Live or Die by Toews, The Blackhawks win over the Blues in OT.

Live or Die by Toews, The Blackhawks win over the Blues in OT.

I made the statement last post, live or die by Toews. It means that this team's fate seems tied to his abilities to carry them. When Toews is hot, the team gets hot, when Toews hits a rough patch, the team hits a rough patch. Not only this year, but last year and the year before as well. Tonight, the Hawks picked up an ever so crucial 2 points off of the blade of Jonathan Toews.

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This was a chance to make a statement. Are you in it to win it, or not. Anxious to get an answer from the team on the brink of making the kind of history you don't want to make, what we received was sort of ambiguous.
Let me start here by saying something to the Hawk's fans at the United Center tonight. Being so lucky to witness this game first hand I was hurt by the boos coming from the stands. Please remember that this team brought home a trophy to a city that waited a long time for. When the Hawks gave up a goal 17 seconds in and then failed to capitalize during a 5 on 3 power-play, I felt pretty pissedt too, but I do not boo this team. I would never do such a thing (unless Huet was in net) and to be forced to listen to it hurts. You may remain silent when things go wrong or curse violently for a moment, but I offer the opposite as another route. Cheer your team on and attempt to build up their morale. The team needs its fans right now.
It was hard to watch early. So much that I tried to ignore it. Lose this game and things look pretty ugly, even uglier than the play presented by the Hawks early tonight. Do you even want to win, are you looking forward to an early summer break? I saw maybe the most sloppy passing of all year. The Blues weren't even playing that well and they cruised to a 2 goal lead. As mentioned, the Hawks failed on the 2 man advantage. Hossa should have buried one, Kane had a big chance and Keith just kept on firing shots into opponent's shins. Is it nerves, is the pressure just too much, what is keeping you from playing like there is no tomorrow?
Keith looked extra bad tonight. He made more mistakes than I care to count, avoided making hits that are no brainers, as did Seabrook, and couldn't hold onto the puck to save his life. Making it to the playoffs will be hard enough, but if this man doesn't step it up by then, it will be a short ride. Seabrook is playing much better than earlier in the season, but he needs to be more physical for this team. I miss the big hits of yesteryear. 
On top of all of this, Crawford was struggling too. Having tried to bail the Hawks out of countless games without much help, his stamina hit a bump in the road. Yet, the Hawks prevailed. They battled back, then gave it back, and then took it back once and for all. They even battled through some of the craziest line juggling of all season.
A very controversial Hossa goal changed everything. I can not recall a decision taking this long on whether a goal was good or not. It seemed like forever, and the only thing that eased some of the tension was the fact of the call on the ice. I hear that many things were being looked at and that the Hawks were lucky in major ways. Hossa himself was noted as saying he didn't think it would count. If this goal is not counted, the year could have ended right there.
But, it counted, and everything changed for this game. The Hawks began to skate like the team we expect to see when we enter the UC, or turn on the T.V, or log onto the internet. They played really hard after this........................for the next 10 minutes or so anyway. By the end of the 2nd the shots favored Chicago 28 to 10, and thanks to a Kopecky and Leddy goal, the score was 3-2 heading into the 3rd. Then the Hawks went back to playing clumsy hockey, just not as bad as in the first period. I blame the weird assortment of lines for this. Players who have never played together before were suddenly paired up and I question the logic.
Jumping back a bit, Sharp returned to the ice tonight. Though he may not have played anywhere near his best hockey, having him on the ice was much better than a minor leaguer and he had a role in the eventual win. Brouwer however, did not return from his ugly looking injury. He was replaced by a little guy who goes by the last name of Smith, and I thought Smith played pretty darn well given the circumstances. He even earned a spot on the 2nd line, a move I again question, but a testament to his show on the ice.
The biggest two names on the ice from my perspective were Campoli and Johnson. Every shift was played hard, big plays were made, and confidence exuded from these two role players. Not that I would not expect it, both have been playing hard since joining the team, but tonight I saw a little extra. Campoli was stellar, by far the best defensemen on the ice and his hard play caused the 2nd goal. The Blues might have lit the lamp a couple more times if not for his big defensive plays and he wasn't afraid to get physical. I have big questions for the coaching staff coming home and realizing that he played 8 minutes less than his clumsy teammate Keith. You have to be willing to play the guys who are playing better, I don't care what their paycheck is.
As the title states, the Hawks are riding on the back of their captain, and with little time left in OT he asserted himself with a game winning goal. Somehow the Blues defense left him all alone and Keith making up for some of his earlier mistakes made a cross ice pass after alluding a Blues' forecheck seconds before it. As Kopecky stated in an interview after the game, "gaining 2 points is a win and a good game in my books."
The Hawks jump into 7th place for an hour or so, but will fall back to 8th when Anaheim finishes their beating on Nittymaki and the Sharks. Everyone will be glued to the Dallas game tomorrow to see just how important Friday night's game is. Once again, the Hawks fate is in their hands, well Toews' hands anyway.

