You had to know this was coming.
It’s not as if the ‘Hawks haven’t played back-to-back games before – in fact, they came into the game 8-3-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this season – but it was pretty evident the Detroit game took a ton out of the Blackhawks. The Boston Bruins dictated the pace and took it to the ‘Hawks in a 3-0 shutout from Tim Thomas.
Jonathan Toews ended up a minus-3 for only the fifth time in his career as the Blackhawks mustered only five shots on goal in the first period, giving Thomas basically 20 minutes off to start the game. There was basically zero energy, and Corey Crawford gets the credit for the ‘Hawks coming out of the first unscathed.
Boston simply played its game, and there was nothing the Blackhawks could do about it, even though they literally tried to rip off the Bruins’ faces in the process. Shawn Thornton needed 40 stitches after Fernando Pisani’s skate cut him across the forehead.
(Quick sidenote: Any chance this heats up the NHL’s talks of mandating visors? I say yes.)
Dallas lost to Phoenix in a shootout, meaning they’re six points back of the eighth-place Blackhawks. Chalk Tuesday up as tough loss, and move onto Columbus on Friday fresh and ready to go.
Here’s your Boxing…
The guy you’re looking at here is the leading contender for the Vezina trophy, given to the league’s top goaltender. He won the title back in 2008-09, had a startlingly bad year in 2009-10, and has now come back just as strong as he was two seasons ago. He’s big, covers a lot of the net, but is also mobile. It’s as if his hands are magnets: the pucks are just drawn to them. 32 wins, 2.00 goals-against, and a .939 save percentage. And he’s just now starting to hit his stride.
Vezina… You know, if you replace the ‘ez’ with ‘ag’ it— never mind…
Marian Hossa deserves every bit the credit for this victory, and not just because he scored the game-winner.
The Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime victory Monday against Detroit came to fruition mainly because of Hossa’s 23:54 of purely superb play on both ends of the ice. I’ve said it over and over again, but watching this guy play is a thing of beauty and we’re lucky to be able to witness it.
If Hossa had scored on that breakaway after jabbing the puck off the boards between two Red Wings, we may be talking about this being his best game of the season. It would have been nice to see him put more of a move on Joey MacDonald, but it shouldn’t take away from the original play he made to get into that position.
Hossa’s overtime winner was more than deserved after Patrick Kane fought off the entire communist party to control the puck then drew the penalty from Henrik Zetterberg at the end of regulation.
Oh, and I hope Todd Bertuzzi is having his toenails ripped out one by one with metal tongs while having farts blown in his face by Yokozuna as Failure to Launch plays on loop in the background. Ultimate torture.
Here are a few more thoughts before Boxing…
↔ To state the ridiculously obvious, the two points earned are insanely important. However, they became a hell of a lot more important when the Ageless Wonder Teemu Selanne decided to net an effing hat trick in Anaheim’s 5-4 win against Colorado later in the evening. A Blackhawks loss in the OT would have put them two points back of the Ducks for 7th. Despite the victory, the ‘Hawks are stuck in eighth.
↔ MacDonald played a hell of a game, don’t get me wrong. My issue with what most have deemed an exceptional performance lies in the fact the Blackhawks were rather non-existent around the net on point shots. MacDonald had clear looks at nearly every shot put on him. The one time someone made him smell their ass, Toews was the culprit and the puck sneaked through on a Brent Seabrook shot and hit the post. If the ‘Hawks put more traffic in front, MacDonald may not have had the performance everyone is lauding.
↔ Niklas Lidstrom may play until his 84 years old — and everyone would still fear him.
↔ Bertuzzi’s hit was unquestionably a scumbag move from a scumbag player who’s been a scumbag for his entire career. If you think I’m overreacting because Ryan Johnson played the duration of the game and still was a factor at center, look at the replay. Bertuzzi came at Johnson with his elbow up and no regard for the consequences of his actions. There was no “hockey play” made. Will he be suspended? Probably not, since he’s been somewhat clean for the past couple of years. However, the NHL is doing everything possible to rid the league of hits such as these. They need to do something about it.
And with that, here’s Boxing…
With eight games remaining and the Blackhawks clinging to eighth place, they’ve managed to put themselves in one of the most hated positions any of us could possibly dream: The Red Wings will be a major hurdle in the ‘Hawks chances to make the playoffs.
Tonight begins the first of three meetings against Detroit before the regular season ends. That’s about as appetizing as a shit sandwich topped with wet farts.
Just for some quick added pessimism, the last Stanley Cup champion to miss the next year’s playoffs was the 2006-07 Carolina Hurricanes.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s a positive: Pavel Datsuyk won’t play tonight, and Johan Franzen sat out Saturday’s 4-2 Wings win against Toronto. Jimmy Howard is day-to-day after injuring his shoulder against the Maple Leafs, and with Chris Osgood on long-term IR, it looks as if Jimmy MacDonald will be in net tonight.
Six former Hawks took the ice on Friday with one of those being a goalie who recorded his second shutout of the year. The other five who were skaters provided two points, one of each a goal and an assist.
Saturday we had A COLIN FRASER SIGHTNING! as well as 22 other former featherheads to take the ice. The one goalie came away with another win helping his team stay in the top three in the west and the skaters scored two goals and two assists for a total of four points. Two injuries happened in games that could potentially help the ‘Hawks down the road. Keep your fingers crossed!
