Blackhawks 4, Blue Jackets 3 (SO)

At this point, it doesn’t really matter what it looks like so long as the Hawks get two points at the end of the game.  It’s becoming quite clear that the Hawks (or at least the ones that matter) appear to have hit the proverbial wall.  So long as they collect points in this recent downturn, that’s certainly better from where they were at the beginning of the season.

Just as been the case since the middle of March, the Hawks were once again carried by the few while the rest of the team hung on to their coat-tails.  Duncan Keith and Brian Campbell each logged over 30 minutes of ice time.  Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews were near the 25 minute threshold.  All three Hawk goals came from one line: the Toews line.

The Hawks third goal was a gift from the Gods.  Just a minute and a half after Columbus scored a back-breaking third goal to take their first lead, Bryan Bickell snapped off his 1,876th wrist shot from just inside the blue line of the season.  The puck somehow snuck under Mathieu Garon’s left arm to tie the game. 

In overtime, both teams traded good chances.  The Jackets biffed all of theirs.  Garon made terrific saves on the Hawks.  Then in the all-important shootout, Scott Arniel chose the unknown versus the known and gave the nod to two shooters who don’t have more than 6 NHL games collectively under their belts.  Crawford stopped their shots relatively easily.  After Patrick Kane was unable to get enough elevation on his back-hand attempt, Viktor Stalberg pulled off the same move with a little more speed and that was the winner.

Must We?

–After seeing Garon come approximately 40 feet outside the net on Jonathan Toews’s attempt, there was only one move that was going to work on him.  The first guy who came to mind that should be given an opportunity was Viktor Stalberg.  Sure enough, there he was going third.  Great call by Joel Quenneville to give Stalberg the nod when everyone automatically assumed it was Marian Hossa’s turn.  Of course, the important thing to remember is Quenneville has to submit his shooters before the shootout starts, so perhaps he knew something we all didn’t.

–A Duncan Keith slap-shot to the shinguards was nearly the curtain call to this game.  During the 4-on-4 overtime with under 30 seconds left, the Hawks used their timeout to draw up a set face-off play.  They won the draw and worked the puck around masterfully and even were lucky enough to have Antoine Vermette break his stick.  Then with three Hawks below the hashmarks, Keith’s shot blasted right into R.J. Umberger’s legs and the Jackets had a 3-on-1 the other way.

Fortunately, the Jackets came closer to injuring themselves than they did scoring.  Umberger and Vermette were right on top of each other as the puck bounced towards them.  Neither player could corral it and Umberger nearly decapitated himself on the goal post. 

–We’re all very impressed by Marcus Kruger and Nick Leddy in their 19 combined minutes of ice time.  They did so many good things, I can’t remember any of them.

–I’m pretty sure Ryan Johnson uses a shinny stick.  That thing is tiny.

–The second period was probably the most frustrating period of the season for the Hawks.  They spent 10 minutes of the period short-handed.  After killing off three straight penalties (Kane’s double minor and Michael Frolik’s interference), the Hawks couldn’t kill off the dreaded 5-on-3 and the game was tied at 2.  

–A win on Sunday and we can (finally) start looking at some playoff opponents.

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21 Responses to Blackhawks 4, Blue Jackets 3 (SO)

  1. Ban says:

    Yes, yes. We get it. We’re all very impressed with your bashing of the 20 year-olds playing their first season in the pros (and the guy adjusting to a completely new rink size and style of play). When you can change the way the NHL salary cap works and bring back Versteeg, Buff, Sopel, Eager, Burish, Madden, Ladd…well, then your argument will be a bit more justified. Until then, please lay off the rookies who were thrown into a complicated scenario, the rookies that are trying to do their best to help a team struggling to make the playoffs, way before they were ready to play in the pros.

    Thanks.

  2. ArlingtonRob says:

    This should be good…I’m looking forward to John’s response.

  3. John says:

    I like how the Nick Leddy argument has changed from “He’s really good,” to “It’s not his fault he can’t be trusted. He’s a rookie thrown in a tough situation” in merely a matter of weeks. This is pretty much what we’ve been saying since the opening game of the season.

    As for Kruger, as long as we keep seeing articles like this, I’m going to continue to ask why he’s getting pumped so much when he’s not really doing anything.

    I didn’t know it was such a sin to question why a team would intentionally stall the progress of one of their top prospects (more so the case with Leddy) and at the expense of what exactly? I think if people weren’t so defensive about certain players, they’d realize that the criticism isn’t really about them, but of the people who put them in that position and then tell us how wonderful they are.

  4. Moots says:

    I don’t think the Brass thinks we have a chance at winning the cup this year. So their opinion is to get these young guys all the experience the can in these pressure type situations as possible. This atmosphere can only help in their growth as NHL players.They Know they have a few more guys to move in the off season to get this team right. Now who these players are going to be will be the question.

  5. Francis Roberts says:

    Ugly win, but we’ll take it. The worry, as you astutely point out in your opening paragraphs, is that the Hawks are emptying the tank just to get to the playoffs. It’s hard to imagine the team putting up much of a fight against SJ or VC if they don’t start getting more contributions from the bottom two thirds of the lineup. The penalty fest in the second period was a bad indicator of where this team’s collective head is at. I think the comments about Leddy and Kruger are spot on. It’s really not about them. To expect lightning in a bottle from a 20 year old at this stage in their career is just not realistic.

