Blackhawks 4, Red Wings 3 (SO)

On a Sunday afternoon in the middle of January, the Blackhawks and Red Wings combined to put forth one of the most entertaining games you’ll see in the regular season.  Both teams took turns controlling the game; both goalies made their share of big saves, and the overtime was played with desperation that usually isn’t seen until spring.

The Hawks, for the second game in a row, jumped out to a 2-0 lead.  And for the second game in a row, they gave it right back. 

Troy Brouwer put the Hawks on the board first when his finished off a 2-on-1 with Jonathan Toews.  Brouwer fired the puck through Jimmy Howard’s legs for his 14th goal of the season.  The goal finished off a wild sequence where Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader was stoned by Antti Niemi twice from close range.  The puck squirted out to Cam Barker who started the scoring play. 

The rest of the first period was the Wings trying to keep up with the Hawks and the result was Detroit spending a ton of time in the penalty box.  Patrick Kane finally made Detroit pay after their third penalty when he corralled the puck along the right wall, stepped out to the slot, and lasered a low hard one past Howard.

With a chance to step on Detroit’s throat, the Hawks gave them some much-needed life at the end of the first when Duncan Keith and the rest of his icemates turned a 3-on-3 situation into a 2-on-1 and finally into a 1-on-0. 

Henrik Zetterberg carried the puck into the Hawks zone.  Marian Hossa was back-checking like a mad man but instead of covering the trailing forward, he went for the puck carrier.  Keith went after Zetterberg even though Hossa had him all but tied up.  What happened was he left Pavel Datsyuk unattended who Zetterberg immediately found.  Datsyuk slipped it across to Niklas Lidstrom and he didn’t miss.  In the meantime, Patrick Sharp was coasting through the neutral zone as his man, Lidstrom, was celebrating his goal.

The second period was a role reversal.  The Hawks couldn’t stay out of the box and the Wings controlled the play.  After successfully killing off two penalties in a row, the Hawks were unable to kill off Patrick Sharp’s trip.  Brent Seabrook overcommitted just a bit too much on Datsyuk and that small slice of open ice was all Zetterberg needed.  Datsyuk slipped it across to him; he made a nifty kick-to-the-stick move and found room in between Niemi’s legs to tie the score at 2.

The Hawks answered back three minutes later when Duncan Keith made a terrific cross-ice pass to Patrick Sharp who did an even better job of staying open and the Hawks were right back in front.  What made that play so nice was instead of just going hard to the net, Sharp timed his dash nicely so that as soon as Keith was firing the pass, he was in the perfect position to just tap it in.   

In the third, the Hawks were perfectly content with sitting on the one goal lead and forcing Detroit to go the length of the ice.  It was going well enough until Patrick Eaves finished off a set face-off play halfway through the period.  There was really nothing anyone on the Hawks could have done about it, save for maybe winning the initial face-off.  Every Wing was covered, but with Niemi screened, Eaves’ well-placed wrist shot found the back of the net.

Neither team could score the rest of the way in and the overtime was a study in madness.

It started off awfully with Brent Seabrook coughing up the puck to Zetterberg and only Niemi’s right leg prevented the game from ending right there.  Datsyuk nearly finished it when he powered his way past Brian Campbell.  Again, Niemi made a kick save. 

The Hawks had plenty of chances of their own to finish it too.  Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa each had golden opportunities to be heroes.  Hossa, in particular, had the best chances of the extra frame.  Twice, he buried a point-blank shot into Howard’s chest.  Then, with time ticking down, Sharp fed him on a 2-on-1 and Hossa shanked the shot badly with a mostly wide-open net staring back at him.

The shootout was, well, a shootout.  Datsyuk scored on a wonderful slow-play drag move.  Toews fired it through Howard’s legs.  Bertuzzi did some sort of retarded spin-o-rama.  Hossa sniped it low on Howard and Sharp won it with a slight hesistation move beating Howard over his glove.

