Blackhawks 4, Wild 0

It’s hard to stop Tomas Kopecky once he starts rolling. 

For the third time this year, Kopecky turned in a two-goal performance in a Blackhawks win.  He has now set a new career high with 9 goals and 6 of those goals have come in three games. 

He tallied his first goal of the night at the end of the first period.  With the teams locked in a 0-0 tie, Ben Eager carried the puck over the Minnesota blue line.  He left the puck for Kopecky, and in the blink of an eye, blasted a slap shot past Nicklas Backstrom.  The Wild ‘tender got a shoulder on the puck but it wasn’t enough as it trickled past him and into the net. 

Halfway through the second period, Ben Eager picked off (or simply had the puck bounce off him) an errand Wild pass in the neutral zone.  He came barrelling down the right wing and snapped off a shot towards the net.  Backstrom stopped the shot but kicked the rebound right back to Eager.  It didn’t take long for the rebound to find its way into the back of the Wild’s net.  Good thing, too, because another second longer and Kopecky would’ve taken the net right off its moorings.

In between those two goals, the Hawks completely dominated the Wild.  The puck rarely left the Minnesota side of the ice and when they did have possession, it wasn’t for very long.  It was like November all over again. 

Until the Wild got a 5-on-3 power play at the end of the second period. 

What followed was their only real sustained pressure of the game.  The Wild had three glorious opportunities but were turned away each time by Antti Niemi.  In making the saves, Niemi also bailed out Brent Sopel who played the majority of the 5-on-3 as though he had no idea his team was killing a penalty, let alone two. 

Each golden chance Minnesota had was courtesy of Sopel running around in his defensive zone as if his pants were on fire.  Luckily for him, Niemi was more than able on the point-blank chances.

After the Hawks killed off the 5-on-3, the Wild never really had a chance.

Tomas Kopecky added his second goal early in the third period courtesy of some hard work from his linemates.  Colin Fraser dug the puck out from down deep in the Hawks end.  Eager made a nifty chip pass in his defensive zone to spring Kopecky on a 2-on-1.  Then on the ensuing rush, Kopecky faked a shot and snapped a low shot through Backstrom’s legs to give the fourth line -and the Hawks- their third goal of the night. 

Jonathan Toews closed out the scoring after he banged home a sweet Marian Hossa backhand pass from below the goal line.  The play started on a perfectly placed Ham Sandwich dump-in.  If you could bottle that play up, you’d never have a problem scoring goals in this league.

This time, there would be no four goal comeback from the Wild and the Hawks first extended losing streak of the season mercifully ended.  Antti Niemi recorded his seventh shutout of the season and all is normal in Hawk Nation once again.

Quickies

–I have no qualms with the output from the fourth line tonight.  Where I’m getting increasingly frustrated is the feast or famine production that’s going on with them.  In Los Angeles, they were the best line on the ice.  Against Phoenix, they were liabilities.  They were non-factors against Columbus and St. Louis.  Then tonight, the best line again.  I’ve already been burned too many times this year by declaring the fourth line officially back; so I’ll just be content with them looking normal against New Jersey.  

–A really scary moment early on in the game involving Colin Fraser.  He was slammed into the boards and while he was sitting on the bench, play was actually stopped to let the Minnesota trainer get on the Hawks bench to examine him.  I can’t say I’ve ever seen that before.  The good news was Fraser didn’t die on the bench and it also gave Pat and Eddie the opportunity to smooch the Blackhawks official team doctor for a solid 15 minutes during the second period.

–Can you actually believe at this time last year Brent Burns was considered a favorite for Team Canada’s defense?   Unable to shake the injury bug and unable to escape the stench coming from the Wild, Burns has taken two steps back since his 43 point campaign in ’07-08. 

–So that’s three games for Patrick Kane without a point.  How long before we’re subjected to stories about what’s wrong with him?  I give it another day.  With the off-day on Thursday, it’s guaranteed that someone (and I’m not naming names) will look to give him a beating after he skated with four different linemates on back-to-back nights.

