At the end of regulation, the score was 3-3 when it probably should have been about twice that. Don't let the shot count fool you, although the Blackhawks did bring on a barrage in the 3rd (a pleasing change in the Hawks game lately), and still managed to lose that period. The Hawks "drew enough iron to build a bridge" and the 2 teams combined for at least 6 posts in the 3rd, even more over the course of the whole game. Each side missed a couple of empty nets, and each side caught a break once.
Not a perfect defensive performance by either sides.
Columbus is no team to write off, and I think most of the hockey world is anticipating a surge from them in the near future when things start bouncing their way (might take a year for that). The Jackets also like to play a transition game, built around speed and tight play in the corners. They play a game not too different from the Hawks, and this plays into the Hawks hands. Because, frankly, you are most likely going to lose trying to play with the Hawks rather than against them.
The Blackhawks are even improving against teams who try and shut them down through a complete contrast of the hoceky the Hawks like to play. So, your guess is as good as mine on how to beat them right now.
The start might have been a bit rocky, and the hawks were given a dose of their own medicine with an early goal against, but this was always the Hawks game to lose, rather than the Jacket's game to win. Give the Jackets credit though, they play a strong game, and they do not make it easy. One extra bounce in their direction and the Hawks break the streak to the lowest seed in the West.
It totally felt like the Hawks were taunting their prey. Almost asking the Jackets to give them a reason to turn up the gas. The 3rd is evidence of this, and the OT was a blatant performance of domination against a team who had almost taken the win away from them. And, this was after a rough game just 24 hours prior. It should not have been the Hawks with all of the energy that late.
It just seems like they need a reason, which is scary given their place high up at the top of the league. Or is it the streak in and of itself at this point that gives them enough reason to win, or at least not lose?
- Once again, Saad had some big moments, but it was Toews who seemed like the difference maker. Once again, Carcillo played exaclty how we could have wanted him to, and again, Carcillo found himself on the 1st line in Saad's place. I can see some of the reason against a team like the Blues (even though I still dissagree with it), but I just can't justify it against the Jackets.
- My 3 stars of the night have to be Kane, Stalberg, and Bickell. How Kane left the game without a goal is miraculous given the way he was dominating puck movement. Nobody had more shots, or more points than Stalberg, and he very well should have had a hatrick. He might be blooming right now.
- I haven't said enough positive things about Bickell in the past few weeks, and the big guy has certainly earned it. His work along the boards, defensive instincts, assists to his linemates, and team leading hits are more than enough reason to celebrate his play.
- Also, once again, the 3rd line was a dominant one. Stalberg was a +3 in case you missed that. This even came on an off night for Shaw, who liked coughing up the puck last night.
- Emery was also a bit off. As I said, this game could have easily been 6-6. He still found a way to make the saves when he had to, and his team still found a way to win.
I am probably not focusing on the negatives enough, because the Hawks were nowhere near their best. It was a back-to-back game, against a suffering team, so I just don't feel like pulling the Hawks apart. We will just leave that to Q on this one. In case you are wondering though, the shots after the 2nd period were 20-10 in favor of the Hawks, 17 of them coming in the 3rd which doesn't count the plethora of missed nets.
Lastly, besides asking Q to get Carcillo off of the 1st line, is a breif mention of the active defensemen on Chicago. Seabrook had the game winner because of the D's eagerness to get involved offensively, and it was far from the only play of similar results. Seabrook had the game winner come off of his stick (from the other side of the ice) just moments before. Mason was just better on that one. This failed game winner was also a display of the Hawks puck moving ridiculousness.
The actual winner was absolute brilliance from Captain Marvel. Kane was absolutely sick all night long, making everyone his slave on numerous occassions, but this pass from Toews was nothing short of godlike skills. I flew off my rocker everytime they replayed it. Words cannot give it justice, it was a work of magic. If you think you have a chance to beat the Hawks, you had better not keep it close enough for Toews to slap it out of your hands. If you haven't seen the pass, just go and watch it now.
Get Carcillo off the 1st line.
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