Blues 3, Blackhawks 2

In a fair hockey world, Andrew Ladd probably doesn’t deserve all the blame for his team’s loss on Wednesday night to an archrival.  It’s not his fault his top defensive pair combined for another pillow soft play which resulted in the other team celebrating.  He’s not to blame for his brain-dead teammate taking a penalty 200 feet away from his own net.  

Ah, but this hockey world can sometimes be very cruel and it was Ladd’s shift at the end of the second period that ended up being the difference in the tilt.

With less than one minute in the period and the Hawks trailing 2-1, Ladd was the triggerman on a 3-on-1 with Dave Bolland and Patrick Sharp.  Coming down on the right wing, Ladd had the whole play developing right in front of him with the puck on his strong side. 

The Blues defenseman (I don’t recall who) played the situation so horribly he left Bolland and Sharp completely wide open.  With a tie game just a couple passes (maybe just one if he saucered it to Bolland) away, Ladd chose the worst option and decided to take a shot at tying the game on his own.  A bad decision became even worse when his shot sailed wide and became an easy breakout for the Blues.

Ladd’s shift didn’t end there, though.  When the Hawks defused the Blues ensuing counterattack, Ladd found the puck on his stick along the boards.  Rather than making the easy pass to a nearby defenseman, he took his chances with a 70-foot ‘hope’ pass to Patrick Sharp.  Roman Polak happily intercepted the pass just inside the Hawks blue line and with Jay McClement streaking towards the front of the net unmolested, the puck was in the back of the net before you could say, “Bad idea.” 

The sequence of events put a mushroom stamp on a particularly lousy second period from the Hawks.  Holding a 1-0 lead thanks to Patrick Kane’s breakaway theatrics in the first period, the Hawks didn’t appear particularly interested in the night’s event.  Cristobal Huet did his part in keeping the Hawks in front by stopping Paul Kariya on a breakaway.  But when Duncan Keith tried making a soft pass to Brent Seabrook behind the net, Kariya swooped in and found David Backes to tie the score at 1. 

Backes would score his second goal seven minutes later on the power play when his point shot hit Brent Seabrook a few feet in front of Huet and deflected past him.  

In the third period, the Hawks sent a barrage of shots on Chris Mason.  Ladd hit the post in the opening minute; Byfuglien made a neat little tip from four feet out.  It was only when Jonathan Toews weaved through the entire Blues power play unit and found Marian Hossa standing all alone on the doorstep that the Hawks solved him. 

The one goal deficit was as close as the Hawks would come and in the end, it was Ladd’s horrific shift to close out the second period that ended up costing the Hawks at least one point.  

Quickies

–Ah yes, the old “First game back from a long road trip” excuse.  Not nearly as popular as the “Our defensive coverage blows” or “One of our top 6 forwards is a bonehead” excuses, but still.  I don’t recall when it became one of the seven deadly sins to return home from a road trip.  The Hawks played like poo-poo, the location of their last game didn’t have a whole lot to do with that.

–It didn’t take long to scrap Dave Bolland as a 4th line center.  As soon as the Hawks went down a couple goals, Quenneville started mixing and matching him with numerous combinations.  His favorite combination was putting Bolland in between Hossa and Sharp.  The trio combined for some solid pressure in the third period.  All in all, it was a fairly quiet return for Bolland.  Though there was a bit of a scare late in the third when Bolland got smoked in the back by a Blues defenseman in front of Mason.

Ham Sandwich saw a significant chunk of his ice time cut out while only seeing 15:16.  There’s no doubt he’s fairly banged up as he’s been unable to practice with the team for quite some time.  Do I dare ask to see a bit more of Cam Barker while Sandwich rests his various bumps and bruises?  Barker played a fairly strong game by his standards.  With the Hawks so far in front of the pack, it would behoove them to find out how Barker responds to added responsibility.  Just please for the love of Bob McGill, don’t pair him with Brian Campbell.

*On the Farm*

–The IceHogs continued their domination over the Grand Rapids Griffins with a 5-3 win.  Evan Brophey had a goal and an assist, as did Mark Cullen, and Bryan Bickell scored a goal with two assists.  Corey Crawford stopped 24 of the 27 shots he faced.   

–Somehow in the OHL All-Star Game that saw the two teams combine for 27 goals, Shawn Lalonde didn’t have a point.  For the record, Lalonde’s team won 17-10.

Kyle Beach scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 win over the Everett Silvertips.  Byron Froese was scoreless.

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21 Responses to Blues 3, Blackhawks 2

  1. Dave Morris says:

    I can’t really get worked up about this loss, Gentlemen.

    The Hawks should know by now that playing a half-baked game against a desperate Divisional rival with a lunch bucket work ethic is a recipe for defeat.

    So one truly crappy period is enough to drop this one.

    On the flip side, a 14-point lead over their Central Division pursuers, a winning percentage that makes them one of the top three teams in the league, and, and, and…

    So this one goes in the trash. In the shredder, if you will.

    Except for…

    (1) Marian Hossa’s superb shortie, and his continued proof that he is the Blackhawks’ best player.

    (2) Bolland returning, proving he is ready to play in the Top 6 already.

    (3) Cam Barker performing rather well.

    (4) Monsieur Huet being much better than his Olympic defensemen (his save on Kariya being one example); but kinda hard to stop one timers from five feet out, eh…and deflections off your own guy…and tip-ins on the fly from point blank range.

