Our first Toews Face of the new campaign

Apologies for the late and likely abbreviated recap, but as much as I love hockey there were just way too many compelling things going on in the world of sports this evening for me to focus on the Hawks and Bolts tonight (jNWU not closing vs OSU, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander dueling… also about 7 delicious pumpkin beers etc.). Anyways, let’s get to the hockey game from West Madison Street tonight.

The first period was a complete domination by the Blackhawks. The Lightning didn’t register a single shot on goal, in fact they only attempted nine shots, eight of which were blocked, while the other was a miss. The Blackhawks steamrolled the Bolts for 20 minutes, yet the scoreboard still read 0-0 after a period despite 11 shots reaching Ben Bishop. The powerplay the Hawks had in the first wasn’t a complete disaster, it was merely a middle of the road PP. Crawford essentially had himself a box social in the cage and probably had time to collect a few phone numbers from the first couple rows while exchanging his “Fuckin’ Right,” glance.

The 2nd period wasn’t that much different, except that the Bolts finally forced Crawford to make a save. The Hawks dominated possession and the Bolts made it even easier by marching to the box what seemed like every three minutes. Patrick Kane opened the scoring with the only pair of hands on the roster that can turn 6 inches into a mile as he lifted a rebound past Bishop. The Hawks then saw a couple more PPs, with Brandon Saad notching a powerplay goal that made it 2-0. The goal was the result of an odd carom that actually reminded me of a terrible goal Cristobal Huet allowed against the Stars about three or four years back.

The problem was, that was it for the Hawks on the scoreboard. They didn’t stop pushing possession or anything, the Bolts just decided that they wanted to play too. You can see that below in the Fenwick graph.

From ExtraSkater (click to be directed there)

Chicago was presented with an additional powerplay to begin the third but was unable to capitalize. That’s when things started to turn in this game. Marty St. Louis was able to dent the twine on a nifty backhand that snuck past Corey Crawford’s glove. It was a stoppable shot, but credit should be given to St. Louis for converting the backhand from a tough angle. A Teddy Purcell PPG evened things a little under two minutes later and there wasn’t a real goal scored that wasn’t part of an exhibition skills show after that. One point awarded, but a disappointing one considering the dominance put forth for a good 50 minutes of this game.

Here’s some concise thoughts for your consumption.

  • Ben Bishop saw 39 shots. Several of them quality, especially in the 2nd period, and he stopped all but two of them. The 6’7″ behemoth is ┬áthe reason Tampa heads back with two points. He was really good and I’m not going to take anything away from what was a pretty sparkling performance considering how much of the game was spent on Tampa’s end of the ice.
  • Two games. Two penalty kill performances that were uninspiring. Still not a thing, but close to being a thing.
  • The powerplay looked better. Plenty of movement, good entries and crisp passing. It produced some quality chances tonight. Progress and I like it.
  • Duncan Keith was a +19 in CORSI. Victor Hedman was a -15. The Hawks were +29 as a team in this department. They lost. That’s like losing a bet because a team scores a garbage touchdown on a failed hook and ladder play with 6 seconds left that results in a backdoor cover… which may or may not have happened to me tonight. Luck exists, it plays a role in sports and the Hawks were unlucky tonight. Shit happens.
  • Speaking of Keith, he almost skated 29 minutes tonight. That’s 11 more than Nordstrom and Bollig combined.
  • Other than Kruger, the Hawks faired pretty well in the faceoff circle tonight.
  • Time On Ice being functional again will be a godsend because I’m very curious to look at the shift charts from tonight, or even from Tuesday. Q’s pretty much sticking with his lines, save for when Zus misses a full period, and that continuity is a positive as far as I’m concerned.
  • Ben Smith didn’t just blend in with the scenery which is more than could be said of Jimmy Hayes the other night.

The Blackhawks probably should have scored more than two goals tonight considering how much they had the puck, but they didn’t. Two goals should have been enough to win tonight, but it wasn’t. A better finish moving forward would be what I think Quenneville stresses to his club, but make no mistake, the Blackhawks owned this game. They just didn’t get two points.

Vote on the Community Player Rankings below and we’ll try to have them published on either Monday or Tuesday. We’ll keep the voting open a little longer because not everyone lives on their computer over the weekend; rightfully so. Mighty Mike will have your Blues preview after we publish the results. We’ll also have the correct CORSI and Fenwick on that one as Extra Skater now has an option to adjust it from all the ice data to 5on5 or 5on4/4on5. The data from the first one was the entire game as was pointed out in the comments. Usually CORSI is reported for even strength play only, but my fault for not validating that.

Go Bears on Sunday.