Blackhawks 5, Blue Jackets 4 (SO)

By now, you know the drill: when the game was played early yesterday, I rarely post a typical recap. Rather, I generally post the usual string of game tidbits. I’ll do the same for yesterday afternoon’s shootout win in Columbus. You know what happened: Jake Dowell scored twice, while Sharp and Kane added tallies.

Yo, Listen Up!

- Of the couple big stories that will emerge from yesterday’s game is Antti Niemi’s fourth straight start, with the fourth coming on the back end of a back-to-back. After all, I stated it as a fact yesterday morning that Cristobal Huet would start in Columbus, especially after Niemi surrendered seven goals in his previous two games, albeit in two wins.

So, while I’m not entirely sure what Joel Quenneville is thinking, I don’t believe he’s “passing the torch” – so to speak – from Huet to Niemi as the number one. Coming off three straight wins, it seems Q was hesitant to change the winning solution any more than necessary.

Other than that, especially after 11 goals in four starts for Niemi, I’m not sure I want to guess anymore.

- The game’s big standout from yesterday’s game was Troy Brouwer, who received 19 minutes in penalties with 15 minutes left in regulation for making Anton Stralman his Valentine. This was after Stralman stepped up at the Jackets’ blue line and went knee-to-knee with Hawk star Patrick Kane.

I’ll again skip over the “enforcer” debate and stick with the facts.

First, the sequence shows another reason I fell in love with hockey when I was three. Though the camera didn’t catch the beginning of the altercation because the puck was down at the other end of the ice, while Stralman is anything but a heavyweight, he apparently willingly dropped the gloves with Troy Brouwer, who’s certainly not a heavyweight but can protect himself when necessary. Kudos to Stralman for answering the bell.

Next, I urge you all to listen to the Columbus replay of the hit and the fight. As Brouwer rains blows upon Stralman and after the play-by-play man celebrates Kane’s pain, he screams, “Stralman’s not a fighter!” Then, he begs the referees to stop the madness, asking them to step in and reign-in the large maniac knocking the Blue Jacket into next week.

Well, maybe Stralman will remember the massive beating next time he steps up on a 175-pound superstar. Such is life in the National Hockey League. If you’re “not a fighter(!),” you should skate very, very carefully and choose your targets even more carefully. If you’re not careful, you may find a big, sweaty man ripping your helmet off and raining fists rather quickly.

- Speaking of fighting, I thought Pat Foley was well on his way to a stroke when Raffi Torres went after Patrick Sharp in the third and, rather than receiving 17 minutes in penalties (two less because I don’t believe he wears a shield), he got a two-minute roughing sentence.

I’m not sure why one attack was different than the other, but I assume the referees were hesitant to let the Hawks play the majority of overtime on the power play.

- I didn’t necessarily notice yesterday evening, but Kris Versteeg got less than five minutes of ice. Either Q’s had enough of his stickhandling, or Versteeg killed Q’s brother over the weekend. Either way, five minutes?!

- I said yesterday that I didn’t necessarily like Patrick Sharp with Jonathan Toews and Kane, but with two more goals on Sunday, I’m starting to see the light.

To me, I think the line is too diminutive to fight through any struggles that may come. Lacking any size, they’ll be hard pressed to forecheck themselves out of any problems, but maybe I should just enjoy the points as they come. Sharp certainly seems to be; he looks rejuvenated.

Again, though, until Tuomo Ruutu makes his return, I’ll just be unsatisfied.

- While the Hawk power play continues to have its difficulties, I’m still dumbfounded as to why the points are never on the correct side. Case in point: against the Stars on Tuesday – I believe – the Hawks had a 5-on-3. Keith and Seabrook were on the point, but Seabrook was on the right side while Keith was on the left. That meant that each essentially took away the one-timer from themselves, leaving them passing the puck back and forth, as each passed up shot after shot. After about 30 seconds, they switched, but thinking about why they didn’t line up that way kept me up at night.

It happened a couple times last night, too, though not on the two-man advantage.

*Weekend Farm Update*

–Friday: Rockford 4, Milwaukee Admirals 2 – In a game where the IceHogs never trailed, Evan Brophey put Rockford on the board eight minutes in.  Daryl Boyle and Rob Klinkhammer had assists.  Ater the Admirals tied it at the end of the first, Kyle Greentree scored his 21st goal of the year on the power play.  Bracken Kearns and Richard Petiot had the helpers.  Jake Dowell extended Rockford’s lead eight minutes later with his sixth goal of the year.  Klinkhammer had his second assist of the game.

The Admirals sliced into the two goal lead early in the third but it was as close as they would get.  Richard Petiot scored an empty netter to seal the deal.

Corey Crawford stopped 27 of the 29 shots in the win.

