Entertaining game I suppose. Lots of action and drama to keep the fans engaged. It's just a shame how everything worked out. This is honestly one of the best all around defensive efforts that I have seen from the Blackhawks this year, but it still was not enough for 2 points. The result is a 3-way tie between the Hawks, Detroit and St. Louis in the Central. Aint that just peachy.
We saw some line changes entering this one (SHOCKER). Kane was reunited with Toews and Stalberg for a while, which I though to be fitting since they seemed fairly productive a few weeks back. More surprising was the Frolik at center thing, but everything changed once Sharp left the game with apparently, an "upper-body" injury. This simple fact might even be the element most worthy of taking about from last night. A Sharp-less Hawks could be a pretty bad thing.
- Speaking of Sharp: He was a prime factor in a really big start for the Hawks. They had their first 2 goals by the first 5 minutes of play! Shame it was their only 2. Sharp's tally had the Wings looking more like the Hawks in their defensive zone. Two Wings seemed intent on clinging to Hossa while Sharp found wide open space and time right in the slot. Sharp most definitely knows how to finish and there you go. The play was due in large part to the fight Shaw put up to win posession of the puck.
- Power-plays and such: In what can only be considered a miracle, the puck somehow found the back of Detroit's net while the Hawks were on their first PP of the game. Reason to think everything is better? Nope, they went scoreless in their next 4 opportunities, and this goal was all on Conklin if you ask me. Still, a PP goal that we will take. The rest of the mentioned power-plays for the Hawks were just about as bad as it gets. Crisis not averted.
- Big start: I give more credit to Detroit for the Hawks early lead though. It seemed like the Wings came out extremely flat and gave those goals to the Hawks. I had a feeling things might change as the game moved along, and made a statement to friends and family watching with me, "If the Hawks don't get that 3rd goal, they will lose." I should have taken that one to the bank.
- Defense: As I said, this was one of the best defensive efforts that I have seen in a while from the Hawks, and it still wasn't good enough for the win. That says a lot to me. They absolutely do not have the ability to hold leads, especially 1 goal leads. It was only a matter of time, even though some of the Wings comeback has to be attributed to bad luck on the Hawks. Whats that they say about making your own luck?
- Officiating: What the hell is wrong with the refs lately? Seriously, it seems like every game I watch, I am making comments about them with extreme consistency. Even though the Hawks had 5 power-plays and a penalty shot to the Wings 2 power-plays, there were a ton of non-calls out there. There should have been calls on 2 of the Wings goals. First, Leddy was cross-checked from behind by Flippula which had a direct impact on the goal, and there should have also been a call on Franzen for grabbing Montador's stick and pulling him down during the OT goal. Sure, maybe Monty should have payed more attention to where the puck was rather than beating Franzen's face in, but I also understand.
- Ice-time: Nice to see the 6th D-man get over 10 minutes of ice-time, but I still think we are seeing the results of miss-management here throughout the season. Toews was once again at 25 minutes. I don't know if everyone saw what I saw out of his effort, but it was worrisome. He is obviously completely gassed and maybe even injured right now. He had nothing left to give at the end of the 3rd and it was in large part to being over-played in a 4-0 loss 2 nights ago. I also think that Hossa is playing injured at this point, and have my reasons to think Hjalmer's poor performance lately is due to the same thing. Which brings me to Leddy.
- Leddy: Everyone is really pointing the finger at him lately, and in some ways with due cause. But, is it his fault really that the defense sucks, and that the forwards are nowhere to be found when help is needed? I also think we are seeing a bit of cracking under the pressure in his case. Pretty much a rookie, he has been logging a ton of ice-time. This and other facts have really made the low-balling and eventual loss of Campoli a bigger mistake than some had wanted to believe. Tonight, Leddy was on the ice for 2 of the Wings goals. But, I can't completely blame him for them. On the first he was cross-checked from behind as mentioned above. On the OT goal, I am concerened with his reasoning to be positioned in the way he was, but also get that he was trying to block a potential goal and not help it into the net.
- The Good: Seabrook was the player of the game from the Hawks perspective. His exceptional play had a lot of impact on how well the Hawks looked defensively all around, and he also had a huge role in the offense last night. Big game for Seabs. The newbies also came out to play hockey again, and especially Shaw. Can't really say enough about how well he looks out there. It is a shame I doubt he could keep up that level of play for too long.
In the end, a big game could be won or lost at the result of a penalty shot. I personally believe that the puck crossed the line on the play that resulted in the penalty shot, but a certain Wings glove was covering it as it laid on the other side of the goal-line. Seeing the act of covering it, but not the actual puck in the net, the officials took away a goal and awarded a penalty shot instead. Big moment in the game and who does Q go to for it, a player who was in his 4th NHL game. Really smart. Now, I am aware that Eddie O, and some of the other announcers thought he was a good choice, but I have a hard time thinking that throwing a kid who has no experience into a situation like that is exactly why we saw the poor example for a penalty-shot that we saw.
After all of this penalty-shot business had transpired, I feared the worst and it did come true. Bad luck tends to poor down and not drizzle. That about covers it from my stand point. Good, and entertaining game with an unwanted result. Some out there think we are seeing the Hawks hitting a bump in an otherwise smooth road to the finals, and others are seeing the Hawks finally realizing their issues from an entire season of inconsistency. I suppose we shall see. A 3-way tie in the standings with 2 certain teams sure as heck makes it interesting though.