Blackhawks Roll Over the Sharks at Home for a 6-3 Win!

Now that was an exciting game. I spent more time on my feet than I have in a while at the United Center. Lots of reasons to celebrate with all the points handed out to Hawk's players and the always important 2 points that shoved the Hawks into 4th place all alone, and only 2 behind the Sharks. Your move L.A. There is even more reason to be happy about the outcome knowing that SJ wanted those 2 points just as bad as the Hawks. Then I remember how bad they were beaten up by the Caps yesterday and the win gets even better. Frankly, it feels good to be a Hawk's fan right now. They might have only picked up 2 out of a possible 6 in the last 3, but they have only lost 1 regulation game in the last 13. There is no better team in the last 10 than the Hawks except for Washington, and I think we saw why yesterday.

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The Hawks started off on a bad note. A very early 2-man advantage spelled disaster for the Hawks, and gave SJ the early lead. It is hard to tell from the stands, but both calls seemed iffy from where I sat. When put into perspective though, the early calls helped the Hawks tonight. The Sharks are a big team and can hit hard. After taking a beating the day earlier I was worried about the Hawk's ability to deal with this game physically. Maybe with some help from a whistle happy officiating the Hawks out hit SJ something like 12 to 5 in the 1st. Huge factor in the game. The rest of the calls seemed to favor Chicago. 
Another big factor was the Hawk's game plan. They destroyed when 5 on 5 by keeping it simple and fast. Sure, a few blown early power-plays painted a pretty ugly picture, but they got their PP goals later on, and the fact that their even strength play was so strong helped my predictions for the night after the 1st. Niemi made some big saves in the 1st and it took a baseball swing to beat him in that period. The Sharks just could not contain the speed and explosive offense of the Hawks though. The second period saw 5 goals for the guys in red. Again, they got there from keeping the game simple. Get it low when all else fails, and use your speed to win races. That speed is what led to the plethora of power-plays as well. Guys like Bickell, Frolik and Pisani were huge in that area. Also, the 4th line had a great game.
Stalberg scored, Hjammer scored, Hossa scored twice, Kane notched his 100th career goal, Sharp provided 4 helpers, and Toews banged home number 30 on the year. Hossa, Toews, Sharp and Kane continue to have hot hands, though I hope they saved some of that for Dallas on Thursday night. I have a little bet going with a friend that Toews hits 100 points. Long shot for me. With 16 games to go and a present 71 points, he has some work to do. Hitting that mark would really help his chances at MVP.
Even though Sharp did provide those 4 helpers, I am still concerned with a lot of parts in his game. He was better tonight than last game, but I still see a shaky player inside him at times. That is however, no comparison to how ugly Keith's play was. Thank god Hjammer is playing such strong hockey, and that Campoli has been a great grab, because Keith is lost in Fantasia or something. Im not sure if his performance transferred to the T.V set, but he was hard to watch in person. Mistakes such as miss played pucks, bad passes and terrible shots, along with missed hits, getting out skated and not playing his man is about all I saw from him. I really hope the Hawks figure out what is wrong with him. I have heard some rumors that there might have been a bug going around the past week, so maybe he is feeling ill or something. His play has been less than strong this whole season though, and the Hawks need him to be big to win in the playoffs.
I also want to question the Hawk's play when in the lead. We have seen many changes in the lines when things are going bad, but what about making some changes when there is a 3 goal lead. The Hawks got comfortable again with the 3 goal difference and almost allowed SJ some light early in the 3rd. I wonder if some changes to add defense to the lines would be appropriate at this point. The Hawks are good at scoring early and a lot. Their goal differential shows that. I just question their approach when leading. Thankfully in this game the Hawks held on and kept the 3rd scoreless, so I am not really complaining, just throwing it out there.
Also, another game where Crawford lets a few in early and then tightens his game up as it progresses. He made the saves when they needed it, and I had a great view for that ridiculous glove save in the later part of the 2nd. Maybe his best save yet.
Many changes can happen in the standings tomorrow. L.A. plays Nashville, San Jose plays Dallas, and Calgary plays Phoenix. No 3 point games please. After the Hawks play Dallas, their next game is against Phoenix. They play the 2 most pesky teams on their heals right now. A chance to make some ground maybe?
Great day, great game! Go Hawks.

