Blackhawks 4, Sharks 3 (OT)

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. 

Quickies  

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.

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22 Responses to Blackhawks 4, Sharks 3 (OT)

  1. Razzberry says:

    The boys looked absolutely gassed tonight which completely killed their ability to play a puck possession game for the second period and a good portion of the third. Honestly, this one comes down to their amazing start and the play of Huet to hang on to the lead. Definitely a gutsy win tonight and a well-earned 2 points.

    Let’s hope they still have anything left in the tank at all for Carolina.

  2. Lou says:

    Great analysis on Brouwer. He is really coming into his own. and it is a pleasent surprise. Last year he drove many of us nuts as did Buff. This year, he is a guy I want around here for a while and if that means him or someone else like Buff, I want him on my team. Solid effort, great two play and good chemistry.

    Maybe this can become a line like MPH or from my time The Great One, Jari Kurri, Messier. TKB – Takin Kare of Biz.

  3. Dave Morris says:

    Wow.

    Another playoff-intensity game in a powerful opponent’s building.

    And one helluva win.

    Here Come The Hawks.

  4. Andy says:

    A great win for the Hawks, would’ve loved a regulation win, but to be this deep into a long road trip and pull it together in OT to win, I’ll take it. Between November 25th in San Jose and February 6th in St. Louis, the Hawks will have played 36 games (in 74 days). The Olympic break is coming at just the right time for them as Sopel looked gassed most of the last couple of periods last night, along with a few others.

    Too much ice time for Fraser last night, but I’ll be happy to see Bolland take his place next week, but I’ll probably have to wait til after Burish comes back for that to happen.

  5. Dave Morris says:

    @Lou…you like ‘TKB’, eh. Are you still listening to Bachman Turner Overdrive, and do you have a mullet?
    😉

  6. JM says:

    Megan Fox looks better with her shirt off.

  7. Lou says:

    @Dave,

    BTO was way before my time and no mullett. But thanks for thinking of me. Toews, Kane, Brouwer = TKB

  8. Patrick says:

    With every game, I am still amazed at the depth of scoring or the Hawks. Brouwer is setting himself up for a nice new contract in a couple of years. Hope the new CBA will help alleviate our angst.

    What would the narrative have been if the Hawks would have ended up losing the game? My guess is more meatballs and people saying that this team is too soft – which isn’t true.

    John – want to know your insights on Madden.

    On Huet – I think that he plays to the level of team he’s playing against – if they’re good, he bails the Hawks out. If they’re bad, he kind of checks out a bit (and same as the team D sometimes). He’s definitely the playoff goalie.

    One last thing – it’s not the TKB line – it’s the BTK line, and they show just about as much mercy as that dumbass in Kansas…

  9. kevin says:

    couldn’t have put it better about the nitpicking.

    i for one am just enjoying our Hawks playing the best hockey they’ve played in many many many years.

    not since i was a little kid have i had this much fun watching them play hockey.

    (that doesn’t mean i won’t make fun of Barker)

    well put, and great blog.

  10. Dave Morris says:

    @Patrick> ‘Sources’ tell me John and Blackhawk Bob, being vegan, have an pre-emptive strategy to counter the meatballs.

    Huet outplayed Nabokov, plain and simple, in a game that had playoff level hype and major bragging rights attached.

    The Hawks were hitting again. AND crashing the net. And guess what, they win.

    They still have three divisional games before the Olympic break, so there’s no time to relax. But if they play the way they did last night, this team will be even better with Bolland and Burish in the lineup.

    A depth defenseman wouldn’t hurt, and Bowman has the cap room to add one.

    But does anybody seriously believe at this point the Blackhawks *need* Ilya Kovalchuk?

  11. Dave Morris says:

    PS @Lou–I’m so glad you don’t have a mullet.

    And you drink single malt scotch.

    Cheers.

  12. Mark Giangreco Roman Wrestler says:

    It’s not that Q is trying to conserve Madden, or doesn’t trust him against other top lines anymore, it’s that Versteeg and Byfuglien playing on that line with Madden makes for a bad checking line. I predict once Ladd gets pushed back down to the 3rd line, we’ll start seeing matchups again.

  13. John says:

    MGRW, I suppose time will tell. I will say that I’ve been a bit underwhelmed by Madden’s ability to shut down the other team’s top player even when Ladd was on his wing. Then again, maybe my short-term memory is fading.

  14. josh says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that the media’s reaction to this game is completely ridiculous? Every source I went to today to see comments, recaps, or analysis has been generously heaping praise on and generating rationalizations for the Sharks. I’ve heard everything from “Oh they had too long of a break” to “Dan Boyle’s absence was a huge factor for the Hawks’ victory”, and I’m kind of astonished at the lack of sense. No one mentions that this is the 7th game of an 8 game road trip for the Hawks, that they are playing in the Shark Tank after travelling through three timezones in 10 days, and most importantly that they managed to regain composure to defeat a surging Sharks team in OT. Whatever happened to giving credit where credit is due?

  15. Patrick says:

    Josh – couldn’t agree with you more. Matthew Barnaby is a clown and always has been.

    This Hawks team is just really damn good…

  16. Lou says:

    @ Patrick, i would say rally freakin good

  17. Dave Morris says:

    Patrick and Lou, I would say this is the best Hawks team since the one that captured the Cup in ’61.

    Who cares what Matthew Barnaby or any of those hockey hacks think, anyway?

  18. Otter says:

    When Bolland does come back, what about putting him with Hossa, moving Sharp back with Toews and Kane, and then drop Brouwer to the 4th (where I loved him last year I should add)? I know the guy has started playing well with those two, but I’d like to see someone who is going to do a tad bit more with what Toews and Kane are able to produce. Brouwer is shooting 21% and much like Juan Pierre’s month of May, he’s not/can’t keep that up.

    Also, what the hell happened to Barker this year? Lost in the great season and pretty much every single guy being better than last year, Cam has clearly taken a step back.

  19. Lou says:

    @ Otter. Nice thoughts but Brouwer has earned the minutes and is contributing on that line. Sending him to the 4th line is a huge step back for him. Ladd, Steeg or Buff sould go there before Brouwer does. I.

    I think Brouwer needs to stay right where he is. He is getting better, has a history of bieng able to score and does tons of the corner work that allows Toews and Kane space. Sharp doesn’t bring that dimension and he has been skittish with the puck but does have some nice chemistry with Hossa

  20. josh says:

    I’m with Lou: I’d put Ladd down to the third line, Buff down to the fourth line, and slide Sharp to the wing with Bolland centering him and Hossa. That gives the third line our two best defensive forwards (Ladd and Madden) as well as a bit of scoring with Versteeg. Sharp and Hossa stay together and Buff helps add some physicality to the fourth line.

  21. John says:

    I really like Buff on the 4th line as long as he still gets well over 10 minutes a game otherwise they’re risking him losing all interest.

    I’ve spent many a hours wondering about Brouwer’s shooting %. It’s clearly way above the norm but at the same time, perhaps it’s so inflated because of the numerous tip goals he scored at the beginning of the year. Maybe his goal scoring ability from the A is finally transferring over. I guess all we can do is wait and see.

  22. Lou says:

    Just a few days ago i said first and last minutes of a period and first minute after a goal when you are most vulnerable

    tonight 3 of 4 in that mode tonight. and one real close.

    It will be nice to be home

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