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."
The Blackhawks Pick Up a Big Win Against the Wild.
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.
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.