Hawks drop final curtain on Red Wings 3-2 in SO

In game 82 of the regular season with playoff seeding on the line, what better way to determine the final seeding of teams in the Western Conference Central Division than to have the oldest rivalry determine it.  The Blackhawks could only move up to the 5th seed if they beat the Wings in regulation time and even though they could not accomplish that they still managed to determine Detroit’s fate.

By letting the Blackhawks win in the shoot out Detroit lost more than just a game and series to the Hawks, they lost home ice advantage and must now face one of the toughest teams in the West if they want to win the Stanley cup.  The Blackhawks at this point are still uncertain as to who they will play all they know is it will be the Pacific Division winner which will be no easy task either as their regular season records against the Sharks, Kings and Coyotes has not been good.

In typical Chicago-Detroit matchups this one was no different as the skills were definitely on display. Patrick Sharp had two assists on the evening, Corey Crawford was top drawer form, Patrick Kane had another show stopping shoot out move and we even had broken teeth in this game as well.

Halfway through the first period Viktor Stalberg scored his 22nd goal of the season. He was in the right place at the right time. He was all alone in the slot when he was the beneficiary of a juicy Howard rebound from a Sharp blast. 1-0 Hawks. The score stayed like this until late in the 2nd period when Andrew Shaw was the recipient of another Patrick Sharp pass that was a picture of perfection. Sharp sent a no look backhand pass from behind the Detroit goal to Shaw who was loitering in his favorite spot, the slot.

The game seemed to be well in hand for the Hawks when midway through the third period Johan Franzen from a bad position was able to squeeze one through Crawford’s legs to get Detroit within one. When it seemed for sure the Hawks would face Nashville in the first round of the playoffs with just 42 seconds left & goalie Howard pulled in favor of an extra attacker in a jam up at the Hawks goal Pavel Datsyuk got one past Crawford to tie the game and ruin the Hawks chances at the 5th seed in the West. The Hawks pulled Crawford to try and win in regulation but could not.

With nothing to play for in overtime except to ruin the Red Wings chances of home ice advantage in the playoffs the Hawks showed me some of that never quit attitude that won them a Cup. Detroit's dream of home ice which is so important to them were crushed. They hold the NHL’s record of home ice wins but could not crack Crawford and to the shoot out we went.

The shooters in the SO for Detroit were Datsyuk, Hudler & Bertuzzi and for the Blackhawks it was Kane & Sharp in that order for their teams. What a treat to see two dueling magicians perform prestidigitation acts of hands being quicker than the eye. On this day however, it was Patrick Kane with the super human hands and so it should be. Kane always comes up large in big moment scenarios and to return the favor he ruined the Red Wings chances for home ice in the first round of the playoffs with another sick Kane move. Detroit must now beat Nashville in Nashville to move on.

 

Observations

v The Hawks PK was good but that power play still continues to struggle. They went 0-4 on the power play but the Shaw goal was right after their power play was over. Jimmy Hayes even had cracked teeth as a sacrifice to get to a power play but Hawks couldn't convert. Still the Hawks have to figure this out for the playoffs. It is their entry into the zone and the center ice passing that needs work. Try dumping in and getting bodies to the puck.

v Viktor Stalberg congratulations on a stellar year. If he continues to score like this he could be a huge weapon for the Hawks

v Andrew Shaw – no words are necessary.

v Brent Seabrook’s hockey IQ in the offensive zone is way up there. Seabrook has improved with anticipating where open ice will be. His teammates just have to get him the puck.

v Corey Crawford played out of his mind again. If he gets hot look out.

 

This game saw both teams pretty even in stats with face offs, sog, blocks, giveaways and takeaways. The difference was the Hawks managed to play spoiler with nothing for them to win except pride and the knowledge that when they want to they can beat anyone. Knowing that makes them a team loaded with talent that is becoming self aware which makes them dangerous. Oh and it doesn’t hurt that they also have a conjurer of magic that no else has named Kane.  

Three stars of the game – 1) Zetterburg  2) Sharp  3) Datsyuk

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