Saturday: Milwaukee Admirals 3, Rockford 2 – After the IceHogs went into Milwaukee and grabbed a win on Friday night, the Admirals returned the favor on Saturday.  Danny Bois scored for Rockford two and a half minutes into the game with assists going to Jake Dowell and Brian Connelly.  The Admirals responded by scoring 3 unanswered goals.  Evan Brophey scored his second goal in as many nights but the IceHogs wouldn’t get any closer.

Corey Crawford had 30 saves in the loss.

–In two games this weekend, Shawn Lalonde had a goal and an assist.

Kyle Beach notched an assist on Friday and had a hat trick, including the game-winning goal in overtime, on Saturday.

Byron Froese had a goal and an assist in two games.

Brandon Pirri scored a goal and had three assists as RPI beat Harvard on Friday night and lost to Dartmouth on Saturday.  Pirri is third in the nation with 30 assists on the season and with 39 points, he’s currently tied for 8th in total points.  He leads all freshman in assists and points.

–Newly acquired Nick Leddy had an assist as the Golden Gophers were swept by Denver this weekend.  Denver outscored Minnesota 8-2 in the two games.

____________________________________

Not that anybody needs to be reminded, but the Feather will be fully functional during the Olympic break.  There will be no shortage of thoughts and/or posts.  We’re going to kick off the festivities with our Olympic preview which ran in Saturday’s edition of “The Committed Indian.”

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26 Responses to Blackhawks 5, Blue Jackets 4 (SO)

  1. dominator says:

    Bryan Bickell and Jake Dowell are not the same guy fyi

  2. Bob in EP says:

    I think Foley just pulled an all-nighter and partied through til game time. He was calling CBJ the Atlanta Thrashers at one point until Eddie got him back on track.

  3. Otter says:

    While that first line may lack size, Toews plays “bigger” than he is imo. And while he might not be able to make D-men spontaneously combust ala other guys on the Hawks, he creates more turnovers than any other forward.

  4. Dave Morris says:

    The games post-Olympic break are going to be more of the same as the teams scrap for playoff positions.

    The ‘enforcer debate’ will continue.

    I prefer the term ‘policeman'; and believe that the Blackhawks will need a player or player(s) suitable for that specific role.

    Ben Eager doesn’t look up to the task this year. Burish is an agitator more than a policeman.

    Having Brouwer in the box for the last ten minutes of the game nearly cost the Hawks the win…in an early round playoff game, when the opponent is a desperate lower seed team, and even more so, in a mid-round series, the presence of a deterrent may prove critical.

    The argument has been made the Penguins won the Cup without Laraque. People seem to forget about guys like Matt Cooke and Eric Godard, whose presence *was* that deterrent.

    And unlike Brouwer, their being in the sin bin takes nothing away from the skillset needed on the ice.

    I don’t think any Hawks fan wants to see Toews, Hossa and Kane hit again like they have been this season. But it will probably happen unless the team addresses the issue conclusively.

  5. John says:

    Dave–If all you’re trying to say is you want to see Tomas Kopecky’s roster spot improved upon, then we’re in 100% agreement.

  6. Lou says:

    @Dave, but saying Brouwer in the Box almost cost us the game is a little off. There is a lot more going on

    Our D has been unable to clear the puck consistently incluidng the Olympians and we haven’t been able to roll 4 lines for whatever reason. Add into it the up and down play of Buff and Versteeg and probably others and you have a team that is winning ugly but not firing all all cylinders. SOme of our guys need to find their heart and start playing.

    We need to play two way hockey, finish on chances, forecheck some folks, stop trying to be too fancy and for the love of the Hockey Gods, get the PP fixed.

    And yes Crapecky can go.

  7. Dave Morris says:

    @John> Kopecky is what he is, which hasn’t been much of anything this year, unfortunately.

    If he gets replaced by a ‘policeman’, I have no problems with that.

    Lou> contrary to your assertion, having Brouwer in the box *definitely* almost cost the game. The Jackets not only scored on the PP to tie it, the Hawks were deprived of a valuable forward in Troy-B for the balance of the contest.

    It isn’t pleasant to admit that aggression and retribution are part of hockey.

    But it is, and it always has been.

    The Canadiens didn’t win all those Stanley Cups by being nice guys. Harper, Harris, Ferguson, Bouchard, Lambert, Nilan and company all had something to do with their success.

    Having watched all those teams, I can assure you they had the muscle to match their skill.

    If you don’t have someone who can pre-empt the opponent knocking your stars out, you’re at a disadvantage.

    To answer those who say that ‘policemen’ play very few minutes, they might want to remember the old adage: “The most effective weapon is the one you never have to use.”

    I suspect the Blackhawks Brain Trust is still looking for that weapon.

