Stars 5, Blackhawks 4

One goal on two shots is a bad start; two goals on seven shots is a bad period; three goals on nine shots is ugly; and four goals on ten shots is a back-breaker.

Yes, the Blackhawks’ loss in Dallas on Tuesday evening falls almost entirely on the shoulders of Cristobal Huet, who posted the above-described stink bomb of a night.

It wasn’t all bad, though. The Hawks played very inspired hockey in the Stars’ zone, and almost overcame Huet’s poor outing, taking a four-to-four tie into the third period.

They even started out the scoring. Three minutes into the opening period, Troy Brouwer knocked home a rebound at the end of a dominant power play. Both – rebounds and productive power plays – quickly became a trend for the Hawks during the evening.

The lead wouldn’t last, though. Two minutes later, Huet fell moving across the crease to defend a cross-ice pass, and Mike Modano-Ford beat the prone goaltender.

Later in the period, Cam Barker pinched at the Star blue line, leaving Brent Seabrook and Mike Ribeiro to their own devices heading into the Hawk zone. Ribeiro took Seabrook wide, swooped behind the net and beat Huet with a wrap-around to the other side. Neither Seabrook or Huet were able to win the race to the opposite post.

The Hawks wouldn’t be outdone. They took a 3-2 lead into the second frame on the strength of a shot margin of 22-8. Goals came from Kane – his was courtesy of some hard work by Brouwer – and Colin Fraser, who scored his first of the year. The latter goal came off a Ben Eager centering pass that was helped along by a very nifty tip pass by Kris Versteeg.

Early in the second, the horrors continued. Within 92 seconds, the Stars took the lead, and Cristobal Huet was pulled. The first came from Loui Eriksson, when he was able to pound home a behind-the-net centering pass from Brad Richards. Richards out-battled Seabrook and Jonathan Toews to win the puck. The fourth goal came just seconds later when a Steve Ott centering pass hit Troy Brouwer’s skate in the high slot and deflected high into the air and ultimately past Huet, who was in the process of moving across the crease to defend the pass.

Joel Quenneville didn’t hesitate, and immediately called on Annti Niemi to save the day. He nearly did it.

The score remained 4-3 until the Toews line outworked the Stars late in the period. A nice Duncan Keith pass gave Kane the chance to walk into the slot. He did, let out a shot on net, and the resultant rebound bounced into the air. With three seconds left in the period, Toews’ stick beat Marty Turco’s glove to it, and the Hawks were able to take a tie into the third and final frame.

Though the Hawks were able to get pressure and a few great scoring chances during the third, the night didn’t belong to them. Turco stopped a Marian Hossa breakaway early, and Jonathan Toews hit a post from the doorstep with about five minutes left.

The only scoring of the deciding period came from Steve Ott, who received a pretty neutral zone feed from Trevor Daly. Ott seemed to receive the pass, split the defenseman and shoot from the high slot all in one elongated motion. His shot beat Niemi clean between the glove and the body, and gave the Stars the final lead of the night.

More

– Oh, boy, here it comes – the hanging of Cristobal Huet, Part II. Brace yourselves.

No, Huet didn’t play well. Falling over himself on the first goal and allowing Ribeiro to beat him on a wrap-around for the second – not exactly the stuff of legends. The third and fourth goals weren’t necessarily his fault, but it was obvious to everyone in the rink that it just wasn’t Huet’s night.

And, that’s just it: it was one night. While I don’t doubt the mob will be looking for him tomorrow night, remember a few things: his goals against average and save percentage are both stellar, even after a rough start; he recorded back-to-back shutouts less than two weeks ago; he was the NHL’s player of the week earlier this month; and most importantly, he’s the Blackhawks’ starting goaltender.

For context, Ryan Miller, this year’s early season Vezina Trophy favorite, has given up five goals twice so far this year. He’s also been pulled twice. In fact, he was pulled last night after giving up three goals on 11 shots. Think the people of Buffalo are after his blood?

