Halfway Home, All The Way Gone: Blackhawks 1 – Sharks 2

While I don’t much care for Joe Thornton, his beard is all that is man. (Photo credit: Don Smith, NHL.com)

I’m writing this the morning after and little has changed in the way I feel about this game. Full admission: I tweeted this last night and it actually happened. Upon waking up this morning I found out they the Hawks had failed to get the extra point and had to watch the skills competition on my DVR. That basically encapsulates my feeling about shootouts. That a game like this, while only two goals were scored, was decided by this method is meaningless in deciding who was the better team tonight.

This game was a tie for all intents and purposes.

For 40 minutes, this game was a showcase of the two goaltenders that currently have Stanley Cup rings with the Indian Head on them. Antti Niemi and Corey Crawford stopped all 41 shots that came during those two periods. I went to NHL.com this morning to see some of those and the trend was Niemi fighting them off while seeing them the whole way while Crawford was getting a lot of his with screens and traffic in front. A save is a save though, and they made all of them.

During the 63 second span in the 3rd period where goals were actually scored they both came on the same powerplay. Unfortunately, the first one didn’t end that powerplay but was rather a shorthanded goal on a Patrick Sharp pass from his own zone that never made it past the red line. 57 year old Scott Hannan intercepted that pass and dumped it in for Joe Pavelski to go get it. He fought off Niklas Hjalmarsson and his backhand found the space above Corey Crawford’s glove.

Thankfully, just a little over a minute later Brandon Saad hammered one home from just above the circle. Brent Seabrook’s keep made the play happen, but for the second game in a row it was Kris Versteeg’s patience to get the goalie to commit and then a nice pass that resulted in the powerplay goal.

Overtime and the rest of regulation weren’t that eventful so let’s get to the one-timers.

  • I was a little mystified by this comment when remembering that this happened earlier in the year for the Sharks. Best goal of the year? I don’t even think it’s the best goal on the team for San Jose.
  • Not afraid to admit this but I unabashedly love the SAP Center’s organ. Reminds me of NHL ’94.
  • NERD ALERT: The Fenwick graph shows this game was never in anyone’s control at any point. This was as evenly contested of a game that Chicago has played since they knocked off Boston a couple Sundays ago. While we do our fair share of shitting in Brandon Bollig’s hat, the Chicago 4th line/3rd line or whatever we’re calling it now had the best possession numbers of the night. Yes, B52 was the least efficient of the three players, but that line continues to be a valuable asset in the Blackhawks’ depth.
  • The Red Wedding Line combined for the worst collective CORSI on the team. They matched up with the Thornton, Nieto and Burns line for roughly half of their shifts. Todd McLellan made sure to have some form of Marc-Eduard Vlasic, Matt Irwin and Justin Braun out there for 19 minutes of the Toews line’s 20ish minutes of ice time.
  • I don’t think it’s unfair to point to the Blackhawks faceoff woes as a starting point for those possession problems. If you can’t win the draw, you’re not going to help possession. Toews and Kruger got absolutely worked in this department.
  • Which by the by, they lost every single draw that began their four powerplays.
  • It sure does help Bryan Bickell’s quest to “give Joel Quenneville more” when he’s sitting in the press box eating garlic fries.
  • Andrew Shaw ended up on the wing as a result of dressing five centers. I don’t hate that.
  • Is it possible that this team goes 82 games without scoring a sudden death goal?  I miss the excitement associated with those.
  • Sharks: Still not a two syllable word.
  • Red-assed Patrick Sharp nearly cost the Blackhawks a chance at any points at all with his high stick with under 3 minutes left. While I appreciate his #want and the Hawks have had their issues with the Sharks playing above the law the last few years, that’s a penalty that a guy wearing a letter just can’t take.

The goal for this trip is 8 points. After three games, the Blackhawks have four points. Not picking up the extra one in Calgary could be the reason they fall short of that goal. Based on what the Kings have done, or rather haven’t done, lately on offense Chicago would do well to come out of Staples Center with multiple points.