First of all, sorry about the late post. This is the first chance that I have had to sit down in front of a computer since watching the game.
Let us start this one off with some congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks. They are officially out of their terrible slide, and they impressed me while making that official yesterday in the wee early morning. Seriously, I am sincerely impressed right now. I had not expected the kind of effort that came from the Hawks yesterday, and after falling behind late in the first, figured it was somewhat of a lost cause.
The first period was pretty bad. By the end, the Hawks would have surrendered a goal with only 20 seconds remaining and be out shot 15-4. But, it was not as bad as that sentence would cause you to assume. The Hawks actually looked decent in an organized cohesive kind of way, and this is where the Hawks ended up shocking me in the most way.
With the exception of the goal scored on them, the Hawks seemed to possess fairly strong coverage, and the forwards were helping out in the defensive zone. With the exception of the power-play, the Hawks were entering the zone as a unit, and their neutral zone play was the better for it. Little things that can go a long way.
Maybe even most surprising was the play of the guy between the pipes, and it was our goaltender, not the other team's. This was Crawford's best performance of the year, and boy is this reason to believe. I do not want to get ahead of myself, but I had counted him out. Yesterday gives hope to his getting his act together, and it was maybe the first goaltender win of the year for the Hawks. How did he do this you ask? Well, he kept it simple, stayed in his net, followed the puck, was square to the shooter, and did all of the things that made him successful last year.
The 2nd period was pretty darn boring, but this bodes well for the Hawks. They were actually executing a tight game against a team who is more practiced at it. Their defense was on, and you cannot overlook Duncan Keith's play as having a lot to do with that. Nor can you deny that Olsen and Lepisto have been welcomed parts of that movement, especially Olsen. Even Leddy looks to have found his groove as Seabrook's partner in crime. Besides his brief loss of control over the crease when the Blues scored their only goal, Leddy looks more like the player we expected him to be.
I just mentioned Keith's play in having a lot to do with the Hawks defense. It also had a lot to do with whole game actually. The player of the game easily, Keith figured into 2 Hawk goals. The first was off of his stick and there were many things to be happy about in this particular play. The Hawks gained the zone really well, with support, and protecting the puck in a very successful way. Most noticeable was how Kane went directly to the net when Keith let go of his shot. That's a new one for me. More please!
Don't stop believing guys. No, the Hawks are not magically better because of the last 3 games, but this win gives reason for hope. The Hawks fought it out and won. They fought hard, and they stuck to a game we have rarely seen them do.
Worth mention was how well the Blues defense boxed the Hawks out in the 2nd period. It was so good, that I thought their 1 goal would be enough for the win. The Hawks started shooting from wherever and everywhere, which looked like it would get them nowhere.
The 3rd saw a shift as it was the Blues who started to let up first. This is exactly where most of my surprise comes from. I have not seen the Hawks out last another team in quite a while, and yesterday the Blues opened a hole long enough for the Hawks to do their thing. With that and a little luck, Bolland found the game winner in the form of a deflected centering pass. This resulted from a nice pass by Keith as well. That was all the piper needed, and Hossa would eventually keep his little scoring streak together with an empty net goal.
3-1 Hawks. Nice to see, but there is still one more big game looming within sight. And not to be a jerk, but I am going to end on a bad note. The Hawks power-play is still a laughing matter. Let's work on entering the zone boys, because that is your major concern there.