Blackhawks 5, Thrashers 4 (SO)

What started to shape up as the first beating issued by the Blackhawks in some time, turned into a one-goal Atlanta Thrashers’ lead heading into the third at the United Center on Saturday evening. First period goals by Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Kim Johnsson helped the Hawks jump out to an early 3-1 lead to begin the second frame.

Sharp’s goal, which fittingly came on “Sharpie Night” where attendees received a Sharpie marker with its namesake on it, came just seconds into the first Hawks’ power play of the night. It marked Sharp’s return to the point of the power play and Dustin Byfuglien’s move back down low.

Marian Hossa’s goal came on an – wait for it, wait for it – odd-man rush. Hossa must have been named “Most Likely to Get Five Odd-Man Rushes in an NHL Game” in high school, because the hits just keep coming for him. Lately, though, he’s had a difficult time cashing in. This time, he made no mistake and blew it by O.P.P.’s glove. (I don’t care to learn how to spell the ex-Wolves and current Thrashers goalie’s name, so I’ll just call him O.P.P.; yeah, you know me.)

Then, Johnsson got in the early act, partnering with Patrick Kane on another pretty Hawk goal. Johnsson passed the puck down to Kane at the half-boards, and, noticing his man overplayed the pass to Kane, bolted to the net. Kane hit him with a quick pass, and Johnsson put it off the inside of the far post and in.

The second period was far less kind to the Hawks, who seemed to count their chickens before they hatched during the first intermission. A tally from Evander Kane and softies from Maxim Afinogenov and Tobias Enstrom gave the Thrashers a lead heading into the third.

In the third, the Hawks took over, outshooting the Thrash 14-4 and tying the game on a pretty Dave Bolland goal, his first since returning from back surgery. On the goal, Bolland found himself in on O.P.P. thanks to a nice cross-ice pass from Sharp and a beautiful rush by Brian Campbell. Bolland waited for O.P.P. to hit the deck and, in patented Bolland fashion, went around him and stuffed it home on the short side.

O.P.P. made a couple tough saves down the stretch and into overtime, and the Hawks were forced to take the game to a shootout, a common occurrence of late. In it – wait for it, wait for it – Jonathan Toews beat O.P.P. cleanly with a wrist shot to start the tallies. Although Patrick Kane missed – albeit with a wrister of his own, rather than the backhand move – Antti Niemi held up his end of the bargain by stopping all three Atlanta shooters.

The two points pull the Hawks within four points – with two games in-hand – of the Western Conference-leading Sharks and up a comfortable 16 points of the second place Nashville Predators.

Yo, Listen Up!

– By now, you’ve seen the replay of and heard reaction to the Colby Armstrong hit on Marian Hossa during the third. Armstrong drove his shoulder into Hossa’s chin as Hossa drove to the middle of the ice during the third. Hossa immediately left the game after laying on the ice for a few minutes. Now, I’ll save the debate on whether the Hawks need an enforcer; it’s long since been overplayed. But, I’ll state my distaste for those who dislike teammates reacting to clean hits, like Armstrong’s last night. Hey, an injury’s an injury, and the teammates want to deter the other team from taking shots at them.

While a clean hit is just that – clean – I absolutely don’t mind when teammates come to the aid of the hit player. In the end, the teammates don’t want the checked player to be hurt, whether it be by a dirty stick or a clean check.

– That’s one less Blackhawk to worry about in the Olympics.

– Brent Seabrook was sporting a visor last night. I wonder if he’s planning on wearing it for the Olympics and wants to get used to it. Any other reason out there?

– Niemi was so-so last night. The third and fourth Thrasher goals were rather soft, with the third goal sneaking through Niemi’s wickets from a poor angle and the fourth beating him from long range on the strength of a Bolland screen from way up top.

A lot was made about Niemi’s third start in a row, but with a back-to-back this weekend, it only made sense to ride the relatively hot hand for three in a row and then hand the reigns to Huet.

– Though I’m actually not a huge fan of the Toews/Sharp/Kane line – I still much prefer Tuomo Ruutu on the wing opposite Kane – the three had a fantastic first period and combined for five points and a +5 rating. Toews was the only player on the line without a point, but he won the shootout, per usual.

– Johnsson played a nice game and gets my stamp of approval. (I’m sure they’re dancing in the streets of Sweden because of it.) He’s actually a bit smoother than I thought he’d be. Other than his mismanagement of the second Thrasher goal, where he bit on a pass and let his man get the goal, he was solid. Plus, we’ll get to hear a lot of Johnsson/Ham Sandwich stories because they’re countrymen. Queue them up!

