I sat in my seat at the United Center with roughly two minutes left in the third period and turned to my buddy Neil. I asked, “Holy shit, have the Rangers even gotten a shot on Huet this whole period?”
It might have been easy to overlook the Blackhawks dominance in this game as they were scrounging to put one past Henrik Lundqvist while the Rangers nursed a 1-0 lead. But with just under six minutes left in the third, the ‘Hawks got exactly the type of goal they needed, and the only type of goal that seemed would get past Lundqvist last night. With the ‘Hawks hacking away at a rebound in front of the net on the power play, Jonathan Toews finally found an opening and put it in the back of the net to tie the game.
When the game went into overtime, Rangers fans were excited to even get a point. And that’s all they would get.
Dustin Byfuglien shocked the living shit out of every Blackhawks fan with his display of skill we all knew he had, yet rarely seems to show. Snagging a loose puck in his own zone, skated 300 MPH down the left boards, fought off a defender with one arm while dragging the puck with the other, turned in front of Lundqvist then shot it five hole for the game-winner while falling down. Jubilation ensued.
While there are some great things to take out of this game (out-shooting the Rangers 41-18, Marian Hossa’s great all-around game, Patrick Sharp‘s eight shots and outstanding play at the center position), we’ve got to start looking at what needs to be improved moving forward.
The ‘Hawks are widely known as this offensive juggernaut, especially after pummeling San Jose on the road. But the ‘Hawks have scored a mere nine goals in the past six games while the opponents have totaled 13. Aside from the Nashville debacle, the ‘Hawks have played insanely well on the defensive end and that defense is the reason they’ve been lucky enough to snag seven points in those six games.
This is the month the Blackhawks need to use to get ahead of the pack. Averaging just over one goal per game is not going to cut it.
I digress, though. This was a hell of a win for the Blackhawks and they’re winning goaltending battles against top-tier net-minders. Who the hell would have thought that when the fans planned on hanging both Cristobal Huet and Antti Niemi in full pads outside of Gate 7 earlier this season?
Friday, the Blackhawks get to see another stud in net when Patrick Kane goes back to Buffalo for the first time since… well, we know what happened. Ryan Miller is flat out ridiculous in net, and I’m going to have to settle down with my man-crush for a night. See, Miller took Michigan State to the Frozen Four when I was a student there and he shattered the NCAA record for shutouts in a career as well during my time in East Lansing. There’s a spot in my heart for the guy.
The Sabres hold a slim lead in the Northeast Division, and it’s pretty obvious the ‘Hawks will have their hands full. GO HAWKS!
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