By Jay Zawaski-
CHICAGO (CBS) — Those of you that know me know that there’s only one thing I love as much as the game of hockey. Music. When Neil Young tickets went on sale a couple of weeks back, I saw the opportunity to scratch a dream concert off my bucket list. Did I think ahead that the Stanley Cup Playoffs would be underway? Nah. I just clicked, purchased and celebrated.
It wasn’t until weeks later when I realized I might have to miss a Blackhawks playoff game. I’d never done that before. When the schedule for the Hawks- Blues series was finally released, I was crestfallen when I saw that Game 3 was on April 21.
There was no way in hell I was missing Neil Young, so I did my best to avoid concourse conversations and other people’s cell phones. That was difficult considering the dude in front of me spent the majority of the show on his Samsung Galaxy Note, which at a concert might as well be a 42-inch plasma screen. Even Neil gave me a scare when he said, “It’s not a great time to talk about hockey around here.” Regardless, I escaped the Chicago Theater without a clue as to the outcome.
As I settled in at home, I felt some guilt. Hockey fans worldwide were denied my in-game tweets! These poor people rely on me and my hockey brain. How did they get through the game without me? Well, guess what…I decided to tweet the game anyway right here. Here’s a real-time log of my “tweets” complete with time stamp. Keep in mind I fast-forwarded commercials and intermissions.
11:30pm @JayZawaski670: Great first shift for Toews, Kane and Bickell line. The Blues look Helpless.
1134pm @JayZawaski670: First whistle of period. Hawks in control playing with speed…playing their game. Tell Me Why it’s taken this long!
11:35pm @JayZawaski670: Toews uses Shattenkirk screen … five hole on Miller. Tough knuckler of a shot (like a Broken Arrow) … but pretty soft. Miller will want that one back.
11:44pm @JayZawaski670: Awful Rozsival turnover leads to Berglund near goal. Meanwhile, Brookbank has been pretty damn good. Maybe we’ve come to a Fork in the Road.
11:45pm @JayZawaski670: Blues starting to take over a little. Controlling puck. Many great chances just not converting. Don’t Cry No Tears for them.
11:46pm @JayZawaski670: Another Hawks icing after Crawford fumbles puck behind net. He must have some Powder on his finger.
11:50pm @JayZawaski670: Interference penalty on Shaw, but I didn’t see a penalty there, but The Damage Done.
11:51pm @JayZawaski670: Handzus still useful on PK … and that’s about it. Such an Old Man.
11:52pm @JayZawaski670: Now I see the Shaw penalty…right in front of official. Dumb. He’s gonna be The Loner in the penalty box.
12:02am @JayZawaski670: Ott in front causing chaos, but Hjammer with two big shot blocks. Great save in front by Crawford. He’s Here For You, Hawk fans.
12:02am @JayZawaski670: I wonder who won between Columbus and the Pens in Ohio.
12:02am @JayZawaski670: Getting tougher to rip Handzus after another tremendous PK effort. He’s been playing with a Heart of Gold.
12:06am @JayZawaski670: Smith now with 81 and 10. This makes sense. Handzus great on PK. Not at even strength. This Note’s For You, Quenneville!
120:8am @JayZawaski670: Bickell looks like a $4 million play when he’s with Kane and Toews. Long May You Run on that line, Bryan.
12:11am @JayZawaski670: Smith back out with 4th line, while 26 re-emerges with 10 and 81. So much for that. Don’t Let It Bring You Down.
12:18am @JayZawaski670: now Polak (I can call him that) shoves Saad dangerously from behind. Another penalty. 1st PP had solid looks. Let’s Roll.
12:21am @JayZawaski670: Nick Leddy is not handsome. The Man Needs A Maid.
12:24am @JayZawaski670: After 2 PPs with no goal, and general dominance, feels like a Blues goal is coming. Could be crushing. Momentum shifting like a Prarie Wind?
12:32am @JayZawaski670: “Keith…SHOOTING!…missed the net” He needs to Harvest better shots.
12:34am @JayZawaski670: Steen takes down Hossa. Hawks with a :37 5-on-3. Feels like a “must score.” Don’t Be Denied!
12:37am @JayZawaski670: Nothing doing on PP yet. Very good looks, but have to get one past Miller, who’s been absolutely outstanding. He’s got gLove in Mind.
12:40am @JayZawaski670: Great chance for Bickell after Kane gets to the middle and puts shot thru traffic. Aside from his penalty, Bickell has been one of best Hawks on the ice. He’s making me The Believer
12:43am @JayZawaski670: Kruger takes down Steen after hook hug tackle thing. Looks perplexed with the call. Blues to PP. He was on The Losing End of that call.
12:46am @JayZawaski670: Handzus w/ 2 pk blocks. ZUUUS chants. Haven’t heard those since he was centering Havlat in the mullet days. He’s Mr. Soul tonight.
12:50am @JayZawaski670: Blues starting to really take over. Shots 7-2 this period. Hawks have to avoid going in to prevent D here. I need to Mellow My Mind.
12:52am @JayZawaski670: Toews 17/4 on faceoffs!!! Johnny Magic!
1:08am @JayZawaski670: Empty net for Blues. I can’t breathe. Oh, Lonesome Me!
1:09am @JayZawaski670: Kruger scores. I can breathe…and sleep. #TiredEyes
There. I hope everyone feels fulfilled and refreshed after seeing those “tweets.”
Jokes aside, I liked the performance from the Blackhawks. So much has been made about them playing “their game,” and that’s exactly what they did. However, the Hawks are extremely fortunate the Blues didn’t tie the game in the third period. Shots were 11-7 in favor of the Blues in that frame, but it felt like every chance was a bullet dodged.
Michal Handzus, who I’ve been extremely hard on this season, has put together five consecutive exceptional periods. His penalty killing is top notch. I still don’t love him on the second line, but it’s clear he plays an important role on this team. What I’d love to see is Handzus moved to the fourth line, with Ben Smith jumping up to center Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. We did see it for a moment, but it didn’t last.
Corey Crawford was very, very good. “Goalie wins” are constantly referenced when Crawford is analyzed. Monday night was a goalie win. Ryan Miller was excellent as well.
Neil Young had a hell of a night, too. Cortez the Killer, Harvest Moon. It was a killer set from a rock and roll legend.
Thanks for reading. I promise to never abandon you again.
Make sure to tune in to 670 am or 670thescore.com after Wednesday’s Game 4. Nick Shepkowski and I will have your full post game show.
Jay Zawaski covers the Blackhawks for CBSChicago.com and 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @JayZawaski670.