Blackhawks 5, Maple Leafs 3

The big news of this morning in my world: I’m excited for a Bulls game for the first time since one of the Finals games against the Utah Jazz in 1998.  It’s only been 13 years; I hope I remember all the rules.

As for the Blackhawks – ya know, the subject of this here web site – not even a trip to streaking Toronto in the wee hours of the morning could slow them down.  Given that the Bulls start soon – over-under for how long I watch before I get so incredibly bored I turn it off: 9 minutes – and that I know you saw the game, let’s get right to it.

Tell Me How My Ass Tastes

– The NHL Network allows folks in the United States to watch pre-game Hockey Night in Canada festivities.  (Fantastic television, by the way.  It’s still amazing to me that there exists a world where people feel about hockey like us Americans feel about the NFL and football.  I travel to Canada for work from time to time, and it’s rather surreal to have every episode of SportsCentre begin with some benign hockey story, much like our version of the show opens up with something stupid about Tom Brady three times a week.  I digress.)  The pre-game show ended with an interview with streaking Leafs goalie James Reimer … who just minutes later let in the first two shots he faced in the game, both of which were of the soft variety.

It’s hard to beat a team that has won seven games in a row, but it’s almost impossible to do so after giving up two soft goals within the first few minutes.  That was pretty much it from there.

– In typical Joel Quenneville fashion, the line-up seems to be rather set coming down the stretch, with Keith and Seabrook split on the back end and Toews, Kane and Sharp together up front.  It seems that Q can count on the first line to produce, but that second line will be key.  If Bolland, Hossa and Bickell can play with the speed they showed a few times yesterday evening, having two lines that are difficult to stop could make the Hawks a contender again.

– Patrick Sharp probably should have hit 40 goals last night.

– Nick Leddy has gotten a lot of attention lately, much of it because he has become a talking point on the Blackhawk-run broadcasts.  We’ll talk about it more this week, but Leddy has taken a step forward these past three weeks.  No one should be under the delusion that Leddy will be able to play 20 productive minutes a night in big playoff games, but yesterday notwithstanding, he should be considered a top-four Hawk d-man at the moment.  Like many slick-skating, highly touted defensemen who find some early success, though, he needs to be satisfied making the easy, seemingly unproductive play more often.

– The Hawks’ lack of depth (as compared to last season) has been a topic of conversation since the first of the offseason deals, but all four lines scored last night.  The fourth line is playing particularly well, which as we’ve seen in the past, is an easy way to add a goal every other night; and Frolik may be the kind of player who can give that third line a touch of offensive legitimacy.

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9 Responses to Blackhawks 5, Maple Leafs 3

  1. Big Tony says:

    It’s amazing what a little depth has done for us. Rolling 4 lines again is huge beyond words.

    SportsCentre….nicely played!!

    Here’s hoping Keith’s hand is ok. We can ill-afford to lose him now that we’re finally rolling.

  2. Mick says:

    I watch or DVR the HNIC broadast every week. It’s depth and analysis is akin to NFL Sunday, only it’s not full of hip-hop references. I wish Versus/NBC/Comcast would take notice of their format and try to emulate it. This “NHL Overtime” show sucks for a variety of reasons, none more pressing than the fact that Billy Jaffe is counted on as an “expert” of sorts. He’s been hosting or one of the analysts on “NHL On The Fly” for the past few weeks, and I’m really hoping that it’s because someone else is on vacation.

    For those of you that have never seen a HNIC broadcast, check out this link from Game 5 of last year’s SCF: http://www.youtube.com/user/HockeyHaven76#p/search/23/na6bYPxK6pE

  3. AC says:

    I’ve been impressed with the play of Hossa, Stalberg and Ryan Johnson. It’s no coincidence that when Hossa got hot, the team start rolling. His offense has started to come back (6 goals and 12 points in the last 7 games), while his defense has continued to be stellar. He has been forcing plays defensively that has allowed Bolland and Bickell to capitalize. Stalberg has really pressured on the forecheck with his speed and Johnson has been winning faceoffs at a ridiculous clip. The game seems easier to watch when you have 4 lines actively forcing action and creating scoring chances. Hopefully we get to see this for a few more months.

  4. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    I thought the Leafs game was Craw’s best, he made a few saves in the 3rd that he looked very confident out there. He was on the top of the blue paint and the PS save WOW! Its nice to see Frolik picking up his game, and Campoli looked good out there too.

  5. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    WOW Mick that link was awesome! I only wished I could always watch insight like that

  6. jm says:

    So how much of the Bulls game did you watch?

    I’m in the same boat as you, except I started watching Bulls games again around December. There is a lot about the NBA, and basketball in general, that still annoys me. But Derrick Rose makes so many ridiculously athletic plays a game that I can get past it just to watch him play.

    Combined with the Hawks finally seeming to put it together, this could a fun late spring at the UC.

  7. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    So I am thinking 10 wins on the remaining schedule should get them in

  8. Marts says:

    Yeah, I guess we’re kind of blessed up here with our coverage. It’s something I definitely take for granted. I missed the Chicago Winter Classic as I was on a Caribbean cruise. Of course Royl Caribbean didn’t have an NBC feed (WTF?) so it cost me $55 (paying by the minute for a streaming feed from the internet cafe). If that hadn’t worked I would’ve gone overboard and swam to Curacao… I definitely notice the lack of coverage when I’m not in the Great White.

    Here’s a ridiculous stat for you, 26.5 million Canadians tuned in for the 2010 Gold Medal game (of 34 million total). That would be like the Super Bowl drawing 270 million. Crazy. FYI – I have no idea how they calculate people who watched the whole or in part, but that’s what was reported.

    One thing I will say about the CBC Stanley Cup Finals coverage though. It was hard to listen to Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson because they were still rattled that Vancouver lost to the Hawks. Their coverage was at least 60-40 pro-Flyers. Cherry and MacLean took up the pro-Hawks to balance them out and the studio hosts were about even. The Canucks/Hawks series was so biased I had to tune into NBC coverage when I could.

  9. ArlingtonRob says:

    SSHM,

    With 10 more wins the Hawks are at 100 points, no including OT points. You bet they’d be in.

    My guess for the cutoff is still 95 or 96 points. The remaining schedule is not favorable, but the current streak has greatly increased the probability of a playoff spot. Considering the tough road games ahead, I hope the Hawks take care of business against the few fading teams they face, like the Panthers. Do we really want to place our post season hopes on a sweep of the Wings to end the season? Didn’t think so… Go Hawks!

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