Last night there were ten former Blackhawks to play. Two were goalies with one losing on in regulation while the other lost in a shootout. The other eight skaters provided three points on one goal and two assists.
Let’s hope that the Hawks rebound tonight and stay tuned for Tim’s preview of tonight’s game.
Click the jump for updates from the weekend’s games
There are three stories of interest coming out of Anaheim these days. The first is that Teemu Selanne, in the words of one sports reporter, refuses to act his age. The second is the eruption of winger Corey Perry, who has 15 points (including 11 goals) in his last 8 games. And finally is a goaltending conundrum that has three brand-name goaltenders struggling to put two wins together as the team claws towards a playoff spot.
The Ducks and the Blackhawks have both won 3 of their last 4 games, they are both locked in a tight battle for a playoff spot (the ‘Hawks in 7th, the Ducks in 8th in the Western Conference Standings), and they are both handing bonus points to opponents by allowing games to be pushed into overtime. Neither team can lose this game — but somebody will.
There were twenty three former hawks to take the ice last night. The three goalies went 1-1-1 while the skaters only recorded three points, one was a goal the other two assists. Andrew Ladd had that goal. The games all went against the favor of the Hawks… Great. The ‘Hawks are now back to seventh in the West, the only good news is that they have played less games than all the teams in front of them
Click the jump for updates from the 3/24/11 games
There were six former Blackhawks on the ice last night. One was a goalie who picked up his 3oth win of the season, the other five were skaters. They were only able to muster up three points, one goal and two assists. The goal was from Rene Bourque while the assists came from Danny Cleary and Benny Eager.
Jack Skille continued his suckfest as well. Great to see that on the ice at the UC. The Hawk’s played great last night, and it all looks promising… well it does right now.
There are three games tonight which can affect the Hawks in the standings. The biggest one is between 7th place Nashville and 8th place Anaheim. The winner jumps up to 5th place in the standings knocking the Hawk’s down to sixth. Hopefully this is only a two point game and the other team doest pick up a point. It’s a seven team race for the last five spots and 4th to 10th place are only separated by 6th points. The other games that affect the ‘Hawks tonight have the Blue Jackets taking on the Phoenix Coyotes in Arizona while the Sharks take on the Kings in LA. A King win moves them back ahead of the Blackhawks as well.
The only good news coming out of this is that all the teams besides Dallas will have played more games than the Hawks after tonight leaving some leeway. The Hawks have played 73 while the Kings, and Ducks will have played 74, the Preds will have played 75, and the Flames and the Coyotes will have played 76. The Hawks can catch all the teams in front of them, and will have the chance to put more points on them and finish in 4th. That’s if they come out and continue this dominating play. Big “IF”. Well without further a due, your daily Esposito.
Click the jump for updates from the 3/23/11 games
It wasn’t exactly the entertainment I was accustomed to during my five nights in Las Vegas, but I’m not going to complain about two much-needed points.
The Blackhawks welcomed me back home with a 4-0 snoozer I largely blame on the Panthers being, well, bad. With that, the ‘Hawks are now tied for 5th in the West with nine more games which will be much tougher and more exciting than Wednesday’s.
Against Florida, the ‘Hawks got away without needing a Dave Bolland nor a Patrick Sharp nor a 100-percent healthy Brian Campbell. Don’t get used to it with Anaheim, Detroit and Boston looming. Pardon the pessimism, especially knowing each game is a must-win given the standings, but the Blackhawks will need more against those squads.
With that said, the defense played like they should have in a home game against a team looking up at New Jersey and the New York Islanders in the East. Corey Crawford did what he needed to, aside from re-enacting Al Pacino’s scenes from Scent of a Woman each time he touched the puck.
A couple other quick thoughts before Boxing:
→ I was very impressed the way Viktor Stalberg responded to the top line promotion, playing actively and drawing a penalty by taking it hard to the net on the first shift of the game. He later took a feed from Jonathan Toews on the doorstep for a goal in the first minute of the third period. Sweet.
→ Did anyone else have heart failure when Marian Hossa went back to the locker room after taking a spill?
→ For the first time all season, the idiots at the UC who constantly yell “SHOOOOOOOOT” each time a Blackhawk has the puck were right to direct it at Nick Leddy.
→ Not sure what the hell happened to Tomas Vokoun when he went ice fishing along the boards on the Tomas Kopecky goal, but that net couldn’t have been more wide open. Hossa, to Michael Frolik, to Kopecky on a great passing play started by Brent Seabrook, who can’t get credited for an assist unfortunately.
→ Speaking of Seabrook, he played a hell of a game which included the rocket that ended up being the game-winner.
→ Oh, and the Captain did his thing again.
Onto Boxing …
A little over two weeks ago, a cocky Blackhawks team took their 8-game winning streak for a little sun and fun in Miami, and promptly got their asses handed to them in a 3-goal first period melt-down that resulted in a 3 – 2 loss to the team sitting 26th out of 30 in the league. It was the anemic start to a dismal 3-game road trip that yielded a mere two out of a possible six points. Humiliating. Eye-opening. Infuriating.
It’s time to get some payback, gentlemen.