TELANDER: Blackhawks have Kane-do attitude
BY RICK TELANDER firstname.lastname@example.org June 22, 2013 11:44PM
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) celebrates with goalie Corey Crawford (50) after the Blackhawks beat the Boston Bruins 3-1 in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals, Saturday, June 22, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Updated: August 22, 2013 2:24AM
There had been so much chatter before Game 5 about Corey Crawford’s glove hand that you might have thought the Blackhawks goalie had a beloved pet gerbil within.
And supposedly Bruins towering star defenseman Zdeno Chara abruptly had become as soft as the Pillsbury Doughboy. He wasn’t a looming menace on skates — he was a straw man collapsing. All because he went minus-3 in Game 4. Never mind that Big Z was plus-10 coming into the game, the same as Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith.
The Hawks won 3-1 on Saturday night at the United Center because they beat the Bruins in everything that mattered. When it mattered.
That includes speed, passing, hustle, defense, composure, smart hitting and, yes, goaltending.
And above all, because of a little dude named Patrick Kane. More about him in a moment. Back to Crawford.
The 28-year-old goalie, word was circulating, couldn’t stop a balloon if he had two tennis rackets and a butane torch in his left hand. The reason: He had given up five goals in Game 4, and all had come to his glove-hand side. A trend! A flaw!
Fans who didn’t know a blue line from a blue fly two months ago now knew goaltending. Shoot to Crawford’s left, and the puck will automatically go into the net.
‘‘I’m not really listening to it,’’ the unflappable ‘‘Crow’’ said of the criticism. ‘‘I’ve got a job to do.’’
And he did it. Yes, a puck did get by him — on his glove side. And, yes, it was rocketed in by Chara, whom Sports Illustrated’s Steve Rushin described as ‘‘a terrifying figure on the ice, 7 feet tall on skates, sliding in and out of the frame like an Easter Island statue on casters.’’
But the win was due in no small part to Crawford’s skill. With stick and glove. With release passes. And puck-freezing decisions. And forays from the net to slap away Bruins dump-ins. This guy might be the least respected, most unassuming star in Chicago sports history. Go figure.
At any rate, near the end of the first period, Patrick Kane chop-sticked in the first goal of the game. He did his right-skate-only, lean-back, look-at-me celebration, and the crowd went nuts, loving this little guy whose stick skills rival those of Benihana’s best chef.
The Kaner shot in a second goal with five minutes left in the second period, getting another assist from fellow superstar Toews. (We could wonder, loudly, why these two weren’t always on the same line during the playoffs, but we won’t just now in the current feel-good haze.)
Kane can go quiet for long periods of time, sort of evade the radar like a gnat, and then suddenly explode in your face like a grenade. Put the puck on the goal enough, let it rebound or trickle aside, and there will be Kane to clean up the deal.
‘‘I think I was in the right spot at the right time on both goals tonight,’’ the mullet-headed one modestly said.
‘‘They anticipate,’’ Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said of Kane and all great scorers.
This game was heated — Patrick Sharp got into it with Johnny Boychuk on the boards — and then Adam McQuaid took his stick and raked it up with both hands like a cudgel under Andrew Shaw’s upper lip and nose. Down went Shaw, never one to care much about blood, loose teeth, scars. Into the box went McQuaid.
By the end, it seemed the Bruins were fed up with the ultra-pesky Kane, and somebody ripped his helmet off in a scrum. So it goes.
This is hockey, not sequined line dancing.
When Dave Bolland launched a shot from three-quarters of the ice away that went into an empty net just seconds before the game finished, it dragged a knife across the Bruins’ angry neck. That Bruins winger Milan Lucic wound up and demolished his stick on the offending goal was appropriate.
Here’s what’s true: Almost nobody remembers who finishes second in any Stanley Cup Final. Most runners-up would like to forget the fact themselves.
The Hawks now lead in games 3-2, with Game 6 on Monday night back at the TD Garden in Boston. My half-formed guess is that the Bruins, who never give up, will win that game somehow. Maybe just by being Boston strong.
‘‘It’s do or die, and we’ve been there before,’’ Bruins coach Claude Julien said. ‘‘Our goal is to get to a Game 7. There’s no panic.’’
A Bruins win would lead to that defining finale Wednesday at the UC.
Can you imagine, Chicago?
Kaner, Crow, Tazer, Sharpie, Hoss and “Teethless’’ Keith will try to win it all in Game 6. But we’ll see.
So just hold on.
Survive and enjoy.