For the third time this season, the Blues coughed up a 2-0 lead to the Blackhawks. All three times they lost, though they did collect two points in doing so. Tonight, the Hawks had the benefit of a questionable goal call go their way and it may have saved their season in the process.
Make no mistake, the Hawks looked dead in the water before Marian Hossa’s goal maybe or maybe not crossed the goal line or maybe or maybe not was not kicked in. Since the call on the ice was a good goal, it completely changed the dynamic of the situation. After a long review in Toronto, the call on the ice stood and from there, the Hawks picked up the pace.
Tomas Kopecky tied the game six minutes later with both Hawk defensemen below the goal line. A goal mouth scramble found Kopecky alone and he buried it past Ty Conklin. Nick Leddy put the Hawks in front after a terrific hesitation pass from Duncan Keith, Alex Steen blowing an edge as he worked his way to Leddy that opened up the shooting lane, and some nice screening in front.
Then in the third, Keith and Leddy got crossed up on a chase to the puck and Chris Stewart was more than happy to deposit the puck past Corey Crawford. Keith had Stewart tied up and waited for Leddy to skate for the loose puck. Instead, they both let up and Stewart did not. That’s what happens sometimes when defensive partners get swapped mid-game and a big risk-taker is paired up with a rookie defensemen.
The Hawks barely got out of regulation alive with the Blues getting a lot of good looks in the closing minutes. In overtime, T.J. Oshie spearheaded a 4-on-1 after Brent Seabrook got caught too deep. Oshie kept the puck the whole way and blasted a shot that knocked Corey Crawford out cold. On the ensuing face-off Duncan Keith found Jonathan Toews alone on the Blues blue line. Toews beat the defenseman around the corner and fired it through Conklin’s legs for the game-winner.
I’m As Black as the Ace of Spades
—Kudos to Stan Bowman for making the right move and calling up Ben Smith as Troy Brouwer is out with a shoulder injury. After a season of pretending that John Scott was anything resembling a useful piece, it seems like Bowman has finally learned that dressing a team where your coach can only play 11 forwards isn’t a winning formula.
In perhaps a bigger shock, Quenneville gave Ben Smith a very long rope tonight. Smith responded with a couple of strong shifts in the second period. In the third, he was a little shaky and a lot of that was probably because he’s never played with someone as talented as Patrick Kane. And it was also because he’s playing high-stakes hockey for the first time since last year’s NCAA National Championship.
Marcus Kruger drew the short end of the stick and was a healthy scratch tonight.
–My knee hurt watching Patrick Sharp trying to skate. So long as he doesn’t do more damage to his knee, have at it big boy.
–The Hawks sit at 95 points. Anaheim has 95 as well so Calgary is effectively out. With two more non-shootout wins and a 4 point lead over Dallas, all the pressure is on Dallas to be perfect. Even with lesser opponents in Colorado and Minnesota remaining, all it takes is a couple fluky things to happen like say, a goal in the first 17 seconds of the game, before they’d find themselves in a dogfight. Either way, by the next time the Hawks take the ice, we’ll know if they have wrapped up a playoff spot.
In other news, if they do find themselves in a must-win game against Detroit, Henrik Zetterberg looks to be out for both games after tweaking his leg in Carolina tonight.
–Can we please, after all this time, finally tell Pat Foley that the outcome of a 5-on-3 does not determine the winner of the game? Please, this isn’t that difficult.
–In other news, Ed Olcyzk has once again changed his mind and determined Marian Hossa’s goal to be, indeed, good.
–One underrated area where the Hawk forecheckers on their bottom 6 seem to be really struggling this year is on their angles. A lot of times, teams are getting way too easy of a breakout because say, Bryan Bickell for instance, is giving the opposing defenseman room to work on either side. Instead of taking away the inside and funneling the defensemen to the outside all while trapping him along the boards, the opposition makes one move and poof!, they’re out of the zone. Whether it’s lack of speed or lack of smarts, it makes the whole chip-and-chase strategy essentially useless.
It happened again tonight and it will happen again soon. Something to keep an eye on.