Blackhawks 3, Red Wings 2 (OT)

It was a good thing (or bad depending how you look at it) Joey MacDonald played as well as he did otherwise one of the better games of the season would have been an afterthought by the end of the second period.  The Hawks brought a dogged effort to the Joe Louis Arena on Monday night and MacDonald was really the only reason why the game was as close as it was.

Two power play goals were the difference including the game-winner in overtime by a beastly Marian Hossa.  The power play came as a result from determined stick-handling by Patrick Kane at the end of regulation. 

On to Boston.

Just A Couple Quick Things Before This Game is Completely Forgotten

Mark it on your calendars, March 28th.  The first day a Blackhawk mouthpiece went out of their way to shamelessly defend Marcus Kruger.  On Detroit’s first goal in a 4-on-4 situation, Marcus Kruger was caught in no-man’s land.  His positioning allowed Niklas Lidstrom to have all sorts of room before he buried his slap shot past Corey Crawford. 

Pierre MacGuire correctly identified where the mistake was made in coverage by Kruger.  Then a minute later, Ed Olcyzk took it upon himself to blast Bryan Bickell instead, hereby excusing Kruger of any wrongdoing.

As for Kruger the rest of the game, he played the first strong shift of his NHL career in the third.  Now when does his wing in Toronto open up?

–Nick Leddy is fine.  Except for the fact that he’s played just 15 minutes combined in the last two games including a season-low 6 minutes in Detroit. 

–I would love to know why someone of Michael Frolik’s ability thinks it’s a good idea to simply wing the puck towards the net from 45 feet out with his back to the play.  Someone in Florida must have really done a number on him.  You have to think the Hawk coaches are trying to break him of this nasty habit but I’ve yet to really see evidence of that.

–I hope Marian Hossa got to sit in Steve Yzerman’s old hyperbolic chamber for a few minutes after last night’s game.  Hossa was getting double-shifted for the majority of the game and led all forwards with nearly 24 minutes of ice time.  Not that he didn’t deserve it.  Hossa was a Golden God.  He led the team with 7 shots on goal and I can’t remember a shift where he didn’t control the puck for long stretches.

–Niklas Hjalmarsson had the roughest game for the Hawks.  He had a couple of really bad giveaways, took a ridiculous high-sticking penalty that allowed Detroit to tie the game at 2, and seems to really have lost his desire to take a big hit. 

One of the most impressive things about Hjalmarsson in his first two years was how patient he was with the puck, holding on to it for the split second longer, making a good pass to one of his forwards, and getting crunched by an opposing forechecker.  These days, the puck is never on Hjalmarsson’s stick for more than a split second because he’s firing it around the boards. 

Now, the puck either rattles high off the glass for the opposition to collect outside the zone, hits a referee and starts a firestorm near Corey Crawford, or is kept in by the opposition waiting for him to blast the puck around the wall.

So much for playing a puck possession game.

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17 Responses to Blackhawks 3, Red Wings 2 (OT)

  1. Scott says:

    “Pierre MacGuire correctly identified where the mistake was made in coverage by Kruger. ”

    Where was the mistake? I watch a decent amount of Hockey but will always lack some of the finer insights never having played competitively butI thought it was on Bickell. This isn’t snark, I really am curious. Is Bickell supposed to backcheck the guy with the puck and Kruger float to the center for the trailer?

  2. Jason says:

    What about Campbell, he turned the puck over like 10 times in his zone?

  3. Marts says:

    Well, regarding the Lidstrom goal I think we can look at a couple of things. Kruger probably should not have dropped back so deep in coverage but the onus is usually placed on the centreman to fall back deeply in support of the d-men. Technically speaking, it’s usually expected when a puck battle intensifies below the goal-line but I can see where he erred. Last man back (Bickel) shouldn’t really be chasing the puck movement as the puck is likely to end up going back to where you came from. Staying with an open man is optimal but I can see that he had some momentum coming back into his own end and thought he could make a play on the puck. Finally, lets not forget that Lidstrom is pretty decent at finding soft spots on the ice. He’s been doing it for 20 years and has that part of his game pretty sewn up.

