Hawks 3, Avs 1

Easiest save of the night! (source: Michael Martin, NHLI via Getty Images)

Last season, the Colorado Avalanche and the third period were unkind to the Chicago Blackhawks. Last night would be different. Eight minutes into the third period of a 1-1 tie in Denver, the devastatingly handsome Patrick Sharp sniped the biggest goal of the young season, propelling the Hawks to a 3-1 victory.

Various racing analogies

Don’t be misled by the score, last night’s game, as expected, was a horse race in the thin air of the Rocky Mountains. And regardless of where the Avs come out this season, they were on a roll coming into last night’s game, having won five straight, all on the road. Both teams had several glorious scoring opportunities,  but Corey Crawford and Semyon Varlamov were up to the task all night.

On second thought, perhaps the game was more like the Tour de France,  on accounta all the, wait for it,…cycling. Well, this was mostly the Hawks, who chewed up shift after shift running the low cycle in the offensive zone.

Not that the cycling generated too many shots (the Hawks were outshot 32-30 on the night), but late in the first period, Patrick Kane cycled the puck up the boards to Andrew Brunette before going for a change. Brunette tried to hit a pinching Nick Leddy across the ice. The pass was deflected into the corner, were Leddy retrieved it and sent it behind the net to the oncoming Daniel Carcillo. Carcillo hit a streaking Jonathan Toews, fresh on the ice, and the Cap’n gave Varlomov the ole forehand/backhand, roofing a ridiculous, effortless shot for the game’s first goal.

Put that coffee down

The game remained 1-0 through most of the second period. Again, both goalies were terrific. But just when you start thinking those improbable words, “goalie win”, along comes Ryan O’Byrne to swat a deflected puck  with the shaft of his stick past a sprawling Crawford, for his first goal in 75 games. Guh.

Show of hands- who had a kind of sick feeling right around that point in the game? Would the 2010-11 tape be replayed?

Nope. Sharp’s laser was like loosening the belt buckle after Thanksgiving dinner. And, just like the other night in Phoenix, the Hawks did not hunker down afterwards. The four lines and three d-pairings rolled, and Crawford was stout against a pesky Colorado team that never gave up. A tripping penalty against PK anchor Brent  Seabrook with two minutes to go, it turns out, was nothing more than a clichéd Hollywood “final scare”, dispelled by a Marian Hossa shortie empty-netter with a minute to go. 3-1 final. Same teams in Chicago Saturday night. Take nothing for granted.

Behind the stache

Golf claps to Quenneville for the obvious John Scott scratch tonight. What the hey, Q, let’s do it again Saturday.

The controversial Duncan Keith – Nick Leddy pairing turned in their best performance of the season. The pair was on the ice for the first three goals (Keith was also out there for the empty-netter), and are getting more comfortable with each other positionally. Leddy’s assist on the first goal was, if I may, Campbellesque. If he can establish himself as a legitimate top-4 defenseman in the NHL this season, Stan’s a genius.

And the Carcillo-Kane-Hossa line, while not drawing blood, was able to control the puck for long stretches again last night. I still don’t see Kane as an ideal answer here, but he may be a better choice than Sharp at center, which with this roster, is all that matters right now.

Tags: Chicago Blackhawks Colorado Avalanche Corey Crawford NHL Postgame Summary

  • wardrums

    “Loosening the belt buckle after Thanksgiving dinner!” yeah, that’s exactly how it felt. When Colorado scored I did think we were in trouble, and doubted even Corey could stem the tide of Hurricane Katrina. The Avs had a dominat second period in my mind.

    Also, good note about the thin air. We visit friends in Fort Collins regularly, and it definitely is something to contend with-helps to roll four lines, no? Stals played pretty well last night I thought. Despite the thin air, another problem you encounter around the Mile High city is flatulence-you tend to pass a lot of gas. I’d like Stacie fro SCH blog to weigh in on this. Tell us s-dog, were you leaning sideways in your seat at all last night?

    • cliffkoroll

      @wardrums yeah, after last season, a win like last night’s is extra-satisfying.

  • Scott13

    I think you owe me a personal thank you for reading this the whole way through, particularly after that whole Tour de France paragraph.

