Blackhawks 3, Penguins 2 (SO)

Though it’s hardly worth bragging about, the Blackhawks managed to squeeze out two points against an outmanned Pittsburgh Penguins.  And that’s all that really matters at this point.

Yes, the game was far closer than it needed to be.  Yes, the Penguins really had no business scoring one goal, let alone two with the lineup they were sporting.  Yes, the game should have ended when Tyler Kennedy had a wide-open net staring back at him in overtime.  The list goes on, really.  But the bottom line is, the Hawks grabbed two points and judging by the reaction of their faithful when they don’t, we probably should just be happy when they do.  Otherwise, it’s simply a miserable existence. 

Rather than rehashing specifics, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

Thoughts

–My feelings about Bryan Bickell seemed to be echoed pretty loudly by Jonathan Toews this afternoon.  On Pittsburgh’s second goal, Bickell had a chance to seperate Jordan Staal from the puck in the neutral zone.  Toews had Staal temporarily tied up and a little bump from Bickell would have given the Hawks the puck.  Instead, he did a little fly-by that allowed Staal the opening to create their scoring play.  Upon returning to the bench, Toews unleashed on Bickell for the soft play.   

I know Bickell’s stat look respectable for a secondary scorer, but watching him game in and game out, there is a lot to dislike about the way he plays.  He’s not a great forechecker; he doesn’t utilize his size at all; and he doesn’t create nearly enough space for his linemates.  Other than that, he’s great. 

–Pierre MacGuire can be a pretty good analyst when he’s not rattling off where every player played in juniors or college.  But I’m also pretty sure among his many talents, reading the collective minds of 22 players is not one of them.  I’m not sure when body language and chit-chat on the bench seemed to be the end all, be all in deciding the outcome of hockey games but MacGuire has become the Miss Cleo of NBC’s telecast.  It’s such a shame too because MacGuire is incredibly good at instantly dissecting a play. 

Take for instance when he commended Tim Wallace for not sending Michael Frolik back to the Stone Age as he crossed towards the center of the slot.  This was well before anyone had seen the replay.  

For whatever reason, someone at NBC really wants us to know what the mood is on each bench.

–Ryan Johnson would’ve fit in perfectly on the Hawks about seven years ago.

–Another really solid effort from Dave Bolland.  I’d still like to see him shoot a little more.  Case in point, in overtime when he had a point blank from about 25 feet out.  He dished it to Michael Frolik instead.  Granted he still set up Frolik with a really nice shot but Bolland seemed to have the better chance.  There was also a sequence in the second period where he waited a split second too long to get the puck to Marian Hossa from behind the net.  The puck still got there but Hossa’s scoring chance was minimized by that hair of a second. 

 But at least we’ve reached the point where Bolland is actually a difference maker.  That’s certainly better than the alternative we saw through the front half of the season.   

–Tomas Kopecky seems to have found his rightful place on the 4th line.  He celebrated the move by losing his helmet for the first time in ages during a scramble in the second period.  Good times.

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23 Responses to Blackhawks 3, Penguins 2 (SO)

  1. Patrick says:

    Good recap, John. Thanks. I saw a few other things and I’m wondering if my evaluation is correct.

    – The D looked pretty good, save trying to clear the rebound on the second goal.
    – With that, Leddy looked good by not really sticking out. He seems to be making better decisions with the puck at both ends of the ice. Did I miss anything with him?
    – Crawford sure seems to give up some big rebounds, kind of like Niemi did.
    – The Hawks top line was dominant.

    Good to get a win, that is all…

  2. Rebecca says:

    I mute the TV every time MacGuire speaks. I can’t stand it when he starts everything off by saying, “Hey Edzo…..”

  3. ArlingtonRob says:

    Just to comment on Bickell. Although he’s a flawed player at this point, he is in his first full season at the NHL level, so I cut him some slack. At 500,000 per and new to the NHL grind he’s been respectable. I just hope he improves on his play next year.

  4. Ban says:

    Agreed with ArlingtonRob. I remember watching Brouwer a few years back. It would seem any time he touched the puck, something bad would happen, but a few years later and he’s become one of the biggest bargains in the NHL. I fully expect the same to happen with Bickell as he adjusts to the NHL level. They’re both similar players. Similar build, physicality, play style, hockey IQ…but Brouwer has more experience. I believe Bickell will get there eventually as well.

    Even with the way he’s playing now, at $500,000 a year, he’s doing far more than is expected of him.

  5. CT says:

    A couple of broadcast observations from yesterday:

    I watched the 3rd period of the Detroit/MN game, and was shocked by how good Pat Foley was. I don’t know if it was because he couldn’t assume his audience’s familiarity with the teams/product or that he couldn’t fall back on his “chemistry” with Edzo or a combination of the two, but he was almost his old self. And here I’d assumed he just sort of lost it like Harry Caray.

