And another OT there shall be: Chicago Blackhawks best the Wild in shoot-out.

And another OT there shall be: Chicago Blackhawks best the Wild in shoot-out.

How come we can start off talking about how the new and great coaching in Minnesota right now can instill confidence, a composed system of play and motivation in a team, being maybe the best reason for that team's success, but we seldom hear how the Hawks coaching might be worthy of critique for their underperforming tendencies this year?

But enough about that.

The Hawks came into this game minus a Smith, and Lepisto, but plus a Bickell and Scott. I can understand the Smith thing, he hasn't been looking so hot, but what the hell was wrong with Lepisto's play to send him to the bench? Scott was instrumental in a Wild goal and had a few blunders with the puck during his 8 minutes of ice-time. Frolik was moved to the 4th line which apparently helps him score goals, and Brunette took his place on line 3.

Stalberg was back to the top line again, and even logged an impressive 18+ minutes of ice. His time was well served, and he almost had the game winner in the remaining few seconds of the game.

This might be one of the best games played by the Hawks this year. Lets ignore the shot differential against us in the 3rd and rather look to the great start by the Hawks and continued poise throughout the game. Even though the Wild generated a few surprisingly good chances out of little room, the Hawks controlled the majority of this game and should have taken it without the extra minutes and eventual shoot-out. But, I guess that the Hawks are sort of addicted to OT these days.

The 3rd line might have been the biggest and best surprise. Generating the best chances for the Hawks in sustained pressure for their first consecutive shifts, Bolland, Bickell, and Brunette controlled the puck, won battles and created havoc on the Wild early. Bolland looks like he is ready to jump out of his slump, which will be a nice added bonus to the Hawks scoring as of late.

One of the best defensive plays by anyone that I have seen this season was instrumental in the Hawks early lead. Keith was somehow able to come from behind, swing around his target who was in all alone on Emery, and knock the puck away without taking a penalty. The result was a 5-on-3 after a frustrated Wild player took an unsportsmanlike and it set up for a Hossa PP goal.

A terribly mistaken non-icing call on the officials part along with a confusing moment where Scott refused to play the puck helped Minnesota out quite a bit in this one. It is a shame when a really bad call has so much impact on the outcome of a game, but what are you gonna do? Seriously, what the hell happened on that play?

The Wild were patient as we expected, but the Hawks were better. They seemed destined to roll on into an easy win after taking a 2 goal lead, and then found themselves tied heading into the 3rd and were then taken advantage off as the Wild decided to shoot the puck from anywhere within the blue paint.

In steps Toews after a nicely timed icing call (how fitting), he finds himself without the pesky Koivu to deal with and he takes everyone to school on how to score flashy goals that set your team up with the lead. There he goes being that guy to rely on again.

Let get to some pointers shall we:

  • Hossa was a madman tonight. He had more than one wow moment where he seemed determined to make the highlight reels, stick-handling and muscling his way through every player on the ice over and over. Oh, and he also scored a PP goal.
  • The special teams were in the Hawks favor for this one. A PP goal and the Kill was perfect every time.
  • The Hawks finally proved to me that they can play offensively smart, with patience and still cover well defensively through the neutral zone and their own zone. They did it for 2 whole periods against a smart team. I thought the 1st period was maybe their best in terms of overall hockey, as it took the Wild almost its entirety to get a shot on net.
  • Emery was damn good considering the lack of shots early. It seemed that when the Wild were going to shoot, they were making it count. Then they just started shooting at everything late in the game.
  • I was most pleased with the board work performed by the Hawks. They won most battles and it was a large part of generating scoring chances.
  • The Hawks have been known to give up goals on bad changes and it was Bickell's inability to get the puck deep that helped in the Wilds ability to tie the game at 2.
  • Toews and Kane looked close to making magic tonight, and then they did in the shoot-out.
  • There was quite a bit of mention about the Hawks D not moving the puck out of the zone quickly enough and how the forwards were showing frustration over the matter.
  • We had goals from Toews and Hossa and ended up winning. Surprise, surprise.

The OT was all Hawks with one decent opportunity for the Wild after Koivu beat Leddy, but then Leddy turned it into a chance the other way and was quick enough to jump up with Hossa. Almost won it there, but it would be a shoot-out decision to which I think we were all shocked in Kane's move. Toews did what most of us expected him to do, and Emery was tall in his net. Then Kane finally pulled off a move worthy of his puck handling abilities. One might question the legality of it, but its all good as long as it keeps moving forward, and this was a beauty. Hawks win to get the extra point gaining on the Wilds lead in the conference.
The good news is that I doubt the Wild can beat the Hawks in the playoffs, and I also doubt they ever meet there. Much to be happy about from this one, and just a little to be unhappy with. Nice to see the unhappy finally outweighed.

