Let the Bodies hit the floor: Chicago Blackhawks win again in OT over the Sharks.

Let the Bodies hit the floor: Chicago Blackhawks win again in OT over the Sharks.

All 5 goals scored in the game last night were the result of bodies in front of the net. Whether a rebound, screen, or tip-in, every puck went beyond the goal line as the result of a physical presence in front of the goaltender. The Sharks had the obvious  upper-hand in this type of play for the 1st and 2nd periods of play, dominating the Hawks into a 33-13 shot deficit. The play of Marian Hossa was practicaly the only reason  for a Hawks victory in OT, and without Emery nothing would have been possible.

The Sharks dominated and had the physical edge in all areas of the ice. This physical edge caused the Hawks to go into their shells and attempt to weather the storm, after coming out of the gate with some speed. I thought the Sharks were allowed a few liberties early on, and was somewhat shocked that Chicago would have the first penalty to kill, but the fact remains that the Hawks were easily taken off of their game, and it stayed that way for the better part of it.

This might cause some questions over the reasoning to take Carcillo off of the 1st line now. I might be the largest supporter of Stalberg and his skill that never seems to live up to its potential, so when I was confused over the move, you know it's wierd. Consequently, Stalberg would have the first best chance to score on Niemi, but Niemi was better, a theme that continued for a great part of this game.

I am at work, and left my notes at home, so this wrap might not have the detail of others, but I think this game was quite simple. Both goalies were up to the task and made some big saves for their teams. The Sharks in most situations would take this game without giving up a point to the Hawks. Fortunately, the play of Hossa along with a couple lucky bounces produced some late heroics by the guys in red.

Hjalmer was the culprit of the first Sharks goal, seemingly unaware of his man who took inside position on him to easily slam a rebound in. Forgiveness was on his mind as he took a blast from the point that would end up bouncing off of a few players, Kruger of most importance, and find its way behind Niemi.

His partner still looks a bit shaky as of late, but that shakyness did not result directly in anything too terrible.

Here is a thought. As this game progressed through the 2nd period I saw a need for a guy like Mayers seeing a bit more ice-time. With all of the changes made on lines from game to game, why not throw Mayers on a top line here? Just a thought. Besides Hossa and Emery, he was the only player looking somewhat effective up to this point.

Throughout the game, it was Hossa generating most of the offense which was scarce for some time, and then out of nowhere the 3rd period changed everything. I would be willing to place some blame on the back-to-back games played by SJ as having some of the say in this outcome. The Sharks got a little too happy sitting back and playing D, keeping all of the Hawk chances from outside the slot, an area they seem perfectly okay with Niemi handling.

The Hawks had no answer for the defensive guard put up around Niemi. Shots were from the outside, and it was hard to get any traffic in on Niemi. The 3rd saw the Hawks rack up shots, but it looked to be a lost cause until 30 seconds remained. The act of desperation was upon us, Emery (the only reason there was still a chance) was pulled and the extra attacker took his place. Funny how rarely this plot works out, and this time it was that extra attacker who would bring the Hawks to OT and a chance at any points from this game, but it did and there you go.

Brunette might be the slowest player to every take the ice, making Scott look like a speed demon, but the man is a magician in front of the net.

Cut to OT and the Sharks look very tired and unhappy to be there, that frustration most evident in the ridiculous display, but also expcected sportsmanship of Clowe in the final moments of regulation. His 2 jabs to Keith's face as Keith was defenseless should have earned the Hawks a PP in OT. Absolutely no question about it.

No matter, Hossa used it as extra fire to his game, the 4-on-4 opened things up and allowed a little more freedom in front of Niemi, to which Sharp took advantage off, and Niemi helped him out a little. 2 games in row where Sharp nets the game winner in OT, and he moves up the scoring leader charts.

Without my notes, thats the best I can remember it right now. So, I am off to teach some art classes and leave the rest to the comments which are sure to bring more fire to the talk around goaltending. Holly Batman are the Hawks good at picking up points they most likely do not deserve this year.

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    Years from now, I'm pretty sure we'll still remember last night's game, undoubtedly one of this season's highlights. Another confrontation with Niemil; Emery in the net; the goal with 66 seconds in regulation; Sharpie's new Daddy goal. The Hawks might be a frustrating team to watch, but God do they keep things interesting until the very end !

    Absolutely agree regarding Brunette: a slow player, but a true tip-in master. On that level, he definitely helps the Hawks to compensate for the loss of Big Buff last year.