    Good call on Hammer John, he just seems to fire the puck up ice aimlessly far too often. All season long. Bread-n-butter for a defensemen (IMO) is taking a hit to make a pass. You have to want to go back and get pounded every shift. He’s laying eggs out there too often.

  4. John says:

    The problem with Kruger on the scoring play is he really wasn’t doing anything. He just kind of got caught watching the puck instead of anticipating and the result was him standing in the middle of the ice as Lidstrom was walking down the slot. Also, let’s not forget it was a 4-on-4 situation so a center’s normal defensive responsibilties kind of go out the window.

    If I recall correctly, it wasn’t a puck battle below the goal line that led to the goal; it was a neutral zone re-group. Instead of staying with his man, Kruger got hypnotized by the puck and just kind of fell asleep on the trailer. These things happen, it was more of a point of how adamant Olcyzk disagreed with MacGuire, like MacGuire insulted one of his family members.

  5. Scott says:

    I actually didn’t like Olcyzk’s broadcast all night. Something about it was grating me, although I usually enjoy him. Everyone has an off night or was it just me?

    For instance, I thought the call on the Hammer play on the breakaway was right. Maybe my understanding of the rules is off but Hjalmarsson got the puck first then the guy but Eddie was insistant that it should have been a penalty.

  6. Marts says:

    John, you’re right there wasn’t a puck-battle that precipitated Krugers positioning down low. I think he had “good” intentions of collapsing low and looking responsible which was probably a bad play in this circumstance. Had he even been lingering at the top of the circles (trending toward either side) Bickell probably would’ve played his hand differently too. I don’t think it was glaringly bad mistakes by either though. It was a good play by Lidstrom to float into the Hawks zone rather late and the way he repeatedly shoots through screens and finds the net, I have to believe the goal played out as he saw it in his head. BS call on Hoss that created the 4-on-4 anyhow…

  7. BobbyJet says:

    Two thoughts on the Lidstrom goal.

    1/ Hawks, inexplicably, seem to consistently get outplayed by most teams in 4 on 4 hockey. This needs to be corrected.

    2/ Maybe part of the problem is the players Q chooses to play. Kruger and Bickell seems an odd combination to me. I think they both had failed assignments on that goal. And though Crawford had a solid game in net, he seems to have issues looking around screens. Assuming the Hawks make it, the po’s will be filled with big bodies in front of CC. He needs to find a way to find the puck on point shots.

    The game itself was tense but quite entertaining. Kudos to Hawks for the effort, and who knows those 2 points may be what gets them into the post season.

  8. John says:

    I thought it was very close on the breakaway. Kind of like in baseball when an umpire will give the benefit of the doubt to the baserunner on a close play, a referee will give the benefit of the doubt to the player on the breakaway. Holmstrom did make a deke to initiate the contact from Hjalmarsson, but either way, 9 out of 10 times, there’s at least a 2 minute minor given.

    But you’re correct, by the letter of the law and seeing what we saw on slow motion, the play could’ve very well been interpreted the way you said.

  9. CT says:

    Eh, I can’t put all the blame on Kruger for that goal. Kruger’s main mistake was he retreated too low in the zone as the Wings entered. He then realized he had to get out and cover a point and was going to go for the Wing with the puck, as Lidstrom and Bickell were still oncoming. For whatever reason, Bickell chose to enter the defensive zone on Lidstrom’s side, then cut across the ice and take the point man furthest from him. Kruger didn’t react in time and Lidstrom scored.

    In short, Kruger is the best player ever and I won’t hear a word against him.

  10. Patrick says:

    A few quick hits:

    1. Whatever was ailing Hoss seems to be gone – he’s lifting the puck again on shots (a gripe we all had mid season)
    2. Did I see Kruger out on the PK?
    3. Is it just me or did T-Kop handle the puck pretty well (particularly in the third). He’s improved his stick handling and he’s using his big frame better. Now, granted, he’s a beast on the fourth line and can be overmatched on the second, but he’d make a pretty good soccer player too.

  11. Scott says:

    The Hossa slapshot thing just cracks me up. Maybe it’s like the guy who has his corvette in the garage for the summer (injury) and the first week of spring (healthy) drives it everyday (slapshot) only to go back to using the car at a more normal pace once the excitement wears off. Whatever it is, it’s fun to have the superstar Hossa back.