  8. John says:

    Dave–Comparing teams of yesteryear to the current generation is unfair. The game has changed in too many ways.

    Eric Godard didn’t play a game for the Penguins in the playoffs last year so unless teams were worried about running into him in the walkway, they weren’t worried about retribution from him. It could be argued Matt Cooke is a fairly important piece of their team and they couldn’t afford to lose him for 17 minutes either.

    I’ve basically reached the point in this argument where I don’t really care anymore. As long as the Hawks don’t massacre a roster spot with someone who’s not very good, then I’m all for Lee finding a new dead horse to beat.

  9. Dave Morris says:

    John> the teams of the 1960s, 70s, 80s 90s and 00s all share the same fundamental principle I cited in my post.

    Hockey is both a game of skill and strength.

    You can argue the details regarding the individuals, but the fact is that Championship teams, for the most part, understand that balance and have a ‘nasty’ component.

    Call it ‘edge’, call it having a ‘policeman’, whatever the terminology, the element of a *deterrent* is part of their success.

    To be fair to Lee, I don’t think he’s beating a ‘dead horse’. I understand his concern for the health of Hawk stars, even if he expresses it differently than I do.

    Ben Eager, Adam Burish, Matt Walker and James Wisniewski gave the Hawks their meanness last year. Walker and Wiz are gone, Eager and Burish are absent due to injury.

    Unless there are suitable substitutes, the Blackhawks may be bullied down the stretch and into the playoffs.

  10. coach says:

    Does anybody think a deal has been struck for Huet and Versteeg, thats why the limited icetime?

  11. Lou says:

    Dave, we are going to agree to disagree and I am going to follow John’s lead.

  12. John says:

    Wiz was absent for the majority of last season, Burish was mostly useless until the playoffs, and Matt Walker was more of a detriment than helping in anyway.

    The Flames and Canucks both thought they could bully the Hawks in the playoffs and then they went away after 6 games.

    I won’t argue the Hawks probably need a bit of grit to replace with Kopecky, but I won’t be sobbing in memoriam because the Hawks are without the services of Wiz and Walker. The Penguins nabbed Craig Adams off waivers at the trade deadline last year. There’ll be someone like him available this year.

  13. Dave Morris says:

    Gentlemen, you can disagree all you want, but the hits on Toews, Hossa and Kane were not meant to simply separate them from the puck.

    They were vicious blows–‘legal’ or not–intended to *cripple* them.

    There is some ‘hockey karma’ at work in that the cowardly perpetrator Canuck Willie Mitchell is still out with a concussion.

    Who knows how badly Hossa is hurt?

    As for Stralman, his pummeling was amply deserved. But Stralman, at best a marginal competitor, wouldn’t even have considered targeting Kane if he’d known he’d get his clock cleaned.

    Glenn Hall had some very harsh things to say about the state of the game today…these can be read here:
    http://www.greatesthockeylegends.com/2009/05/glenn-hall-on-hockey-today-its-goons.html

    While I don’t align myself with Hall’s unequivocal characterization, I find the premeditated assaults on star players disgusting.

    If it takes having a ‘policeman’ or ‘policemen’ for the Blackhawks, to prevent these incidents, then that’s the ugly truth.

    And now, I’m going out to play some hockey. On our rink, there is zero tolerance for violence of any kind. But that’s because we play for fun.

  14. John says:

    And because no one will cross you, Dave.

    Stralman will certainly think twice about stepping on a superstar next time after Mr. Brouwer fed him his lunch. To me, the point has been made then.

  15. Otter says:

    @ Dave, if hockey is about strength, then why is Patrick Kane so good?

    I see enforcers a lot like fast baseball players who can’t hit or walk… amazing 5% of the time, a total waste of space the other 95% of the time. For every game the Hawks need a enforcer, there seem to be about 10 games that they don’t.

    Plus Brouwer beat the shit out of whoever sort of went knee-to-knee with Kane. I think a message was sent.

  16. blackhawkbob says:

    Coach:

    Good point. I hadn’t thought about that, but it may well explain their playing time recently.

  17. Dale Halas says:

    Pierre Pilote doesn’t watch Hockey anymore for exactly the same reason as Hall.

    For the record:

    Running out of the penalty box and taking multiple additional strides and then cold cocking a guy who doesn’t even know you are there is an illegal hit.

    Hitting a guy who doesn’t have the puck and has his head down looking for the puck is an illegal hit.

    Missing your check and sticking your knee out to hit a guy with your knee is an illegal hit.

    What drives me crazy about the modern game is listening to fans describe all of these hits as legal.

    I agree with Hall and Pilote, the game has gone goon but it’s been that way for a long time now. So long in fact that most fans don’t know the difference…

    As for “not having a goon” almost costing the Hawks the game, yesterday. You would have had to replace the players on the fourth line to get your goons active (the same fourth line that if I remember correctly scored two goals that game).

