For a period and a half, a banged up Ducks squad gave the Blackhawks a run for their money. Missing Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne, and Joffrey Lupul, they managed to outshoot the Hawks in the first two periods and had a lot of good opportunities to find twine.
Unfortunately for them, it was the Mike Browns of the world getting those high percentage opportunities.
So in a 0-0 game, Kris Versteeg started the scoring with a classic “Oh no!! Go, go!!” type of play. Versteeg got control of the puck to the right of Antti Niemi and stood there waiting for an Anaheim forechecker to come after him.
Once the Anaheim player chased him, Versteeg fought him off behind the net and skated the puck out of his own end. He found Dustin Byfuglien streaking down the right wing. Byfuglien left a sketchy drop pass to John Madden; Madden adjusted to the puck and with Anaheim defenseman Sheldon Brookbank overcommitting to the puck-carrier, Madden hit a wide-open Versteeg who faked a shot on J.S. Giguere and then flipped it right over his glove hand.
Six minutes later, Brian Campbell pinched in from the point and rang the puck behind Anaheim’s net. Patrick Kane scooped up the puck, waited for the pressure and then hit Troy Brouwer standing all alone in front. Brouwer gave a little hesitation, got Giguere down and lifted a back-hander to the far-side to double the Hawks lead.
In the third period, the Hawks made up for their lackadaisical play in the first two periods by completely dominating in every facet of the game for 16 minutes. Marian Hossa scored a minute and a half into the period with a lightning quick shot. Hossa picked a pass from Andrew Ladd off his skate and in one motion, fired the puck past Giguere low to the stick side.
On the power play two minutes later, Hossa was the recipient of a sweet cross-ice feed from Duncan Keith. Instead of one-timing the puck with a huge wind-up, Hossa caught the pass and shot it as soon as it was on his blade. “All you young hockey players out there, that’s the way you shoot a one-timer. Before the goalie’s ready. See, too many players try the fancy one-timers with a big wind-up and completely miss a good scoring opportunity.” And that’s the last time you’ll ever see me channel my inner Edzo.
A dominating shift from Kane, Toews, and Brouwer closed out the scoring for the Hawks when Patrick Kane fed Jonathan Toews with a sweet back-door pass. All Toews had to do was direct the puck into a wide-open net.
Cue a couple obligatory late goals by the opposition in a blowout and that was that.
–Perhaps all it took for Tomas Kopecky to give a damn was getting Adam Burish back on the ice. With Burish returning to the ice last week and still a couple months away from returning, Kopecky has responded with his best play of the season. Of course, maybe it also has to do with Ben Eager playing his best hockey of the season. Either way, it’s lovely to see the Hawks being able to roll all four lines again.
–I guess I’m not the only one still seething that Chris Drury was named to Team USA. Dustin Byfuglien has been Denzel Washington in “Man On Fire” pissed off the last two games and the opposition has been at the unlucky end of that equation. Byfuglien started off his game tonight by picking a fight with Troy Bodie, getting in a couple of huge punches and took a punch to the schnozz. He was a factor all night in front of Giguere and with any luck (or maybe scoring touch) he could’ve easily scored two goals tonight.
–So did you guys hear Scott Niedermayer might be traded at the trade deadline this year?
–With his 11th goal tonight, Troy Brouwer is well on his way to meeting the prediction we laid out in July. Anyone willing to share their fantasy hockey profits with us, we are a charitable foundation. However, we take no blame if you drafted Cam Barker on our account. Yikes, Barker has some serious ground to make up if he’s going to hit 61 points. Pretty sure we were summer drunk when we came up with that number.
*On The Farm*
–On Saturday night, the IceHogs and Grand Rapids Griffins traded leads all night. After regulation and overtime wasn’t enough to determine a winner, the teams went into a shootout for the extra point. The Griffins scored one goal in the shootout and Rockford scored none to give Grand Rapids a 5-4 win.
The IceHogs power play was on fire scoring three times with the man advantage. Bryan Bickell, Bracken Kearns, and Kyle Greentree all notched power play goals. Matt Keith scored Rockford’s third goal even-strength.
Depth defenseman Mike Brennan had his highest offensive output of the season with two assists. Mark Cullen also notched two assists and Kearns had an assist to go with his goal.
Goalie Alec Richards lasted only half of the game before he was pulled for Joseph Fallon. Richards stopped 14 of 17 shots and Fallon stopped 19 of 20 in a losing effort.
Some injury updates for Rockford:
- Akim Aliu has not played since December 18th because of a sprained wrist.
- Nathan Davis’s last game was on November 28th. He’s been out with a shoulder injury and is expected to return sometime this month. There’s no word if he injured the same shoulder that sidelined him for the majority of his senior year at Miami of Ohio.
- Corey Crawford’s lower body injury continues to ail him. He’s also expected back later this month but he was only expected to miss a couple weeks when he first was injured on November 13th.
–On Saturday, Kyle Beach had an assist and 17 penalty minutes in a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Giants. Sunday was uneventful for him with no points and only 2 penalty minutes in a 3-2 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds.
—Byron Froese had an assist and scored a goal in the shootout to help give Everett a 6-5 win over the first place Tri-City Americans on Saturday. Froese scored the game-winning goal in Sunday night’s 2-1 win over the Portland Winterhawks. His goal came with under a minute and a half left in regulation.
—Shawn Lalonde had an assist and was a +2 in the Belleville Bulls’ 3-2 overtime win against Doug Gilmour and Kingston Frontenacs on Saturday. He had a goal and two assists in Sunday’s 8-2 beating of the Oshawa Generals.
—Dylan Olsen didn’t score in Minnesota-Duluth’s 6-0 destruction of Mercyhurst College in the opening round of the Catamount Cup. In the championship game against the host team, Vermont, Olsen was a non-factor in a 5-2 loss.
—David Pacan scored the tying goal in Vermont’s 4-3 win over Alabama-Huntsville in the opening round of the Catamount Cup. He added two assists in the championship game against Minnesota-Duluth.
–Anyone with ESPNU will get an up close look at 2009 2nd round pick Brandon Pirri next Sunday. RPI’s game against Princeton will be televised at 2 pm. As a freshman, Pirri is playing at a point-per-game clip with 22 points in 21 games, good for second on the team.