The Blackhawks have 3 points in the first 3 games of Duncan Keith’s suspension. They are 11-5-2 since Jonathan Toews has been sidelined with a concussion. They are 4-2 against the Blues, who are in contention for the President’s Trophy. There are a lot of positives to look at since the Blackhawks hit rock bottom with their 9 game losing streak. In the last 2 games the Blackhawks have out shot the Devils and the Blues 78 to 42. I wrote in yesterday’s preview that the Hawks needed to come out firing and that is exactly what they did. They used their speed to create shots and they kept firing at St Louis. If it wasn’t for the play of Jaroslav Halak the Hawks could have had 6 or 7 goals. The Blues shouldn’t scare anyone in the playoffs. They are an average team outside of the Scottrade Center and have their issues against teams with good speed. Their big equalizer is the great goaltending they have. If the Blackhawks had the Blues goaltending there is no doubt they would win the Stanley Cup. The best part of the night was not having the Blues clinch the Central Division on United Center ice.
- Not thrilled about blowing a two goal lead with less than 10 minutes to go. I know the Hawks are short handed but doesn’t make it any better. They had the Blues on the ropes and you let them back into the game right after taking a 3-1 lead. Come playoff time you better learn how to put the clamps down.
- Corey Crawford was not very good. He gave up 2 soft goals. The first goal needs to be stopped. Yes Nick Leddy got caught flat footed and let Alexander Steen get by him but make the damn save. A remedy for that play would have been to win the faceoff in the first place. Jason Arnott can not be allowed to score the 2nd goal either. On the positive note Crow has been really good in shootouts. In fact, he leads all active goalies with a .792 save % in the shootout as he has stopped 38 of 48 shots in his career. Look for Ray Emery to start on Saturday since Crow is a puddle versus the Predators.
- Joel Quenneville is going to have a pretty easy time with his lines when Jonathan Toews returns from injury. Just plus Tazer in between Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. The 2nd line of Patrick Sharp, Marcus Kruger and Viktor Stalberg is clicking right now. The 3rd line doesn’t need to be changed as they have been producing as well. Throw Andrew Brunette on the 4th line with Jamal Mayers and Michael Frolik and you are all set. But, this is Q we are talking about so I am sure there will 763 line combinations between now and the end of the season.
- When they showed that Dave Bolland was 0 for 7 in his career in the shootout I jokingly said he was due, or was I being serious?
- The power play now has 1 shot on goal in its last 10 chances. At some point, you would have to believe that pride would kick in and a goal would be scored. Imagine how good this team could be if they had an average power play.
- Andrew Brunette was rewarded with a goal for going hard to the net. Halak was a bit shaky all night and gave up quite a few rebounds. It was only a matter of time before the Hawks cashed in on one.
- My highlight of the night was seeing Niklas Hjalmarrson destroy TJ Oshie with a great, clean open ice hit. I can’t stand Oshie so any time he gets pummeled, I’m a happy guy!
My Blackhawks Player of the Game
Patrick Sharp was a man among boys last night. He scored his 31st goal of the year and lead the team with 7 shots. His line was amazing last night as he combined with Viktor Stalberg and Marcus Kruger for 14 shots. They dominated the play when they were on the ice. With Sharp’s shot, Stalberg’s speed and Kruger’s willingness to get to the dirty areas this line can be very dangerous going forward.
My Turd of the Game
A giant collective turd gets sent out to San Jose and the Sharks as they continue their slide right out of the playoffs. The Blackhawks could have clinched their spot in the playoffs had the Sharks beat the Phoenix Coyotes last night. Instead they got shutout 2-0. I hope Todd McLellan enjoys the unemployment line because that’s where he is headed!
Topics: Alexander Steen, Andrew Brunete, Chicago Blackhawks, Corey Crawford, Duncan Keith, Jamal Mayers, Jason Arnott, Jonathan Toews. Jaroslav Halak, Marcus Kruger, Marian Hossa, Michael Frolik, Nick Leddy, Niklas Hjalmarrson, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Phoenix Coyotes, Ray Emery, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, TJ Oshie, Todd McLellan, Viktor Stalberg