(Scott Strazzante/Tribune photo)

(Scott Strazzante/Tribune photo)

Sincerest apologies for the late recap….

I’m still not sure I quite understand how it’s possible New Jersey only managed twelve shots on goal in a professional hockey game. Obviously everybody knows that the Devils play a very conservative style, but this was dreadfully boring even for them. How lopsided was the possession game? Only seven face-offs the entire game took place inside the Blackhawks zone. SEVEN! There were forty six total in the contest. You can’t spend that much time in your own zone against a team like the Blackhawks and expect to have any sort of chance to get even a point. I don’t care who you are or what your philosophy is – you have to score some goals when you’re playing a team like the ‘Hawks.

It wasn’t a very tough night for the ‘Hawks. Patrick Sharp led off the scoring for the ‘Hawks in the 1st period when a long wrist shot deflected past Cory Schneider. The Devils would tie the game early in the 2nd, but the ‘Hawks snatched the lead back a little over two minutes later when a hard driving Patrick Kane slammed home a rebound after Schneider was unable to corral a Nick Leddy shot. Bryan Bickell added the winner just a few minutes later with a wicked wrist shot and the ‘Hawks never really looked back. Michael Ryder made the game 3-2 for a short time with a goal in the opening minute of the 3rd, but Sharp would restore the two goal lead on a breakaway goal not long after. Nick Leddy would put the icing on the cake with a late power play tally. The final score really could have been even worse for Schneider and the Devils as Kane tagged two posts and Brandon Saad found one as well. Oh well.

The win tonight was not insignificant either. St. Louis blew a two goal lead and lost in a shootout to the lowly Calgary Flames. The ‘Hawks are now five points ahead of the Blues, although they’ve played three additional games to this point.

Who’s looking forward to the Colorado/St.Louis back to back?

Just a few random things:

* The Devils dressed former St. Louis goon Cam Janssen for reasons I cannot even begin to comprehend. NHL teams watch game film in advance of playing their opponents, yes? So you’d think they know that the Blackhawks haven’t bullied anyone out of a point this year. There’s also the little thing about the ‘Hawks pretty much being the Harlem Globetrotters of the NHL. You’d think the Devils would want some skill on the ice or even potentially a 7th defenseman to deal with the relentless ‘Hawks attack. But no, there’s Cam Janssen skating a regular shift. What’s going on here?

* The Janssen thing is even weirder when you consider the Devils kept Andrei Loktionov, a pretty highly touted center, up in the pressbox. The Devils have a good group of younger forwards: Adam Henrique, Reid Boucher, Mattias Tedenby, Damien Brunner and Loktionov are all players any NHL GM would want in their system. They’re having success on the blue-line with rookies such as Jon Merrill and current Calder contender Eric Gelinas. Former Top 5 pick Adam Larsson isn’t far away either. The pieces are there to build something.

* Cory Schneider allowed five goals, but it very easily have been eight. I’m still on Team Lu.

* All of that aside, New Jersey is hilariously close to a playoff spot despite being a sub .500 team. The entire Eastern Conference is terrible.

* Yet again, Antti Raanta was good enough to earn the Blackhawks a victory. A little less blase with the puck in the slot though in the future though, Antti?

* Patrick Kane is playing the best hockey of his career and it’s been incredibly fun to watch. Let the good times roll….

*Brandon Saad for Team USA? BRANDON SAAD FOR TEAM USA.

* Nick Leddy’s blast on the final Blackhawks goal was a thing of beauty. Shades of Gary Suter.

* Have a safe and relaxing holiday. RAGE WEEKEND with the Blues and Packers awaits……