Quickies 

Detroit currently sits at 9th place of the Western Conference.  They keep playing like this, they won’t be there for long.  Look for them to nab a 4th or 5th seed before this season is over.  Of course, that’s assuming they stay healthy the rest of the way in.

Jeremy Roenick made his debut on the NHL on NBC today.  While he was fairly entertaining to listen to and watch, I fear that he’s well on his way into becoming a parody of himself.  Or in other words, the next Brett Hull.  Give it a couple months and we’ll probably be subjected to him screaming hockey cliches at us.  A few more months and there will be whispers about him interested in signing Sean Avery to a long-term deal.

Marian Hossa wore out the wheel on Jimmy Howard’s sweater.  With a team-high 7 shots in the game, Hossa buried nearly every shot into Howard’s chest.  When his turn came up in the shootout and the Hawks needing a goal to stay alive, I thought there was a .0000021% chance of him scoring.  Instead, he calmly came right down and picked a low corner to keep the Hawks alive. 

–With his 20th goal of the season, Patrick Kane now leads the team.  What was so remarkable about the goal was Kane’s decision to fire a low hard shot.  Nearly every open-ice goal Kane has scored this year, he’s picked out an upper corner.  If he starts picking out areas around the ankles, you might be looking at the Hawks next 50-goal scorer.  Not this year, mind you, but some day.

–After Detroit’s first goal, Kris Versteeg and Patrick Eaves partook in a wildly entertaining scrap.  What was even more humorous was listening to Pierre McGuire wax poetically about Eaves’ bravery in standing up to the chiseled Versteeg.  McGuire explained that Versteeg, a former Lethbridge Hurricane, was used to scrapping because of his junior days while Eaves, a 6-year NHL veteran, wasn’t because he attended Boston College.  Even if you ignore all of that non-sense, McGuire kept going on about Versteeg’s fighting experience in the NHL.  So to recap, here’s his track record: Pulling an unaware Kyle Turris out of a pile and getting cracked in the head by Willie Mitchell.  Yup, a real heavyweight.  

Cam Barker’s last shift of the game came at the 13:00 minute mark of the third period.  He capped it off by trying a goofy cross-ice flip pass that Eaves picked off and nearly snuck past Niemi. 

–And we nearly saw the last of Barker’s defensive partner, Brent Sopel, today too.  Halfway through the third, Sopel went crashing into Niemi and slammed his surgically-repaired elbow hard into the boards.  He went off the ice in an extreme amount of pain.  Sopel ended up returning to finish the game.

Now, I hate to say this, but we might be on borrowed time with Sopel.  The type of game the rugged defenseman plays doesn’t exactly lend itself to longevity.  In fact, the last time he played more than 80 games in a season, the NHL had yet to cancel an entire season because of a work stoppage.  Plus, you add in he’s 7 years older along with the heavy mileage.  For the Hawks to think there won’t be any hiccups would be very short-sighted.  And to think he won’t be missed would also be short-sighted.

–The Blackhawks weekend farm update will be coming within the next day or so.

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14 Responses to Blackhawks 4, Red Wings 3 (SO)

  1. Patrick says:

    Seriously, I think that Sopel is a member of the undead. You can’t kill the man, and he skates like them too. That wasn’t the first time I’ve seen him finish a shift, thinking he’ll never return. The Hawks just need to have him make it through the end year in one piece.

    Great game for the Hawks! Would have loved to see that last Hossa shot in OT roll off the cage, onto Howard’s back and into the net, but alas, it was not to be.

    Four out of four on the trip so far…

  2. Steve says:

    60+ Mil better buy us a shootout goal, when Hossa scored to tie the shootout, My screams of “Thats what 60 million get you” were heard around the neighborhood.

