Blackhawks Confidential

Huet allows out-played Blackhawks to hang tough and win 3-2 in Colorado shootout

OK, let's get it out of the way early. Goalie Cristobal Huet won this game hands down. Or is that hands up?  Even his much-maligned glove hand plucked this almost certain loss out of midair like a sleight of hand magician.

If this doesn't instill him with confidence, nothing will. Huet should be a better goalie from here on because of how he pulled his team out of trouble time and again.

Get it through your head, Cris. You can be good. You have been good. You can play much better. That's what has to be hammered home to him today.

Patrick Sharp's shootout goal may have been the difference in a 3-2 Blackhawks' victory Wednesday night. But if not for Huet's sterling play for most of the game, Colorado would have blown Chicago away and the clubs would have never had their third shooutout of the season with the Hawks winning two of them.

This outcome could have easily been a 4-2, 5-2 defeat for the Hawks and a real downer in front of the home folks. In keeping with the Veterans Day theme, the Hawks were missing in action for the first two periods.

So it was a win that came with a hidden message. The Hawks weren't all that good. Don't feel all that special about what transpired. This was a teaching moment more than anything.

Defenseman Cam Barker rescued the Hawks by tying the score 2-2 in the third with his aggressive play. He punched loose the puck in the neutral zone along the boards and was unstoppable on his rush down the right side on his way to scoring.

How good was Huet, who made many big saves in the first two periods? Well, let's talk about it.

You can argue that Kyle Cumiskey's first-period goal on a prayer shot from behind the net was nothing but atrocious and another sign that Huet can get caught off-balance at the damndest times. Or as Edzo told his Comcast TV audience: "Those goals can't go in."

You can debate that Huet got lost after Wojtek Wolski stripped Andrew Ladd of the puck in the neutral zone and Wolski not only unleashed a wild shot at Huet on the rush with his long reach, but picked up his own rebound for the goal into the right of the net with Huet uncertain where anybody was. Colorado went up 2-1 in the second period on that one.

To hell with nit-picking Huet. I won't hear of it. Without Huet, the Avalanche would have had a comfortable lead after out-playing the Hawks in the first two periods and likely would have won.

The Hawks' No. 1 star was LUCK. Otherwise, Matt Duchene wouldn't have hit the post twice down the stretch. Duchene played great and showed why Colorado should be a force a long time as long as this 18-year-old wiz kid stays in an Avalanche uniform.

Duchene could have won it in regulation. He could have won it in overtime. But Huet didn't falter when he could have hung his head. You can't say enough about him, although he definitely needs to watch the film and make appropriate modifications.

Doing that after a win rather than a loss should mean everything to Huet, who is showing confidence by the way he constantly comes out of the net and challenges shooters. You really can't say enough about him.

Once again you saw what the Hawks were missing without Jonathan Toews in the lineup. Without Toews going to the net and making goalie Craig Anderson crouch down, Patrick Kane doesn't have the small opening right side to drill home his first-period goal.

It's Toews' little things that result in big results.

If Kane scores shortly after that on a backhander off the post, the Hawks might have ridden that quick turnaround to an easier win. Instead, the Avalanche dominated, especially in the middle period, keeping the Hawks on defense far too long and scaring the hell out of fans.

"I thought maybe we were fortunate tonight," coach Joel Quenneville acknowledged. "It was good entertainment for the fans."

Not fans who don't like having their ass handed to them. The Hawks don't do well with a wide-open style.

This is a perfect game for the coaches to hold a tough practice Thursday before hosting Toronto Friday night at the United Center. The Hawks have to work a whole lot harder next time out, no matter who the opponent is. Or else the woeful Leafs could beat them.

Toews scored the Hawks' first goal in the shootout. He was the picture of simplicity. He stayed forehand and shot it between Anderson's legs.

Kane tried to get fancy in his shooutout rush after that. He went slow before putting on a burst of speed, but was stoned.

Sometimes, simplicity is the way to go. Toews is always a good example for his teammates when it comes to putting the nose to the grindstone and not doing too much.

Speaking of concussion comebacks, defenseman Brent Seabrook doesn't appear to be all the way back yet from his injury after getting kicked in the head. He has played well at times in spurts, but isn't the physical force he usually is.

