Sunday night’s Original Six tilt between the Red Wings and Blackhawks was a classic “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation for the the Hawks. If they won, the response would be “Big deal, Detroit has a ton of injuries. They should win.” If they didn’t, hell fire would reign from every orifice of the Earth because the Hawks lost to Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, and the Grand Rapids Griffins.
The Hawks chose the former rather than the latter.
Save for the final two minutes of the period, the Blackhawks completely dominated the Red Wings in the opening frame. It took Detroit nearly 13 minutes to get their first shot on goal. The bad news was the Hawks only had a 1-0 lead.
The Hawks cashed in on their second power play of the game when Duncan Keith walked the blue line after receiving a pass from Jonathan Toews. Keith wired a shot that appeared to be tipped but after further review beat Chris Osgood to the far side from 60 feet out.
The second period wasn’t much different, save for much less time spent in the Hawks zone and a couple more goals. Brian Campbell jumped into a 2-on-2 rush; Patrick Sharp pulled up and hit him with a pass. With a full head of steam, Campbell faked a shot and then slid a wrist shot between Osgood’s legs.
Three and a half minutes later, Dustin Byfuglien put a one-footed wrist shot from 55 feet out on net and it was good enough to sneak under Osgood’s left leg. That was all the cushion the Hawks would need.
In the third, the Hawks basically pulled the football equivalent of holding on to the ball for the final 8 minutes of the game and never let the Wings establish any kind of rhythm because they never had the puck. If it wasn’t for Osgood having a much better period, the game could’ve gotten a whole lot sillier.
—There’s probably going to be an immediate rush to annoint the Hawks as the Wings’ superior after tonight, but much like Jason always used to get up off the mat after being electrocuted, stabbed, shot, hung, and dismembered, do not proclaim the Wings dead. Maybe it’s old scar tissue or maybe it’s silly superstition, I really can’t explain it. If/when the Wings get back to full health, they’re still going to have a say in who wins the West.
—What a difference a year makes. Last year’s Wings team was so impressive that it was sometimes impossible to figure out who their fourth line was. This year, thanks to approximately 1,242 injuries, it’s hard to figure out who their fourth line is because past their first line of Holmstrom-Datsyuk-Bertuzzi, it’s pretty dang ugly.
–I’m a little too young to fondly recall Paul Coffey’s days in Edmonton, but I have to believe it looked a lot like Brian Campbell’s last two games. Campbell has been a defensive dynamo. Every time he takes control of the puck he’s a threat to create a scoring opportunity for the Hawks. Not to mention, he puts the opposition immediately on their heels once he gains possession. He’s a lot of fun to watch. Don’t worry though, he’ll get booed again soon enough.
–We usually leave bitching about the refs to the amateurs, but referees Paul Devorski and Kyle Rehman had a particularly brutal game. In the first period, Jonathan Toews should’ve been awarded a penalty shot. In the second, Detroit’s Justin Abelkader tried to bury Patrick Sharp into the boards a good three seconds after Sharp passed the puck. Sharp saw him at the last second and braced himself for the hit. Somehow, Sharp was the only player to get a penalty out of the skirmish. For good measure, the Wings had six players on the ice for that sequence.
—Dustin Byfuglien is a lock for Team USA. You heard it here first. At the same time, here’s reason #148 why having Byfuglien on the point for a power play is a bad idea: Pay particular attention to how penalty killers attack Byfuglien when he’s on the point. As opposed to when any other defensemen has the puck on the point, the PK’ers will immediately pressure Byfuglien knowing full well he doesn’t have the hands to hang on to the puck with someone breathing down his neck. This could get ugly soon.
–I’m pretty sure the Harris Bank commercials wishing you a “Happy Hullidays” starring Bobby Hull were created with the sole intention of giving Sam and the Committed Indian staff enough comedic material to last them until 2012.
*Farm Weekend Update*
—On Friday night, the IceHogs welcomed in the Chicago Wolves. Matt Keith got Rockford on the board seven minutes in with assists from Ryan Flinn and Richard Petiot. The Wolves scored the next two goals to grab a 2-1 lead, but Jack Skille had other ideas.
With under five minutes in the second period, Skille scored on the power play with help from Bracken Kearns and Kyle Greentree. Three minutes later, Skille started a scoring play when he assisted on Bracken Kearns’ goal. Richard Petiot notched his second assist of the game on the play. It was all the IceHogs would need in a 3-2 win.
Joseph Fallon was the number one star of the game with 36 saves.
Saturday, things didn’t turn out so well. The IceHogs dropped the evening tilt to the San Antonio Rampage 2-1. They trailed 2-0 late in the third before Kyle Greentree prevented the shutout when he scored his 8th goal of the season with assists from Bracken Kearns and Mark Cullen.
Fallon got the start in goal for the second straight night and stopped 24 of 26 shots in the loss.
—Kyle Beach sat out Spokane’s Friday night loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds because of a minor concussion.
—Byron Froese didn’t do a whole bunch in Everett’s 3-0 loss to the Tri-City Americans on Friday night. Saturday, he scored the game-winning goal in the shootout to give the Silvertips a 4-3 win over the Chiliwack Bruins.
The WHL is now on Christmas break. They’ll resume action on December 27th.
—Shawn Lalonde and the Belleville Bulls don’t play another game until December 29th.
–The NCAA is now on their winter break as well. Brandon Pirri and RPI are participating in the Great Lakes Invitational starting December 29th. Billy Sweatt and Colorado College will be playing in the Florida College Classic. League play picks up again after the new year.