Sometimes things take a little longer. The Blackhawks win over the Blue Jackets in Shootout.

As the title states, it sometimes takes a little longer to get somewhere that should not be so hard. As some of you mentioned in the last post's comments, a loss was not really that acceptable here. A non playoff team, Columbus was out Nash and Mason for this one, and yet the Hawks were out shot, out hit (39-16), and even out face-offed. Not exactly the performance we were looking for. In the end, for the Hawks everything was made right with a little Stalberg speed and a lot of Crawford playing wall.

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It all started well enough. The Hawks found themselves with a 2 goal lead just 6 minutes in. Kane might have read my last post, because he finally scored with one of his lethal wrist shots. Hallelujah, he didn't miss the net. Not that much later the Hawks found themselves on the power-play and Kane again with the puck, makes a brilliant back-door pass across the slot to an awaiting Seabrook who got his whole body into his shot making sure it ended buried. I felt a sense of deja-vu from the play. The Hawks are getting pretty good at that pass and Seabrook is filling in great for the injured Sharp as the finishing player. Maybe having Sharp play the point is unnecessary. 
Kane had a strong game overall. When the Hawks found themselves in trouble in the 3rd Kane was the center of most of the offense generated. Many other players were not having their best nights, and a few huge chances were missed by players unable to pull the trigger or lift the puck off the ice.
The best player of the night, and this seems to be the pattern lately, was Crawford. Rewind back to the first goal and it become quite clear that the Hawks had nothing tonight if not for the huge saves of their goaltender. This was especially important given all of the turnovers produced by the Hawks. One such turnover early led to a giant chance for Columbus to which Crawford made not one, but 2, maybe 3 awesome saves pushing the puck eventually into the corner where an awaiting Campoli lofted the puck out of the zone and to a streaking Kane and the first goal of the night. This would not be the last time Crawford had to bail out his team from some weak defensive positioning and he eventually had to make 3 consecutive shootout saves to seal the victory. Easily the player of the game, and quickly becoming the face this franchise in net.
On a whole, the game did not appear to be so weak on the Hawk's part. They were out skating Columbus but making too many mistakes to take advantage. Turnovers, bad neutral ice movement and positioning coupled with the defense getting caught deep over and over created a desperate moment late in the 3rd.
The first started out promising and ended not so much so, although the Jacket's first goal was on a high stick, and if properly called most likely deflates their offense. The second was a cluster of a mess complete with a crap-ton of penalties. Not much can be said about this period except, "stay out of the box," and, "when does Bolland come back?" We received a couple power-plays and couldn't even finish them without getting our own penalty (6 in the 2nd alone, including a double minor by Kane), and then the dreaded 5 on 3 struck against us when Hjammer questionably lofted the puck into the stands from the defensive zone. Honestly, I thought most of the calls against the Hawks in this period were questionable, but when you seemingly run a guy into the boards headfirst from behind even if on accident, and even when it is the other guy's fault, your gonna get called. However, given that their first goal was on the wrong call, too many sequential calls were going in favor of the Jackets. This 5 on 3 ended with the puck in our net.
Once again, Crawford would be called upon, and he answered by somehow keeping the puck from crossing the goal line after a Columbus player streaked in on a breakaway and attempted to pull off the famous Forsberg move. Executed well, I should know because it happens to be the move I have spent many years practicing and failing with in game situations ( I think it has worked for me maybe twice), but Crawford was once again better. Besides the 2nd goal, Crawford had absolutely no chance.
Into a gigantic period. Somehow tied and in need of the win badly, the Hawks did put on some pressure, maybe even too much, because they began to look a tad desperate which only caused bad passes and missed opportunities again. They started the period with more defensive breakdowns in the form of getting caught too deep, and watching them try to move through the neutral zone was like watching Westley climb out of the quick sand in "The Princess Bride." Columbus had strong pressure, but I really couldn't see any reason for the lack of puck movement. Finally, it seemed like the Hawks found their groove in the period and started what looked to be the beginning of the end for Columbus and then Columbus scored on a brilliant tip-in. 
Our faces dropped, our hopes for the season were somehow hanging by a thread at the hands of a 13th place team. Was this the end of the season flashing before our eyes? If you can't even beat this team in a must win situation, how can you beat any other who happens to be in the playoffs? The moment was dire. I don't know about you, but I gave up. 
Sounds like time for a Bickell wrist shot! I need to hear the goaltenders who have been at the other end of this shot talk about how it gets by them. I can see that his release is nice, and that his accuracy seems ridiculous, but how do they go in so consistently from so far out? But, before this wonderful goal, the group conversation was on Brouwer. What is his deal lately, and will he come alive in the playoffs? He had a chance to win the game but blew it. Talk amongst yourselves, what is the fate of Troy?
Into the OT which was mostly all Hawks. Frolik causes a big-time turnover and then hits Hossa with a beautiful pass and Hossa can't finish. I would have thought that he learned his lesson about getting the puck off the ice when he shoots. Stalberg gets tripped after beaking the D, no call, and then shoots from his knees hard on net, Bickell picks up the wrap around, but all for not. Garon was there for the save as he was for most of the night.
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In comes the shootout. Both goaltenders were damn good, but Crawford was better. After noticing an aggressive attack by Garon, Kane tried to speed past him and shove a backhander in. He had it, but missed his hole. Stalberg thought he would try the same move and used his speed to open Garon up enough to lift his backhander through. Bam! 2 points, finally a little bit of breathing room, and a much tougher game against Tampa tomorrow. Kudos to Q for giving Stalberg the shot and not Hossa. That will teach him to take slapshots on breakaways. Unless your name is Steve Larmer, I don't ever want to see that crap.

