The Blackhawks Pick Up a Big Win Against the Wild.

Let me set the scene here before moving on. First home game after an unpleasant road trip, the Hawks are playing the Wild who are 3 points ahead fighting for the same playoff spot, Q is out resting in a hospital, and Kane is suffering from the flu. There are 2 big points at stake. The Hawks need to start a good run that will give them the best winning streak they have seen this season. With the way the other Western Conference teams are playing, a winning streak is all that will gain ground. My brother went as far as to make the statement: "If the Hawks lose tonight, they will not make the playoffs." 

I have heard the word urgency muttered often. It is surely something the Hawks need, and like it or not, winning is urgent now. They need momentum and they need focus. Too many games have been lost to bad passes, dumb mistakes, and a lack of hustle. The Hawks game is possession, pure and simple. When they are on, they control the puck like the best of them. We have all seen it. At times this team looks like a force unable to be controlled by the best teams in the NHL, and then they drop the ball. What they need to do is keep things more simple, which will lesson the amount of turnovers, and missed chances. Stop over passing, shoot high when in close (Hossa) and keep Brouwer in front of the net.
Im not going to lie, I was looking forward to watching the Hawks play without Q on the bench.
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Just incase you missed the title, the Hawks cashed in on this much needed opportunity. Under the guidance of Mike Haviland, the Hawks took the lead and then finished off the Wild with a strong finish. Though, Im not all that happy with some decisions by Haviland.
Let us break this game down.
First ten minutes not so good. Turnovers, sloppy play, and a lot of shots allowed on net. Crawford had to be huge and made 17 saves during the first 20 minutes. The Hawks are still having problems clearing the zone on the PK, as if trying to hard to make an offensive play. Like I said, Crawford was big and had to fight off some great chances.
However bad the start was, the Hawks changed gears after getting a much needed power-play about 12 minutes into the game. Hossa would make his first of a few great drives to the net, and after making his textbook shot at the goalie, helped on a play that ended with Campbell finding a hole through traffic from the high slot. I am shocked that he was left alone to take that shot.
The Hawks would get called for too many men, something a bit too familiar with this team, but I also counted 7 Wild on that same play. I guess those red jerseys just stand out a bit more.
I used the word momentum above and it might be the word of the moment. The momentum of this period shifted after the Hawks scored their PP goal, and ended with a strong shift from Kopecky and company. The newly formed line of Kopecky, Brouwer and Bickell looked quite good really. If I were Haviland, I would have used them more often than they were. When things were getting out of control for the Hawks, this line established order with aggressive play.
Hawks start the second with another PP. It had some great chances, great movement, and lots of opportunities, yet yielded no goals. Hossa worked hard for every shift, getting things going, but after this power-play, a double minor, and then another power-play, the game remained at 1-0. Not good. And, it has to be pointed out when Campbell took his dear sweet time chasing down a clearing attempt, got beat big time, and almost gave up a short handed goal. These are the types of plays that lose hockey games. Sometimes I think this team takes their talent for granted. You usually do not win games when you don't score during 6 minutes of continuous PP time.
Thankfully, the Hawks continued to dominate during 5 on 5 play in large part to the newly formed 3rd and 4th lines. In the final 5 minutes of the 2nd, the Hawks came on really strong, moving with great speed and overwhelming the Wild. Brouwer made a huge hit, and happens to be among the top 5 players in hits this year, then he almost scores. Bickell gets by the Wild's D on a sweet move but can't jam it past Theodore. Crawford was the saving grace for the Hawks in the 1st and Theodore was the same for the Wild in the second. 10 - 17 shots Wild in the 1st, 18 - 8 shots Hawks in the second. All of Hossa's hard work and great chances go without a goal. In the past 33 games of play, he has managed 4 goals when a goalie was protecting the net.
With the game still at 1-0, you could sense a Hawk's penalty brewing. Hossa would again almost score, and then throw a puck away in frustration. This same play ended with a Wild power-play. Being that this would be a game without an even strength goal, the Wild convert and tie the game. The Hawks had 4 chances on the PP, the Wild only needed 1 to make it count big.
But, remember that this game ends with a happy ending. Shortly after the Wild tied the game, the Hawks got another PP after a stupid penalty by the Wild. Brouwer, being the player he has been this year, scores on a centering pass intended for of all people, Hossa. 
In the end, Brouwer's would be the deciding goal. The Hawks gain some ground, and must now look forward to keeping that momentum going. I will save my opinions about the coaching of this game for another day, but they revolve around using certain players too often and ignoring the need for specific players at specific times. 

Filed under: Game Recap

Tags: Blackhawks, Crawford, Hossa, Wild

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  • Well, since your saving your opinion on how some players were used, I'll give mine now. Switching to three lines and four D late in a game is smoke and mirrors bullshit that is not going to work every game. If this is what the Hawks need to do to win, we know what the end result will be. Considering the coaching circumstances though, it hopefully will not be an ongoing thing.

