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