  3. Jack says:

    We have to give Sopel some props. He’s been a warrior all year and even though his skill set is not up to par with the rest of the blueliners, he does what he does pretty well…that is blocking shots and being a stand up d-man.
    Not Brian Campbell’s best effort, at least not late in the game. Either he was on the ice too long, or the back to back was just too much for him.
    Pierre McGuire is just a boring windbag. Milbury is OK, but better on HNIC, and as much as I love JR, he needs to find a better gig. Maybe he can start out in radio.
    Great game, and great opening to the road trip…GO HAWKS

  4. Dave Morris says:

    Big game. Bigger win.

    And, most important of all, at the Joe.

    Great start to the road trip.

  5. John says:

    60+ mill may buy a lot of nice cars, a big house, and perhaps a small country, but I think for a shootout goal, it may be a bit much.

  6. Lou says:

    The Hawks had a new confidence that they didn’t show last year. The kepy fighting and showed the grit we all knew the had.

    I am waiting for a game when Sopel’s femur stick through his pants and they tape a broken stick to it so he can keep playing. The guy has guts and a whole lot of heart.

    IMHO Browuer is progressing into that core group very fast. If it came down to keeping Brouwer long term or Ladd or Buff. I’d keep Brouwer in a heartbeat followed by Ladd. The corner work and screens they provide alone are worth their seat on the bus.

    BTW< I didn't notice much from big bad Brad May. Guess the fact that he can't play a regular shift so regularly doesn't make him so useful. Goes to the theory that that role is not really useful in big games and that he isn't the big deterrant. Glad Eager can score and plays a regular 4th line shift.

    This telling us there are 100 seconds left in the game is just plain stupid. Doc does it. Foley drools at it at and I am not sure either can do the math with out a crib sheet. I know I can't.

    Finally, when McMidget was standing b/w the benches talking about May and Eager when the tension was high, what would happen if one of those two would just backhand him????

  7. Otter says:

    FACT: I am dating a Canadian. I watched the Hawks and Wings. Her father and brother, up in Ottawa, OT, watched the Vikings/Cowboys. I fully expect Sox fans not to beat the crap out of Cub fans tomorrow because of this.

    Anyway, assuming Satan (aka Pronger) stays in the East, the Wings are the only team that worries me in the West. The Wings match up really well with the ‘Hawks, which worries me a bit.

    Finally, I think I love this Hawks team more than the ’05 Sox.

  8. Otter says:

    FACT: I am dating a Canadian. I watched the Hawks and Wings. Her father and brother, up in Ottawa, OT, watched the Vikings/Cowboys. I fully expect Sox fans not to beat the crap out of Cub fans tomorrow because of this.

    Anyway, assuming Satan (aka Pronger) stays in the East, the Wings are the only team that worries me in the West. The Wings match up really well with the ‘Hawks, which worries me a bit.

    Finally, I think I love this Hawks team more than the ‘05 Sox.

  9. Otter says:

    @ Lou, I was just thinking, Browuer has 14 goals… maybe we can get some idiot GM to think that he’s a 30 goal scorer waiting to happen this summer and pick up a power forward with hands for Kane and Towes.

  10. John says:

    He’s got an outside chance at 30 this year. At $1 mill per year, still a RFA, and still improving his skills, Brouwer is one of the biggest bargains in the league. Maybe in a couple years if the Hawks are still desperate for cap space, but for now, Brouwer is one of the more valuable commodities on this squad.

  11. Matthew says:

    Curious, anyone else going to be in Ottawa for the game on Tuesday?

  12. Lou says:

    @Otter, I ‘d keep Brouwer and see where it takes us. I think Steeg and Buff are the guys that you trade first. John says it Brouwer is a good bargain. He has been an effective scorer at the lower levels and he is starting to find his niche here.

  13. feyer says:

    Brouwer is not going anywhere. Like John says a bargain at $1 mil per year playing top 6 minutes, and finally developing into the player we expected. Why is it Doc said Kane was 22 years old not once but twice during the telecast. You’d think Edzo would pass him a note or something.

  14. CT says:

    “Anyway, assuming Satan (aka Pronger) stays in the East”

    I think it’s a pretty safe bet that Pronger stays right where he is. The ridiculous contract extension he got makes him all but unmovable.

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