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  • I gotta admit I was surprised to see the Hawks win this one in a big way. After the mini-slump, I was expecting the worst. If they ever meet the Sharks in the playoffs, the mental factor of winning the last game of the season series, and hosing Niemi in the process, will be a huge for them. Awesome game - great effort.

    You definitely can't complain about one regulation loss in the last 13. I just hate that it came at the hands of a team that ESPN ranked #29 in the power rankings this week. I can't stand how many points the Hawks have lost this year on the bottom-feeders.

    Anyway, for now we move on to another huge game in Dallas...

  • Nice wrap HH. This was a huge game. Not only for the points it brought, but for the reminder it sends to the conference that this team is still relevant. I listened in the car to the first ten minutes or so (thank god for the WGN iphone app BTW) and was not looking forward to the rest of the game after the 5 on 3 goal. Troy Murray was LIVID about face offs and inability to clear the puck and finally said, "This just isn't good enough". The call on Johnson was weak, but I have to agree with HH that this eventually favored the Hawks. That aside, our PK still blows badly and needs some help.

    Observations: I couldn't agree more on Keith. Maybe he feels too much pressure to carry the load without Campbell there while he also carries his reputation as Mr. Norris. Eager reminded me of just how big a meathead he can be on an off night. John Scott is no replacement for Campbell, but once again played a game that for him was basically perfect. No fancy shit, no horribly bad turnovers, plus one and eight minutes of TOI. And as usual, he stands up for teammates. In the third, I think an alternate view is that the Hawks locked it down more then coasted. I was bored to tears watching the third, but SJ did not really mount much of anything and by about eight minutes in seem to accept they were done. Finally, during the game Edzo mentioned that both Sopel and Huet were in attendance at the White House celebration and I thought that was pretty cool. For two guys who are not stars by any stretch, I think they are both very quality human beings.

  • Great game to watch, that second period was the most enjoyable to watch all year. 2nd penalty on the 5-3 was bogus. Agreed on Keith, he looked asleep and completely out of it, luckily the other D played great. Love Campoli's game, solid in his own end and knows when to pinch in the offensive zone. Brouwer needs to pick it up, looks like his confidence is low again. He botched the 2 on 1 with Hossa by giving the puck up too soon and also had the defensive gaffe on Thorton's goal. Two big road games coming up, lets keep it rolling..

  • HH, when Niemi was pulled were those jeers for his lousy performance or were they cheers for his contributions to the cup win?

    Clearly, this team has way too much speed for the Sharks, and, for that matter most teams. When they skate and are clicking with the passes, they're tough to beat.

    Keith: well, let's not forget that he has a broken finger and is playing through it. Maybe there's a grip issue, and maybe he's just playing a bit tentatively as well as any of the above

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    I wondered the same thing about Niemi. He got a standing ovation before the game started, and Eager got one when he went into the box too. The cheers seemed too loud to be for his lousy performance.
    I cheered for his contribution to the cup.

    Good point on Keith. Part of it is that his game has been suffering most of the year too.

  • In reply to puckpowwow:

    I thought they were cheers as well. If so, pretty classy.

    I agree too, that Keith hasn't been up to snuff this year, but given our lack of depth on D it's a testament to his (perceived) ability that Q keeps throwing him out there in key situations. We all know Q is big on matching lines but when on the road he doesn't have the same luxury of doing that and he tends to match the D pairs. Last year against the Canucks Seabrook and Keith were on the ice whenever the Sedins were for example.

  • In reply to puckpowwow:

    Got a text from someone today telling my Campbell and Bolland both still out tomorrow. That's not good, but then again maybe it keeps everyone busting ass for a whole game.

  • In reply to puckpowwow:

    Are the Hawks wearing green tonight? Happy St'Patrick's day to all.

  • In reply to puckpowwow:

    Wow, this was ugly. Can't wait to see the wrap on this. Yikes.

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