Blackhawks 3, Wild 1

The race to 95 points began tonight and for the Blackhawks, it was two points in the right direction.  Now they just have 31 to go. 

After a shaky start, the Hawks potted a power play goal thanks to some terrific passing from Marian Hossa and Dave Bolland.  Brian Campbell finished what they started and the Hawks were off and running. 

The game probably could have been finished by the end of the second if it wasn’t for Jose Theodore partying like it was 2002.  The Hawks had four power plays in the second period and were unable to sneak anything past Theodore.  So the lead stayed at 1-0. 

In the third, Minnesota capitalized on a Bryan Bickell penalty.  The Hawks seemed to have the Wild power play under control until Jared Spurgeon came racing through the neutral zone.  A give-and-go between him and Matt Cullen tied the game at 1.

Just seconds later, Chuck Kobasew took a ridiculous penalty when he threw his stick at Viktor Stalberg’s feet in the neutral zone.  On the ensuing power play, Duncan Keith kept the scoring play alive when he held the blue line and kept the puck in Minnesota’s end.  Dave Bolland found Troy Brouwer on a mini 2-0n-1 with Marian Hossa.  Brouwer’s cross-crease pass deflected off Greg Zanon’s stick and trickled through the legs of Theodore. 

The Hawks regained a lead they would never relinquish. 

Thoughts

–If this is the Marian Hossa the Hawks can expect for the remainder of the season, then the playoffs shouldn’t even be a worry.  That’s a big if, however.  Hossa was a machine sent from the future to destroy tonight.  Two assists and he took the puck strong to the crease every time he had the opportunity.  Other than being healthy, it seemed like, for the first time in ages, Hossa stopped waiting for his linemates to do the heavy lifting.  Lo and behold, he, Bolland, and Frolik actually looked like they knew what they were doing together.

–Speaking of Bolland, he was dynamite on the power play.  It’s nice to have as good of a first unit as the Hawks have, but to have a really great power play, they need both lines to contribute.  Bolland was the driving force behind the second unit tonight.  He was great distributing the puck from the half-wall and the side of the net.  Again, more of this and the playoffs shouldn’t even be a concern.    

–The Bickell-Kopecky-Brouwer line…not as big of a trainwreck as one would imagine. 

–I find the Hawks defensive pairings to be absolutely mystifying as I’m sure mostly everyone else does.  The curious thing to me is at the beginning of the year when points weren’t a premium, Nick Leddy wouldn’t touch the ice past the half way point of the game.  Now with their season on the line, the Hawks have no problem with him taking huge shifts in tight games.  Even this past weekend in the two overtime games, there was Leddy skating with the game on his stick. 

Yet at the beginning of the year, he couldn’t get a sniff even with a two goal lead.  Something seems backwards here.

–The Hawks took to the ice today without Joel Quenneville tonight for an undisclosed reason.  Quenneville was rushed to the emergency room last night because of ‘severe discomfort’.   

I thought the Hawks handled the situation very poorly this morning when news broke of Quenneville’s visit to the emergency room.  Instead of simply saying, “It’s a private matter,” or “We don’t have all the information so we don’t want to say anything until we do”, they simply said he was in the hospital for an undisclosed illness and it wasn’t cardiac related.  Stan Bowman released a statement saying the organization was thinking of Joel and his family during this time.  And that was it.  It sure seemed like the Hawks were trying to keep something secret. 

Imagine the outcry from the media if the Bears tried pulling a stunt like that.  The city would probably burn down in a matter of hours. 

With the Hawks, it was greeted with a shrug, a witty upper body injury quip, and that was it.  I guess that’s just the way it is and someday I’ll get used to it.

I didn’t think Joel Quenneville’s medical condition was a huge international incident or even public information for that matter, but it just seemed like the Hawks were awfully close to starting a firestorm of controversy for no reason. 

(Of course, my tweets seemed to get misunderstood this afternoon when I was told countless times I was making a big deal of nothing or that Joel Quenneville’s medical condition is none of my business.  Clearly, I understand that but it’s hard to get your real point across in 140 characters especially when everything you write people automatically assume you’re screaming it.  I hate Twitter.)

–Troy Brouwer scored his 17th goal tonight.  Don’t worry, though, he still can’t finish.

–In his third game with the Hawks, Michael Frolik still seems to be adjusting.  The Hawks stress a lot of movement with and without the puck in the offensive zone and it’s clearly not something that’s taught in Florida.  More than a few times so far, Frolik has gained the puck in the offensive zone and stopped moving his legs while waiting for someone to get open.  It’s probably going to take a little bit before he’s finally up to speed.

The encouraging thing is Frolik seems to have a clue in the defensive end and doesn’t mind taking a hit to make a play.  So he should avoid the 4th line doghouse where many have been sent to die this year.

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20 Responses to Blackhawks 3, Wild 1

  1. talkendo says:

    Just so you know, *I* got the point you were trying to get across yesterday. And, more importantly, you’re right.
    Also, I like what Frolik’s bringing to that line and want to see what happens if those three stay together more than a game and a half.
    You know who can’t finish: Tomas Kopecky.

  2. Dominic says:

    What is the knock on Leddy? As for the D pairings, it is obvious what they have done. That is make Seabrook and Hamsandwich the shutdown pair, and let the other two be offensive. I like it. It is allowing Keith more latitude. Leddy is impressive. Sure every now and again he fumbles a puck…show me a game where Keith and Seabrook don’t give it away 3 times each? Anyhow, his poise and first pass are truly special. Additionally, he has played stronger defensively..staying with guys, rubbing them out.