  • All pretty accurate to me...the Hawks show their weakness in dealing with an aggressive forecheck for two periods, then as the Sharks tire out they manage to get the equalizer and steal a win.

    I'd say, keep in mind despite the shot disparity, the Hawks got more quality chances in my opinion. But Emery looked solid when called upon as well...not going to think too much about the net presence, but it'll be interesting to see how long Q rides the winning streak versus getting Craw a chance to work things out. Feel like you've gotta go with Emery in St. Paul.

    Hossa has been great lately and making teams pay for focusing on Toews and Kane. Really need to see the third line start chipping in offensively though. Thought they were all invisible last night.

  • This was not a strong win in that the Hawks did not control this game. I don't want to spin too much, but I agree with BHT here that the Hawks had very solid chances in the first two period. Yes, SJ was winning battles, but, they were not running away with a game they were dominating statistically. Here is a link to waste some time on http://www.nhl.com/ice/icetracker.htm?id=2011020434
    You can break down shots by period. The Sharks, let shots fly from all over the zone. Though they scored because Hammer, again, let someone stand in the crease and whack away, the majority of the Sharks shots were not coming from inside the house. I'm not giddy, but that is an improvement to me.

    I've watched a lot of games across the league where one team plays "weather the storm" by choice or by necessity. Frequently, the team that does weather the storm comes back and steals the game. Looking at the Sharks last night, despite dominating the game in shots and score for most of the game, they were not a happy team and in fact were getting really pissed off, especially in the third when the Hawks were blitzkreiging them. For once, the Hawks were the pain in the ass team who won because the Sharks could not put them away for good.

    To your point HH about Stalberg, here's something even stranger. I noticed Stalberg last night and felt he did outplay Carcillo on the top line. Stalberg threw hits, was in board battles and was in the middle of a scrum or two. In fact, I saw Sharp finish checks, I saw Kane harass people enough that I thought he would get punched and I saw Hossa as well show some temper and some sack. At the end of the game, even the Sharks announcers were stunned they did not start overtime shorthanded.

    To your point from the last page FF, I came away optimistic because the Hawks did things I have been begging to see them do. The Hawks are simply not built to be physical or to dominate teams physically. What I saw the Hawks doing last night though was frequently winning positional battles, especially in the crease and that was true on the game winner. True, they weren't winning pure physical competitions, but they were finishing checks and getting themselves in positions to score. Lastly, I saw guys standing up for each other and I saw guys dishing out shoves in the crease. For a team that constantly tries to win with skill and cute passes, this was a gritty win. When Keith came screaming to the aid of a teammate, he showed me he deserves to wear an A.The Hawks are not going to ass kick a team like the Sharks the way a team like Boston might, but I'll be happy if they continue to finish checks and stand up for each other and make smarter choices crashing the net.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    Well, Vegas, we'll have to disagree on this game. I'm with HH—as harried as he may have been to post the recap—the 'hawks had no business winning this game based on the territorial play for two periods. Emerey! As Edzo pointed out, "too many one and dones". The Sharks are not a fast team and they can't hit what they can't catch and I did not see a 'hawks team that skated particularly well.

    I'm going to go back to the the last page and reiterate a few things that cause me concern.
    1) This is now four straight home games where the 'hawks have failed to get a win in regulation time. They have given up the first goal (or two, or three) in each of those games. This, to me, points to a lack of preparedness —coaching?
    2) Hossa and Sharp are both streaky players. Kane and Toews are Kane and Toews and will always get their share of points. These four are carrying the team and, while it might be argued they should be based on their wages, in no way is this going to continue. The lack of scoring depth on the third and fourth lines will come back to bite these guys at some point. Last night Q rolled eight forwards for the entire third period. Frolik was benched, and others saw little to no ice-time. That's fine, Q wanted the win and they gutted it out, but that shows how he feels about the depth on this team.
    3) I think it's time to evaluate just what some of these 'role' players are contributing. Frolik, I love the guy, effort plus just about every game, but he needs to step up the point production. He's been here just about a year. I'm running out of excuses for him. Bickell, clearly Q has him in the dog house. I can't believe they traded Brouwer and kept this guy. No need to comment further. Stalberg, reminds me of Skille, no hands, no finish, seldom used big body, good at scoring empty net goals and turnovers. Bollie, looks like he's getting back on track, no issue with his play except that he needs someone to play with. Ever since Havlat left, that hasn't been the case. Still he needs to score more. Kruger, just plays hockey, what's not to like about this guy. Brunette, well, don't look now but he has 7 goals. At the beginning of the year if we said he'd be good for 20, we'd all of taken that. Sure enough, he's just about on pace for that. Slow as Blackstrap molasses, he's contributing as we thought he would. We never looked at him as a defensive stalwart, did we? Carcillo and Mayers are doing what they were brought in to do. Mayers in particular has really impressed me. Carcillo has had some great games as well.

