– The Blackhawks played like a team that won a big, big game previous to Thursday’s tilt – and one that didn’t necessarily respect its opponent.
– It seemed to me, prior to Thursday night’s beating, that Q was trying to play Huet off Niemi’s recent success; that, even after Niemi’s monster night on Tuesday, Q was still favoring Huet as the number one guy.
Consider that experiment over. With just weeks to go in the regular season, Huet responded with his patented ‘new-born calf’ routine, looking as though he’d rather be anywhere but in between NHL pipes.
Q’s mind was made up during the second intermission when he decided to go back to Huet during the third, rather than sticking with Niemi, who had spelled the starting goaltender during the second. While it may have been an attempt to save a bit of Huet’s confidence – as Pat and Eddie theorized during the broadcast – it was more likely an attempt to save Niemi’s. With the Jackets averaging three goals a frame, Q was unwilling to subject his new starting goaltender to an ugly barrage.
With that, each goaltending decision Q makes from here on out will have the same planned result: getting Niemi ready for the playoffs. Hold on to your butts.
– I’ve never claimed to be a goaltending expert. In fact, I’ve written a handful of times about how (i) even NHL head coaches know very little about goaltending and (ii) performance at that position is very difficult to predict, even for established netminders.
But, Huet has reminded me of a “guess hitter” in baseball during the past few weeks, dropping into the butterfly position – which is fine with me, by the way – but not doing much of anything else. He looks like he’s guessing on the shot, but unable to adjust if he’s wrong. In the end, he looks like Alfonso Soriano guessing offspeed on a fastball, and it’s been equally as ugly.
– Adam Burish pulled off the impossible dream early in the first yesterday evening: an entertaining fight. Burish – for maybe the second or third time in his Blackhawk career – traded blows with his opponent rather than going Zach Stortini on him. Though Dorsett likely got the decision, I expected a positive reaction from the Hawks following the scrap. Silly me.
– The Bolland-Hossa-Sharp looked pretty good for the first time in a while when it played together Thursday night. The only problem is that Bolland wasn’t on it. His replacement, Kopecky, was around the puck all night and brought a more straight-lined, distributive game to the trio.
Bolland has two goals and five assists in 17 games since returning from back surgery last month, even with most of his time coming with Hossa. When he returns from the flu-like symptoms that kept him out of last night’s line-up, he’ll need to be much better.
– Pat Foley has been resorting to some old tricks ever since the trio of Madden-Ladd-Versteeg came together. As he did last season for the fourth line, Foley has been referring to the trio as the “so-called third line” during the past couple weeks. And, while the line has undoubtedly played well together, let’s not kid ourselves: it’s a third line; so called because it is.
– I don’t remember what the Hawks got for Michael Blunden, but it was too much.
– With national unemployment at nearly 10% and the country struggling to emerge from a terrible recession, isn’t it hard to believe that Fedor Tyutin has a job?
– Pat and Eddie were up to their usual saleman antics Thursday, repeatedly lumping the current 100-point campaign with others in Hawk history. Think they mentioned anything about the extra point available in NHL contests during the past few years?
– One has to wonder whether the inventor of the DVR was watching the last period of play in a blowout when the idea struck him/her. Watching the third at double speed yesterday night made me pity all those Hawks fans who came before me and were unable to fast-forward through human sacrifices like the one most of us witnessed at quadruple speed last night.