Hawks back in series, shutout the Blues 2-0
Corey Crawford at the end of game 2 in St. Louis in his post game presser said he needed to be better and on this night he was a man of his word he was spectacular. In his first NHL playoff career shutout Crawford stopped 34 shots on the Hawks net. Corey Crawford won this game for the Hawks.
Besides Crawford being excellent in net the Hawks broke a bad habit as well, giving up goals late in games to push to overtime. On this night the Hawks not only did not give up the lead late the game actually ended in regulation time.
The scoring got started in the first period in what would have to be called a soft goal given up by Ryan Miller. Jonathan Toews shot the puck through Miller as though he were not even in net that appear to change direction and got past Miller.
The game was fast paced but unlike the games in St. Louis it was a great hockey game. There were no after whistle scrums and the chippiness was left in the locker rooms and not brought onto the ice.
The Blues had two power plays in the first period and the penalty kill particularly the second one late in the period was outstanding. Nik Hjalmarsson and Michal Handzus blocked shots and gave up their bodies to block pucks that they are probably going to be icing down their bodies for a month. Their efforts did not go unnoticed as the UC crowd chanted Zus, Zus.
The second period was scoreless although the Hawks had four chances on the power play including a five on three that they were unable to capitalize on.
The third period was a little scary for Hawks fans as it seemed the Hawks went into the conservative prevent mode again and it seemed like the puck was constantly in the Hawks zone. This time though Crawford and the Hawks were on point and able to seal the deal and the club back into this series. Marcus Kruger scored on an empty netter.
A couple of observations, the Hawks were lucky that the Blues did not make them pay for going 0-4 on power play. More work on the power play needs to be done especially with Seabrook missing from the second unit.
More shots need to be directed towards Miller and more net front presence needs to be established to challenge Miller and the Blues defense. Somehow the Hawks need to open up shooting lanes from the point as the Blues blocked a ton. More behind the goal line work needs to be done and shots from odd angels from the boards may loosen it up.
There is a commercial for Jack Daniels I’m sure Hawks fans know all too well about Frank Sinatra “being a man, no he was THE MAN”. Well on this night it was Corey Crawford that was THE MAN. The Hawks will need more of this from him if they are to even the series. The good thing is his coach, his team, the fans and he himself know he can be THE MAN again if they need him to be.
Three Stars of the game
1. Corey Crawford
2. Jonathan Toews
3. Michal Handzus
Next game Wednesday, April 23, at 8:30 p.m. CDT at the United Center vs the St. Louis Blues. Tune in to CSN in Chicago; or listen on radio via 87.7FM the Game.