Blackhawks 3, Red Wings 0

Coming into the second game of a back-to-back and facing a team that had two fulls days of rest, there was a significant worry the Blackhawks were walking into an ambush.  That’s without taking into account they were playing in Joe Louis Arena, a place where they’ve had some serious problems throughout the years. 

At the end of a scoreless first period, the Red Wings got called for too many men on the ice.  The Hawks top power play unit couldn’t generate much pressure in the final minute and five seconds and the teams went into the locker room the same way they started.

With the full intermission break, the Hawks were able to throw their number one power play unit at the start of the second.  After cycling the puck deep in Detroit’s zone, Patrick Kane found himself alone at the top of the blue line.  He spun around to his forehand, took two steps and rifled a slap shot towards the top corner.  With Troy Brouwer blocking Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, the puck popped right off the netting for a beautiful looking first Hawk goal.

Detroit’s top line of Todd Bertuzzi, Pavel Datsyuk, and Tomas Holmstrom put together a few nice shifts in a row and the Hawks compromised by taking a couple of penalties.  Antti Niemi was able to withstand the barrage of shots Detroit’s number one line threw at him and kept Detroit off the board while he waited for his team to catch their second wind.

His best sequence of saves came when Holmstrom blasted a slap shot from a tight angle.  The puck laid in front of Niemi and Holmstrom threw the loose puck toward the slot.  Datsyuk had a couple of point-blank opportunities but tried to beat Niemi down low.  That’s not going to work very often.

After handling Detroit’s assault, the Hawks started to mount an attack of their own including a stretch at the end of the period where they had 8 consecutive shots without Detroit getting one.  Howard stood tall to keep the game a one-goal margin.

Three minutes into the third, Dustin Byfuglien and Kirk Maltby went off for coincidental penalties.  In what’s becoming a trend, getting the Hawks in a 4-on-4 situation is just as dangerous as giving them a man advantage.  Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp played keep away from the Red Wings for a little bit, then Hossa and Keith had a give-and-go that gave Keith a ton of space.  

He walked in and fired a low shot on net.  Howard kicked the rebound out and Sharp got three whacks at the loose puck.  His third attempt went in and the Hawks had all those cushion they’d need.  

Detroit had a chance to get back in the game a minute later when Jonathan Toews went off for interference but less than a minute later, Todd Bertuzzi two-handed John Madden in the hand and that was the end of the Red Wing’s man advantage and any chance they had of making a comeback.

Perhaps one of the more impressive feats for the Hawks was how they prevented the Wings from ever pulling their goalie.  In the final three minutes, the Hawks, once again, played keep-away from Detroit by constantly cycling deep in the offensive zone.  The sequence ended with Toews sneaking his 11th goal past Howard.

Quickies

–I’m not really sure what to make of Antti Niemi but I will enjoy the ride while it lasts.  Since we’re on the topic, though, it’s time to address his real problem: his leg pads.  It took me a while to finally notice but Niemi’s leg pads are simply hideous.  There’s no bend at the knee-cap; they’re plain white; they basically look like Franklin Street Hockey goalie pads.  And that’s all without taking into account how his pants hang off his ass.  As President Obama says, “Brothers gotta pull their pants up.”  This is the NHL, not the Finnish Elite League. 

–Speaking of goalie equipment, kudos to Jimmy Howard’s choice of leg pads.  They resemble Felix Potvin’s Cat pads from his Toronto days.  If you’re going to have an inspiration for leg pads, that’s almost the best you can do.  Trevor Kidd’s checkerboard pads from Calgary being number one on the list, of course.

–Here was Steve Konroyd’s advice for the Hawks going into the third period–“Just keep skating.”  Whew….for a second there, I was worried the Hawks were going to come out in broom ball shoes for the final frame.

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18 Responses to Blackhawks 3, Red Wings 0

  1. Dave Morris says:

    Look ma, no turnovers (well okay, three…but Detroit had eleven).

    MUCH better game by Les Hawques.

    Successive blankings of the Wing? Nice Christmas present for Hawkey People.

    And didjuz all notice how often during the FoxSportsDetroit broadcast (the feed on NHL Center Ice), Mickey Redmond was saying how good a team the Blackhawks are, and how great Hossa is…AND that Kane’s goal was “a perfect shot”…AND that “the Blackhawks are playing like the Wings USED to play”.

    Gee willikers, Santa.

  2. Lou says:

    Toews has gotten a rash of roughing penalties in the last few games. Now I am all for Toews setting the trend and sending a message to his team and the rest of the league but I would rather have him on the ice. Offsetting penalties against Maltby is like the Iginla Brouwer trade off earlier in the year. On the flip, kudos to Johnny for showing the fire.

