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.
–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.