After all was said and done tonight, the Hawks gained an important point, and played a great game (for half of it anyway), but sadness filled or hearts as the buzzer sounded. As the title states, this was a goaltender's duel, and both of them played amazingly. Give credit where credit is due; and yet, this is one too many games in a dire stretch where the Hawk's ability to produce goals was a pathetic sight to see. This coming from one of the most prolific goal scoring teams in the league. Is this team trying to stay out of the playoffs?
A Goaltender's duel in Montreal claims the Blackhawks in OT. Canadiens 2, Hawks 1.
Warning: I just got back from a really late hockey game and might not be thinking completely straight, but I will do my best to recall yet another downer.
Goaltenders aside, it was an exciting game to watch. The second half saw some great end to end action and the Hawks controlled most of it. However, it was the home team that came out of the gates a running. The Hawks looked the opposite of smooth and as time wore on chances began to pile up for Montreal. The only reason the Hawks ever had a chance and ended picking up at least 1 point was the steady and at times heroic play of the Montreal native Corey Crawford.
I counted 3 Hawks standing around during a play that should have ended up in the back of our net. They looked rough through the neutral zone again, making weak passes, bunching up and losing control of the puck for no reason leading to mindless turnovers. This is supposed to be a puck possession team, come on guys. This is about as close to must win as a game gets. Just thinking about what they might face tomorrow night causes me to cringe.
They even looked lazy on the first power-play. The inability to score on the PP being a huge factor in the eventual loss.Kane whiffed on a bold chance right in front of the net due to making too many moves and I just about gave up hope. Surprisingly, it was during a Hawk's kill that I saw a glimmer of something building. It was aggressive, it had movement, hard battles leading to cleared pucks and it almost had a shorty. Could it be? Are the Hawks finally waking up when killing a penalty?
An important thing I forgot to mention was that the Lines saw some moving around. Most eye catching was the separation of Kane and Towes. Interestingly enough, the Kane-Frolik line was the best offensive production line the Hawks had. It would be the Habs who would break the 0-0 game after a winning a race to a puck down low and centering a beautiful pass from behind Crawford making him a sitting duck, but the Kane and Frolik monster would even it out eventually.
Before that came about, a huge turning point occurred. The Hawks get a penalty that ends up asking Crawford to make some huge saves. He does, and eventually Montreal got their own penalty. No PP goal again, but Kane did a little shake and bake moments later out of the corner and across the very high slot where he took the shot. With ample traffic in front the puck just soared straight into the net. The Hawks need to get more bodies in front of the net. This is off most importance.
The Hawks had life all of a sudden, remembering that they are played to play hockey and began to do just that. Here is where the end to end action begins and the Hawks began to fly. Now they had the upper hand and Montreal's Carey Price had to answer the Hawk's purge. One puck almost found it's way in, but a review of the play proved it did not.
I have a point to make now. The Hawks live and die by Toews. When Toews gets hot, the Hawks get hot. When Toews stops scoring, the Hawks stop scoring. Towes is obviously plying frustrated hockey, and I fear he might be injured. This might be the largest cause for the sudden dip in production, especially with the lack of depth.
Bickell had a great game and it earned him a promotion to the 1st line. Oh yeah, and Brouwer injured himself. Looks like the Hawks are out another player and a big body to take on the Blues. Forlik had the winning shot on his stick again, and missed again, and then a terrible, terrible, no good, very bad call took the win away from the Hawks after they had rightfully taken it from the Habs. With 3 minutes left in the 3rd, the Hawks had already tallied 20 shots in that period alone, just to give you an idea of how bad it became their game.
Cut to overtime, Toews and P.K Suban end on the ice and Toews gets called for tripping in total crap fashion by a ref nowhere near the play in overtime. That call coupled with the inability for the Hawks to score goals lately might be the nail in the coffin for this team. Not to mention that Kopecky was thrown into Price and then called for goalie interference earlier in the game. Terrible, terrible, terrible. 4 on 3, Montreal wins.
Dallas won their game and are now only 2 points away from the Hawks. It is still theirs to lose and my fears turn to what might be awaiting them tomorrow. A healthy and super physical team that loves beating up on the Hawks. There is nothing like fearing a destroying check at every turn. Although, it has been my experience that speed wins against a physical team in most situations, so I have hope. I also scored some great seats for the game. I will get a great perspective on this ridiculously huge game.