– Dustin Byfuglien was out there last night. Had he been for the last month? Anyone?

– Jack Skille has apparently been hurt of late. That made the Brian Bickell call that much easier. Bickell was quiet on the fourth line.

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26 Responses to Blackhawks 5, Thrashers 4 (SO)

  1. Lee Rosenberg says:

    John: Clean hit or not thats three superstars laid out with the same hit with bascically no retribution. Need I say more. I have said from the beginning that the big three Kane-Hossa and Toews would be targeted and sure enough it has happened. We better get somebody physical real quick. Brasseur has just been sent to the minors before being placed on waivers. He sure can play a little bit more that a Larouque or Parrosi. Dave and Lou you knew that i would jump in here, By the way it might have bee a “clean hit” but it was still aimed at the head

  2. Lee Rosenberg says:

    Soryy about the double but Ii just logged on to Tim Sassone as I am out of town and lo and behold he seems to agree with the beleagured Lee

  3. Dave Morris says:

    Gentlemen, we like K-Jo.

    And K-Jo likes us.

    Three starts in a row for Antero Niemi could be significant. The reliable Pierre Lebrun revealed on HockeyNightInCanada’s ‘Hot Stove’ last night that the Hawks have indeed been shopping for a goaltender.

    We shall see.

    PS TommyK is probably going to be phased out. He was benched by Q after the silly snow shower penalty against Andy Pavelec, who you can call Opie henceforth. BTW Czech lessons at no extra charge.

    Jaunty Jake Dowell subs for Mad Dog Madden today.

    Hope the Hawks don’t miss the bus to C-Bus. Be nice to go to the break with another W, sloppy or otherwise.

  4. Dave Morris says:

    Oh, and I agree with Mr Rosenberg that the Hawks need to either muscle up internally, or get some muscle for the playoffs.

  5. John says:

    Lee, Bob wrote the post, so take you and Tim can take up your issues with him.

  6. Lou says:

    The muscle Lee is talking about is again a goon. Same broken record different day. Brashaer is a goon. Funny thing, he, Brad May, Laraque and hell we just traded with Minn Booregard aren’t here. Wonder why.

    I would agree with the call for more muscle if our guys were doing their part and it wasn’t enough but, IMHO, I don’t think we are playing even remotely close to what we are capable of.

    ON TARGETS, you hit the guy with the puck. Not really sure how TKK or any other player with the puck isn’t a target. Please tell us how our guys are targeted and targeted any different than any other team’s stars. Please tell us how your new muscle is going to stop that.

    From what I am getting is that you feel a muscle guy will stop every team on every shift from checking our superstars hard and that when they do, they are trying to hurt them. A QB is sacked in the NFL and is he targeted like you insinuate? -NO. A WR going over the middle is hit making a catch? – NO. Yes they are “targets” but they have the ball and you hit guys with the ball it’s the objective of the game. I would venture that the guy with the puck is the same thing. Every sack in the NFL isn’t a leg shot or a lead with the helmet. Same in the NHL.

    Targeting a guy to hurt him is a lot more than a big hit in the course of play. These guys know they can get hit if they have the puck. Sometimes they like the QB get hit hard and clean. Once in a while it’s not. These guys are paid to play a physical game and make their livelihood doing so. If they don’y they sit.

    Would you have the same call for new muscle if that was Colin Fraser who got hit last night? Toews had the puck at center ice with his head DOWN and a big hit happened. Kane is always going to have people trying to catch him, it called being a really great bordering on being an elite player, and Hossa was on a break, made a nifty move around one guy and another guy came into to the play. Yes, he got hit good. Last time I checked, Hossa too is an elite player. Was Hossa in the air, was his head down etc. It contact sports players can get hurt.

    To shift gears, I venture to say that our guys are not hitting like they are capable of and that is again leading to the call for whatever it is.. Brouwer, Ladd, Buff, Fraser et al. No one is hitting. No one. Buff is a big lad and plays like a pee wee player. Seabs, is thinkning about ticket requests. The list goes on.

    Our physicality and our ability to finish games has been stagnant. Our Olympic d-man have been shakey of late and gotten rubbed off pucks leading to goals. We are not effective in corners. Our muscle isn’t producing like it is capable of. Our ability to close out games has been waning in the last few weeks. We have been consistently giving up leads and winning in shootuouts games that we should have put away in regulation.