    We have to teach Niemi some flair and panache (Dave, dats one of dem fancy words). Like when you make a big glove save and your arm happens to be in b/w Holmstom’s legs as he parks it in front of you, sometimes your momentum has to carry that arm up…Anybody have some old Ric Flair WCW or WWF or WWE videos we can send the kid to show him exactly what to do??? Might change the park the car in the crease mentality

    HAppy Holidays Hawk Nation!

  3. Jack says:

    With regard to parking cars, I think Detroit traded in their Cadillac for a hooptie.

  4. Dave Morris says:

    …and so…what should Santa bring each of the Hawkey Flock?

    Detroit having been dealt with, we’ll soon what kind of tune Les Hawques sing in Smashville. Will the theme song be “Save a Horse, Ride A Cowboy” or “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”?

    That pair of home n’ homies are even *more* important than the flings with the Wings. The HawkMen gotta get at least a split…for the status quo to remain both status AND quo, pardners.

    Durnburnit, ’bout time they beat them pesky Preds.

  5. Patrick says:

    Feliz Navidad Friends…

    Okay, Santa can bring the Hawks a healthy Dave Bolland soon, and a healthy Adam Burish in time for the playoffs. Oh, and the two games that Dave mentions above – would love four points out of the two games…

    Be well – oh, and a great post written for all of us lunatics over at Second City Hockey…

  6. Lee says:

    Happy Holidays to all of you but I must make a rash prediction before New Years. Sometime in January when the Hawks go on the road someone is going to run one of our stars with possoible seriouse injury. Maybe Eager will come to their defense but I am concerned that if he takes one good punch to the head he could be thru for life(see Reggie Fleming). I will say once more if Bowman does not pick up a tough guy, notice I no longer use the words Enforcer or Goon, all of the opponents on the road will find out that the best way to get to the Hawks is goon it up. With that said enjoy the holidays and the snow and Dave-John and the rest of the anti tough guy group, prove me wrong I hope

  7. Lou says:

    Lee, Merry Christmas. I respect the fact that you have not wavered in your opinion. Kudos to you for that.

    One thing that is constatnly overlooked is speed. You can’t hurt what you can’t catch unless you are cheapshoting. The folks that take cheap shors are often goons and they don’t get much ice time. And as the season progress and teams are fighting for points to make the playoffs, can they afford a 6 minute a game guy when teams, including the Hawks, roll 4 lines?

    A simple question, didn’t Calgary, in last years playoffs, try to goon it up and poind the young Hawks? And didn’t they lose too? Didn’t Rene Bourque this year and didn’t he get hurt?

    Since you have the obsession with tough guys, who do the Hawks go out and get????? Who do the give up to get them????

  8. Dave Morris says:

    Lee, we are peaceable folk here, but if you have a credible suggestion re: a robust rogue who can effectively mesh with Les Hawques…we’re all ears.

    Happy HawkeyHolidays.

  9. Lee says:

    Dave:

    As long as you asked, yes I do. Matt Carkner

  10. Lee says:

    Dave:

    As long as you asked, yes I do. Matt Carkner and Lou I only hope that Eager is not more seriously injured than they are saying. I say they get this guy for a minor leauger use him only when the tem they are playing has a”goon” that could could be used to go after a Kanae or Toews

  11. Dave Morris says:

    Lee> Being in Ottawa, I have plenty of opportunity to see Matt Carkner play.

    So your suggestion is a good one…in principle.

    There are a few problems in practice.

    One is that the Senators have no one to replace him, and Bryan Murray would ask for more than Stan Bowman is willing to give up.

    Two: from a defensive point of view, Carkner really doesn’t add anything…but he certainly can fight.

    Three: He’s very slow.

    Four: AND he takes penalties at the wrong times on a consistent basis.

    Think of him as Matt Walker with less upside.

  12. Dave Morris says:

    Lee>PS….IF the Hawks needed an enforcer…

    Someone like Michael Rupp (who was signed by the Penguins, and brings the benefit of having been educated in the Devils’ system)…would have been more appropriate.

    Derek Boogaard–again, who brings at least some hockey knowledge from having been coached by Jacques Lemaire…could be available as he is a UFA next year…

    …and would be preferable to Carkner.

    I have nothing against having a tough guy (after all, I admired the ‘Big Bad Black Hawks’ of the 60s); but Ben Eager, Troy Brouwer, Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien (and Adam Burish, until his injury)…and Brent Seabrook…all provide toughness AND skill.

    Think of Draper and Maltby as being older equivalents of guys like Ladd and Burish.

    In an ideal world, a kid like Milan Lucic, Frazer McLaren, Rick Rypien or Justin Abdelkader would be a Blackhawk…

    …but there isn’t anyone in the system who fits that profile, and no one I can think of who is available.

    Stan Bowman is probably taking notes and consulting with Q on the subject.

    What happens pre-Olympics will tell us whether or not more physical toughness is needed.

