Hawks 5, Blue Jackets 2

Allen York, you say? Excellent.

 

Two third period goals from Viktor Stalberg broke a 2-2 tie, and possibly the least meaningful goal of the season, an empty-netter from Michael Frolik with two seconds left, provided the final margin for the Blackhawks, 5-2 over the Columbus Blue Jackets at the United Center Saturday night.

In a related contest, the Blackhawks cruised to a 3-1 triumph in disallowed goals, with Patrick Kane (high swat), Patrick Sharp (penalty), and Dave Bolland (kick) all finding the phantom twine.

So, what did we learn Friday?

After the “stack of rotting pizza boxes on the coffee table” that was the loss in Carolina on Friday, the Blackhawks were hoping to show some bouncebackability against the Defenders of Union, and they did, if a bit raggedly and unevenly.

Brent Seabrook started things with his Tom Brady impression, sidestepping the rush a forechecker and finding a streaking Wes Welker across the middle Marcus Kruger at center ice. Kruger slid the puck to Jamal Mayers and headed to the net. Mayers let a low hard shot go at Allen York (I know: who? NHL resume: 3 minutes, 0 shots). Off the pad to the waiting Kruger, 1-0.

To Columbus’ credit, they did not play like a 1-8-1 team. They played like a 2-6-2 team. Seriously, they brought some energy and physicality, and they managed to tie the game when Fedor Tyutin threaded a cross-ice pass to Vinny Prospal, whose one-timer beat Ray Emery.

OK, it was the Rick Nash line against the Hawks fourth line of Kruger, Mayers, and John Scott (a match-up that Quenneville, heady from the early goal, apparently welcomed.) On this night, Scott would get one more shift, for a total of three, and 1:44 time on ice. Coach, we have to talk…

Bolland had an interesting period, taking an unfortunate tripping penalty, then taking a dumb tripping penalty to (mercifully) end yet another hapless Hawk power play, then collecting a pass from Frolik, who had blocked a shot and chased it down, on a short-handed breakaway that, somehow, ended up in the back of the net. (Did I mention Allen York? Free associate: Dick Allen, Dick York, Dick Sargent, Sergeant York.)

So, not pretty, but 2-1 Hawks after one period.

Losing focus?

The second period was…soporific. The Blackhawks enjoyed a decided edge in play and spent a couple power plays trying to figure out how to enter the zone. Yawn. And then Niklas Hjalmarsson fell down, and Derek MacKenzie capitalized on a scrum in front of the net to put home the equalizer.

Later, during a power play, Kaner knocked a puck out of the air for a 3-2 lead. Psych! Stick was too high.

Apparently, nothing is easy. The Hawks survived a scare in the final minute, as Emery covered a puck nanometers from crossing the line, and the Hawks looked toward the third period with furrowed brow and grim visage, tied at 2.

Always Be Closing

Maybe this year’s team will be worthy of the coveted Glengarry leads, slurping coffee and slapping backs, after all.

Early on, during a power play, Sharp knocked a puck into an open net for a 3-2 lead. Psych! Interference on Bryan Bickell.

On the ensuing 4-on-4, Stalberg was flying around. He sprang on a puck chipped in by Nick Leddy, cut to the middle, and went five hole on both human excrescence James Wisniewski and York for a 3-2 lead.

Two minutes later, Andrew Brunette circled in front of the net and fed a delicious, blind backhanded pass across the crease to Stalberg for a tap-in.

And there was singing, and mirth, and offsetting phantom power play kicking goals, and the referees established permissive rules for frustrated purported weiner tuckers, and then an empty netter. 5-2 final.

Reflection

The power play is hilariously bad. Another 0-5 tonight, but the three disallowed goals do say something. Right? Right??? The Hawks have scored 4 power play goals this year (and allowed 1 shortie), more than St. Louis and New Jersey and less than everybody else.

The penalty kill is unsustainably good, like a .500 hitter in April. Two goals allowed this year, best in the league. And oh yeah. Three shorties, also best in the league. Put it together and 4-on-5 has been almost as good as 5-on-4 this year.

I’ll take 6-2-2 over each ten-game stretch this season.

Topics: Allen York, Andrew Brunette, Brent Seabrook, Bryan Bickell, Dave Bolland, Derek MacKenzie, Dick Allen, Dick Sargent, Dick York, Fedor Tyutin, Jamal Mayers, James Wisniewski, Marcus Kruger, Michael Frolik, Nick Leddy, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Ray Emery, Rick Nash, Sergeant York, Viktor Stalberg, Vinny Prospal

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  • http://BlackhawkUp.com/ ChicagoNativeSon

    Just as the PK is unsustainably good, the PP is unsustainably bad. It’ll improve, but it won’t get back to top 3-5 in the league as I had hoped prior to the season. If the PK remains in the top 3-5, I’ll be happy with top 10-15 on the PP, although one would have to believe it should be the opposite.

