DAT CRAWSTINK CANT STEAL NO GAMES MY FRENT!

Chances are, if you spend any time hanging out where the Meatballs be at, you’ve heard this or something similar. This was a common theme even before Crawford’s new contract further fanned the flames of ill-informed fautuousness (Alliteration is fun!)

Well, last night in British Columbia was as close to a goalie win as we’ve seen since Ray Emery’s heroics in Calgary last year. Corey Crawford stopped 36 of 37 shots, 14 of them in a 3rd Period where the Hawks were firmly under the cosh for the latter stages. It took a Ryan Kesler goal during a 1st Period 5-3 (thanks to a boneheaded penalty by Andrew Shaw) to beat him and otherwise he was excellent under severe pressure.

This was not a game for the purists, featuring, as it did, a pair of tired teams: the Canucks on the second of back-to-back games and the Hawks makeshift and double-shifting due to the injury to Bryan Bickell and Marian Hossa‘s late withdrawal due to a family matter.

However, it was also about as much fun as a Vancouver/Chicago game can be. The arch-rivalry of old may be a thing of the past (the half-hearted booing of Duncan Keith being further evidence) but games between these two always have a frisson and last night didn’t disappoint. Although Known-Ass-Tick Alex Burrows was trying his very hardest to start something with Hjalmarsson and Kesler was his usual unpleasant self, this game was (mostly) just played hard and fast.  Dishonourable exception for Alex Edler whose cross-check on Jonathan Toews left the Captain struggling off the ice and winded.

It wasn’t until the 3rd period that Andrew Shaw atoned for his earlier indiscretion, deflecting a Patrick Kane shot past Luongo from in front of the net. Nine seconds later Marcus Kruger broke clear on a feed from Offensive Juggernaut Niklas Hjalmarsson and wristed a sweet goal to take a lead that, despite a furious fightback from Vancouver, the Hawks managed to hang on to.

The Rogers alternates between Happy Hunting Ground and Hades for the Hawks, so taking two points on their solitary (maybe?) trip there is always welcome. Plus, you know, they’re a bunch of choads.  Here’s some talking points:

 

  •  A tale of two Coaches and their weird ideas about TOI. First up, Tortorella who, on the 2nd night of a back-to-back decided that the Sedins needed 25+ minutes each. Kesler got 23.39, Burrows wasn’t far behind. Meanwhile his (admittedly inept) 4th line got sub-5 minutes ( a whopping 2.45 for Jeremy Welsh). That doesn’t seem like the smartest of ideas, particularly with the sort of game Torts expects them to play. On the subject of “Smarts”, in the absence of Bickell, Hossa and Handzus we got to see Brookbank back at forward (until Roszival didn’t play in the 3rd) and double-shifting all over the place. Oh, and 4:58 for Jeremy Morin and your guess is as good as mine. Maybe just a bad day to be called Jeremy?
  • Penalties.. three in the 1st Period, including the aforementioned Interference by Shaw on Henrik Sedin. For sure Sedin tumbled to the ice like a ragdoll but Shaw should not have put himself in that position, especially as the Hawks were escaping on an odd man rush at the time.  The PK actually looked much improved (although the Canucks PP is last in the league). The PP, on the other hand, was a hot mess for the first Vancouver penalty.
  • Patrick Kane continued his point streak (10 games now) with a helper on Shaw’s goal. He also got 19.43 of Ice Time. His legs may be worn down to stumps by the time the Playoffs roll around
  • You really, really noticed the absence of Hossa and (to a lesser extent) Bickell. This was the sort of game both were made for and often the only thing lacking from a Hawks rush was Hossa’s hustle and vision. Hopefully whatever the issue at home is, its not serious. No word yet from the Blackhawks but, all Hockey aside, our thoughts go out to him and his family.
  • Duncan Keith looked like a Norris candidate last night. The HNIC callers were dribbling about his vision and speed, no more evident than when he denied Alex “I Call This One Bitey” Burrows a gilt-edged chance in the 1st. More of this, Duncs. Seabrook also looked like he enjoys playing the Nucks, getting physical with anyone who crossed his path.

OK, onwards to that recent Graveyard that is Alberta. Whatever Q thinks about avenging defeat to the Flames or the close battles with the Oil, Raanta has to start at least one and preferably both games. Handzus is likely to be back in to the lineup too so hopefully Q starts dishing the TOI around more equitably. I wouldn’t hold my breath, though.