    This team seems to think it can turn it on when it wants to. It worked last night, but how often can we say that. A full 60 from these guys and we know what their capable of. Why aren't we getting it on a more consistent basis? Coaching?

    Finally, —I've got to get going and mark art now, HH— has anyone listened to the interview with Bowman.

    http://espn.go.com/chicago/nhl/story/_/id/7339416/chicago-blackhawks-gm-stan-bowman-content-stand-pat

    It's mostly GM blather, but up around the two minute mark it gets interesting when he slips up and mentions changing the "system".

  • FF, I'm actually in agreement with you on quite a few things here. Though I saw everything I want to see from the Hawks in this game, it was still a very weak win and not a win to be proud of. Your point on the short bench is spot on, that is not a recipe for long term success. Also, the Hawks have got to get some offense from it's bottom lines. I'm not sure if this is a disagreement or not, but I also think Q's top players need to outplay the other teams top players. I see it less as them carrying the team and more a matter of being the consistent core that other players are there to support.

    Not playing a full sixty minutes is something that has plagued this team for at least three years now. Maybe it's Q's fault that he doesn't make them work harder. I honestly don't know. If the Hawks fired him and hired a guy like Randy Carlyle, would that fix it? Believe me, I have been down on Q a lot for nights when his team looked completely unprepared against a team where there was no mystery what they would face. What I frequently have been most annoyed about though was the lack of pushback in front of our crease, the lack of ever standing up for each other and the lack of going to the crease and instead allowing themselves to get pushed into a perimeter game where they scored nothing.

    Arguably, they did not do any of this until that recent St. Louis game. I still see the Hawks as a team that needs a consistent system and that needs to work a lot harder then it has. Where I am optimistic though is that I believe I'm seeing some changes. It hasn't made them a dominant team by any stretch of thinking, but I don't see them as rudderless right now. Like you, I see them as a team that thinks it can flip the switch anytime it wants to and that attitude has got to end. If firing Q would accomplish that, I would back that move. I'm just not sure it would.

    SB's rental players this year are collectively better then last years group, but it still comes down to the core guys needing to be the stability. Even through last nights game, a word I would use to describe this team is, underperform. At best, I believe the strongest this team will be is, deceptively good. They aren't built for size, they aren't built for grit and they really aren't built for any particular dominance. Nonetheless, I think they can play a lot better then they have. I see a positive trend, but SB has some some decisions to make. I like Frolik, but I don't know that he can keep skating up and down ice without putting points on the board. Bickell, it seems, is done. Nobody wants Scott, though I don't get so angry about it. And LePisto hasn't particularly wowed me but I'm not really invested in claiming an existing alternative is better.

    I still feel like I did at ten games. At any given point, this team will have a better record then at a similar point last year. I'd like to see them be a dominating team that everyone fears, but I just don't think that's realistic. What is realistic to me is that they finish higher then they did last year and then have as a good a shot as anyone in the west to get out of the conference. Giving up so many first period goals and waiting for the third period to show up isn't going to win them anything. Still, I will stay on my optimistic kick for at least a little while as long as I see some things getting better.

    For whatever that .02 is worth LOL

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    Vegas, your .02 is always a good read.

    While I respect Q for his coaching record, I just don't think he's able to take teams past a certain point, given his record in St. Loo and Colorado. Also, the average coaching tenure is somewhere around four years. I feel the team is not really showing improvement, perhaps because Q has run his course with this team. New faces, small upgrades yes, but they are nowhere near cup contenders right now. Teams have figured out how to stop the 'hawks. The team may try to attempt to play his system—whatever that is— but the frequency of lackluster efforts tells me that they're not really into it. When I watch teams like Pittsburgh, Minnesota with Yeo as coach (protegé of Bylsma's system), the plug 'n' play Yotes, the Preds and now the Blues, I sense a team that believes in its coaching staff and their system and plays like they do. They play consistently good hockey. They don't win them all but the effort is always there.