    I thought the PP look OK last night. The chances were there. And I assume many won’t give this much merit because I’m a fan of Leddy, but I think Q needs to continue trying him on the 1st unit PP. He really entered the zone nicely last night (although he did have that boneheaded pass attempt to Seabs once they were set up). It seemed to carry over to his overall game. He was definitely more aggressive last night and even got into a couple of shoving matches in front of the net. He needs to break out of his “one mode” that he’s been in all season. Last night was the first time I noticed a higher gear from him. Now if the kid would just take some freaking shots…

    • My name is not Chico Maki

      @ChicagoNativeSon I liked Leddy too, despite that pass, as you say. Given how telegraphed that pass was I think even I had time to intercept it. I also thought Lespito earned himself some good graces. A great break-up on a 2-on-1, no fear of the puck or contact, good board work, and calm handling of the puck most of the time.

      We do disagree on Brunette, though. I didn’t expect speed from him when we signed him, but he’s a disaster. The Toews line’s dominance last night was there, if a bit erratic, and I actually thought it was mostly due to Stalberg’s and Toews’s carrying the puck and subsequent holding on, actually.

      It’s a tough one. No one in Rockford could come in and replace his net presence, not even close, but I do think his point totals are reproducable from Morin, at least … possibly Smith, but I wouldn’t want to bet even a quarter on that one. Olesz hasn’t been given a chance, but Q obviously sees a lot missing there if he’s being passed over for John fucking Scott.

      I see in Toews the Nash phenomenon in microcosm, except he’s a centre with inadequate wings. Toews is one of the best centres in the entire league. Brunette shouldn’t be there imo … despite, I admit, no real obvious choice as a replacement.

      • cliffkoroll

        @My name is not Chico Maki@ChicagoNativeSon re: Brunette. Remember, he makes less than Brouwer and Kopecky. From what I’ve seen, he’s a better offensive player than either. He is a “cross to bear” for his linemates, but again, the reference group is Brouwer and Kopecky.

        The difference between Toews and Nash, I believe, will be seen in precisely these situations. Is it unfair to Cap’n to have Bru and Stals (and double-shift with Kruger and Mayers) while Sharp, Kane, and Hossa fiddled around together last night? Prolly. IF he has Sharp on his right wing, he can’t complain too much.

    • cliffkoroll

      @ChicagoNativeSon If I had to take one or the other, it’s the PK, hands down. Remember last year?

      Also, on team D, I have to give Q credit, in retrospect, for 2 8, 4 7. I think the biggest beneficiary has been Hjammer. Rather than putting the 4 8 pressure on Nintendo, he’s allowed him to find his game this year alongside the rock that is Seabrook. The 4 7 and 2 8 chemistry seems to get better each game. And you see how Q is ready to do some 2 7 in the third period. Last night, I even saw some 4 8- not sure if it was post-special teams shuffling or intentional by Q.

      With Leddy showing signs of being a versatile and actual top-4 defender (2:57 PP, 2:45 PK last night), which is kinda remarkable and lucky, the Hawks back-end looks stronger than evah.

      • http://BlackhawkUp.com/ ChicagoNativeSon

        @cliffkoroll Did you read Sam’s article and then mine in the CI last night? It was like dueling banjos!

        I will definitely take the PK too. Defense first. Plus, with the way they’ve been bee-lining to the box…

        • cliffkoroll

          But, despite the hiccup the past two games, the Hawks are still 4th in the league in fewest penalties taken per game, which helps keep the PK goals allowed number down, and makes the three shorties more remarkable.

  • http://BlackhawkUp.com/ ChicagoNativeSon

    I’m amazed that people don’t seem to be at all satisfied with this win. Even though Columbus has started pretty awful, they’re still an NHL team that has spent to the cap limit. In past years, the Hawks often fell asleep for these games. How quickly we forget.

    The Blue Jackets came out with something to prove. The Hawks weathered the storm and talent/will prevailed in the 3rd with the Hawks outscoring them 3-0 in that frame. Isn’t that the blueprint we’ve all been pining for??

    Plus, those 3 rightfully disallowed goals (although watching the replay of Kane’s, it seems that his stick was high but the puck might have hit it halfway down the shaft, below the crossbar /shrugs) They were all solid scoring chances and the game could have resulted in a blowout.

    Are we spoiled?

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