Did the Canucks just give a blueprint to the rest of the NHL on how to keep the Blackhawks down?
Vancouver completely shut down the Hawks in the neutral zone, not allowing them to gain any speed into the offensive end. The Hawks certainly didn’t help matters with their sloppy play, letting pucks hop off their stick. If the pass wasn’t jumping off their sticks, it was because the pass was off the mark.
Until halfway through the third period, the game had all the feel of a Serie A football tilt. The Canucks weren’t going to get caught in a track meet with the Hawks and the Hawks were having trouble getting some steam behind their forecheck.
The Hawks held a 2-1 advantage going into the third period after Troy Brouwer’s tip-in goal closed out the second. Early in the third, the Hawks found themselves in a 5-on-3 advantage. Once again, Joel Quenneville felt like this was the proper time to execute his time-out.
What followed was the Hawks having difficulty even holding onto the puck, let alone getting it to the net. Patrick Sharp found himself woefully out of position at the point. The Hawks kept the puck on Dave Bolland’s side of the ice rather than moving it towards Patrick Kane, and the Canucks had no problem killing off the penalties.
As Willie Mitchell’s penalty expired, he caught Jonathan Toews looking behind for a pass. Mitchell snapped Toews’ head back with a clean open-ice hit. Kris Versteeg was first on the scene and picked a fight with Mitchell. As a result, he received an extra two minutes for roughing to go along with the five minute major.
After the Hawks killed it off, Dustin Byfuglien went off a minute later after his stick got caught up with Kevin Bieksa. Bieksa’s stick hit himself in the face but Byfuglien was sent off for four minutes.
Antti Niemi and the Hawks were nearly three and a half minutes into the double minor before Michael Grabner’s 45-foot slap shot beat Niemi to the short side to tie the game at 2.
After the Hawks killed off another penalty four minutes later, Brian Campbell tried a risky drop pass to Kane. Mikael Samuelsson didn’t nibble on it and scooped up the puck. He took two steps and fired a shot to the far side as Niemi did not take the strongest angle on the shot. The puck rang off the post and into the net to give the Canucks a lead they’d never lose.
The Hawks mounted a bit of a rally late, even getting funny hop off the glass but Patrick Sharp’s back-handed one timer was high and wide.
–For already the second time in this young season, Joel Quenneville used one of the only tools he has as a head coach (a time-out) and completely wasted it. With the Hawks getting a 5-on-3 for over a minute, the time-out gave Vancouver a chance to regroup and let head coach Alain Vigneault tell his team exactly what he wanted.
In the NHL, it’s usually painfully obvious when it’s the correct time for a coach to use his lone time-out. Coach Q went against the grain (and it was unorthodox, Edzo) and it bit the Hawks in the ass again.
If you believe in momentum, then Quenneville did all he could to squash anything the Hawks had going.
Oh yeah, there was a whistle with a minute left in the game and Patrick Kane had just finished a shift. Unfortunately, there was no time-out left so the Hawks best offensive player had to watch the rest of the game from the bench.
–Not only did Jonathan Toews get knocked out of the game but so did Brent Seabrook when he caught a shinguard to the mouth during the penalty kill period (aka the third). Quenneville sounded much more optimistic about Seabrook’s injury than when he discussed Toews. Take that for what it’s worth.
–People who want to bitch about Cristobal Huet are more than welcome to. However, the more pointed criticism should be for Blackhawk management’s refusal to bring in a legitimate NHL back-up this off-season. Yes, Antti Niemi made some big stops tonight. He also let in two atrocious goals where he had no clue where he was standing in his crease. There was plenty of bargain shopping to be done this summer and the Hawks decided a guy with 3 games of NHL experience was the answer for 30 to 35 games this year.
–The Andrew Ebbett acquisition looks pretty large now, eh?
–Someone attending the game could probably tell me, but why was Versteeg the one trying to stick up for Toews with Brent Seabrook and Troy Brouwer within spitting distance?
*On the Farm*
The IceHogs got off to an awful start against the Peoria Rivermen. They were outshot 18-2 in the opening frame and found themselves down 3-0 after 20 minutes. Former Hawks farmhand Danny Richmond had two assists for the Rivermen. Goalie Joseph Fallon only made it through the second period, giving up four goals in the process, before he was lifted for Corey Crawford. Kyle Greentree scored his first goal since being acquired from the Flames. The assist came from Richard Petiot. That was as close as Rockford would get, though, as they lost 4-1.