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  • I could be wrong, but I thought they looked a little like they lost interest after they scored two goals, is if to say, we made our point, let's just call it a game here and go home. I dunno, I complained a lot about them looking this way last year against weaker teams and though it's better now with some new faces, I still feel like they just don't bring their best effort when they play a weaker team. Was it a mark of good coaching to try a line shakeup against a weaker team? Maybe. Down the stretch, the Hawks have to be ready to deal with injuries if they come up. If there was a time to switch em up, last night was the night. That said, I agree with FF's comment at the end of the last thread, chemistry was lacking.

    After the Jackets started to show a little sack when they got down two goals, the Hawks lost their composure. I'm the chief Hossa apologist here but WTF last night. The refs may have called a couple of weak penalties, but they more then compensated late in the game in favor of the Hawks. I still can't believe Bickell's goal went in. No matter how many mistakes they made, I wanted to see them win and they did.

    A brief bit about Brouwer. Looking at all the different Hawks blogs, there seems to be two pretty distinct camps. One camp is very mixed/down on him and the other can't stop singing his praises. To me, he cycles from low to high at least twice a season. When he is high, he is really effective. When he is low, he is nearly invisible. I've wondered before if it's a confidence issue with him. Q has played him up and down the lines repeatedly. When he drops, he does not seem to handle it well. There is no doubt that he is an asset. My biggest question is whether he's the right asset for THIS team. I think he can be, but for some reason, I think he is a guy who needs to be given a "role" where he can focus on nothing but that job. Looks like I'm going to see the Las Vegas Wranglers final home game today.

  • Looks to me that Seabrook has been getting better since putting his name on the dotted line. Speak of getting better, Crawford! The Hawks would be sunk without his outstanding play between the pipes.

    BW

  • HH, I can't begin to tell you what your recaps mean to me. At this point in the season and our struggle to make the playoffs, I truly look forward to being able to picture the game in my mind, and reading Puck Pow Wow allows me to do that.

    My internet is like dial up when it works, so a subscription to NHL.com would be a waste of money. Baghdad being 8 hours ahead of you, I find myself getting up in the wee hours of the morning just to follow the scores as they happen. Reading PWW is the icing on the cake. Thank you very much, as it's deeply appreciated.

  • In reply to rstanton1:

    Hearing that is enough to keep me going.
    Thank You.

  • In reply to rstanton1:

    Some big games going down today. If Detroit beats the Preds then the Hawks have can pass them up tomorrow. L.A. beating Dallas would provide added comfort for the Hawks. I don't know about you guys, but I would love seeing a Nashville vs Vancouver first round. Offense against defense.