  18. Patrick says:

    Coach and Bob – I was thinking the same thing, but the outlier is that Versteeg actually played in the game. Perhaps there’s a pre-Olympic, prearranged deal in place that hasn’t been announced for money-saving reasons by the team the Hawks are going to be trading with (assuming that the Hawks are sending more money and players away than they’re taking on – please include Kopecky!).

    If it’s not that, maybe Q is trying to get Huet into full-on Fuck You mode so he comes back after the break ready (can’t take credit for that, got it from SCH). IMO, Niemi really hasn’t been outplaying Huet.

    Other than those two things, I can’t think of another decent reason.

  19. Dave Morris says:

    Otter> Patrick Kane is one of the best players ever to wear the Indian Head in my lifetime, which is 55 years.

    He’s better, bigger and stronger than last year. Which is why is he’s one of the most dangerous scorers in the game.

    Answer me this: do you want some two-bit mook taking him out with a knee on knee the way Stralman tried to do?

    Or do you want the Hawks to have a guy who pre-empts that kind of crap?

    @John> I deal with testosterone-intensive teenagers and twenty somethings every time I go to the rink. What I tell them is, “This is a game. Nobody is here to win. We’re just here to play.”

    Hockey has a culture of violence, and it has a history of people who mean to do serious damage to their opponents.

    It starts in the junior ranks. I asked the son of a good friend, who plays minor hockey, today about this.

    His answer was “Yeah, there are guys out there who want to hurt you.”

    Do you all think it’s OK for other teams to target the Blackhawks’ multi-million dollar investments?

    I don’t.

  20. Lou says:

    I am trying to put this together. Every hit on our stars are illegal, premeditated attempts to maim.

    So what does that mean McSorely’s infamous incident was?
    How does the legendary Buchberger spear fit in all of this?
    And, Shouldn’t the Bertuzzi bull dog be attempted murder?

    I would argue all of those above incidents were far more pre-meditated attacks than the ones that we are mad about here. Mitchell would have hit Kopecky the same we and we should be equally pissed off even if he is a rented mule. Armstrong would have hit Ladd the same way and Stralman would have been faked out be Versteeg an potentially did the same thing. On the flip, did anyone out here get pissed at Ladd’s Game misconduct or Buff’s Boarding penalty?

    Any way we want to shake it, Toews had his head DOWN and NOTHING good ever happens in those situations ask Lindros and Lafontaine. It is a major contributing factor.

    Hossa was trying to get around to a puck he just pushed by and hit by another guy. It looked like he might have been in the air and got hit in the course of a play.

    And Kane most likely faked a guy out of his jock and as he was falling to his arse, he stuck his leg out which I think was the cheapest of the three and have seen it happen in three different sports as a reaction.

    I am not sure these hits are even remotely close to the intent to maim, and cripple with the degree of premeditation so alluded.

    This is a fast-paced contact sport. Big hits happen. How do you stop it? Hit back and we really aren’t right now and score goals to put games away. Also, something that we are short on.

    We don’t need to go get toughness, we need to start playing like we are capable of. More power and a little less fancy, fancy finesse.

    We are an old time hockey city and want smashmouth bone crunching hockey and we’re all pissed because we don’t feel we are getting that and we know that we can do that to win.

  21. Lee Rosenberg says:

    Sorry Lou but you are just way out of line if you think we don’t need more toughness, Mark my word if we dont get someone to stand up to these legal or illegal hits pre playoff’s we will not have our Super Star-stars available for the playoffs, they will be on IR. Dave I am totally in agreement with you!!!

  22. Lou says:

    Lee, Here is what I said.

    This is a fast-paced contact sport. Big hits happen. How do you stop it? Hit back and we really aren’t right now…

    We don’t need to go get toughness, we need to start playing like we are capable of. More power and a little less fancy, fancy finesse.

    You figure out what that means. It is pretty simple or are you still concussed from your pond game with Brad May, Brashaer and Georges?

    It ain’t what you said and I am not going to explain it so you can understand.

    So if that’s out of line so be it.

  23. lee Rosenberg says:

    Out of line was probably the wrong term for me to use in disagreeing with you,Lou

  24. Lou says:

    Understood

    We have to stand up for ourselves first, then the teammates if we can’t do that then that has to be a consideration

    I don’t think that is the current case. We are playing softer than we should and need to strat there.

  25. deep throat says:

    The word is Versteeg and Crawford to Florida for Vo with Huet being sent to Rockford. Remember you heard it here first.

  26. Ban says:

    Versteeg and Crawford for Vokoun with Huet in the AHL huh?

    Dreams I tell you. Just dreams.

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