    We have what one, empye net goal this yaer. How many did we have last year?. Is that an indicator of a struggling ability to finish? Our PP is misfiring. Bigger issues that will win us the cup than more new muscle.

    Hopefully, the Olympic break will do something here to get us back on track. We need to be heading into the playoff on an up tick and not the way we have been playing. I would much rather hear what people are thinking along those lines.

  7. blackhawkbob says:

    Lee: I wrote the post, but as I said, I’m not diving into the goon issue again. I’m just saying I don’t mind retribution for a clean hit. I assume you’d agree with that.

  8. Nick says:

    No way Barker gets that goal. Goodbye Barks, Hello K-Jo!

    Niemi: If Huet had let those goals in the sky would fall, hell would rain down and Meatball Nation would be calling for the guillotine for Monsieur Huet. Niemi is not ready to shoulder the load by any stretch and while he is excellent in the SO, this particular game should never have come to that.

    I really would like to see Versteeg get traded now. After last night, I’ve had it with him. There were several instances where the Hawks had a nice cycle going, the puck then gets to Versteeg, who decides it’d be a good idea to stickhandle into the crowded slot. Seriously, I would be pissed to be on a line with that guy and his tomfoolery.

  9. Dave Morris says:

    @Blackhawk Bob> just for once and for all to separate the *muscle* from the *goon* might clarify this discussion.

    The Hawks are way ahead of where they were last year. Do they have enough muscle in their lineup to go four rounds in the playoffs this year?

    It’s a good question, and one that hasn’t been answered yet.

    When Adam Burish comes back, we’ll see if the Hawks who have the muscle, use it.

    Benny Eager hasn’t been himself.

    A Matt Carkner/Matt Walker-type reserve d-man would be useful.

    With the speed of the game, the David Koci and Derek Boogaard types are being left in the dust.

    However, guys like Ian Laperriere, Chris Neil, Frazer McLaren and Cody McLeod definitely still have their value.

    Who’s the Blackhawk who fills that bill?

  10. josh says:

    Probably the last thing in the world the Hawks need is a Matt Walker-type, and the argument that a playoff run necessitates a musclehead/goon/pylon-with-fists is ridiculous. Remind me how big of a impact Walker had last year during our run, which I might add featured series against Vancouver and Calgary, two of the nastiest and most physical Western Conference teams last year. From my recollection he was about as useful as Toews’s mean faces at deterring a team from playing their game. Please, if you really think the Hawks need the hockey equivilent to The Thing on the roster do yourself a favor and get your head checked.

    Last night Buff was a force at times, my hope is he starts to exhibit those tendancies more often from now on. Physicality through determination and skill is what wins series, not cavemen on skates.

  11. CT says:

    Donald Brashear? No thank you. If he’s such a deterrant, why was Jeff Caracillo beating the daylights out of Marian Gaborick a few weeks ago?

  12. modnar says:

    Seabrook was wearing the visor because he has to for the olympics. Apparently anyone born after 1974 has too.

  13. blackhawkbob says:

    Wow. Sweet piece of knowledge there, modnar. Didn’t realize that. Thanks a lot.

  14. Lou says:

    @ Lee, Holy cow, Kane took a good open ice hit, not a targeting/headhunitng hit and Troy Browuer beat the heck out of Stralman and got a boatload of penalties to boot. We need Brashaer why?

  15. Dave Morris says:

    Well, nobody answered my question about who fits the Ian Laperriere/Chris Neil/Frazer McLaren/Cody McLeod profile for the Hawks.

    Not that it really matters today as the Hawks win and Brouwer thrashed Stralman for kneeing Kane.

  16. Lou says:

    To answer Dave, our team needs to step up consistently. Brouwer did today and then won the game.

    We need to get our A game back and put people away in regulation.

  17. CT says:

    “Well, nobody answered my question about who fits the Ian Laperriere/Chris Neil/Frazer McLaren/Cody McLeod profile for the Hawks.”

    Adam Burish.

  18. Lee Rosenberg says:

    I dont care if you want to call it a goon, tough guy, or what but they need to get a intimadator into their lineup before all of the top three get sriously hurt. Brouwer was great in his retribution tonight but look at the penalties and lost time he got. If we had the right guy to do what he did then he would not be as big a lost as Troy was tonight. All of you guys who are saying we dont need one wait till the playoffs come and then till me the same thing if Stanbow does not add a purely physical body

  19. Dale Halas says:

    Hey Lee, here is the deal looking at the last three years.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Cup the year after they let George Laraque leave via free agency.