– I don’t know who called last night’s game for Versus. I just don’t care. But, for those of you who missed it, the color analyst actually suggested that Brian Campbell’s so-so regular season last year was due to “rigor mortis setting in.”

Do we have any doctors, coroners or necrophiliacs out there who can help me with this one?

– Rather than worrying about Huet, I’ll spend my Wednesday wondering what’s going on with Marian Hossa. On Tuesday, he lacked any semblance of an extra step and was largely invisible. He’s now without a point in three straight.

– With an Eastern Conference opponent coming to the UC, it’s likely – independent of Huet’s poor outing – that Niemi will get the nod against the Devils tomorrow.

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5 Responses to Stars 5, Blackhawks 4

  1. Lou says:

    Can’t win em all but at least they made it competitive.

    Huet was bad and he should never start against Dallas again. Second time this year he just stunk it up. Great Ryan Miller stuff. Huet has #1 stats and has a bad game. So has Miller and Fleury and Brodeur and Luongo etc. Sad ting is Niemi gets the loss.

    When Steve Ott (or Dallas’ Ice Troll as the announcers called him) scores two and has an assist, you know things are interesting. Sopel is slower that pertrified whale shit on the bottom of the ocean and he got smoked on Ott’s second goal.

    Toews hit a post and Hossa missed a breakaway again. I think Marian needs to be less fancy and jsut do like he does in a shootout and rip it. Brouwer is really playing hard and earning his first line banger spot. Kane is just on fire and that is good.

    Bring on Marty Brodeur the statitscally greatest goalie of all time. I hope Madden scores on him for historical purposes

  2. cb says:

    Those VS announcers actually referred to 88 as “Kane-raiser”, whatever that means. Really atrocious.

    Forget Huet, can we talk about what it’s going to take to get Kopecky off this team? He is TOTALLY useless. The guy has decent size yet he can’t win a puck along the boards. Never mind winning the puck, he’s not likely to even GET to the puck before the opposing team.

    Bickell is a step up. Hendry on offense may even be an improvement. Is it possible that the return of Burish and Bolland could push Kopecky off the roster or is that a pipe dream?

    Tomas Kopecky: Slovak olympian. My god. I’m sick of watching this guy muck it up out there with what is arguably the deepest roster in the NHL.

  3. blackhawkbob says:

    Oh, CB, you’d have to look high and low to find someone who disagrees with you. At the least, Kopecky is out of his element on the fourth line; at the worst, he’s not quite an NHL player. Either way, I think he’s pushed out of the line-up when either Bolland or Burish is back. At this point, it’s either him or Fraser, and Fraser is a fairly valuable face-off man. He’s also a lock to score every 40 games or so. You can’t teach that.

    If/when everyone’s healthy, I think we’ll see the same fourth line we saw late last year: Byfuglien, Eager and Burish. That leaves Kopecky and Fraser out.

    Finally, I said it when the Hawks were in Finland, and I’ll stand by it: Kopecky won’t be back next year. If worst comes to worst, the Hawks can buy him out this summer at a cap hit of $400,000 for the next two seasons. That leaves about $800,000 of extra space next season to help fill in the roster.

  4. Dave Morris says:

    Rather than fulminate endlessly about the gaps in almost all areas of Les Blaque Hawques’ game last night (like, who missed the coverage on Modano, Ribeiro, Ott and Eriksson, and why the hell couldn’t they muster more than five shots in period two), I’ll just say *any* talk of a Stanley Cup is premature.

  5. cb says:

    bhb: Wow, it was really satisfying to read your thoughts on Kopecky. Young Tomas (which reminds me that the VS crew referred to Dallas’s Fortunus as “Young Fortunus” every time he touched the puck) seems like a likable enough chap, but he is such a disappointment that I take great satisfaction in pointing out his horrible play whenever possible. And my god….Kopecky on the power play? Is Quenneville on drugs?!

    Seriously though, ripping on Kopecky is great fun and you guys do it well. I propose that you add a “Kopecky Countdown” to the end of every post. Otherwise you’re just wasting a great opportunity to put your full talents on display.

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