    BTW, had a wonderful afternoon at the hockey rink. Sunny, crisp, with a light snow as darkness fell.

    Tomorrow is another day.

  2. Nick says:

    I agree Dave, its just another regular season loss, but DunkinSeabs better tighten up in the playoffs.

    I hate seeing Huet hung out to dry like that because you know the meatball contingent was cursing him out all night even though he had a really nice game. But I digress, onward to the Adrian Aucoin Experience…I mean the Yotes.

  3. Scott says:

    Please… This game wasn’t Ladd’s fault, it’s Huets. Everyone knows Niemi would have made those saves.
    (Sarcasm alert)

    That play by Toews really was awesome

  4. Lou says:

    I was there and it was a very blah arena. There was minimal hitting by anyone including jackman. It seems we are struggling to clear the puck out of our zone and our d-men including the Olympic studs have been turning the puck over.

    What amazes me is that we continue to give up late goals in periods and/or goals in very short time frames. Getting to be a bad habit.

    Outshooting a team by whatever doesn’t mean squat if your goalie has a save percentage in the .800s on around 20 shots.

    Ont the flip, Hossa’s talent is light years ahead of Havlat’s and the shortie he scored from Toews’ masterpiece was sweet. That PK tandem is lethal and solid to boot.

    I think a trade might actually be good if it shores up the blue line

  5. Patrick says:

    Just wondering – is it time to split up Duncan and Seabrook for a few games to get them back on track? I’m not sure of the “sides” of D that they all play, but perhaps Keith and Barker, and then Campbell with Seabrook, then resting Ham and Sopel on the third pairing a bit more.

    My thinking is that this is just midseason funk for everyone, but fix it…

  6. Lou says:

    @ Nick very valid point but what frustrates everyone even more is the brillaint saves then the not so good goals.

  7. CT says:

    I wonder if opponents are just aiming for Seabrook in front of the net at this point. Every puck that hits him seems to end up in the back of the net.

  8. dominator says:

    Hammer had a bunch of goals go in off him earlier in the season. Maybe the need to review how to shot block with Seabrook like they did Hjalmarsson.

  9. blackhawkbob says:

    Though the Hawks haven’t played well the past couple games, note that four of the last five goals scored by opponents have been off redirections.

    Take it for what it’s worth, I guess.

  10. Mike says:

    Sure you can out shoot a team by 20 shots, but how does it compare if the shots your goalie faces are high percentage shots and the goals are because of tip ins from wide open players 5ft in front of your goalie because your defensemen wont clear anyone from the crease and on the flip side, the majority of your shots are from the perimeter that the opposing goalie can see with no problem because you have no one in front of the net?

  11. John says:

    In defense of the defense, it’s illegal to clear anyone from the crease when the puck isn’t there.

  12. Lou says:

    @ Mike, a lot of your point is true. John, you’re right but getting in their space or getting into the slot to help clear would add net presence that we really need.

    What seems to be the trend is the opposing goalie makes a ridiculous save (Elliott on Hossa) or a huge save or is just plain standing on their head vs our guys who let in some goals that others in a rhythm might not. I ask the question of they got more shots would their games be sharper.

    We need some to go in and all will be well.

  13. Mike says:

    OK, maybe I shouldn’t have said ‘in the crease’, but anytime they would like challenge someone standing in front of the Hawks net would be good.

  14. John says:

    I would argue that Seabrook was providing the presence in front when the puck deflected off him. Clearing the crease or slot always seems to be a popular argument amongst Hawk faithful but I’m fairly content with the strategy of not getting tangled up, getting in the shooting lanes, and looking to jump up in the play. It’s worked fairly well for them this year.

    On the flip side, I thought Byfuglien was a beast in front of Mason last night and just couldn’t catch a bounce on his deflections.

  15. Dave Morris says:

    Where’s Lee? Steve Ott is circling O’Hare Airport.

  16. Lou says:

    He’s negotiationg with Rocky to sign Georges Laraque

  17. Dave Morris says:

    @Lou> Laraque has already said he’ll play for free.

    What happened to that Huet for Brodeur trade you were working on? Jeez, while you were napping the Devils traded for Kovalchuk.

  18. Lou says:

    They league wouldn’t agree to the 15 year contract extension. I think an 50+ Brodeur would still be better than…

    TSN has that too. Apparently he turned down 12 yr and 101 million.

  19. Dave Morris says:

    @Lou> Ilya just didn’t want to sign for a Thrashers team that will probably end up moving to Kansas City.

    Don’t worry, J-Woww gets another shot at Special K in June.

    And seeing as Marty Brodeur is now out of the picture, have you turned your attention to Marty Turco? Keep us posted.

    But don’t dawdle. When I was in Montreal on Monday, the scuttlebutt had Price or Halak being shipped for Sharp. Or Huet. Or something.

  20. Lou says:

    @ Dave, I am working the phones to find Wayne Van Dorp. Your gonna have to run the ball on this one. You have the better connections

  21. Lee Rosenberg says:

    Dear Dave and Lou:

    Lee was in Vegas at the Furniture Show but found time to visit the Encore Sports Book last night and watch the first two periods. At that point he got nausous at the way the Hawks were playing and placed a calle to Minny to try to get one of the Boogard brothers to come to the Hawks. Failing that he is still trying to track down Behn Wilson

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