Tonight the Hawks edged out the Stars in a game that shouldn’t have been but was closer than that scoreline suggests. The Hawks weathered an early storm that saw the Stars pile on the shots and Corey Crawford make some good saves. Then Dallas were the victim of the first of a long string of weak or poor refereeing calls, losing Cody Eakin on a questionable Goalie Interference call, and the Hawks capitalised with Andrew Shaw scoring an excellent goal while on his knees. The Hawks doubled their lead in the 2nd with a goal that I believe is currently credited to Kris Versteeg. Ryan Garbutt, of all people got one back after a defensive lapse then Duncan Keith saw a long range effort evade Kari Lehtonen for 3-1. Garbutt got it back within one goal in the 3rd when he managed to stuff the puck home of Crawford. With the Stars pressing hard and Lehtonen pulled it appeared that Niklas Hjalmarsson ended it with a shot from dep in his own half, however it was judged to have been touched by Bollig’s high stick at the Blue Line and waved off. Shortly thereafter, however, Marian Hossa bullied his way to the front off a fortuitous bounce (Lehtonen was en route to the bench, assuming the puck was leaving the zone) and iced the game. There was time for some dumbness featuring Bollig and Roussel and the two points went in the bag.
Oh, and some young Finn made his debut tonight, too.. guess we’d better mention that, hey?
Well, tonight was a complete joke from start to finish. The Nashville Predators are a defensively sound team that struggle to score goals (3rd worst in the league) and were at the end of a brutal road trip. Therefore, of course, the Hawks spotted them a two-goal lead that they never looked like relinquishing. Coupled with St Louis winning in Pittsburgh, any hopes of winning the Division are pretty much gone.
So the Teuvo thing is probably overdoing it a lot of bit, but the outlook tonight as opposed to the afternoon the Blackhawks beat the Bruins back in January is astoundingly different, isn’t it? It’s not that the Blackhawks aren’t still a very serious threat to win the Stanley Cup, but they’re now facing the very real possibility of having to march through Colorado, St. Louis and either San Jose or Anaheim without home ice in any series. Sure, the playoffs were always going to be a hideous slog no matter where they finished, but going on the road for the duration seems like a tall order for even the best of teams. Prior to the Kings (who won it all) in 2011-2012, six teams have advanced to the Stanley Cup finals without having home ice through the playoffs: the 1980-1981 North Stars, 1990-1991 North Stars, 1993-1994 Canucks, 2002-2003 Ducks, 2005-2006 Oilers and the 2009-2010 Flyers. None of those teams went on to win the Stanley Cup. The point is not to dampen your enthusiasm about the Blackhawks this year, but it’s become apparent that the Blues are out of reach and the mission is to avoid opening up on the road against Colorado. Who knows what will happen out in the Pacific, but the Sharks and Ducks would open at home against the Hawks in the Western Conference Finals if the season ended today and the Hawks advanced that far. The Avs lost tonight and share 93 points with the Blackhawks, but they remain ahead in the standings due to their five additional regulation victories. Each team has thirteen games remaining. Fun!
Let me begin by stressing that this is not meant to be a serious statistical study of these matchups, nor is meant to be any sort of indication as to how the Post-Season will go this year: the sample sizes are way too small and there are too many variables, as, for instance, in the number of games in a Season series. This is purely out of interest and was sparked off by our good friend @BvrlyBrewmaster asking about it on Twitter. So take all of the following with a large helping of salt. All numbers were reached by me manually adding up stuff on NHL dot com, so (as my High School Maths Teachers could attest) there is ample scope for error, and please point any out so I can fix them.
Coming off a thorough pantsing of the hapless Beej on Thursday, the Hawks have a chance to apply some pressure on St Louis (who are in action against the Wild) by beating up on the league-bottom Sabres in Patrick Kane’s hometown tonight. The Sabres were already awful and spent the Trade Deadline period divesting themselves of as many remotely useful pieces as they could. So it’s a Trap Game, right? I think we can all agree on that?
Now normally I put in the Fenwick chart and some other analytical thoughts in here when I do the recaps but, yeaaaaah, we really don’t need to bother with that type of stuff tonight. The Blackhawks and their new fangled lines put together by Two Time Stanley Cup Winning Coach Joel Quenneville™ absolutely wrecked shop on West Madison Street tonight. So, for your viewing pleasure, I’ve accumulated some GIFs and videos for after the jump. Bartl’s still on his honeymoon and boxing will return when he’s done enjoying some well deserved R&R in Hawaii.
Wrapping up the Stadium Series game about four days after the fact because I’ve been out of town so excuse the tardiness of this post. With that in mind, here’s a video synopsis of what I saw for about four hours last Saturday.
So Brandon Pirri’s Days in the Doghouse are over: the center was traded to the Panthers last night for.. well, not very much. The price for Pirri is a 3rd Round pick in this years’ Draft and a 5th Rounder in 2016 which is chump change for an NHL-ready player who has been tearing the AHL apart when not up at the big club. Clearly the Hawks can’t afford to take on more salary than strictly neccesary, being tight enough to the Cap as it is, but this seems like they took the first deal available to get rid of a player whose face no longer fits. Why this should be, I don’t know.
We’re just a little over 24 hours away from the last Stadium Series game of the NHL season and I’ve got a little crowdsourcing to do in regards to the whole outdoor hockey phenomenon. While I was driving home after the Ranger game last night I had my radio tuned to The Score. In a rare moment of utility, the host whose name I can’t remember sparked an interesting discussion. Has outdoor hockey lost its appeal already and is the NHL overdoing it with now five of these outdoor games in a season?