Ladies and gentlemen: Antti Niemi, your new Chicago Blackhawks starting goalie.
And, while I’d prefer that was the entire wrap-up for the horrific beating the Hawks took in Ohio on Thursday evening, I suppose our readers have come to expect a bit more.
The good news for the Hawks – if you want to call it that – is that they pulled to within a goal at the beginning of the second period. It could have been worse.
Only 35 seconds into the match, a Mike Commodore flip from the corner bounced off the inside of Cristobal Huet’s far leg and through his pads. Then, with about eight minutes left in the game’s first frame, Kristian Huselius accepted a pretty cross-ice pass from Rick Nash and beat the over-committed Huet. Though the Hawks outshot the Jackets slightly during the first frame, they were out-chanced 4-0.
Just a couple minutes into the second, the Hawks cut the lead in half. Kris Versteeg stepped over the blue line, looked off the defenders using a streaking Ben Eager – not that kind of streaking – and blew a quick wrister past Steve Mason’s blocker side.
The one-goal lead wouldn’t last more than a couple minutes. While all of the Hawk players fought for a puck in front of Huet, it squirted out to the point. Huselius the Great got a piece of the biscuit on its way back to the net, and the neat redirection beat Huet between the legs.
It would only get worse … much worse.
As Mason made a handful of big saves at one end – one each on Jordan Hendry, Patrick Sharp and John Madden – Huet struggled at the other. A Jackub Voracek penalty shot beat him between the glove and body; then, Antoine Vermette beat him with a wrist that hit the net before he realized Vermette wasn’t going to pass across the ice.
With five goals surrendered before the end of the second, Joel Quenneville made a move he’s recently grown rather accustomed to making: he pulled the French-born ‘tender.
Niemi came to his aid, and while he surrendered the sixth Jacket goal of the night, he looked customarily comfortable. The goal was Andrew Murray’s and came off a tough rebound.
When the third period began, Huet was back in between the pipes. His nightmare was just beginning, though. In just a few minutes, Huet surrendered two pucks behind his own net and failed to get back to the crease to get set each time. First, a quick Vermette shot from the low slot beat him five-hole; then, a Michael Blunden flip squeezed by him. He’d settle down a bit – but, by that time, it was 8 – 1.
Thomas Kopecky scored on the power play, and Adam Burish added an insignificant tally late.
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So, those are the facts. Editorial content will magically appear in this space Friday morning.