The way the Blackhawks came out of the gate in the 1st period against the Red Wings was beyond impressive. I know the Wings have had their struggles, but they are always a playoff team, and they needed the win a heck of a lot more. For the first 5 minutes of the game, the Hawks looked like a well oiled machine that the Wings were incapable of keeping up with. This start landed the Hawks on an early power-play which continued to impress. The Hawks did just about everything you could ask for with the man advantage. Unfortunately, like so many other power-plays this year, the Hawks came up short, and it factored into the game.
The failings of the power-play to convert, and the barrage of man advantages the Wings would end up having, coupled with the extra motivation the Wings had to get the 2 points, took this game into an entirely different direction than the first 5 minutes would have suggested. By the 50 minute marker, it looked like the Hawks were going to allow the Wings to take those 2 points, because hey, the Hawks didn't really need them.
It was mentioned during the game that the Hawks now have the 2nd best win percentage in the history of the NHL. I had been wondering how close they were to having that record. By the end of the game, they helped themselves move even closer to having the best ever.
It was quite obvious when the Hawks decided to let off the gas, and it was clear that all the penalty kills they had to turn in had a hand in that. After so many perfect kills, it was only a matter of time before the Wings made something of their opportunities. On the flip side, watching Q throw the Kane/Toews/Saad line out there is a pretty entertaining moment in any game. The fact that the Hawks can turn it on and off like that, and have the resources to hit the opposition with a punch of such magnitude, only to be followed up with a Sharp/Shaw/Hossa punch is pretty awesome to say the least.
I feel a sense of overly dramatized significance when bringing up the topic of Chicago Goaltending, and so I do it with a grain of salt. IMO, goaltending does not seem to be the biggest factor in how far the Hawks go into the playoffs, although it definitely has the ability to derail their momentum. Last night, Q went with Crawford even though Emery had 3 shutouts in his last 5 games. I wasn't shocked by this move, and so I have little opinion on it. I can see why he would have made either choice. We got a pretty strong performance from Crow, and in the end, he probably deserves a lot of credit for keeping the Hawks in the game for a while there.
What I take from this game is that there are going to be nights when the Hawks get to a point where they really don't want to give more than they have to. Fortunately for the Hawks, that will never be Toews' opinion. Toews was by far the best Hawk on the ice, as he usually is, but we saw a little extra from the captain as his team decided to let the forces of nature dictate the outcome. Lucky for us, Toews is a force of nature. Again, I really like that they can turn it on when they need to though. Just hope they understand it always has to be there come May.
Viktor Stalberg also had a very strong performance, which earned him the first goal of the game. It was his first in a long while, which has left me sort of disappointed. I expected more from Vik this year. I hope that he is finding his groove again, and this would be a good time to do so. With everyone else playing the way they are right now, a hot Stalberg will bring even more offensive pressure against their first round foes. He is very capable of generating chances out of nothing, which he did on many occasions last night. He probably should have ended with a multi-point game.
I can't believe that Hossa's slap-shot 2 feet in front of the goaltender works as much as it does, but there ya go. Thankfully, Saad's shootout goal was a little more impressive. Even when the Hawks seem content to give the game over to their opponent who needs it more, they are still a tough team to beat.
Speaking of power-plays, how about someone follow Leddy up on one of his rushes instead of watching him blow past everyone and end up without any options? Hell, this could be the power-play breakout for all I care. It seems like it is a given that he will get to the net at this point. So, get other bodies to the net with him.
Question, who would you rather the Hawks play in round 1? Detroit, or Columbus?
Personally, Dallas would be the easiest win for the Hawks. If I had to though, I would put money on it being the Wings who get that 8th spot,
Filed under: Game Recap