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  • Thanks for the wrap, HH. I wasn't able to see the game tonight, but NHL.com highlights and PPW are all I need to get a true feel for the game. Obviously a big win, but even if they hobble into the playoffs with this inconsistent play, then what? You would like to say this was a big momentum-changing game, but we've been trying to say that all season after key wins.

    In other news, it looks like Zetterberg went down with an injury tonight. I never cheer for anyone to get hurt, but that's a huge break for the Hawks if he's not on the ice this weekend.

    Wouldn't it be nice if the Stars had to play some remotely good teams at the end here? Two in a row with the Avs, of all things!

  • You guys are the number crunchers....So let me ask: With your win tonight and (at worse) a split with Detroit, doesnt that lock the Hawks for at least the 8th spot even if CGY and Dallas win their final games?

    Not sure how serious Hanks injury is yet but Babcock has already counted him out of weekend play. He was one of only 3 guys from Detroit to play every game this season so go figure.

    Looking forward to the weekend action. Looks like you guys are a lock for the post season spot with the win tonight. I honestly can't see the Wings taking the final two games (or either) but it would make things pretty interesting if they made the Hawks get the final 2pts they need on back half of the weekend! Lets just hope both teams can get through these final games injury free for playoffs sake!

  • In reply to matto:

    I put up something to your question on the east a couple of posts back. What's your take?

  • In reply to nklhd12:

    I have had a chance to watch a bit more Eastern Conference play than usual this year. Mostly due in part to the new GM in Tampa Bay and my brother lives there and has become quite the Bolts fan. (Ive even gotten down to St Pete Times Forum for a few games this year!) They are on the rise but a long shot for the Stanley Cup this season.

    Like I said in my last post, Pittsburgh has really impressed me following the loss of Sid and Malkin. Fluery has been great and their role players proved to be more than just that. Boston has to be the favorite if you like the fact that they have the best diff of anyone else in the conference. I root original six above all but last year I almost threw away my B's jersey out of concern that I would be to embarrassed to ever wear it again. Still, I think they have the best shot on paper and have solid goaltending. My sleeper is Buffalo. They have been pouring it on as of late and I like the MSU goaltender.

  • In reply to matto:

    How badly, do they want the second seed? Do you think it makes any difference to them? Babcock does not seem like a coach who is going to drive his players hard for another notch in the standings to gain home ice somewhere down the road. He'll probably rest those are nicked up.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    I don't think the Wings even care. Its not like they have made their home ice much of an advantage this year anyways so maybe they think it doesnt matter. In light of losing Hank last night, I think you are right about how Babcock will play this. He can't afford to lose anyone else this weekend and Im sure those that could use the rest, will get it. My guess is that Howard will still play (even though coming off of injury) and will be used as target practice by Chicago all weekend.

  • In reply to matto:

    Well, recently, when I have worn my Hawks practice jersey, they have done better then when I have worn the Toews or Hossa home jersey. In other news, I have been waiting to shave off the winter beard when the Hawks are finally eliminated, whenever that may be. Do you guys think it would make sense to shave the beard early and do reverse superstition psychology?

