I think it’s safe to say this has been a wildly successful road trip. The Blackhawks and Sharks treated the entire NHL world with an incredibly entertaining game where no winner was decided after 60 minutes.
The Hawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead within the first 10 minutes of the game with goals from Dustin Byfuglien, Troy Brouwer, and Andrew Ladd. Byfuglien’s goal was set up wonderfully by Patrick Kane; Troy Brouwer picked a corner on Evegeni Nabokov; and Andrew Ladd finished off a set face-off play.
The Sharks settled down after the barrage of goals and slowly picked away at the lead. Joe Pavelski scored once at the end of the first period, then again on the power play at the end of the second, and Manny Malhorta tipped in a Rob Blake point shot to finish the comeback early in the third.
In between all of that, both teams traded high quality chances and both took turns controlling the tempo. Nabokov and Cristobal Huet took turns making huge saves. It was everything you wanted to see from the Western Conference’s top two teams.
In the overtime, Troy Brouwer came in with Kris Versteeg on a 2-on-1. Versteeg alertly dashed for the front of the net and Brouwer took over. Coming down on the left wing, Brouwer faked a shot, opened up and walked across the slot. Then he ripped a wrist shot over Nabokov’s glove for the game-winner.
—Troy Brouwer’s game-winning goal was absolute perfection. It’s been a joy to watch Brouwer’s game develop this season. Last year, there’s no way he makes that play. More likely, he carries the puck down the left side and lets off a weak attempt at net.
A lot of times, you’ll hear the phrase “a pro move” from various talking heads. That was exactly what that was; he showed patience, confidence, and smarts all in the matter of probably two seconds. With his ever-improving qualities, it’s only going to make the Hawks number one line all the more dangerous.
–Speaking of the top line, the trend of the whole road trip has been the Toews’ line matched up against the opposition’s top line. I don’t recall it happening as much at home but it sure seems like Joel Quenneville has finally ditched his match-up obsessed ways and simply letting his players play. In Detroit, it was Toews against Datsyuk’s line, which would’ve never happened last year. They saw significant time against the Sedins in Vancouver. And this evening, they were matched up against Thornton’s line the entire night.
Of course, that begs the question: Is Quenneville trying to conserve John Madden’s stamina for the playoffs or does he feel like Madden simply doesn’t have the defensive game anymore to keep up with the league’s best players? I think I know the answer but I’m going to wait a little bit before I divulge.
–Bless you, Mr. Sassone. We’ve been quick to pull out the whip for Tim (only because we expect more stuff like this), but he rightfully brought down the thunder for his media counterparts in his latest blog entry. Something like that should have been published in the paper.
–It’s becoming readily apparent to me that the Blackhawks have entered “Megan Fox Territory“. It became a universal truth after the first Transformer movie that Megan Fox was one of the top 5 hottest women on the planet. Really, if you like blondes, brunettes, redheads, it doesn’t matter; she transcends all preferences. There is no arguing this.
Naturally, after three years of being ridiculously hot, it’s only human nature to start looking for flaws. So you ask, what is the most common criticism about her? Her thumbs. They look weird. As if this would ever happen if she magically showed up on your doorstep:
“Hold on, before you come in here, let me get a look at your thumbs….Yeah, ok, why don’t you get the hell out of here.”
It’s the same thing with the Blackhawks. There is no arguing they are one of the top 3 teams in the league and it’s been that way since the second week of the season. As the season has progressed, the nitpicking of silly details has reached a near fever-pitch. Yes, their goalies occasionally let in a soft goal. Their defensemen sometimes make goofy-ass mistakes. Their forwards don’t always take the correct defensive assignments.
Their body of work should speak for itself though; who cares what their thumbs look like?
*On the Farm*
–Shawn Lalonde had an assist in Belleville’s 3-1 win over Peterborough.