  • In reply to rstanton1:

    Troy Brouwer is a big man who plays small. When Q tells him to be more physical he loses his game. I agree with Vegas- he needs to be assigned a job and just go do it. He is a good soldier. But this year was his time to break out and become the strapping power forward the hawks truly need. Someone to pound in the corners and create havoc in front of the net. It hasn't even come close to happening. He has under achieved this year and I don't think the hawks have the salary cap space to pay to see if he turns it around.

  • In reply to jorput:

    I agree with that agreement. Totally. Wise cracks aside, I think he can still do those things you listed despite not having the breakout year. As an internet moutbreather as opposed to insider, I don't know if Q actually tells him that's his job to do. Kopecky seemed to get that on his own, but look where he came from. Cap space is going to be an issue and honestly, I feel like teams are just now starting to come to grips with that. Look at a cheap team like the Preds. Did they really just turn the corner this year or are they suddenly facing a lot of teams who can't afford the depth they used to have? In their case it's probably some of both but I think the point still stands.

    I haven't seen enough of Kruger yet to really make any kind of call on him, but if he is projected to be one of your important guys, then every line needs a guy like Brouwer, Bickell and Kopecky to bring a little size. They don't need to be Kronwall jackasses looking to blow someone up every night, but they do need to be out there crashing the net or helping to create some space or getting open to score. All of three of them have shown an ability to do this. This will be a summer discussion, hopefully it is after a successful playoff run.

  • In reply to nklhd12:

    Right, no negative waves prior to the playoffs. Nashville and Dallas both lost so hawks look better now than when the day started

  • In reply to nklhd12:

    With the Dallas loss, the magic number is now 3, as in wins. If the Hawks win the next 3 out of 5 then Dallas has no chance even if they win their next 5. Another Dallas loss puts that at only 2 wins out of 5. Things look much better at the moment. Calgary would need to win all of their games and the Hawks still only need 2 wins to keep them out. Nashville went into OT, so they are not as easily grabbed if they had lost. Still, they are within reach.
    Nashville has an easy last week though. They play Atlanta, Columbus, and the Blues. If they lose 1 of those games then the Hawks need to win 4 out of 5 to top them (not likely).
    Anaheim however, has a rough last week. They are playing the Sharks right now, and then again later, plus they have 2 against the Kings and one against Dallas. The Hawks just need to win one more game then them in the next 5 to move into 7th place and avoid Vancouver.

    Quick note about Vancouver, their point production is extremely impressive, but they also have the easiest division in the league this year.

    On the Brouwer situation: I am also kind of expecting him to be playing somewhere else next year, pending a great playoffs. The recent signing of Jimmy Hayes (3 years) who is registered at 6'5" and 210 shows that the Hawks are looking to replace some size in the roster. He has promise of goal scoring abilities and could be Brouwer's replacement.

  • In reply to nklhd12:

    Hi guys, I'm late to this dance and its only 90 minutes before the 'hawks take the ice against the Bolts in another of a seemingly endless string of biggest games of the year. Later the Stars and Ducks knock each other around. I'm not sure who to pull for there. Of the teams still in the hunt, I think Dallas has the easiest sched after today, and the others beat up on each other with regularity the rest of the way out. Oddly, I think Phoenix might be the team to drop down into the 7th or 8th seed. It gives me a headache trying to figure out the various permutations that could occur this week. Just win 'hawks!

    Re: Brouwer, I'm a big fan, especially when I see him up with Toews and Kane. Obviously, if last year was any indication, he has some chemistry with them. I think Vegas has some good points about TB, particularly, what is his role? As we know Q, tries to take square pegs and place them in round holes. Evidence that with the Skille experiment this year. One might also add the Stalberg diaries to that as well, as they continue to be head-gamed by Q. One game on the first line, one game on the fourth. Big minutes one game, less than 7 the next. In fairness to Q, we just don't have a good complement of forwards for him to work with. Too many peas and not enough smashed potatoes. Same thing on D. Bolland's loss is huge too and has taken Bickell and Pisani out of their comfort zone as third line checkers.

    As for where Brouwer ends up, I can't even begin to speculate on that. I do remember when Q was out for three games, Haviland left the lines in tact and we went on an 8 game tear. I hate seeing the lines so discombobulated, so late in the season.

  • In reply to nklhd12:

    Missed the TB game. How did the hawks manage to get shutout? Great goaltending or poor offense?

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