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  • The day I've been waiting for... FINALLY Kane used his mad skills to his advantage in the shootout! I had just finished telling my son to expect Kane's standard weak forehand/backhand attempt to slide the puck through the goalie's legs when he uncorked that work of beauty! We were dancing around the room.

    I still don't like the sit-back-defensive posture with the lead in the third.... but way to go Hawks on a superb effort tonight. Please don't ruin it by giving a lackluster effort against the lowly Ducks on Friday!

  • Toews scored by going to the net. Hossa scored on the PP by being right in front of the net. Frolik scored accidentally by having his stick on the ice while being in the crease, which prevented him from putting the puck in the goalie's stomach or chest. My recurring theme is that when you play the Wildpredyotes, you are not dangerous unless you go to, and win, the battle of the crease. These teams will give the perimeter and no matter how many shots you take or how good you look doing it, you will not win from outside the paint.

    Q will be gone by the end of next season, I honestly believe that. I don't say this in defense of Q, but I believe the parity of the league is going to negate a lot of coaches. I love the way Tippet, Trotz and Yeo get their teams to play every night. What have they won? A team with talent that works hard will ultimately beat a team with less talent in the playoffs. It frustrates me that the Hawks continue to play as if they believe they can turn it on any time they want to. I'd welcome just about anything at this point that has them playing consistently each night.

    And now John Scott. One blog elsewhere devoted a nice chunk of bandwidth to why he sucks and assuredly, Al Cimiglia will chime in somewhere today about how Scott is a wasted roster spot. For two games in a row, Hammer has contributed to two goals by letting opposing players get between him and the net. Hammer, Leddy, Bruno, Bickell and Bolland were all -2 last night. Ouch.

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    What a game - some of the best hockey we've seen this season. As opposed to the win against San Jose a few days ago, this was not a miracle win from the Hawks' part, I feel they earned this one. Emery is emerging as the team's no. 1 goalie, Toews and Hossa are still beasts, Kruger played very well, though the third line should really step its game. Not everybody seems to have noticed, but Duncan Keith also had a good game. Should the Hawks build on this momentum to beat both Calgary and the Pens, I'll probably have a very nice Christmas season.

    All this being said, I agree with most of what's written today about John Scott. Seriously, what the f*** is this guy doing on the roster? And what's the point of having him play for a bout 8 min. during the game, while having Lepisto to sit one out?

  • In reply to Burt N:

    What I don't understand is why he generates so much discussion. Lepisto, at 6'1 and 193 lbs is not a difference maker from his similar position as a third pair D guy. That John Scott plays while others never make it to the NHL may be a crime of ethics and humanity, but it's not making or breaking the team.

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    In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    To be sure, I agree with you. But considering that Lepisto is currently +4 and can actually play (I'm not talking about being an elite defenseman, just a reliable one) , while Scott is -3, makes silly mistakes and seems more interested in beheading opponents than learning how to skate backwards, I just don't get it.

  • Hi guys, Grinch here …
    A little perspective on the game. The Wild were coming off a five game road trip and a particularly spirited game the night before in Winnipeg. It took them half the game to get their bearings. That's not to diminish what the 'hawks did for a period and half. I thought they played a sound two-way game and once again, clearly our best players were the best players and pulled it out for the team.

    What I don't like is this team's inability to steer a third period lead home. Should have been two points in regulation but the win was huge even if it doesn't count as win in the case of a tie in the standings. What the "f" kind of league has such ridiculous methods of deciding games and what constitutes wins? Can you imagine baseball having a tee-ball home run derby if games were tied after nine. Or basketball, using free throws to decide winners. WTF is with this league, anyway.

    I've been pretty harsh on this squad lately and although it's hard to argue against 7-1-1, I still don't think this team is firing on all cylinders. Imagine if all four lines were rolling and contributing to the score sheet. They've yet to shift into turbo mode.

    HH, you know I'm with you on the under-performing tendencies of this team and share your Q sentiments. His time will come. For now, winning somewhat negates this topic.

    For the record, I'm neither a Scott fanatic nor am I against his roster spot. I think he's been a pro throughout his tenure here and he'll be gone after this season. Let's not forget why and when he was brought in. On second thought, let's forget about last year. He just plays a simple game and I haven't seen anything from Lepisto to make me think he should be in there ahead of Scott. I'm more inclined to pin the blame on Monty for that non-icing goal. Scott was engaged with a Wild player at the time. Monty threw the puck in the wrong direction.

    I have a theory as to why the call wasn't made. The linesman mistook Scott for Keith or Leddy and thought they were dogging it to the puck and thus waived it off. In reality though, that was Scott at top speed.

    Bickell, as usual, was invisible. This guys got to go …

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