Last night’s game between the Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild felt like a game between the North Stars at the old Stadium. The Hawks and Wild combined for 58 penalty minutes including 6 fighting majors and one game misconduct. The Rockford boys had a little extra snarl last night as Jimmy Hayes, Brandon Bollig and Andrew Shaw all dropped the gloves. Even Dylan Olsen got into the physical act when a questionable hit on Darroll Powe. Olsen was given a penalty for an “illegal check to the head” which I didn’t even know was an official NHL penalty. His hit may draw a phone call from Brendan Shanahan before its all said and done. This game had “let down” written all over it after the Hawks clinched a playoff spot in Nashville on Saturday. The Blackhawks were able to manage a point by taking the game to overtime. They are now tied with Nashville with 98 points and trail Detroit by one point. Both the Preds and the Wings play 3 more games while the Hawks have just two left. The Blackhawks will see the Wild again on Thursday night in St. Paul. The Hawks will have Duncan Keith back and hopefully Jonathan Toews in the lineup as well.
- Ray Emery was not very good Sunday night. He was a rebound machine and he took forever and a day to get from post to post. Last night should be the last time we see Emery on the ice this season. If we see him in the playoffs then something has gone very wrong and the Blackhawks are in serious trouble.
- For the second straight night Andrew Shaw came up with a beautiful pass on a huge goal. Saturday he setup Brent Seabrook’s game winning goal and last night he had the assist on Patrick Kane’s game tying goal. This kid doesn’t have all the skill in the world but he is a good hockey player. He has a nose for the puck, good hands, gets to the net and doesn’t back down from anybody. I think it is safe to say Shaw was a heck of a draft pick by Stan Bowman.
- Nick Leddy was a huge part of the Blackhawks offense last night. He had two assists and now has 34 on the season which is 4th best on the team and second among defensemen.
- I am developing a severe man crush on Viktor Stalberg. He has been playing great hockey as of late. He his starting to finish more plays and playing with so much more confidence than earlier in the year. He has improved his game by leaps and bounds since October. Stalberg is even getting better with his stick handling and is turning the puck over far less than he was earlier in the year.
- Jamal Mayers seemed to be the only Blackhawk that could actually win a faceoff last night. The faceoff numbers have not been good the last few games. This should improve with the return of #19 to the lineup.
- Hopefully Andrew Brunette’s injury is not severe. The Hawks will need his services in the playoffs.
- As long as Dylan Olsen doesn’t get suspended, last night was hopefully the last time we ever see Sean O’Donnell wearing the Indian head sweater.
My Blackhawks Player of the Game
Patrick Kane continues to play at a high level. He has been damn good the last few weeks and he is quieting some of his critics who have rather vocal since his slow start to the season. Kane scored his 22nd and 23rd goals of the season, including the game tying goal on a late power play. He also scored the only Hawks goal of the shootout. Kaner lives for the big game and the spotlight so there is no reason why he won’t carry over his hot streak into the post season.
My Turd of the Game
The world’s worst designated driver Dany “I’m too cool for 2 N’s” Heatley is the TOTG. Heatley thought it would be a good idea to take a two handed tomahawk chop at the hand of Patrick Kane in the 1st period. Thankfully Kaner was able to shake it off and not miss a shift. When Brandon Bollig challenged Heatley he was nowhere to be found and let Clayton Stoner do his dirty work for him. I wouldn’t mind seeing Heatley get his on Thursday night.