*On the Farm*

–Kyle Beach had a goal and assist in Spokane’s Game 7 overtime loss to the Portland Winterhawks.  Beach finished his WHL career with 7 goals and 2 assists in the playoffs.  Assuming he isn’t dealing with any nagging injuries and assuming they’ll accept him back, Beach will be in Rockford fairly soon.

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28 Responses to Blackhawks 4, Wild 0

  1. Rob in Arlington says:

    If I’m not mistaken, the road team won every game in that Spokane-Portland series. Not much fun for the ticket buyers.

    Do you think Beach will be getting regular minutes with the Hawks next year?

  2. Nick says:

    I was saying the same thing to myself all game, “Oh yeah, THAT’S what the real Hawks look like”. It’s definitely tough being the Hawks goalie: you don’t get much work, and when you do see shots they are of the prime chance variety. Solid work from Niemi. Saves on the PK that Cristo would not have made for sure.

    I’m in agreement about the fourth line also. Where was that Gentle Ben all year? A 3 point night? Kane doesn’t need to put up points when the 4thies play up to their capabilities.

    Speaking of Kane, he was solid and might have had at least 1 assist, but Sharp couldn’t get control of a bouncing puck.

  3. Dave Morris says:

    Gentlemen, this performance against the Mild Things was a tonic for the lads after the lambasting they have taken from the media and fanbase over the past two weeks.

    It certainly appeared last night as if ‘The Adjustment’ had been made, and that the Blackhawks’ embracing of hockey basics served them well.

    The pre-game pep talk Eddie Olcyzk had with Tommy Kopecky and Ottawa native Benny Eager, telling them to “Get the puck to the net!” seemed to have resonated with the young fellows, who responded with a stout showing.

    Antti Niemi, recently seen thumbing through a dog-eared copy of Jacques Plante’s Goaltending Primer, is, reportedly, also an admirer of Frank Brimsek.

    Now of course, comes the next test, against Marty Brodeur and the Badabing Bunch.

    PS Lee was right.

  4. Lee Rosenberg says:

    Dave, I know I am always right but what am I right about now

    MAYBE THAT BRENT SOPEL REALLY SUCKS?

  5. Dave Morris says:

    Lee, please take it easy on Bashful Brent…he’s one bruised individual. And he’s been a solid 5/6 guy all year.

    BTW Hawks surpass the 100 point mark in consecutive seasons for the 1st time since 1970-71 and 1971-72.

    I remember where I was then. Do you?

  6. CT says:

    Chris Kuc was on the Score’s morning show and I guess Fraser simply had the wind knocked out of him. He couldn’t breath properly which I guess was freaking the trainers out (thinking of a broken rib/punctured lung combo). Or, it was all just an elaborate April Fools’ joke by Colin.

    I think Kane’s personal goal is to be point a game player in the regular season this year. As such, he won’t bother to score again until the playoffs.

  7. dominator says:

    Great game last night, hopefully pulled some jumpers back from the ledges.

  8. Patrick says:

    Not to be a wet blanket here, but was that a win against an NHL team, or an AHL team (from what I read of who was sitting out on the Mild)?

    Good to see a win though. Points are points…

  9. dominator says:

    They were only missing Barker, Ebbett and Kobasew as far as I know.

  10. feyer says:

    I share John’s 4th line frustration. I’m either praising those guys or blasting them. Kopecky in particular is an enigma wrapped up in a riddle. I’m back in his corner again, but reserve the right to change my mind at a later date. At any rate, it was great to see the team put together a solid victory.

  11. CT says:

    The thing about 4th liners is, they’re 4th liners. If they offered consistent production, they probably wouldn’t be playing on the 4th line.

    I don’t expect much production from them, but I do expect them to play their asses off when they get their ice time. If they can’t bring their energy in limited minutes, then they can surely be replaced by guys from Rockford who can.

