I love you, John Madden: ‘Hawks 5, Predators 4

By Jeffrey Bartl

I’ve made no secret about my non-sexual crush on John Madden. I love him. He does everything right and deceives people into forgetting about him just because he doesn’t light up the score sheet.

Well tonight, Madden made sure you remembered just how important he is to these Blackhawks, starting a rally that led to a 5-4 ‘Hawks victory against Nashville at the United Center and ending a 14-game goal-less streak in the process. God I love him.

After being sprung on a breakaway by an Andrew Ladd feed and scoring on a nifty move to tie the game 2-2, Madden shortly thereafter gave the Blackhawks the lead with a slapshot from left wing that slipped through Preds goalie Dan Ellis. Then, he drew the penalty that led to Brian Campbell’s goal which put the ‘Hawks up 4-2.

Nashville answered with two quick goals off deflected shots that got past Antti Niemi, who stopped 16 shots on the night and will likely get hung out to dry tomorrow despite a pretty decent performance tonight. He may have given up four goals, but he saved at least three more in the third period alone — one on a David Legwand chance and two Patrick Hornqvist stuff opportunities in front of the net with the pad.

Patrick Kane provided the heroics, scoring his second goal of the night with less than 50 seconds left for the game-winner. I sat there watching the puck come back to Kaner after his first attempt got blocked, and right as the puck hit the tape before he released it I called out, “Goal.” Told ya.

But back to Madden. Little has been said about him over the past month or so, but it’s not for lack of production. Sure, he’s been absent on the score sheet but it’s not his job to score. It’s merely a bonus when he scores. Madden’s job is to win face-offs, provide roughly 17 minutes of bust-your-ass ice time and to disrupt the opposition’s offense. He’s been doing all these things since the first game of the season, it just hasn’t gone as noticed as before because he hasn’t been scoring. It’s not a knock to any of us who have let Madden slip to the back of our minds — scorers get the attention, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I actually considered writing a post before Christmas discussing how we’ve inadvertently forgot how solid Madden is and how important a role he plays for the Blackhawks because he’s been off the score sheet. Then he went out tonight and lit the world on fire. Madden deserves the attention — even though he’s still getting overshadowed tonight because of Kaner’s two goals.

I feel the need to say it again: I love John Madden. Hopefully he and the rest of the ‘Hawks keep up the energy Tuesday night in Dallas. GO ‘HAWKS!

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