    As I've said before, I generally believe the breaks go the team that is hustling more and working harder. We know that wasn't the Hawks for the first ten minutes of the game, but from that point until later in the third the Hawks were working very hard and were getting a lot of breaks with the calls and with the goals. I dunno know why, but after they survived that onslaught and Campbell scored, I really had a gut feeling they were going to pull this one out. In particular, the forwards were coming back more often for breakouts, the passes were shorter and the turnovers decreased. Once they had a lead though, I thought the sloppiness started coming back along with some laziness.

    In the end, it's two points. We've seen the ups and downs so it doesn't mean much right now. Put together a four game win streak and we will get to have a legitimate discussion about the playoffs.

  • In reply to nklhd12:

    Yep, my less than happy opinion had something to do with that. Hendry was looking great in the first ten minutes, maybe the only Hawk hustling, and he pretty much disappeared for the rest of the 50. Stalberg had 4 minutes of ice, when a sick Kane (whom I caught watching the play and coasting on many occasions) had 20 minutes. I can see playing Hossa a ton since he was everywhere, but this coaching staff has got to stop relying on certain players so much. Keith almost hit 29 minutes. Not necessary with this group of d-men. I saw some pretty stupid mistakes towards the end.

  • In reply to nklhd12:

    I'll second the motion about only getting excited if the Hawks up together a four game winning streak. Despite all the ups and downs, the Hawks are still only 5 points from 4th place in the west. On the other hand, they're only 5 points from 13th place.

    BW

  • In reply to nklhd12:

    Tough game to watch due to Hawks failing to clear the puck from their zone on too many occasions as usual and kudos for Crawford coming up with the big and important saves salvaged the team big time but discipline is greatly needed here if Hawks are to advance.
    Hossa was very impressive with his play the entire game even though lacking in actual goal scoring but nevertheless, was truly a force to keep the Hawks involved offensively along with Bouwer who continues to be a huge factor physically.
    Keith and Seabs do need to take less ice time and a balance of equity sought for the entire D units for the Hawks. Tired players lead to too many mistakes and possible and unecessary injuries.
    I would like to see Frolik capitalize on the actual scoring as he does seem to possess tremendous speed each time he is on the ice.
    Sharp seems so invisible at times and needs to make a more physical presence known if he intends to be a winning factor for this team regardless of his 28 goals. Hopefully the Hawks can and will extend their winning streak in the upcoming games by playing desperate and with greater puck control and higher quality of PK.

  • In reply to nklhd12:

    Interesting point the BW brings up. We all feel like the Hawks are losing practically every night while other teams pile up the wins. However, stepping out of our Hawk-biased viewpoints for a moment, it's obvious from the standings that most teams in the west are playing just about the same way. Of course that's no excuse for some lackluster games, but still interesting to note.

    And although it feels like the season is almost over, in reality there's still over a quarter of the season left and anything can happen in a tight race - both to the Hawks and other teams. Injuries can play a big part in this final leg... like the Blues just losing Halak, and the Nucks losing Bieksa for a while. If the Hawks can stay healthy they'll have a big advantage.

    I missed most of the game last night, so I don't have the ability to comment on the action, but it was good to see the home team get a big win. The way the team has played this year, I'm guessing there won't be any wins that won't be classified as an "ugly win" for the rest of this season. We might as well just get ready for the good and the bad in every game. The Hawks have caught a LOT of bad breaks in the past few weeks, so hopefully their time has arrived for some good luck.

    PS: Someone on the Hawk staff, please step up and change the PK strategy! They will not win a playoff series with the 26th ranked PK unit.

  • In reply to iplagitr:

    The PK issue is in using the same guys for PP's and having them on the ice for most of the 5 on 5 situations too. Dowell is the only player getting PK time who is not also doing everything else. Last year we had Madden filling that roll to a great extent. Versteeg was playing an average amount of ice time, so he had extra juice for the PK. We can not use the same players for every role. Then they are trying to score goals and not taking the easy clearing attempt when it presents itself, screw up, and fail to clear the zone when they had possession.

    But, good point about the standings by BW and guitar.

  • In reply to iplagitr:

    I'm with Vegas here. You can't play three lines and 5 D and expect to get away with it more often than not. What I saw last night was a team, that although they scored 2PP goals, squandered 8 consecutive minutes of PP time in the second period where they could have made life a whole lot easier on themselves. Granted Theodore had something to do with that, but this team needs to make the other teams pay when things are being called that way. Minnie was playing in B2B games too.

    No five on five goals in the last two games. This needs to get better. Hossa was huge last night, snake bit, but still dominant. The new second line looks ok and was the best of the 3 lines that actually saw some meaningful action. It is, though, just a win, and like Vegas says, string together four and maybe there's some fodder for playoff discussion.

    Unless there's some tweaking done to get a legit fourth line, I think we'll see more of what we saw last night and sooner rather than later this will come back to bite them.

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