    • http://BlackhawkUp.com/ ChicagoNativeSon

      @Scott13 Heh. We’ll do better than a “thank you.” If Brian agrees, he and I will gladly send you half of our internet paychecks for your valiant perseverance. And since I’m in such a good mood, hell, I’ll throw in my next check too!

      • Scott13

        @ChicagoNativeSon I couldn’t accept such generosity. Just go ahead and make a comparable contribution to Blackhawks charities in my name, let’s help the less fortunate. And by less fortunate I mean the people of Vancouver.

    • wardrums

      @Scott13 I don’t know, it was so much more descriptive than saying they were skating circles around their opponent

    • cliffkoroll

      @Scott13 Ha! Try the veal.

    • cliffkoroll

      @Scott13 and thank you.

  • http://BlackhawkUp.com/ ChicagoNativeSon

    “and the Cap’n gave Varlomov the ole forehand/backhand” That *almost* deserves a Clockwork Orange photoshop, but I think it might get banned in 127 countries.

    ALL the defensive pairings looked good last night. Q continues to trust even the 3rd pair at times against the top lines and doesn’t seem in much of a hurry to get them off the ice when he doesn’t get a preferred match up on the road.

    Foley pointed out what Raedances and I were discussing in the comment section a few days ago. The number of potential rushes Keith stops with takeaways in the neutral zone is highly underrated. Sometimes they are high risk moves and we tend to only mention when it doesn’t work out, but the majority of the time, it does. Last night Leddy came across ice without missing a beat and covered for Keith on one of those occasions.

    Monty really seems to like to jump the play. The fact that O’Donnell so far has been able to hold down the fort is nice to see. I know Q prefers to go with the hot lineup, but I’d like to see Lepisto get some games in order to keep the old guy’s legs fresh (well, as fresh as 40 yr old legs can be).

    • Scott13

      @ChicagoNativeSon there was one time that scared the heck out of me though. It must have been in the second period and the Hawks had the puck in the O zone. Both Keith and Leddy made a break to run deep into the zone at the exact same time and one of the forwards almost turned it over but then quickly recovered. The Avs could have easily had a 3 on 0 from their own blue line in had that situation gone just a little differently and heads would have exploded everywhere.

      • cliffkoroll

        @Scott13@ChicagoNativeSon *asploded

      • http://BlackhawkUp.com/ ChicagoNativeSon

        @Scott13 High risk, high reward. What about all the times it *almost* results in a goal-for? Confirmation bias?

        A good example of me being guilty of that: My eyes have been telling me that Sharp is off to a slow start (no camp), isn’t working at RW, and hasn’t been effective on offense (criticism of the whole top line). Then I go and look at the stats and realize that he leads the team in points and is 2nd in +/-.

        • Scott13

          @ChicagoNativeSon Indeed. I was shocked to learn that line was also dominating CORSI last night. I thought their zone time was a lot of one and done, compared to Hoss-Kaner-Stoned who set up camp.

    • cliffkoroll

      @ChicagoNativeSon Yeah, I’m loving these third periods, just rolling lines and d-pairings. For whatever reason, the Avs fourth line took it to the Hawks pretty good last night. In previous games, it seemed that the Hawks fourth-liners had a decided edge. Anyway, when the 4th-line/3rd d-pairing combination was out together in the third period, it was a wee bit scary, but no damage.

    • wardrums

      @ChicagoNativeSon cNS – one other thing about Monty- there was a little extracurricular activity after a stop in play. Players giving facials with their gloves etc. All of the sudden Montador is in the middle of it with a real mean scowl on his face. When he is on the ice, his teamates know someone has their back. “Don’t fuck with my teamates, any of them.” – steve Montador

      • Scott13

        @wardrums@ChicagoNativeSon both he and O’Donnell were good team guys last night.

  • DaleHalas

    You know Brian, I stopped worrying about the 2010 tape after Leddy and Campoli showed up last year. Totally different team when you have a 3rd d-pair and this year’s version is better than the end of last year’s version.

  • http://BlackhawkUp.com/ ChicagoNativeSon

    When are they gonna fix the effing z key on this site??