After the U.S. Olympic team eliminated the Soviets in the 1980 Lake Placid games and advanced to the gold metal finale against Finland, Herb Brooks gave a little speech in the locker room to his young team. He told them, “if you lose this game, you will take it to your fucking grave…” he then proceeded to walk out, stopped, turned around and repeated, “to your fucking grave…”
While the stakes are a bit lower tonight against Chicago, the analogy holds true. Beating Nashville 6-1 will be short-lived and far less meaningful if the Kings cannot take Chicago down tonight. If they do so, they will be 3-1 in their ongoing road trip, picking up fierce momentum going into the holidays and coming back home. They don’t and it’s just plain vanilla .500 road hockey.
Yeah, yeah, I know Hawks fans, you are missing Kane, Hossa and some others. I am sure 20 cents’ absence and the other mean a lot to you. It means nothing to us. We are also banged up. The difference is, we don’t whine about it. We walk into an opposing team’s building that is 8-0-2 in the last 10 and with a defense and goalie on fire and hand them their rear ends. In the immortal words of Adam Deadmarsh, “you’re next.”
What do our boys have to do to pluck the Hawks? It starts with breakouts executed with discipline. Crisp passes, getting the puck deep in the offensive zone and playing our tempo, not theirs. Shots from the point have to come fast. No hesitation. Our forwards must drive to the net like they did with perfection last night. How many Kings crashed the crease and caused mad defensive scrambles between the hash marks? More than I have seen in any game this season and it was freaking beautiful. Kane and Hossa’s absence means the Hawks are neutered but they will likely still play the heavy forecheck game with defensemen jumping in. We counter that by skating the puck out of the corners rather than throwing it at the blue line for clearing attempts. Here is another fact: Chicago is nearly dead last in penalty killing. Anze, Dustin, Justin, Ryan and Jarret…sharpen your teeth.
We will win this game.
We must win this game.
Johnny will be Quick and quick will be our stride, punishing our game, disciplined our minds.
“Great moments are born from great opportunities.” Let’s take the one tonight and kick some Hawks in the beak.