    While the 'hawks' point totals may be better than last year, I'm looking at the regulation and OT wins vis a vis the other teams in the conference and the 'hawks are down in that list. Most teams have games in hand too. This stat will be very important in March when the sledding gets tougher.

    So, while they may be racking up points, they are not doing it efficiently. I see a coach who doesn't make in-game adjustments apart from pulling names from a hat to see who plays with whom. It's not his system, it's the players who play it that are to blame. Come whatever, he sticks to his ways and I'm really tired of him trying to plug square pegs into round holes. Another thing I wonder about is how much teaching he actually does with these young players. Is Stalberg any better than a year ago, was Skille that bad, has Bickell made any improvement? Honestly, he jerks these guys around so much their heads are spinning and confidence is lacking.

    I see now that the Kings have let Murray go too. Underachieving after all their big time wheeling and dealing and spending. All of these recently deposed good coaches have lost their teams and change was needed. Why not here too? It is possible Qs rants are falling on deaf ears?

    I couldn't agree more about the need for more crease clearing D and a big bruising crease crasher at the other end of the ice. I also agree that your best players need to be your best players on a regular basis in order to win in this league, but they can't be your only players. Apparently, Q does see them as his only players. Meanwhile management stands pat. Frustrating, for this grizzled couch coach. Something is missing here. Talent will only take you so far … and Q is riding on their coat tails right now, IMO.

  • I know people like to blame Q for the team's slow start every game, but when is the blame going to go to the players? Something we see every day, in every sport, is players signing a big long term contract and then getting too comfortable and not being prepared to play. We have a lot of players who have hefty contracts. Seabrook is fresh (this year) off a new contract and is playing a subpar year so far. When a team has this many big contracts, the power goes to the players, not the coach. A coach can only do so much to motivate players with big contracts. FF talked about the last 4 home games, but these games were not against slouches. San Jose and Phoenix (twice) are 2 of the top teams in the West, and the Islanders are 4-3-3 in their last 10 games (which is real good for them). Two of those losses were against the Hawks.

    When a team starts slow and then finds a way to finish strong, usually, that is good, in-game, coaching. Q is known as a coach who likes to shake lines up during a game. Is he making a coaching decision to wake the team up to win in the end, or is it just talent finding a way to win?

    Assistant coaches have a huge impact at this level. They get the responsibility of coaching power plays, penalty kills, etc. Haviland is a great assistant coach and will be a head coach in the NHL soon. In July 2010, we lost John Torchetti, who is a great coach, to the Atlanta Thrashers. He was replaced by Mike Kitchen, who was reunited with Q from their Blues days. I don't know alot about Kitchen, but I am wondering if this played a part in any of the problems the Hawks are having. I know he was appointed coach of the Blues when Q was fired, and promptly led them to the worst season in franchise history before being fired.

    How much of this issue is Bowman's responsibility? He brought in these players in the offseason. Carcillo has been better than expected, Mayers has been average at best, Lepisto has not played alot, and Brunette has only been playing decent lately (but is still a -9, worst on the team). Q's use of a short bench shows that he can't rely on alot of these players, and that is Bowman's responsibility to bring these players in. But, this short bench isn't helped by Bolland playing hurt. When he gets completely healthy, I think this will change.

    I think the blame can probably be spread around. Have the players tuned out Q? I don't know, but only the good teams find ways to win the tough games in the end.

    I also see that Ben Smith was sent back down to Rockford. Bickell must be getting another shot against Minnesota. He better have a short leash.

  • In reply to BigJack:

    Jack, a well reasoned response. I'm pretty much the only one on this board who sees Q as an impediment to this teams improvement and I base most of that on his past coaching records with St. Louis and Colorado where he had similar talent-laden teams and failed to get them through. His record as far as wins and losses is very good, its getting the extra mile out of his players where I see the problem.

    Yes, there's only so much a coach can do in game…bench the player. Yes, too many long-term contracts can cause complacency, but as I pointed out up the page here it's not the core guys who are under-performing. Sure, they can turn it up when they need to and it works occasionally and makes for exciting hockey. I'm mostly on about the lack of preparedness I perceive as evidenced by giving up the first goal 19 or 20 times this year in 30 games. We'll never know whether lack of motivation/preparation is a coaching or a player issue and you're right the blame should be shared here.