    Listened to the 2nd and 3rd periods of the Hawks game in the car. I’ve probably said it before, but Troy Murray is excellent. I know exactly what you’re talking about on the Pens 2nd goal, because Murray took all 3 forwards to task for trying stick checks there instead of just taking the body. Murray also highlighted that the Hawks 3rd period woes may be getting to them, pointing out that each forward appeared to be checking the game clock as they came off the ice from their shift.

  6. John says:

    Thanks CT…I totally forgot to mention how excellent Foley was. I don’t recall him confusing players more than a couple times, if at all. That was vintage Pat Foley there; I just wish we got more of that during the season.

  7. John says:

    Couple of differences with Brouwer vs. Bickell…Brouwer never avoided contact the way Bickell does. In his first season here even if he couldn’t score worth a damn, he still created space for Kane and Toews which is the big reason why he skated with them for nearly the entire season. Bickell also plays along the perimeter something Brouwer has never done.

  8. Katherine215 says:

    You guys do a great job on the recaps. I always learn something that I completely missed while watching the game, in this case the Bickell stuff.

  9. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    I am fine with Bickell as a 3rd/ 4th line player. Stalberg however is a player I am completed disappointed in. This is a guy who at 1 point was playing on the 1st line. I think the Hawks really missed on this kid. Alot of the Hawks 3rd and 4th line players are completly interchangable parts. There isn’t 1 guy from that group that is necessary for the teams success. I would be fine with some of these guys if they were more physical. Spot on with Bickell’s lack of hitting, but Hawks fans had the same tag on Big Buff for how man years. I just hope Craw gets the nod this afternoon. I am done with Turco at this point.

  10. Dominic says:

    You can laugh in my face, but Ryan Johnson is going to be huge for this team down the stretch. His 4th line play/pk/faceoff stuff will be huge. he will be like John Madden, except that Johnson skates much better.

    Dropping Kopecky down is a great move. You really want to root for the guy, and you see some good things…then all of a sudden he turns back into his own zone and turns it over…absolutely brutal.

  11. Fork says:

    Bolland’s passing to Frolik made me think that maybe Bolland is trying to give Frolik chances, so he can get off the schneid.

    Not a wise decision at that moment, but that was the feeling I had.

  12. John says:

    He is like John Madden, except he’s horrible. Johnson will be lucky to finish this season in one piece, let alone be a difference maker. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take him over John Scott the rest of the way, but he’s just another example of how poorly the bottom of this roster was constructed. He should be Marty Reasoner. Instead, we’re stuck with a guy who was out of hockey and can’t play more than 4 games in a row without something falling off of him.

  13. Cam says:

    And the Hawks will likely follow up that unimpressive win with an even less impressive loss in St. Louis. The Blues always outwork and physically manhandle the Hawks.

  14. Cam says:

    Yep, it’s a mauling.

    Think my initial impression from the early weeks of the season was correct—this team just isn’t very good for some reason.

  15. John says:

    Cam, I love how you only make your appearance whenever things are going bad.

  16. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    Nice 2nd period, lets see if they can close strong, which seems to be a huge problem this season

  17. Cam says:

    I love how you’re wrong about that, though why you’d care when I post I have no idea.

    I probably failed “to appear” during the good times because they have been few and far between.

    Oh, the Hawks have scored 4 times in the second period, mostly thanks to the Blues using their 3rd-string goalie.

    Hawks still with no clue on how to combat a good forecheck.

  18. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    How come it takes Coach Q to go in the hospital to find the Sharp, Toews and Kane line combo which has been killing it lately?

  19. Cam says:

    Polak falling into the bench after Turco opened the door on him might be the highlight of the season.

  20. Leany M. says:

    Hey!

    So I’m not into hockey that much but I do like to keep up with what parties are going on in Chicago. I came across this one and just wanted to let you know about the Chicago Blackhawks Appreciation/viewing party coming up this Thursday, 2/24. It’s being hosted by Billy Dec, the guy who owns the restaurants and club that the Blackhawks went to last year with the Stanley Cup after their win. There’s gonna be awesome giveaways from tickets to swag to food and drinks, and TVs showing the game. Thought you’d like to share with your readers! It’s free too 🙂

    Here’s a link to the info: http://www.billydec.com/blog/chicago-blackhawks-appreciation-night-at-rockit-wrigley-for-my-social-media-friends/

  21. John says:

    Cam, they’re 8 games above .500. Not nearly as bad as you make them out to be. I don’t care when you post; I was simply stating how you only show up when things go south. I thought that was amusing.

  22. Cam says:

    Huh? I said they aren’t very good, not that they’re horrible.

    They’re 2 games over .500 counting OT and shootouts. However, they should be far better than that considering their goal differential. They’ve just found ways to lose umpteen close games, and damn near did it again today, incidentally.

  23. Chuck says:

    Billy Dec is a royal douche bag and an embarrassment to the city of Chicago. Interesting how he’s nowhere to be found around the Hawks now that he can’t draw people to his terrible establishments with false rumors that the Cup is going to be there.

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