Luck can be the sign of a good team. You can't survive on luck alone, but when everything else is working well, it might find you to keep things running. I recall having a teammate who was called lucky. The truth was, he always put himself in a position to get lucky and rack up points. There is no doubt in my mind that the Blackhawks deserved to be the losers in this contest. The Blue Jackets wanted it more, and they played very well against a good team. It was a dirty win, but 5-0 smells so good.
The Jackets had about 7 or so shots before the Hawks registered their first, which was not surprisingly followed by a great save on Crawford's part at the other end. This was unfortunately followed by a Jackets goal. Not a great start to say the least. The Hawks 3rd line had a brilliant chance soon after, but could not find the fluidity to convert. It was beginning to look bad for the Hawks. For this, I am kind of looking at Shaw. I love the guy, and think he is a force of nature, but he has to start gelling and add to the scoring more to save his spot as the 3rd line center.
If you take away any positives from last night, besides the luck factor, it has to be Crawford. He saved this one for his team, and somehow managed to hold the Jackets to 1 through almost the entire game. Too bad his buddies couldn't help him keep it to 1 goal against, breaking his pattern of 2 goals against per game. Still, the he deserves the #1 star spot and the most credit for the win.
If you want to take away a couple of negatives from the game, you can have how sloppy the Hawks played (especially to start), and the complete loss of composure they had in prior contests this year. There were some very bad and needless penalties taken last night. You have to hope they got it out of their system. Yeah, I am starring at you Bolland. You set the tone for that behavior.
The Hawks started the game just about as bas as you can, getting into each other's way, missing passes, and not covering their positions. Even Kane was missing his mark last night. I couldn't tell you if it was fatigue (then we are in trouble tonight as well), or not being prepared for what the Jackets could dish out. The coverage was piss poor, and there wasn't an ounce of pressure provided by the Hawks. Columbus was quick, and they were finishing their checks at every opportunity. You want to beat the Hawks, get in their faces early, and hit them hard. The Jackets did just that, and it most likely caused the bad tempers and bad penalties by the Hawks. Which, as I said above, began when Bolland took a needles penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after the Hawks would have had a power-play.
Speaking of power-plays, neither team could convert on them, so props to the Hawks PK unit.
It was a rough one to watch. Just when you thought the Hawks would find their groove and get things together, they didn't. Their puck-possession game was nowhere in sight, as they failed miserably at cycling, and forechecking, except for maybe when Saad was on the ice, oh, and Frolik. Yes, it was a rough one, but that's not to say it didn't have its moments.
The first such moment came from surprise, Kaner! Once again, Kane forced a turnover and drove the puck all the way to the net where he pulled of an impressive enough move to get the goaltender down and out so that a following teammate could pick up the garbage. It was another outstanding play by Kane, and props to Bolland for following hard, not that it got Bolland out the doghouse for me.
Worth noting is that Crawford made 2 more amazing saves after Kane provided his own turnover to the Jackets, and on the PP for that matter. Yep, their short handed attempt it ended up being the best chance by either team on the PP. Nothing besides brief glimpses of the Hawks brass, and Crawford was working well last night.
I guess old habits die hard. Not only were the Hawks guilty of everything already mentioned, but the forwards were back to fleeing the defensive zone too quickly again. This left the D with little options besides stretch passes that the Jackets were waiting for, or the D getting forced deeper into their zone. The trap was on, and we all know how well the Hawks deal with a well executed trap.
Another glimmer in the Hawks game was Hjalmer yet again. Continuing his rush back into excellent form, he absorbed quite a few of the Jackets checks early on, and added to the offense later in the 2nd period. Not mentioned enough was Frolik's hand in this go ahead goal. Yes, Bickell contributed big time, and he needs to if he wants to stay on the 3rd line, but it was Frolik's aggressive and hard fought play moments before that even allowed this goal to brew. Again, props to Bickell for making a great play to win possession and then getting to the net for the tip in. It is exciting to see him contributing, exciting to see Frolik playing hard, and especially exciting to see Hjalmer having confidence with the puck.
Not long after this, the Jackets scored on a PP which would be waved off immediately (say that as if you were Foley or Edzo). This would be the Hawks luck coming to fruition. For seemingly no reason at all, this goal was waved off, and it bought the Hawks a victory in regulation. We shall take it, and enjoy the perfect 5-0 record thanks.
Early in the 3rd, you might have been asking yourself if Toews was playing, since he hadn't been very noticeable. You might also have been saying to yourself, I bet Toews scores soon, because we all know how clutch he is. And then it happened. Kane again took advantage of a turnover at the Jackets blue line, and made a quick pass to Toews who was all alone in front of Mason. A sweet little perfect move and you have your game winner. Props to Q for putting out his power guys, because it seems to actually pay off this year, following a successful PK.
Eventually, the Jackets would make this more interesting by making it 3-2 and provide a final push in the waining seconds, but the Hawks would hold on behind Crawford's excellent performance.
Not much else to say. The Hawks didn't seem to want this one and they still got it. The performance was very rough around the edges, but luck was on their side, coupled with scoring from some of our big guns. It would seem that even if you can out maneuver the Hawks, their plethora of scoring talent could still overwhelm you. Big game tonight!
Filed under: Game Recap