Saad sure did provide #more tonight

While still trying to process exactly what the hell happened there in the last three minutes of the 3rd period you’d have to be one joyless bastard to not have enjoyed tonight’s hockey game at the United Center. Seven goals with five of them coming from the home reds and even a few quality saves thrown in from both goaltenders made this a quality affair. Really helped to rinse the taste out from the six minute stretch that cost the Blackhawks a win on Friday night against the Capitals.

The first three Blackhawks goals came from defencemen which was about as predictable as a cross country bus trip with Ken Kesey. Trevor van Riemsdyk got his first NHL tally on a faceoff win from Jonathan Toews. Olczyk actually broke down the play well on the home broadcast showing how the Sharks forward failed to come to the point to cover his check which was TVR. Brent Seabrook’s goal was directly set up by a fantastic forecheck by the Richards’ line. All three forward collapsed on the blue paint, were able to come out with the puck and Richards’ patience allowed him to find Seabrook in the high slot for a blast. Hjalmarsson’s goal was the direct result of a Marian Hossa pass, once again the product of patience by a veteran. That one just happened to be a veteran with the hands to saucer that puck right to Hjalmarsson.

Then, Andrew Shaw happened.

We’ve been pretty critical of the Top Six Forward and Second Line Center® (okay maybe it’s mostly been me) on this here website but Shaw had a run of abysmal play that directly resulted in both San Jose goals tonight. The first goal was because he dumped a puck prior to the red line when he clearly could’ve gained the line, then dumped it. He almost managed to get an interference penalty trying to chase it down to cancel the icing, too. After the icing, the Sharks won the draw (because Shaw can’t win draws) and were about to get a goal from above the circle.

The second goal came on the powerplay because Shaw tried to force feed his stick to Joe Thornton and managed to draw blood for a four minute minor. The Sharks would only net one goal on that powerplay and Shaw wouldn’t be seen for a spell in the 2nd. Never fear though as he was right back out on the top powerplay unit in the 3rd period. I’m not going to belabor this, I’ll just make this very clear.

Andrew Shaw is a bottom six winger on a good team in the NHL. He’s miscast by his coach who trusts him with more responsibility than he is capable of handling.

The third period was back and forth for a bit until Bryan Bickell potted a beautiful turnaround snap shot that gave the Blackhawks the insurance goal they needed to close this one out. The final three minutes or so was very #SHORKS with Kris Versteeg fighting Marc Eduoard-Vlasic after a Toews empty netter and Jeremy Morin trying to seduce Joel Quenneville by fighting Adam Burish.

A couple lasting points from this one:

  •  That Brad Richards line doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me but with Peter Regin being the replacement for Patrick Sharp it’s hard to really determine exactly how this roster fits together up front. Saad looks great with both Bickell or Hossa. Ben Smith tries his damnedest but he’s not built to play top six minutes. The Toews line didn’t look particularly dangerous tonight but I’m all for giving Versteeg a shot up there. The next three weeks will be a lot of trial and error.
  • A punitive measure like demoting Brent Seabrook after a bad game shouldn’t have a negative, direct effect of making David Rundblad play on his off side. Find a different way to punish him without hurting a young, developing player.
  • Antti Niemi looked like a fish out of water in the first period. I was surprised he finished the game to be completely honest.
  • In the other crease, Corey Crawford continues his stellar play this year. It’s not something I expect to consistently see from Crawford but with the Blackhawks offensive struggles this season he’s been a rock back there.
  • Jeremy Morin played 8 seconds less than the guy he fought. The disparity in talent between those two players is much larger than the gap in their playing time tonight. I do, however, have no complaints about any other playing time whatsoever. Especially the well allocated minutes along the blue line. Keith didn’t even break 23 minutes.

The Sharks are a really quality team. Taking two points in regulation is great. It’d be nice if the Blackhawks could string some of these games together instead of just once a week. Tampa on Tuesday will make a winning streak difficult to get to.