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