Not even a single shot on net. Not one. That is how many shots the Hawks registered in their 3 power-play opportunities, and it happens to include a full minute of 5-on-3 hockey. Honestly, I was fairly happy with the overall performance of the Blackhawks tonight against a pretty darn strong Devils team. I would even go so far as to say that the Hawks deserved the 2 points in regulation, that is, if they could have mustered something, anything, at least a chance during their 3 power-plays. I am disturbed that it has gone this long without any sustained improvement, and it has me questioning their chances come playoffs, if they make it in.
Luckily, the other 4 teams in the running, besides the Sharks lost their last games, which helps the Hawks stay 5 points up with only 5 games remaining. However, they have to face the Blues, and Preds once more, and the suffering Wings who are riding the injury train before finding out their place in this season's festivities. At worst, I see the Hawks grabbing 5 of the next 10 possible points which should have them playing hockey well into April.
So lets get to this game, shall we?
- This game was a good measure for the Hawks and the way they play hockey. It started out looking bad for them. The defense was not getting any help from the forwards, and the transition game was faltering as a result. The Devils were pressuring hard, getting the majority of the chances and it eventually landed them a power-play goal. It got better, just stay with me.
- That one goal was almost enough for the Devils, as Brodeur played some awesome hockey in net. It boggles my mind that he is still playing, but man did he show us why tonight. As I mentioned, the Hawks most likely win this game in regulation, and besides not scoring on the PP, it was Brodeur who was the reason why it did not happen. The shots were 39 to 22 in the Hawks favor.
- Crawford was decent in his own right at the other end of the ice, but I am still not sold, and he was still beat by the opposing goalie. Question, would Emery have started if he was not ill before the game? I would have started him, and I stand behind that statement. Not worth going into though, since Crow was sharp tonight.
- Seabrook would be the eventual goal scorer for the Hawks, but it was his fault that the Devils received their PP goal. He turned over the puck, and was guilty of the penalty as a result, which sent the Devils into that power-play where they looked just about as bad as the Hawks for most of it, but found gold at the end of the rainbow in the form of a god-awful bad time for a line-change. It ended up costing the Hawks 2 points, as Sykora made them pay in a 3-on-1 situation while still killing that said power-play. Terrible timing for a line-change.
- The response to this goal was pleasing however, and it centered around the Sharp, Stalberg, Kruger line. As mentioned, it was Seabrook who scored the loan Hawks goal, but I thought it would be one of these guys. Stalberg, and Sharp were everywhere, and had the majority of offensive chances for the team. The momentum picked up by these guys carried on into the 2nd, where the Hawks established control over the game from then on.
- As the defensive coverage was weak in the beginning, and the support nowhere to be found in the 1st, the Hawks kicked into gear by the 2nd, and held it up for the better part of the next 45 minutes of hockey; making a believer out of me.
Do we need to waist any time talking about the wretched power-play anymore? Do we need to restate the obvious, that when you don't score during the 5-on-3, you have no right winning the game? All I ask is to see something different from them. Maybe a change in the line-up? How about not even sending a power-play unit out at all, just keep rolling the regular lines as usual, paying no attention to the man-advantage. Or, and this might be a stretch, we actually see something that resembles a play that might have been worked on during practice. What we get is the same old horse-poop where nobody moves and nothing happens. Well, I actually did see them attempt a dump and chase scenario for once. That is a start (that should have started months ago).
- There was a moment not long after the failed 5-on-3 that Stalberg made an unbelievable play to keep things alive in the offensive zone, but no other Hawk moved in as support. Other than that, I was happy with the play for the next period and in OT. The Hawks looked good.
- Seabrook's goal in the 3rd was at the hands of a nice forecheck that took possession away from the Devils, in which Bolland made a smart pass to Seabs, who blasted it passed a screen on Brodeur who essentially stopped everything he saw throughout the night. Surprise, get in front of the net.
- There was a big moment when Leddy was rushing up the side and somehow lost control of the puck, even though he seemed to be blasting passed everyone. He did not give up though, and skated back hard to assist Oduya in putting out the flame. This caused a rush up the ice for the Hawks involving Stalberg and Sharp where they came very close to notching the game-winner. My props go out to everyone involved in that play. It was almost the game changer, and it did end up drawing another penalty from the Devils with 2 minutes left. HA!
- Hossa ended that PP with a penalty of his own. He had a rough night all around, and it has me worried that he might be getting into his usual playoff form a little early.
- I kept yelling to see Stalberg out there during the OT, and I finally got my wish. Oh, he almost scored alright, but isn't that how it goes with Stalberg? Do everything right until the finishing moment. Seabrook also had a pretty big chance of his own, but Brodeur was better again.
Into the shootout: Crow was good, and Brodeur was better. I might sound like a whining broken record at this point, but can we please see something creative during the shootout portion? Come on Kane, you dazzled everyone with that quadrupole deek earlier in the year. Where can we get more of that? Stalberg, just use your speed here, and make the move to your forehand. Brodeur played you on that shot. Sharp found his hole, Shaw hit the post, and the Devils were more creative in their chances here. 2-1 Devils win in this 3 point game. This point might actually come in handy 5 games from now.