Blackhawks 6, Sharks 3

Amazingly, after a first period that saw the Hawks give up a goal on a 5-on-3 and the Sharks scored in the waning moments of the period, the Hawks came back to win easily 6-3.  This won’t be the game grizzled old hockey cliches use as evidence. 

A big crooked number in the second period from the Hawks, though, turned a close game into a laugher.  Marian Hossa kicked off the party with back-to-back power play goals.  One came on a beautiful passing play started by Patrick Kane.  Kane found Patrick Sharp at the point and Sharp made a slap-pass to Hossa who banged his shot past Antti Niemi.

Hossa’s next goal originated from a Patrick Sharp rush.  Sharp left a drop pass to Hossa who cut across the slot and guided his shot through Niemi’s legs. 

Jonathan Toews followed suit with his 30th goal of the season a minute later.  This time, a misguided attempt by Ben Eager to keep the puck in the Hawks zone allowed Brent Seabrook to chip the puck past him and find Jonathan Toews spearheading a 2-on-1 with Patrick Kane.  Toews fired his shot through Niemi’s legs.  Exit stage left for Niemi.

Seven minutes later, Tomas Kopecky kept three Sharks at bay as he controlled the puck.  He waited and found Niklas Hjalmarsson wide open at the blue line.  Hjalmarsson walked down the slot and fired a seeing-eye slap shot that found its way through about five bodies. 

After a Logan Couture goal cut the lead to two, Toews, Kane and Sharp went back to work.  Twenty seconds later, Patrick Kane had the 100th goal of his career.

Thoughts

When the big boys score, it makes things look a lot easier.  But the Hawks fourth line has actually become their third line and their third line has become their fourth.  Jake Dowell, Bryan Bickell and Fernando Pisani are not anything close to a checking line.  Dowell, after a really good start to his season, has shown why it took him so long to make it to the NHL.  He makes way too many soft plays in his defensive end to be counted on against the opposition’s top three lines.  Once again, tonight, I counted at least three giveaways from him in their defensive end.  In the first period alone. 

Meanwhile, Ryan Johnson, Tomas Kopecky, and Viktor Stalberg are actually pretty effective when matched up against the opposition’s fourth line.  But that’s where the rub lies.

Once they start getting more ice time, they’re going to be equally exploited against better competition.  Joel Quenneville basically has to decide if he wants to have a really good fourth line play ten minutes or less a night or have two ‘third’ lines take turns getting slayed by the competition’s top three lines. 

So as long as Dave Bolland remains out, the Hawks are going to go only so far as their top four forwards and four defensemen take them. 

–It wasn’t a very good homecoming for Ben Eager.  Then again, he’s been pretty awesome for the Sharks since they acquired him.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence since the Sharks made all their mid-season moves, they’ve taken off in the standings and Eager is a big part of that.

–If Patrick Sharp is going to continue his dry spell, four assists will do more than make up for his lack of goal scoring.

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7 Responses to Blackhawks 6, Sharks 3

  1. Francis Roberts says:

    Good summary, John. I thought last night was a great effort by the Hawks, especially given the circumstances: back to back game against a top quality team, and missing two key players in Soup and Bolland. 3rd and 4th lines are a bit of a issue. 4th line is playing well. Stalberg is still a work in progress, but he is coming along. Johnson’s skill at the dot helps to keep this line out of trouble in the defensive zone. Hopefully they can play more minutes with no drop in results. 3rd line is a bit of a mess. Dowell’s play does seem to have dropped off since the first half of the season, which is surprising since he is basically playing for his NHL life now. Pisani is not the same player either. This line needs to pick it up. I wonder if someone like Smith from Hogs might be of use here.

  2. Otter says:

    Great point about the 3rd and 4th lines, something I noticed on Sunday (when you could have argued that Kopecky was the Hawks best forward until he took that stupid penalty). The 3rd line is useless right now, Dowell is MIA and Bickell is a one trick pony (and I wonder how much longer that trick is gonna work).

    All and all, hopefully Bolland isn’t going to miss months… the Hawks are really starting to round into shape and make another run for this thing, but I fear that without Bolland they won’t be able to get past the Wings or Canucks in part because he is important to the Hawks success but also because as you’re mentioning, the Hawks depth takes a huge hit when they lose one of those top two line players (as we’ve seen all year).

  3. Marts says:

    Getting Bolland back is a must. Who noticed Heatley last night at all? Maybe twice? He’s always been a periferal player who only “created” by getting open for shots and peppering the net but he was invisible last night. I haven’t watched the Sharks much this year so I can’t speak for his body of work, but that’s not promising for them. Once again, I don’t consider them to be any threat to win a cup…

  4. Patrick says:

    Okay, some quick thoughts, questions, etc:

    1. What was up with Frolik – why only 10 mins TOI?
    2. Brouwer really looks like he’s pressing right now – don’t think he really had that good of a game, and hasn’t for a while now.
    3. Hossa is a beast.
    4. Good for you, Hjammer! Let’s keep that fresh in Shark’s Fans minds so the Hawks can trade him to SJ in the off season for Pavelski.
    5. Toews, Kane and Sharp are the best top line in hockey right now.
    6. Campoli is a squirrel on crack, and sometimes that’s a good thing (see Stahlberg goal), and the Jumbo Joe goal wasn’t his fault.
    7. John Scott really didn’t look out of place on the blue line last night. I’m not saying I want to see a lot of him there – I’m just saying.

  5. Dominic says:

    When Bolland comes back late next week, you will see Frolik center Brouer and Pisani on the third line. Unfortunately, Dowell turns into this years Colin Fraser assuming everyone stays healthy.

  6. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    Here is one for the smart Hawks fans,… Crawfords nickname? Craw? Crow? or Crawf? What does the team refer to him as? Does anyone know?

  7. Adam F says:

    When is the “Nick Leddy has blossomed” column coming? Wasn’t there a foreshadowing to that affect a couple of game recaps ago? I was eager, Not Ben Eager, but eager to read that. Personally, I think they’re kind o playing Russian Roulette with the D, but was waiting to see what you guys had to say.

    I know that, even with this impressive win, that this team still needs Google Maps to get the puck out of their zone. Especially with 51 phantom not on the ice. I’m hoping Leddy will be an answer in that regard. Because Hjamarson and Seabrook aren’t very strong at it and the Norris Trophy winner is an equal opportunist in that he’ll turn it over to a Calgary Flame as quickly as he would a Phoenix Coyote, Nashville Predator, or Chicago Blackhawk. If only the rest of the world could be as less discriminating as a Duncan Keith turnover…. but I digress.

    Anyway, look forward to that future article.

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