  12. Mick says:

    I’m not convinced that Hossa isn’t still fighting a chronic wrist injury. Normally during his release his hands are situated almost like he’s swinging a golf club or baseball bat. Lately he’s been widening his grip big time…and taking more slap shots. He left the pregame skate the other night really early, flanked down the tunnel to the room by the team doc.

  13. AC says:

    With all due respect I would suggest that Eddie O was correct on his assessment of d zone responsibility on Lidstrom’s goal. Kruger’s mistake was he was a little too passive. Had he been more aggressive Bickell probably wouldn’t have chased but the fact remains that in that scenario it is man to man coverage and Bickell had no business chasing the puck. As an aside, it was not Bickell’s only questionnable decision on the night. In the second period, he received a pass on the half wall and inexplicably decides to kick the puck back towards his goal and into the pressure…didn’t result in a goal but did result in considerably less ice time from that point on for Bickell.

    Is it just me or does it seem that Seab’s isn’t playing with much urgency? Soft chips high off the glass in an attempt to alleviate pressure have a tendency of making their way into the back of the net. Full marks on the sprawling deflection…would have ended up in the back of the net (unless it was Bobby Ryan on an off night).

    Campbell? 40 seconds left in a do or die 2- 2 situation and the brain surgeon decides to ge deep in scum territory. Come on man…surely to god someone signing the $7,000,000+ paycheck has to take the time to explain that you don’t want Brouwer playing d at anytime let alone in that circumstance. The F#@!#@## point is pretty important, don’t you think?

    Is there a worst set of hands in hockey than Kopecky? I swear to god that on his delay of game he was attempting a tape to tape pass…honest. He is a candidate for shoe horn hands….

    All in all I thought it was a pretty good rebound off a real flat effort against Randy’s boys and it’s not nearly as maddening watching them as it was early in the season. They’ll have off games but all teams do during 82 game grinds. I hope like hell they make the playoffs…they owe me and I am taking it personally. All those years of misery can’t and won’t be erased by one remarkable season but remember if they don’t make the post season it’s not because of the games that they’re playing now. (Remember Edmonton, a back to back against Colorado + one against Florida). Those are the ones that will have ultimately sealed their fate if I have to start watching baseball in April.

  14. John says:

    Right and as you admitted, Kruger was also to blame on the play. There’s been a lot of words trying to justify what he did, and perhaps I wasn’t clear, but my main point was Olcyzk going out of his way to lay the blame on Bickell just mere seconds after MacGuire pointed out Kruger’s mistake.

    You could watch 900 broadcasts the rest of the year and you won’t see one announcer disagree with another as vehemently as Olcyzk did (Nevermind that nothing MacGuire said was wrong). That’s of course excluding any White Sox broadcasts.

  15. CT says:

    “You could watch 900 broadcasts the rest of the year and you won’t see one announcer disagree with another as vehemently as Olcyzk did (Nevermind that nothing MacGuire said was wrong).”

    See, I didn’t think it was anything out of the ordinary for Olczyk, nor did I think it had anything to do with the fact that Kruger was the player or that Eddie wanted to go after McGuire. My impression of Edzo is he thinks of himself as the smartest guy in the room, and anytime he sees something that he thinks nobody else saw, he makes a HUGE deal about it, getting overexcited and practically shouting in triumph.

    I guess I just didn’t get the feeling that he was leaping to Kruger’s defense or that this was anything other than standard Edzo.

  16. feyer says:

    CT makes a valid point. I fully expected Edzo to jump in and let us know how smart he is by reiterating one of his cornerstones in his oversimplified theory on hockey strategy that “4 on 4 is man on man hockey – forwards take the D and D take the forwards” (i’m sure you have heard that before?). If defensive zone coverage truly was that simple, then Hawk coaching staff is grossly overpaid. I think we can cut Kruger some slack here. A bit more time with the team and he should be on the same page.

  17. Cam says:

    Joey MacDonald looks like Dryden against the Hawks on Monday, the Blues put 10 up in Detroit on Wednesday.

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