The More You Tighten Your Grip: Wild 4 – Blackhawks 3
This was a hell of a hockey game. The Wild came out of the gates firing as Matt Cooke dented the twine not even five minutes into the contest on a goal from the slot. Torrey Mitchell’s pass was from behind the goal line in the corner and Cooke put it home. After that it wasn’t until a Wild powerplay late in the 2nd period that the scoreboard operator had to make a move. For the better part of the first 40 minutes, the play was even. Both teams traded chances and Quenneville relied heavily on his top line and pairing.
Then to start the third period the Blackhawks controlled play for the first 15 minutes. They peppered Harding, scoring at both even-strength and on the powerplay. Brandon Saad’s goal was off a forced turnover in the Wild’s own end while Hossa fired one home from the circle on the man-advantage. It was looking like the Hawks would be able to take an important two points to start a back-to-back.
Then Brent Seabrook went off for hooking with just over six minutes left and the Chicago penalty kill once again could not hold a lead. The Hawks failed to even scrape away a charity point when they allowed the go ahead goal at even-strength with just under two minutes remaining.
The quick hitters that I saw from my couch while sipping on an Anti-Hero.
- The penalty kill once again was the Blackhawks undoing as we’ve said more than a couple times this year. They’re still last in the league in that regard. Kruger, Smith and the Swedes were the most often deployed on this unit. Three of them were on the ice for both PPG against. Smith was only on for one, but he lost his stick off the draw and essentially made it a 5 on 3.
- The 2nd line of Saad-Versteeg-Kane was a pleasant surprise tonight. Then again you can put anyone between Saad and Kane since they’re hockey’s version of a Game Genie. Versteeg was even 5 for 10 at the dot. Not bad for a guy who has sparingly played the pivot. Saad’s goal came off a forced turnover by Toews during a shift change. In fact, all three players on that line had a point but none came when all three were on the ice together. Kane was the secondary assist on Morin’s goal while Versteeg had the crisp redirect that Hossa potted on the powerplay. This was one of Steeger’s better games since coming back to Chicago.
- Let’s play a game of guess the TOI: 4:59, 8:17, 9:55, 12:54.* – None of them is Brandon Bollig, but two of them had a point.
- Sheldon Brookbank did not generate a Corsi event for the Blackhawks. He was the only skater on either team not to do so. Every single one of his shifts began in the neutral zone. The combination of Brookbank, Morin and Nordstrom went a combined -22 in this regard. None of them cracked the ten minute mark in ice time. Nordstrom never started a shift in the opponent’s zone and 60% of his shifts began in front of his own netminder.
- Read the last bullet again. Not exactly a sheltering of the callups, is it?
- Neither goalie had a particularly strong game. Seven goals on 43 total shots. Crawford gave up two on the man-advantage, the first of which was on a rebound. Harding made some spectacular saves but I bet he’d like the Hossa goal back.
- Nordstrom and Ben Smith combined for 40% at the dot. Toews, Versteeg and Kruger were 23 of 40 good for 57.5%.
- While Keith skated over 25 minutes, only three other skaters were even above 20, and none of them cracked 22.
- The #RedWeddingLine (h/t @hockeenight) was a combined +26 in CORSI. They are a hockey snuff film set to Carmina Burana.
- The total Corsi % for each team were 51.5%-48.5% and the Fenwick came in at 48.9%-51.1%. Chicago’s advantage was in Corsi, Minnesota’s in Fenwick. As you can see by the Fenwick graph below, this was mostly an evenly contested game with the teams trading chances.
Hopefully Handzus and Shaw are available tomorrow, though I’m only counting on the former. Anything to get Brookbank off the wing, and two points in bank.
* – Brookbank, Morin, Nordstrom, Kruger. These were the four lowest registered ice times.
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