As soon as Seabrook returns to the player he can be, the rest of the defense will follow. The Hawks remain a work in progress, trudging on through injuries and waiting for Marian Hossa debuting later this month.

They haven't been great. But they have been good through adversity. That's promising enough right now. The Stanley Cup dream lives.

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9 Comments

VegasHawksFan said:

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Amen to the love for Huet. Can't quite say he stole it for them, but I say damn close. They did get outworked by a very good team for two periods and they were lucky to win. I don't think the Avs are going to fade like people are predicting, but it is a long season. I'm glad we don't play them again until the end of the season. It's an ugly win, but I'm glad that tonight we weren't the team that was hitting nothing but posts; Huet was on the other side of that deal a lot early on and it's time he did get some breaks.

Mike Kiley said:

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I think Huet has finally gotten over the mental hump. When things go badly, you don't see it in his body language. He needs more progress in his overall game, such as game instinct and positioning. But at least it's a start toward bigger and better,

iplagitr said:

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This season we've watched the Hawks work hard without getting the payoff in goals, while the other teams get most of the breaks in so many games. It's nice to finally see it go the other way tonight! Yes, Huet gave up his nightly "softy" on the first goal, but he more than made up for it keeping the scrambling Hawks in the game. Kane missed his SO attempt, but continues to shine with all-star stick-handling, playmaking, and passing on virtually every shift. The Hawks have a great team, but something seemingly just isn't quite clicking for them yet. Maybe it's because I watch every game they play, but I think they're becoming slightly predictable. I think they need to avoid too much of the fancy style and get more shots on goal. They started the season by taking more shots, but have gradually faded away from that approach.

Mike Kiley said:

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I think you hit on the head. The Hawks are trying to finesse too much on offense. They wouldn't do what Wolski did against them, just fling a shot and follow for the rebound. A lot more shots on goal are needed as long as there is net presence to pressure and cover. I hope they don't fall into standing around when Hossa starts playing.

Dave Morris said:

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Mr Guitar, Les Blaque Hawques took 39 shots last night FYI.

iplagitr said:

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Hi Dave, I knew someone would write that. Of course you're correct, but I was talking about a general trend in their offensive approach. And you just wonder.... would they have needed a shootout to win if they had taken 10 more shots during the game? They passed up plenty of opportunities to shoot last night and had nothing to show for it. I loved how Barker faked pass and then shot on his goal. I also agree with Mike above where he fears the Hawks might get even more into the finesse game when Hossa starts in. Of course, at that point the finesse game might be more successful!

Dave Morris said:

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GuitarMan,(great Elvis song written by Jerry Reed BTW), it seemed to me The Falling Snow of Denver managed to bury the Hawk Attack effectively in the first two frames.

If Brouwer Power had been switched on, it might have been a different story. As Troy Truck has said hisself, if he doesn't get six hits, he's da pits.

Dave Morris said:

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Mike, you nailed it again. We have to start calling you "The Hammer".

The Hawks obviously miss Representative David Bolland, he of the G.O.P. (Goal Opportunity Prevention). Allowing the Falling Snow of Denver more shots in two periods than they usually give up in an entire game was not kosher for the Hawkey Flock.

However, as you say, The Count of Monte Cristo provided Da Boyz with astute twinetending and the type of larceny that evoked Tony O at times.

Truck Brouwer only having two hits, Capable Colin Fraser was left to perform his Adam Burish impressions.

As for Edzo's fulmination, Olczyk-Boychik neglected to mention that the failure by Cameron Barker to contain Cumisky or otherwise beat the Av-Man to the loose puck exposed Huey.

Mr. Barker has a way of atoning for his sins, though, and deciding to be Bobby Orr-like to score a spectacular goal off his end-to-end swoop was Da Poop.

This game was a good reason to provide defribulators for those in attendance. The rest of us can use ABT (Adult Beverage Therapy).

Arthur Wirtz is smiling.

Mike Kiley said:

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Barker has been Jekyll and Hyde all season. I hope he starts to fine tune his game. Bad cop, good cop is not a winning combo in the NHL.

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