    I think the team has reached the pinnacle with Q at the helm—though I'd qualify that by saying just about anyone could have coached that team to the cup—and the players no longer need him to lead they way. They've been to war and know what its about now. Last year, hangover, roster turnover, injury and lack of depth all spelled a plummet in the standings. Improvements were (seemingly) made during the off-season and I waited a full twenty games before formulating any opinions of this years squad. However, I see no improvements in this teams weaknesses. Soft at both ends of the ice—personnel issue and that's management, an inability to adapt to a pressure game or a trap game, outright refusal by the players to dump and chase and apply pressure themselves—players/coaching. Giving up third period leads, better this year but still an issue—coaching/players/system, and team defense in general—system/ coaching/players and all of the above.

    Communication is a big problem for me. These role players need to have their roles defined and need to be coached to play those roles and allowed to grow into them. This constant juggling—which I can understand to a degree is necessary to combat opposition tactics—with these players serves no useful purpose in my mind and prohibits growth and that's coaching, IMO. There's a culture of complacency growing here and a cockiness that talent will prevail in the end and it makes me very uncomfortable.

  • Good time for a season review.

    Have the Hawks played a full 60 this season ? I don't think so.

    Have they racked up points in the early part of the season so we don't get in the playoffs via the back door. Yes.

    Are the Hawks harder to play against ? Some nights. They have the offence to never to be out of a game and are more protective of each other. The nineteen games they have given up the first goal isn't good.

    Goals against are awful, an achievement the whole team has to own. Crawford and Emery haven't been that bad given the much discussed lack of crease clearing.

    Unlike last year we have cap space and will no doubt use it to fill holes. Smith and Kruger emerged in last years playoffs. With luck Morin, Hayes and Pirri will get time soon. One may give Bolland someone to play with. With Smith being sent down, let's hope we see someone other than Bickell called up.

    Pickups have been much better, though no face-off specialist like Madden. Carcillo is a plus eight with 9 points and a presence that will be appreciated more as the season wears on. Brunette's seven goals aren't too shabby, either. Jury is still out on Mayers, Montador, O'Donnell and Lepisto.

    Overall, I'm a happy camper. Room for improvement and we haven't dug ourselves into a hole in the standings.

  • In reply to Pilotefan:

    Yes, a season review is in need. I am just waiting for winter break to hit. This week is crazy busy in school world.

    Thanks for getting it started Pilotefan. You touch on some good points, and I agree that Morin, or other names mentioned might be getting looks soon. I am also anticipating a trade (Frolik, a worthy candidate).

    Even more, I am enjoying the conversations taking place above. We all know how I feel about Q, but it is fair to point fingers in other directions as well.

    Environment breeds motivation, and coaching facilitates environment.

    Listening to SB talk, I find that he might agree.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    "Environment breeds motivation, and coaching facilitates environment."

    or this …

    "Potential is all of the resources you have in front of you. Efficiency is putting those resources to use effectively." — Garrett Gunderson

  • Just caught up on the goaltending comments from the other day. Thanks for the follow up Vegas and HH-

    Off subject: Saw a funny story on MSN today and thought of the good old days---This is TOTALLY something me and my brother would have done if given the chance! enjoy..

    Two hockey enthusiasts have been cited for using an estimated 26,000 gallons of water from a fire hydrant to create a backyard ice rink in Tinley Park, Ill., a suburb south of Chicago.
    Friends Tony Nelin and Timmy Ryan, both 20 and from Tinley Park, were issued with citations for tampering with a fire hydrant and are scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 26, the Chicago Tribune reported.
    On Sunday night, police were called to Tinley Park High School after a school custodian saw a fire hydrant on the school's property had been hooked up to a fire hose.
    Police said they followed the hose through a fence and wooded area and ended up at a partially frozen ice rink that measured 91 feet by 43 feet in a nearby backyard.
    Nelin said he borrowed about 250 feet of hose from a relative who was a firefighter to fill up the rink, where he and four others hoped to play hockey throughout the winter.
    He said he and his friends were originally filling it up with a garden hose, but switched to the hydrant through fear the water bill would be too high. They also felt the garden hose might freeze.
    "We had good intentions," Nelin told the Tribune. "We were trying to do something productive for the winter."
    Nelin and Ryan said they didn't know they would get in trouble for using the hydrant.
    "I really just thought it was water," Nelin said. "I didn't think it was this big of a problem."
    Police said the men were likely to be fined and ordered to pay for the water they used, which is estimated to be $127.44.
    "They don't have the authority to tap into a fire hydrant without permission of the village," Tinley Park interim police chief Phil Valois said.
    Nelin said the fine would be split between the five men and that he was still looking forward to using the rink.
    "It will be worth it," he said

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