  12. John says:

    CT, I concur. What’s bugging me is they’re either the best players on the ice or incapable of clearing their own zone for the entire game. I would be more than happy with simply seeing solid play and 10 minutes of ice time for them. Screw production; just give us some steadiness.

  13. AC says:

    The thing that stood out to me last night was the play of Niemi. This is the first time all year I’ve felt like either of our goalies stepped up and played like a starter should, making the tough saves at big moments in the game. I know both goalies have a number of shutouts and nice GAA numbers, but I haven’t really seen this up til last night. Now that I’ve made that statement I fully expect Niemi to give up a couple of softies tomorrow. Anyhow, I hope this gives them a little shot of confidence to get back on track.

    I still believe that Kane should be with Toews and Brou and that Sharp should be the 2nd line C for Hossa.

  14. Otter says:

    Is anyone else worried that as goes the 4th line, so go the Hawks? The top three lines have to start playing better.

    Nice win and it puts any talk of throwing away the Central or the #2 seed away (I figure three more points and the Hawks wrap up the #2 seed).

    Looking at the standings, looks like the #7 will either be the Preds or Kings.

    If the Sharks choke, then the Hawks are looking at either the Flames or Avs…

  15. Lou says:

    Happy Birthday Dave Morris

  16. Nick says:

    The 4th line is integral to the Hawks Cup dreams. Maybe they dont have to produce like they did in this game, but they need to be winning the corner battles and continuing the puck possession game without a hitch.

  17. Dave Morris says:

    Geez Lou, thanks, but my birthday’s not ’til the fall.

    If the Hawks pick up those four points they need to win the Central though, you could raise a glass for all of us.

    🙂

  18. Lou says:

    Dave, I swear it said that in my calendar.

  19. Jack says:

    I would love to see a Wings v Canucks quarter final battle. At least then one of my hated teams will lose.

  20. Jack says:

    Were any non-season ticket holders here able to get playoff tickets for the first two rounds??? I had plans to man up the internet but then forgot!! I’ll have to wait until the conference and SC finals tix go on sale.

  21. John says:

    Rob in Arlington, sorry for the delayed answer….my best guess is he’ll get minutes initially in the season. After that, it’ll be up to him to stick up here.

    He needs to make a solid impression at the prospects camp this summer, then we’ll have a better idea of where he’ll be in regards to next year’s roster.

  22. Lee says:

    What about Beach this year?

  23. John says:

    Again, no.

  24. Big Tony says:

    Boy, all those fights the Hawks won last night really sparked the team to victory!! Here I thought that good D, puck movement and possession, solid goalie play and balanced offense was what won games.

    Stupid me. We would have won 10-0 if we had traded for another goon.

  25. Dave Morris says:

    Are Lee and Lee Rosenberg related?

    Will the Hawks baffle Brodeur tonight and leave him looking like cold poutine?

    And will Ben Eager, or Tom Kopecky, or Adam Burish, dress up as the Easter Bunny on Sunday?

  26. Lee says:

    One and the same. Beach just assigned to Rockford!

  27. Dave Morris says:

    Lee, you are, as Lou would say, ubiquitous.

    Mazel tov!

    PS Nicky Boynton apparently had his kisser busted by Cammie-Jan…he was on the ice wearing a cage today.

    PPS you were/are absolutely right about the Hawks needing a policeman. Look for StanBow to correct that in the offseason.

    PPPS now that Q has anointed Nemo as Da Man, looks like Huey is history. Chris Kuc’s report here:
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/hockey/blackhawks/ct-spt-0402-bits-blackhawks-chicago–20100401,0,6001282.story

    Have the playoffs started yet?

  28. Lee says:

    Dave: Arn’t you in Canada and if so how do you know about the cage?
    Mazel tov to you

    Rockford just brought up the following:

    Ryan Stanton
    Brandon Bollig
    Kyle Beach

    Interesting that Akim stays in Toledo

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