    The year before that the team you guys call scum won the cup, also, without an enforcer.

    You have to go back three years to find the Ducks winning it with George Parros but he only played, what, 5 playoff games and a little over 30 regular season games. Most of the time that year they went without him…

    So to me, the last few years in the NHL haven’t supported your desire for an enforcer.

    To me, I think you need to take Dave’s advice and modernize your question to go along with the modernization of Hockey. It is now “does the team have enough overall toughness” to deal with situations like today’s game? If you ask that question instead, you might not find yourself being such a “lone wolf”…

    By the way, it’s really too bad that Beach isn’t “mature” enough to be playing with the Hawks right now. He would definitely help increase the toughness question on this team, as well as, fill some other holes.

  20. Nick says:

    I think Brouwer did the right thing, as I did not view that as a clean hit. That was intent to injure with a blatant knee on knee hit and Stralman got what he deserved as Troy beat the daylights out of him.

    What does Deuce Deuce do for an encore? Game winner. To me, Brouwer is the surprise story for the Hawks along with Ham. He has taken huge strides this season, adding clutch goals and being a physical force when needed.

    Sloppy win, but I’ll take it.

  21. Mark Giangreco Roman Wrestler says:

    Colby Armstrong hits Hossa. What would a Donald Brashear do? Instigate a fight with Colby Armstrong? Goons fight other goons and don’t intimidate anybody. Want to stop these hits? Then your star players need to be focused and not skate around like they’re playing a game of Shinny with their heads down.

  22. Lee Rosenberg says:

    It doesent have to be a goon and that person would not play in the playoffs just leading to it. No one liked Walker and he was not a goon but he filled a purpose that is only what I am looking for. How about a Milan Lucic type or maybe Carcillo, They can play!

    Dale, if you look at Dave’s last post ,I think he was starting to agree with me not as you said disagree which by the way would be a close first

  23. Dave Morris says:

    @Lee> I definitely agree that the Blackhawks need a player like a Chris Neil or a Matt Carkner. The Senators, who are a notoriously soft team, are suddenly getting pushed around a whole lot less.

    Neil and Carkner are effective players who also send the message: don’t hit our star players.

    The Hawks are vulnerable.

    Toews, Hossa and now Patrick Kane have been targeted. And Brouwer’s too valuable to have to be the policeman.

    John Ferguson was, and remains, the prototypical player of this type. I remember him *very* vividly. He could put fear into the other team and he could also hold his own.

    Like it or not, hockey is a sport of intimidation as well as skill.

    @CT>Burish is an agitator, and he’s clearly missed. But will he be fully ready to come in and take care of business?

    StanBow either has to have someone in Rockford, or someone on his radar before March 3, as insurance.

  24. Lou says:

    Lee, you want a goon and you are getting hammered for it. You want someone’s whose sheer presence makes all bad things stop. Those players aren’t in today’s game. Al Secord is too old now. Laraque, Brashaer, May all guys you referenced/wanted can’t get NHL jobs. We just played ANH and Min did Booregard and Parros play, um no. No role for them.

    Now you want toughness that can play. What does Ben Eager do? Burish is back right after the break. What’s his role? What did Troy Brouwer do?. Brouwer showed that and then you insinuate that he had too many penalties. You can’t have it both ways. He defends his teammate or he doesn’t you can’t worry about who or what or how long. Did he do what he was supposed is the only thing that matters and yes he did. Didn’t he square off against superstart Iginla too? That’s toughness.

    Checks are going to happen. Some are more questionable than others and add into the speed and elusiveness factor and bang-bang plays look a lot different in replay than game speed.

    Did Stralman stick his knee out deliberately or did Kane fake him out of his jock creating the situation? We’ll never know but what we do know as that Brouwer thought it was crap and beat the shit out of Stralman for it. That’s what we need from whomever when it is their time. That’s team toughness and heart and character. Don’t need to trade for it. Need to bring it out. Brouwer is a guy i want on this team for the long haul.

    You want to stop the hitting then hit back. Tell Ladd, Buff (he’s 240 and plays like he’s 160 on most nights), Brouwer, Fraser, Eager, Crapecky, Seabs etc. to hit. Ask Kane and Hossa to check someone. That is how you play physical. That’s how you stop it.

  25. lee Rosenberg says:

    We need a FF reunion

  26. lee Rosenberg says:

    Dave:No goon,tough guy
    Madden on IR
    Eager gone forwho knows
    Send Koecky down
    Keep Dowell up
    Who said Burish is ready?

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