After the Blackhawks scored 12 goals in the last two games, they could only give poor Antti Niemi a single tally tonight. Niemi didn’t seem to mind.
Playing his first game in over a month, Niemi stopped all 30 shots he faced and led the 1-0 shutout of the Vancouver Canucks with his stellar play in net. He stopped numerous shots from in close and made a beautiful kick save on a breakaway. It was the kid’s night.
All Niemi needed was a Bryan Bickell goal at 1:12 in the third period on a play set up by Patrick Kane’s patience. Kane waited for the trailing Brian Campbell, who charged the net after receiving Kane’s cross-ice saucer. Campbell’s stick got tied up, and the puck trickled in front of the net for Bickell to clean up. The goal extended Kaner’s point streak to 10 games and was Bickell’s first of the season.
The ‘Hawks were playing the second of a back-to-back, and to me it showed. They were on the defensive most of the night and seemed focused on simply winning the neutral zone battles and to get quick, solid changes. Granted, Vancouver’s style of play has held the ‘Hawks offense in check in both meetings this season. But, the ‘Hawks seemed to show signs of fatigue.
Nonetheless, the Blackhawks defense was solid and active, recovering quickly on the few turnovers made and winning the board battles while gaining control of loose pucks. It wasn’t all that pretty, but it was extremely solid and actually pretty exciting. It’s not like you get an extra point for style, anyway.
The ‘Hawks are 15-5-2 and have won seven straight games, including three in the last four nights. Oh, and Marian Hossa should make his ‘Hawks debut Wednesday night. Disgusting.
Other neat stuff:
- Does anyone really think it’s just coincidence the Blackhawks are 7-0 since Jonathan Toews returned to the lineup?
- Daniel Sedin made his return after missing 18 games, reuniting the Sedin sisters. And I have to tell you, this commentary of, “Here’s Daniel. Over to Henrick…” is driving me f-ing nuts. I understand it’s difficult to differentiate them any other way, especially because they look exactly the same all the way down to the pink toenail polish. But I really want to crack skulls when I have to listen to that shit. I’m extremely confident they’re giving each other foot massages right now.
- These two teams f-ing hate each other — and it’s awesome. Even Toews got into some heavy pushing and stink-gloving tonight. Close, hard-fought battles like this only make rivalries stronger.
- If you didn’t see this game, don’t let the 1-0 score fool you. The game was very exciting. There were plenty of rushes that simply were broken up by superb defense, and Niemi made some great saves that had me up off my chair and holding my breath.
- I hate the Sedin sisters.
Next up Wednesday are the San Jose Sharks, who gave us all we could handle last Sunday at the UC before Brent Seabrook’s OT winner. GO ‘HAWKS!