Blackhawks Confidential

Youth is served as Kane, Versteeg energize Hawks to a 3-2 win

Patrick Kane sometimes is overshadowed by Jonathan Toews. Some people like to claim Toews will eventually be the one that emerges as the better player.

I'm not one of those people. I hate to hang the Jerry Lewis label on him. But Lewis got the laughs while Dean Martin performed the smooth setup, and more people remember Lewis today than straight-man Martin.

I'm afraid that's how it going to be with Kane and Toews. Nothing wrong with being Martin. Toews can look forward to being a ladies man like Dean, but Kane is going to get all the laughs--and I would guess all the best-looking women, too, who like to run wild.

Toews looks like the marrying kind. Kane looks like trouble, both to defenseless defenders on the ice as he floats by and the babes rattling the ice cubes with their vodka as he breezes into the bar.

Kane didn't score a goal in Friday night's 3-2 victory over Montreal at United Center, but he had a direct hand in two of them and tacked on a pair of assists that really were the only things the Blackhawks did easily against an opponent they should have blown out.

The Canadiens defense was leaning his way, as all defenses do, when Kane raced down the right wing on the power play in the second period. Kane passed behind the net to Kris Versteeg, who passed out to the opposite side as Cam Barker crept in (as Hawks defensemen like to do) to score from the left faceoff circle.

Barker was wide open for his slammer, thanks to Kane drawing all the attention to the other side of the ice.

It was the only time the Hawks would score from six power plays and it wouldn't have worked without Kane being a threat to overwhelm every defense with a burst of speed.

"He's got more speed in his game," coach Joel Quenneville said afterward. "He has been dangerous game-in, game-out."

In a game that was closer than it should have been, Kane made the difference in the third period with the score tied at 2. He swept past the blue line again on the right side, putting a deft deke on Montreal's Andrei Kostitsyn to carry the play past him backhand to forehand in Kane's patented move and pass to the middle.

I'm not even going to make a tits joke here. Aren't you proud of me?

Kane's vision seconds after his amazing skating maneuver found a well-positioned Patrick Sharp, who quickly drilled a goal past goalie Carey Price for the game winner. Sharp has a six-pack in goals, which will do until the champagne flows in June.

Kane obviously didn't take it personally that he should have had at least two assists Thursday night in a 2-0 loss at Nashville. For the second straight night, he and Versteeg showed youth can carry the day even as the injury-depleted Hawks seek to find their best effort.

Versteeg can be overly rambunctious, as shown by his empty-net chance turning instead into icing and bring a faceoff back to the Hawks zone with 14.2 seconds remaining. Versteeg has to learn to play smarter, but his verve and energy were on display again here and all those people calling for him to be traded should be horse-whipped at center ice as the next intermission entertainment.

He was trying to find Sharp with a first-period pass from behind the net when the puck found Marc-Andre Bergeron's skate and deflected past Price for a lucky goal. Versteeg sometimes benefits from his aggressiveness, trying later in the game to bank in a shot off Price from his position again behind the net. Stupid human tricks are Versteeg's speciality.

The Hawks needed some Versteeg luck, since their power play remains in disarray. To lose to the punchless Canadiens a night after falling to the offensively inept Predators would have been mentally devastating.

But Chicago is winning the mind games for the moment with a player who was once lost in deep thought about how he should play goal. Cristobal Huet again did just enough against a mediocre offense to make sure Montreal didn't score the defining goal that turned the tide.

Of course, the fact the Canadiens had just five shots on goal in the third didn't hurt. But don't underrate Huet's performance. He has come out of his shell to establish himself as the No. 1 goalie some people, including me, suspected he might never be.

Huet has bigger challenges ahead. But he is making an obvious effort to come out of the crease and challenge shooters. Even when he was tested at the net, Huet showed a good balance, and we'll forgive him for allowing Travis Moen to bank in a shot off Huet at the right post in the second period when the Hawks decided eight seconds too soon the period was over.

That tied matters at 2 with just eight seconds to go before the second intermission, but it simply complicated matters and wasn't a back breaker as it might have been against a better club.

It doesn't hurt that John Madden was smart enough to draw an interference penalty in the closing period and keep the Canadiens on their heels. It didn't hurt that Dave Bolland was good on faceoffs with Toews still nursing that concussion.

It didn't hurt that recent pickup Andrew Ebbett created some pressure in this game. And even Tomas Kopecky, who has been missing in action, had a few good plays for a change.

It would be nice if defenseman Brian Campbell decided to join the party. Whatever the hell he has been doing, I wish he would stop it and decide not to match his poor first half last year.