    Hope Ryan Johnson gets back soon. I think he, Dowell and Stahlberg make for a great third line. Plus you get his PK, shot blocking, faceoffs and grit.

  3. Dominic says:

    I meant 4th line…..

  4. feyer says:

    Thanks for highlighting the exploits of Hossa. I was wondering who that player was wearing number 81. He is a keeper. Could Bolland turn out to be that number 2 center the hawks have been looking for?

  5. John says:

    There is no knock on Leddy. The knock is on how they’ve handled him thus far. The time to get him all this playing time was at the beginning of the year when he was playing here, not now when points are absolutely precious.

    You can have Ryan Johnson. The guy blows, in my opinion.

  6. CT says:

    To chip in on the handling of Leddy by the team, there’s also the fact that they keep sending him down to Rockford whenever the team has 2-3 days off between games. I wasn’t wild about doing that before when he was playing very few minutes, but now if the Hawks are going to put him on the ice with Keith in big situations, he needs as much practice time with the big club as possible.

  7. dominator says:

    I’d agree that Ryan Johnson isn’t very good but if the choice is between him and Scott, I’ll take Johnson.
    Also agreed on the B-K-B line, they had some pretty good shifts yesterday.

  8. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    Good game against a team they are chasing. I think they will need more than 95 points to make the playoffs though.

  9. Marts says:

    I thought B-K-B line was pretty decent and if Pisani gets healthy I think he slots right into that 4th line with Dowell and Stalberg. Having two 4th liners that can kill penalities is always a plus for your ice time situation as you can choke back their evenstrength time in place of 3 or 4 mins of hard PK mins. Real good situation for a coach.

    Also, was I just imagining things or did Haviland seem to roll the lines better than Q? I can’t stand the way Q coaches so maybe I’m always searching for something but it SEEMED better.

  10. John says:

    Meh, I think the line rolling was about the same. If anything, the shifts seemed much shorter for the top 2 lines but that would’ve probably been the case with Q in charge because of Kane still recovering from the flu.

    It’s pretty much a mathematical fact that 95 points is the finish line. With all the head-to-head games left between blob teams, there’s only so many points to go around.

  11. David says:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the play of Kane yesterday. Maybe it was the after affects of his flu dizzying his senses, but it was the most aggressive I’ve seen him on both ends of the ice since the playoffs. In Minny’s zone he was going hard into the corners, and often coming out with the puck and in our zone I even saw 88 backchecking a few times. I know it’s not his job to do the “little things” but it really makes a big difference. Seeing as how it’s essentially playoff time already, I’d like to see more of this from 88.

  12. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    Any thoughts on add the B’s Stuart to the Hawks blueline? Thats the new rumor around town. I think he is excatly the type of player the Hawks should be targeting. He would be an upgrade on the Hawks PK which is poor (26th overall)

  13. talkendo says:

    @southsidehawkman

    Don’t like the Stuart rumors. Here’s why: He doesn’t fit under current capspace and Bruins aren’t wanting to take on salary AND the 50-man roster is full. So, someone has to disappear. Who? Leddy? Well that’s ridiculous. You’ve started his contract, you’ve already trusted him at the end of close games. Boynton? Sure, just dump in the River. Hendry? I LIKE Hendry. He PROBABLY could be the kind of Dman Stuart is. If they hadn’t stunted his development over the past three years for guys like Boynton, Matt Walker and the dearly departed Cam Barker. Ugh. I think our D is solid enough.
    He MIGHT be the kind of D the Hawks need, but if so, why wasn’t someone of his ilk targeted BEFORE Leddy crossed the 10 game marker? Personally, blocking Leddy’s development for a sixth defenseman at this point in the season is ridiculous.

  14. dominator says:

    Leddy would still be playing though? Stuart would be on the 6 with Leddy or Campbell or however the RLG the d-pairings. Hendry would be in the press box and Boynton would be fired out of a cannon or something. That said, Stuart would be a good fit but no idea how you get him here.

  15. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    I like Hendry too, but not as much as I’d rather a solid PK guy. Hendry doesn’t kill PK is only a spot 6 d man. Where as Staurt can help the Hawks special teams and lighten the load for a guy like Keith. Staurt makes 1.5 or 1.6 so the Hawks would need to move about that same dollar amount. Making it a tough trade but a worthwhile move in my opinion

  16. Patrick says:

    Hawks are not at the 50 man limit anymore. Hawks would probably need to move about 500k in salary to make a deal happen, but Boston doesn’t want it. I like the Stuart proposal and think he would slot nicely with Leddy, with Hendry as the 7th d-man, but he’s a UFA after this season.

    Rumor out there now is that this rumor is just a rumor…

  17. dominator says:

    Pacan was never under contract so they still are at 50 I think. Stuart went to the Thrash (aka Hawks South)

  18. John says:

    Correct dominator. I was mistaken in my post-Frolik trade blog post. Salak took Jessiman’s spot on the 50 man. Therefore any talk of Stuart straight for draft picks was misinformed.

    According to capgeek, the Hawks have enough room for someone with about a $1.1 cap hit without clearing any space off their current roster. That number will continue to go up the closer we get to the deadline. Unfortunately, the 50 man roster is maxed out so someone must go with anyone who comes in.

  19. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    Well there goes that rumor, he would have been a nice pickup. Oh well

  20. Patrick says:

    Damn, John. You were my source on that one. 😉

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