    Not that I'm superstitious of course LOL

  • In reply to nklhd12:

    LOL, only if it is itchy!

  • In reply to nklhd12:

    It is all you on the beard thing, but I am a firm believer in lucky shirts or jerseys. The Hawks never lost last year when I wore my Burish shirt last year, right down to the last game. I tried to make my Hjammer shirt the lucky one this year around, but it is broken or something.

  • In reply to puckpowwow:

    My superstition: I used to wear the same USA hockey T under my equipment for every game. Didn

  • In reply to matto:

    Mine is this. I never wear any of the opposition colors. If it works I keep wearing it until the 'hawks lose. Needless to say I've changed frequently this year.

  • In reply to matto:

    That's the biggest load of BS I've read from OT yet.

  • In reply to matto:

    OneTeam, I laughed out loud with that one. Funny stuff!!

  • If the Hawks win one of the Detroit games then yes, playoffs are in the future no matter what. Interestingly enough, winning both games can place them in 5th place if Nashville, Phoenix, and Anaheim have rough weekends. If any of those teams lose one and the Hawks win both there will be quite a lot of shifting around. It still isn't out of the equation for a Detroit - Hawks matchup in the first round.

  • In reply to puckpowwow:

    HH, and OneTeam, 97 points doesn't guarantee a playoff for the 'hawks. If the Stars win out in regulation or OT and the 'hawks split they'll each have 38 Rows, and the Stars have a better head to head so the Stars get the nod. Of course Phoenix may falter against the Sharks and lose two in regulation and that would give the 'hawks the tiebreaker there. Hawks need 3 points to clinch.

  • In reply to fourfeather:
  • In reply to fourfeather:

    Good eyes, I was a little sleepy when I wrote that. Bottom line, Dallas must run the table while the Hawks must get two points or less out of the next two games. To some, a team that wins the cup but doesn't make the playoffs the next year is an epic fail. I don't agree entirely with that stat, but as the team that has the third highest amount of goals scored in the conference, it will look very bad to see that 30+ goal differential sitting in 9th at the the end while the Ducks and Stars take the last two spots.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    Scary game last night, I was not impressed at being down two zip, and the lucky break on the Hossa's goal changed the tide for the rest of that period and one could argue the game. These breaks do tend to even out, but I'm still steamed over that non-call against Dallas which would have given the 'hawks a 4-0 lead and likely that game. Take away those two points from the Stars and give the 'hawks one more and the playoffs are locked up. Well, I guess you could say that about any of the games the team gave away this year.

    HH, a little levity here. Mr Smith goes by the first name of Ben. One of my dogs goes by the name of Ben and believe it or not he loves watching hockey with me. Every time Pat Foley said "Ben" Smith the little guys ears would perk up and and he'd look at the screen wondering where it was coming from. Pavlov's dog?

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    Awesome. My cat watches games with me sometimes. Stands right in front of the screen on occasion.

  • Yeah, that's how I see it too. Hawks win just one game and that's it for Dallas. Cal-Gary got knocked out last night after the Sharks decided to let the Ducks get their goal differential back to positive territory. Right now, these guys are just too fragile. If they feel like they have a chance, they play hard and get good results. When they get scored on early, they just go limp. To your point HH, I was thinking the same thing that the Blues really didn't look all that good. Each game, there are consistent things that bother me. If Leddy isn't with Keith, he plays ten minutes or less. If he plays with Keith, Keith seems to overcompensate and makes a lot of really bad decisions. And for the love of Lord Stanley, can we not have point men on the power play their off side to shoot a one timer? Seabrook has scored twice recently for just that reason. I thought Smith looked decent last night and he got some pretty valuable ice time in key situations. Was he not an option earlier?

    I thought a little bit about potential matchups as well last night, but I'm going to put that aside until the Hawks are actually in it.

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