I have seldom seen a more highly-paid player make so many ill-advised decisions. Maybe they should dock his check for every idiot move he makes. That would cut into his pay big-time and he might be earning as much as Adam Burish before long.

The Hawks now have a long layoff until resuming games late next week. They should use the time to work overtime on the power play and on moving the puck when Kane isn't on the ice to carry the mail for them. If they think they are substantially better than Detroit, they better think again.

There will be some debate about whether Andrew Ladd will be suspended by the NHL for a game misconduct. Ladd's shoulder caught an unaware Matt D'Agostini in the first period and Ladd drew a 5-minute major for elbowing him to the ice and into the training table for the rest of the night.

That alone should be evidence the officials had no idea what happened on the play and maybe overreacted. Ladd's elbow never made contact with D'Agostini. Well, it might have glanced into his midsection. His shoulder to the head did all the damage.

The NHL might be looking to make a statement, however, with all the early hits to the head in the league and all the mounting injuries to players. So Ladd might be a victim of circumstance much as he was in this incident.

Quenneville said officials told him Ladd was ejected because the other player was injured. Vancouver's Willie Mitchell wasn't ejected when he laid out Toews on UC ice. The Hawks are going to be using that argument in their conversations with the league.

The NHL has a perception problem when it comes to disciplining hits, especially ones that are deemed clean, but result in injury. Since Ladd is a nobody in the big picture, the NHL may decide to make an example of him.

He left his skates only once he delivered the hit on D'Agostini, but that might be enough to land him a small suspension.

The Hawks are 8-4-1 and really haven't played that well overall. Let's hope they understand they can't keep playing this way and get positive results like that.

Of course, when you have a magic man like Kane, you can get spoiled. The kid's future is as scary good as they come, and what better time to remind us of that than Halloween eve.

Whatvever happened in a certain cab in Buffalo this summer, Kane has moved on. Patrick, your limo awaits. No charge.

Bring along Dean Martin. Johnny could use a night on the town to clear his head.



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Dave Morris said:


Uncle Mike, Les Canadiens had obviously spent too much time drinking from the punch bowl at their Chicago hotel as they watched the game against Les Prédateurs. Otherwise they would have known to actually check Monsieur Kane, instead of watching him skate rings around them.

Mais voilà.

As for Monsieur Versteegue, why does everybody want to trade this guy? ...And these same Virtual GMs who want to peddle Le Grand Cameron Barquer, whose cruise missile is one of Les Hawques' best weapons?

Les BlaqueHawques have managed to escape October with an 8-4-1 record--which if memory serves me, was your prediction--are atop the Central, and have the 5th best defensive record in the league (3rd in the West).

And the Count of Monte Cristo has the 6th best GAA in la Ligue Nationale de Hockey.

Sacré bleu! Or as they say in my homeland, "Tabarnouche!"

dino martin peters said:

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Hey pallie, likes no disrespect meant, but wonderin' what stats that you have to support your conjecture..." and more people remember Lewis today than straight-man Martin." Our Dino is more popular then ever...checks our great man's pads at Myspace and Facebook and see thousands of Dinodevotees....many, many of 'em today's youth. Never was, never will be anyone as cool as the King of Cool...oh, to return to the days when Dino walked the checks on how much our Dino is bein' honored these days, goes to http://ilovedinomartin,

dino martin peters said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Hey pallie, oops...the addy oughta be

Dave Morris said:


Mon Oncle Mike, your ability to fathom the unfathomable shines through again...your prescient and precise purdikshun was as follows:

"With seven games being played in the friendly igloo of United Center from their next nine affairs scheduled this month, beginning Monday night against Calgary, the Hawks should be waving around an imposing record of 8-4-1 when the calendar turns from those goblins of October to the gobblers of November."

See, that Happy Hockey Krystal Ball you picked up on EBay (just 19.95, batteries not included, Made in Hong Kong) really works.

So an extra ration of grog for you, sir.

VegasHawksFan said:


Hawks probably should have handled this team easier, but without Toews and Burish and with Ladd getting kicked early, this is not a bad effort. Kane aside, this team does not carry the puck into the offensive zone well when there are four players stacked at the blue line. When Toews is there, he fights very well along the boards. When Burish is there, well he just tends to fight anything in his path.

If people are back to discussing Campbell's consistent if maddening style of hockey, this is probably a good sign for Huet. Despite lack of volume, I think Huet has faced and turned away quite a few very good scoring chances. I was glad to hear his teammates back him publicly and glad to hear Campbell (of all people) comment before the game on wanting to put up a good effort to help Cris against his old team.

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