Unexpectedly Expected: Blackhawks 3 – Kings 1
Now, admittedly I did not watch last night’s contest against the Leafs due to a prior engagement (it’s still on my DVR, I might watch it just to make sure it really happened) but the type of play tonight at the United Center is what I would have expected against that Toronto team, not these Kings. Conversely, I would not have been surprised if the 7-3 drubbing came against Los Angeles. But in a complete role reversal, the Blackhawks absolutely dominated possession, out shooting LA 40-22, and were responsible for about two-thirds of any shot attempt directed towards either net. The Kings never mounted anything resembling an offense and were lucky to not be the first shutout victim of the 2013-14 season for the Blackhawks tonight.
So I say it again… just what the hell happened exactly in the Air Canada Center on Saturday?
The fact that the first tally of this contest came on a shorthanded goal by the Blackhawks was like taking the prop bet that the first score of the Super Bowl will be a safety. The Hawks kill has been so woeful, and even though the Kings rank just 20th in the NHL on the powerplay, their forechecking ways at 5-on-5 would make taking three penalties difficult for Chicago. Nope. Instead Marian Hossa was given a point blank opportunity by a Toews pass from behind the net.
I’ve gotten rather used to seeing Toews in his office back there this year.
About four minutes later Kris Versteeg would bury a shortside goal on a great pass from Patrick Kane. Then, at the end of the period Toews again would have a hand in a special teams goal, this time on the powerplay as he assisted on Patrick Sharp’s snipe from the circle with under two minutes to go. From there, the Blackhawks had the game in the bag and all they needed to do was wrap it up and take it home. The Kings never had many sustained possessions with the second period largely being a stalemate. They did a nice job keeping the game close as the Hawks had a ton of chances to close the second period and into the beginning of the third. A lone goal late preventing the shutout would be the only blemish on an otherwise sterling performance against one of the West’s elite. A handy chart to explain just how good Chicago was tonight before we get to the rapid fire segment of the program.
- Three for three on the penalty kill. A shorthanded goal. A powerplay goal. About as complete of a special teams performance as you can ask for.
- Antti Raanta bounced back nicely after his worst start in the NHL. 22 saves, he was awarded the second star of the night and if I’m counting correctly, the’s 3 for 3 on shorthanded breakways. He’s still coming out of his net quite a bit to challenge shots, but that athleticism is really impressive when he’s swimming around his crease. Good to see he got the Dharma Initiative materials on the crowd at the United Center for the postgame interview.
- Red Wedding Line a +37 in CORSI. Ho hum.
- Even Pat Foley confirmed tonight that Sheldon Brookbank would be the Andy Dufrense to Joel Quenneville’s Warden Norton. He played at forward for the first time in two weeks. In that game against the Wild we remarked he was the only player not to generate a CORSI event for the Blackhawks. Well congratulations, Sheldon, you did it. Still just one of two skaters in the negative there for Chicago tonight. The other was his linemate Andrew Shaw while Brandon Saad was merely even in that department.
- Please stop dressing Brookbank at forward. Thank you.
- Only the 10-19-81 line started more than 50% of their 5v5 shifts in the defensive zone. They finished over 70% of those shifts in the offensive zone. That’s puck possession at its finest.
- Hjalmarsson led all Hawk skaters with just a tick over 21 minutes. Nice to see the minutes balanced out on the 2nd half of a back to back, even if the bottom six got most of the third period minutes in Toronto.
Great win against a great opponent. A day of rest and then time to revenge the worst loss of the season against the #perds.
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