  6. BaltoBob says:

    I thought the Hawks did well considering they spotted the CBJs’ almost an entire period of 5 on 4 hockey and still won.

  7. Big Tony says:

    I thought Kruger was pretty solid defensively. He is surely looking for his game in the offensive zone, but I’m not about to bash him. Leddy was playing VERY well when we won 8 straight and got back into the playoff hunt. He’s regressed some, but his future excites me.

  8. coach says:

    I’m glad we could hear from Nick Leddy’s family on this site.

  9. BobbyJet says:

    Coach Q seems to have lost some of his enthusiasm about Leddy, based on the limited ice time he has been getting; but something’s got to give when 7 and 2 are playing close to 30 minutes a night. I won’t be surprised to see Cullimore back, assuming Hawks make the playoffs. Kruger has been ok, and I do like his competitive nature, but needs to keep playing a simple game. He tried to get cute a few times last night and it could have cost us the game.

  10. Otter says:

    Can someone remind me why Duncan Keith won the Norris last year? He’s the third best Hawks defenseman at this point.

    I’m with John on the whole Leddy and Kruger stuff… btw. And while we’re at it, Forlik is no ‘Steeger, so let’s stop praising that move.

    Wow, there are five people in Cleveland for this Sox/Tribe game.

  11. Big Tony says:

    Keith was fabulous last year is why. Please tell me you haven’t already forgotten how good he was.

    On an unrelated topic…I’m currently having a back-and-forth on another site with a Flyers fan who not only claims Toews is not an elite player, but that Mike Richards is far better. I didn’t think jealousy could be so stupid.

  12. Grunfeld says:

    “On an unrelated topic…I’m currently having a back-and-forth on another site with a Flyers fan who not only claims Toews is not an elite player, but that Mike Richards is far better. I didn’t think jealousy could be so stupid.”

    I don’t know if it is the same guy, but during the Finals last year there was a guy at the Flyer’s NHL site who took a similar position. He also said that Toews is just an offensive player…lol.

  13. blackhawkbob says:

    Ban:

    Either you need to do a better job reading, or John needs to do a better job writing. (I’m going hard for the former.) Believe it or not, John has better things to do than rip 20-year-old children on the internet; his thoughts on Leddy and Kruger were comments on the media’s premature willingness to cram 20-year-old works-in-process down our throats. Remember the six-week parade CSN threw for the below-average pair of Leddy and Jordan Hendry a few months ago? How’s that working out for everybody?

    We’ve written about it before, and we’ll continue to. If you think Leddy and Kruger aren’t quite ready to contribute for a competitor, well, then you’re on our side.

  14. Cam says:

    I haven’t seen the media anointing the kids, and I don’t what the alternatives to them playing are. Cullimore and…..? Where are the great options to replace Hendry and Bolland?

    This team has bigger issues than kids who aren’t playing many minutes. Troy Brouwer has disappeared since being taken away from other talent. Hossa only shows up once a week or so. They terribly miss Bolland and Sharp. And Frolik, for all his obvious ability, is about as productive as Skille.

  15. Big Tony says:

    Grunfeld, it wasn’t from the Flyers site, but I doubt it’s the same guy. There’s probably tons of those retards out there who can’t admit Toews is elite.

    The guy now claims that since Toews hasn’t led the NHL in any category, he can’t be considered elite and that the Conn Smythe doesn’t matter.

  16. alpo says:

    Huge game today vs Tampa. The Hawks are getting some luck with both Dallas continuing their tailspin and the Ducks losing last night. It’s a damn near certainty the Hawks will make the playoffs. Now, do Hawk fans start debating about which team they want to face? The Pacific division teams above the Hawks all will be facing each other for their last couple of games. It’d be very nice if they found a way to beat each up other and split the games (Please no 3pt game though). My ideal scenario would be Los Angeles locking down the 4th spot and the Hawks working into the 5th. Unfortunately, they are looking at a murder’s row of SJ, PHX, ANH, ANH to finish their year….yikes.

  17. Marts says:

    Playoff matchups will be key. I believe they can (and will) get up for Detroit or Vancouver. Whether that will be enough versus Vancouver and the way they’re playing right now, I’m not sure. I think we run the risk of getting rolled by a pacific squad and I don’t think we have the discipline and energy to compete against NSH over 7 games (as unlikely as that would be as a 1st round match-up).

    I’ll be pulling for a win regardless, but with the amount they’d need to lean on Toews, Kane, Keith, Hoss, Sharp etc.. to win the tournament again, it might lop 5 years off their careers…

  18. Cam says:

    Hawks can’t even score against Tampa’s backup. So, 7th or 8th at best. No Bolland, Sharp at less than 100%. Taking 2 games might be about it.

  19. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    Really Mike Smith? Unbelievable!!! This team doesn’t deserve to make the playoffs and if they keep this up they won’t!

  20. Cole says:

    Seriously, Johnson’s stick is ridiculously short. Hockey stick, that is…

  21. Cam says:

    Yet another new way to lose. This time getting 1 goal on 43 shots.

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