Blackhawks Confidential

Blackhawks destroy Calgary 7-1; Hjalmarsson is a real hit

Giddy-up, Blackhawk fans. Take a deep breath. It's only November.

Conserve your energy. Get a blood pressure test. Calm yourselves.

But, my goodness, this looks like a season that will last forever in your memories and perhaps never die in your minds. It's hard to stay seated and stay sane.

We have a lot to give thanks for with Thanksgiving on the horizon. God is a Blackhawks fan--again.

There is no way not to feel giddy after this performance. The Blackhawks destroyed the Calgary Flames 7-1 at the Saddledome Thursday night.

The circus trip started with the Hawks as lions and tigers, devouring everything in sight. Five games remain on the stressful journey west and if the Hawks win just three more times,  the trek will be judged a success by all.

If they can win five out of six, oh my. They will have cemented their reputation as one of the best teams in the National Hockey League. And be considered without question one of the top two or three clubs.

What a time to point fingers. Point them at defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, whose hit against Rene Bourque spurred a five-goal spurt in the second period.

Hjalmarsson's energy led to a roughing penalty that opened the power-play gates and the Hawks plowed through from there and never looked back. Flames fans booed their team off the ice at second intermission and goalie Mikka Kiprusoff took the hint and never came back for more.

Hjalmarsson is the defenseman everyone is talking about right now as he makes significant strides in his career. He is another example of the depth that makes everybody believe the Hawks are headed to a playoff run that could make them a champion.

And makes everyone realize the Hawks can trade away some high-priced talent to make salary cap space and not be stripped bare.

If the beanpole Hjalmarsson can continue to be a physical presence, watch out.

Point those fingers as well at Duncan Keith, who looked worthy of a 20-year contract extension with a nifty no-look pass to Patrick Kane on a 5-on-3 attack that resulted in Kane lasering a pass to a wide-open Kris Versteeg, who drilled home one of his two goals in the middle period.

Point them at long last at the power play. There were four power-play goals, three in the second period. Troy Brouwer's first-period goal on the man advantage got everything started, but two power-play scores from Versteeg in the second period and another by Kane took all the fight out of an overwhelmed Calgary team.

"We were due to have a night like tonight," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I'm happy with all aspects of the game."

The Flames just rolled over and played dead in the third period, which only featured a goal from Ben Eager. They didn't even protest with any physical play, which had to be a major disappointment to coach Brent Sutter.

The Hawks defense may have been the major story. Hjalmarsson, Keith, Brent Seabrook and Cam Barker  all had a hand in the scoring. Defensemen had nine points in the romp, lending a hand offensively as well as defensively.

Goaltender Cristobal Huet continued to show that he is remaking his image. Huet was a force again, making enough key saves to make a difference and not allow the Flames a chance to make any significant run at all.

There will be some debate about whether Calgary should have gotten a penalty shot against Huet when the game was still tight. But who cares? Everything is going the Hawks' way.

Everybody thought the Flames would have revenge on their mind after blowing a 5-0 lead at United Center Oct. 12 and losing 6-5. Instead, it was Huet, who was pulled from that game after allowing too many early goals, fighting back with a statement game.

It's easy to overlook Huet when the offense dominates like this. That would be a mistake. Huet is making all of us doubters, including me, bite their tongues.

If Andy Niemi can step in and win on this trip, as he will be asked to do, the Hawks will be living large.

Dustin Byfuglien even made an appearance after being missing in action lately. Byfuglien snapped a shot for a second-period goal with an assist from Patrick Sharp. That hiked the advantage to 3-1. Andrew Ladd's goal pushed the Hawks ahead 4-1 with Keith assisting.

We can only hope the Hawks don't get too overconfident after this blowout. They move on from here to face Nikolai Khabibulin and Edmonton Saturday night.

If they can plaster the Oilers and Flames, expectations will be sky high for the Hawks. As if they weren't already.

And if Marian Hossa makes his debut on this trip and adds to the success, the good times will be rolling full speed ahead.

This was a night without a negative in sight. I'm sure there are some tough times ahead.

