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