  13. Dale Halas says:

    I don’t know guys but it seems to me that there is way too much Hawks Kool-aid bein’ drunk around this city…

    Thing is… I don’t even think “Wanny” would dare say that all the pieces are in place for this Hawks team… There just seems to be too many square pegs being tried in them there round holes.

    And I don’t even mean the Hawks goaltending. Huet’s stats are in the range of goalies that have won the cup. He might not be in the range of goalies that were the reason their teams won the cup but you can win a cup with a goaltender performing at Huet’s level.

    No, I am talking about those top 10 players for those top 9 spots. So I have a bunch of questions that I was wondering if you guys could maybe blog some about.

    First off… what’s a Versteeg? And where does he fit on a Stanley cup contender?

    Same for that there Buf guy?

    So if Versteeg is re-enacting the offensive counterattack Havlat performed last year and Buf is your big hitter both on the checking line than what happens to Ladd and Brower?

    It seems hockey is a good example of the Peter Principle where a player can be useful on the third or fourth line but when moved up to the first or second line they become a liability. The Hawks still seem to play two against three on their first and second lines. Now they are an awful lot of fun to watch when they are tryin’ to play two against three or in Hossa’s case one against three but I still don’t think you can get away with that in the playoffs.

    Of the 10 top 9 forwards on this team (one being injured) I still have 6 of them that seem to be assets on the third line and liabilities when they get moved up to the top two lines.

    And speaking of that doesn’t Sharp move into Peter’ville when he tries to play second line center?

    As for that second Wings player the Hawks signed, if he isn’t here to play center on the fourth line (and emergency center on higher lines when there are injuries) than why did they sign him?

    Basically, has the salary cap so messed up all the teams that the Hawks flaws can be overcome? Or is the fact that the Hawks keep winning covering up some pretty big holes?

    Sorry about bein’ a bah humbug on everybody’s Kool-aid drinkin (especially in these Holiday times) but I just don’t see them having enough to win against those two centers that won it all last year. They may have indeed moved up a rung this year, I just don’t think they have moved up the couple of rungs that they need.

  14. John says:

    Lee-There’s nothing left of the enforcer carcass that you’ve spent the last 6 months beating. We get it, you want an enforcer. Let’s just respectfully disagree and let the remaining limbs you’ve spared to rot away.

    Dale-The Hawks are far from a perfect club and they’re bound to hit a rough spot at some point, but I would hardly say that winning is covering up big holes. I’m sure you’ve been watching this season. There has yet to be a game played thus far where I came away thinking, “Boy, that team is just better than the Hawks.” Unlike last year, when I thought that every time they played Detroit, San Jose, and nearly every Eastern Conference opponent that qualified for the playoffs.

    Aside from that, there’s probably not another team in the league that has a 1-2 center punch that Pittsburgh has. That doesn’t mean they’ll win the Cup for the next 10 years and it doesn’t really mean the Hawks have to worry about them this year.

    And which 6 of the top 9 forwards do you see becoming liabilities when they get moved to the top two lines? That statement makes it seem like you’re unfamiliar with other teams’ depth charts.

  15. Lee says:

    John: I will let the carcass limp away but hope it does not come back to haunt us

  16. Dave Morris says:

    @Dale> if the playoffs were to start tomorrow, which one of the other seven teams (SJ, COL, PHX, NSH, LAK, CGY, DAL) would be superior to the Hawks?

    I haven’t seen *any* kool aid served on this blog, by the way. And if it were, I wouldn’t drink it.

    And you were wondering about Byfuglien…have you forgotten his playoff against Vancouver already?

    The Hawks have three of the best forwards in the game…the rest are role players, and rather good ones at that. Can you name a team that has a clearly and quantifiably better mix up front?

    Which team has a quantifiably better Top 4 in their defense corps?

    Which team has a better GAA?

    There’s still a long way to go, and a lot of work to do, before playoff time…but almost halfway into the season, the Blackhawks’ current success is far from an illusion, sir.

  17. Lou says:

    @ Dale, other than Kopecky, who know one knows what he does, (Maybe he was the consolation prize we needed to sign to get Hossa), tell us how the Hawks depth and scoring depth isn’t an asset.

    Yeah Versteeg and Buff will drive you absolutely nuts, but, they also contribute and are part of a very balanced scoring attack. How many guys are at or around 10 goals? Answer a whole bunch.

    Watch some more games and see how the Hawks have improved and have done so with out two important guys in Bolland and Burish. And the real sick and scary thing is they are very young and have a core team signed for years. And the Peter Principle is even more evident on that football team that plays in a space ship founded by that last name you write under.

    @ Lee – Two names for you in the system to watch. Kyle Beach and Shawn LaLonde both are very tuff. Add a third one in Akim Aliu.

    @ John, well said especially, well you know what piece.

  18. Dave Morris says:

    Like a piece of the Preds…which the Hawks got tonight.
    🙂

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