bone on bone grinding and pain and had to wear a massive metal brace of some type for thirty years. I was injured in an era before those injuries were repairable. Still, although I was getting increasingly bow-legged, I managed to do everything I’d always been able to do (at a much different pace and with modifications) and I was willing to sacrifice both the chronic and sometimes intense pain for the sake of my active lifestyle (tennis, biking and golf) which I was afraid might be lost if I had TKR.
Now that I’m nearly two years out from my TKR I can report that I have equally excellent range of motion in my TKR knee as I do in my healthy knee. The knee is absolutely stable, even through some wicked falls on ice, jams while playing tennis and tripping over rocks on a steep hill in Arkansas. I have no chronic pain and virtually no pain in the morning (or anytime). I can walk golf courses for the first time in 40 years, bike forever, and still play a very energetic (5.0 level) singles tennis game. I do have to prepare you-none of these things came instantly after surgery and none of them came without effort. I still get pain on the medial side of my knee if I sit in a certain recliner in my house, but that’s a unique thing. I can kneel to landscape, kneel on the floor and pivot to sit with my legs crossed beneath me (as I am right now). In essence I’ve regained some of my youth! I hope your eventual outcome is as good or better than mine. And I hope this helps.
A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: I tried to play doctor/pharmacist with my narcotic pain medications without any real knowledge. You need to know this going in- NO MATTER HOW TOUGH YOU THINK YOU ARE, YOU CAN NOT JUST STOP TAKING THE NARCOTIC PAIN KILLERS COLD TURKEY. I found that out the hard way. The body and brain won’t treat you well if you try it. I’ve never been much for prescription painkillers and had no experience with them. The doctors, therapists and med staff just assumed that everyone knew you couldn’t just quit taking the meds without withdrawal. It was not good! You’ve been warned.
O.k., you have to admit, my 2013 Playoff blog posts have been pretty accurate so far. To recap my post prior to game seven of the Detroit Series:
Crawford was great!
It was a typical, close game.
The neutral zone was clogged and the score was low.
The last change and bench did figure into winning.
There were controversial official’s calls!
It was FUN!!!!
So what should we expect in the Kings series?
Crawford will have to be even better! His positioning has been terrific, but now he’ll have some big bodies setting up shop to screen, deflect and jam at pucks at close range. If you thought Detroit was tough, prepare for a new paradigm of irritation- Crawford is!
Finesse versus power. Not that the Hawks don’t have strength, because Hossa is a force out there, but the Kings come at you with waves of size and strength, leading with crushing body checks. If the Hawks can avoid the hits and the grind of the Kings’ game their skill will take them far. Oh ya…..Quick.
Jonathan Quick will probably be the game changer in this series. Quick has had it all from what I’ve seen of his playoffs so far. He’s in position early, he drifts back cleverly and no pun intended, he’s so very quick! He’s stolen games for the Kings while Crawford has kept the Hawks in games. That’s no knock on Crawford, just a tribute to Quick and a comment on the kind of grinding offense the Kings will bore you with as their defense literally grinds up your offense.
We’ll learn a lot from the first game, because if the Hawks become target practice in the hitting stats the coaching staff will have a difficult time ‘adjusting’ as we like to say. If the Blackhawks center ice speed, fast transition and stretch passing confound the Kings physical game plan well….even Jonathan Quick can’t stop an odd man break into an open net!
Just keep that United Center ice surface in nice shape so the Hawks can show-off their skill!
If you haven’t already entered our contest, be sure to yell "Go Hawks!" through our CONTACT page to enter the drawing for an autographed Brent Seabrook print!
It looks a lot the phrase, "it can be done" is about to be replaced by "what a comeback!" If you’ve read my blog posts in the past or we’ve spent any time talking hockey you already know that this is not a shock to me. So what’s next? Game seven. Always fun!
Although game six of the Detroit series is over, it was typical of the series. It was very close. Both teams had major lapses of both energy and hockey sense. There were controversial calls and one that changed the dynamic of the game. There was good goal tending, some great plays and a clogged neutral zone which sometimes made the game as frustrating to watch as I’m sure it was to play. Will game seven be any different?
I hope the Hawks will dominate by clever use of the last line change and bench positioning, but game seven’s seem to have a personality all their own. Most Hawks fans I’ve spoken to now expect the Hawks to steamroll the Wings by virtue of home ice and momentum.
Momentum only lasts until the first goal.
I know it’s not rocket science, but sometimes it’s forgotten. Being at "home" brings technical and physical advantages, but it can also create more personal problem conditions. There will be nerves playing in front of family, friends and the UC crowd. There will be friends and well wishers telling them how good they are, and how this win is a "sure thing". Countering the ego boosts will be a coaching staff and veteran players trying to bring all of their linemates down to earth. In all of this only one man stands alone. The game will probably hinge on Corey Crawford. Time will tell. Will the coaching of Stefan Waite and the confidence of the comeback be enough to steady the Hawks in goal? I can’t wait to find out! Go Hawks!
After game 4 of the Stanley Cup Playoff series between the Blackhawks and the Red Wings I heard a lot of questions and comments.
The most common comment? "The Hawks are done!"
The most common question? "Can it be done?"
It's ironic because that question was something we joked about down in the tunnel during a playoff series years ago when the Hawks were down by three goals with the clock stopped, Jocelyn Thibault pulled, and less than a minute on the clock. "Can it be done?" -One of the ice crew kept asking that question during every stoppage of play until we finally ticked under 21 seconds. I finally conceded. "Nope, it can't be done". This is a different story.
I'm not a rah-rah kind of fan, so this isn't that kind of article. I think I'm a pretty objective observer. I learned to control my emotions in the press box long ago. So...Can it be done? It comes down to three critical areas. Luck, desire and the NHL playoff officiating.
LUCK? I prefer chance. Luck is for the Blackhawk worshippers who count every ring off the post as a 'shoulda been' goal. They're not. Off the post is not on-goal. Chance comes in when you look at the post game stats and see things pretty even in a game that was determined by a single goal. The Hawks had a lot of those kind of games during they're record breaking regular season run. In the playoffs, each team has a shot hit the inside of the post, one ricochets in, the other out. It has to do with physics, not psychics! The last three games could have gone either way, as could the next game-and after that-who knows? It can be done.
DESIRE? This is a tougher call, especially down 1-3. The 2010 Blackhawks had the exhuberance of youth and the length of an entire season as their advantage going into that playoff run. The shortened season and the aging players have pretty much made tht a non-issue in this round. The Hawks were also more physical than most of the teams they played in the 2010 playoffs, which tends to make your opponent more gun-shy and less accurate in every phase of the game as they look to avoid contact. That can't be said this year. Detroit has been the more physical team which means skilled players on the Blackhawks are going to have to step up every aspect of their game. Will they still have the desire to do that in the position they're in? It can be done, but it'll take a lot of character.
NHL PLAYOFF OFFICIATING. I'm not making a complaint or saying any officials have been unfair. It's been a very evenly called series. That's not the point. The NHL is a money-making venture and competitve playoff series are especially important in a year when revenues are down. I think most observers would agree that there's been an attitude of "Let 'em play" during the playoffs for quite some time. It's a great equalizer. It lengthens the series. It hightens emotions. It also penalizes the higher-skilled teams. It's nothing new or shocking. The phrase "building a team for the playoffs" is commonly heard. Can the Blackhawks play through that? Will they have to? You be the judge as the series progresses. From a strictly monetary point of view one could suggest that the size of the Blackhawks market and their popularity would make it the more profitable team to advance. Will the officiating tighten up? We'll see.
Bottom line: It can be done.