But I can't see them right now. We're all blind with what should happen from here.

How can anything go wrong?

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8 Comments

VegasHawksFan said:

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Little to dislike in a game that the Hawks played solid from start to finish. The goalstorm was cool to watch, but I was happier to see a full game effort. Even in the third when it was well out of reach, they were still skating for dump ins and trying to score. Hammer's hit was kind of questionable, I don't like seeing anyone get damaged enough to be forced from the game. Good for Huet, he had an awesome game. Let's hope they don't take the Oilers lightly and that they didn't get too wasted celebrating Kane's 21st Bday.

iplagitr said:

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I felt the same way: it was most satisfying to see the Hawks outwork the Flames and their relentless-assault-style approach... and then continue that work ethic all the way to the final horn. How about Ben Eager busting up the wing at 100 mph with 1 second remaining in the game? He wanted another goal! Great to see. The Hawks really buried their chances when they got them, and took full advantage of their power plays. This game (as with the last game against Calgary) really had them living up to their billing as one of the great offensive teams in the league. As Q said, they've been due...

And as Mike and others pointed out... Huet was excellent and not to be overlooked. He fueled much of the momentum the Hawks carried through the second period. Way to go Hawks!

Dave Morris said:

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Hey Mike, thanks for another excellent article.

With all the hubbub over this and that, people--especially the media mutts obsessed with dissing the Hawks over their 'cap issues'--are forgetting this is a very good hockey team.

Why, Blustering Bob McKenzie was so flustered last night he spent hours Tweeting over tagging, finally admitting he didn't have a clue what it really meant.

So much for the 'experts'.

Meanwhile, as Troy Murray said during his radio cast, "The Hawks just went about their business."

Talk about gangland style execution. "The Chicago Way", as one Mr. Connery once put it.

Get the opponent down, and hammer them into the canvas. And then hammer them some more. All the way to the final bell.

Champions are ruthless. We're finally seeing that in this Hawks club.

Da Hawkey Boyz know all that matters is getting their business done on the ice.

They'll let Stan sort the rest of the business out.

Next stop, Edmonton. As Troy Murray added at the end of the game, "Let's go kick some Oil."

Alligator Derski said:

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Yeah that game was amazing. The Hawks are firing on all cylinders. Good work in giving Huet the respect he deserves after his recent turnaround.

FearlessFreep said:

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Big surprise for me was to see Calgary give up after the second period. Like everyone else I suppose, I was expecting some big hits and a physical response.

Nothing.

Even Coach Sutter was relatively calm in his post game interview - almost as if admitting that getting mad about this would be a waste of energy.

This has REALLY got to be grating on Rene Bourque too - who can't seem to get the best of his old club.

Jerry Kayne said:

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As long as we're all in a good mood, I have to mention Brian Campbell. He was overlooked by the media in this game. He had the best game of of the season so far and maybe of the last 2.

Soupy played both ends but mostly stayed home and faced the play, which has been my biggest criticism of him. He played the way I except a player of his salary and expectations to play last night.

Personally I don't care if he scores, that's a bonus, I want him to control the puck so the opponent can't and clear the traffic and a loose puck from in front of the net. Last night he did that. I challenge him to do that consistently the rest of the way.

Everyone says Buff has a good game, if he's visible. Last night he had a good game but he really didn't do too much. A goal and a few hits. All he has to do is move his feet and the opposition is very worried about getting squished and consequently makes mistakes. Buff needs to use last night's game as the 1st step to that kind of play and step it up over the rest of the season and peak in June. Can he?

Mike Kiley said:

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Valid point made on Campbell. Thanks for adding it. But people get overlooked all the time or else The Tribune would have found a way in today's game story to mention Hjalmarrson. Unless I overlooked it I didn't see his name mentioned. Rene Bourque is wondering why if his head is clear enough to read.

Jerry Kayne said:

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Don't worry, Hjalmarrson got some mention as the hit that was the turning point in the game on the NHL channel's "On the Fly". Chris Kuc probably was edited due to spell check.

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