It ISN’T always sunny in Philadelphia – Hawks lose 5-4 to Flyers
I knew this game would be emotional for the Blackhawks going back to Philadelphia where they won the Stanley Cup. I’m not sure if it was seeing the sea of orange jerseys or having my blood rise at the sight of Scott Hartnell but I was ready for a thrilling game between two teams and it did not disappoint. While these teams’ rosters have changed significantly and despite the fact they do not face each other often, there would be deep emotions running between them.
Both teams heading into this game were coming off of disappointing losses. The Blackhawks were looking for a win to keep pace in the Western Conference where they now reside in second behind their old nemeses Vancouver. The Flyers were coming into this one fresh from the Winter Classic loss to the NY Rangers. They also needed a win to keep pace in the Eastern Conference.
The Flyers do not have a very good home record (8-6-2) so I knew the Hawks could take advantage of this but had to play solid team defense with Philly having a very potent scoring attack with Giroux, Hartnell and Briere.
I also was anxious to see how the recent call ups from Rockford Dylan Olsen and Andrew Shaw would do and if they could shine on the big stage.
In nets for the Blackhawks was Ray Emery (2.54GAA & .908 SV%) and for the Philadelphia Flyers was Ilya Bryzgalov (3.01 GAA & .89 SV%)
It was not long into the first period when young Jimmy Hayes who was recently called up himself hustled into the Flyers zone and tipped one in off of a Jamal Mayers shot to the net five hole on Bryzgalov 1-0 Hawks. He had a solid first period and seemed to be around the puck on each of his shifts.
The other youngster Andrew Shaw didn’t take long before he threw off the helmet and his gloves and went rounds with Flyers’ Zac Rinaldo. Each got “five for fighting”. Shaw got bloodied above the eye but got stitched up and went back out the next shift. Welcome to the NHL kid.
The Hawks had many opportunities to score and seemed to catch the Flyers being a little flat, even the Philly fans were quiet. Maybe they really did miss the HBO cameramen. The Flyers had their chances in front of the Hawks goal but with good stick work from the Hawks dmen it kept the Flyers off the board.
Until there was a turnover by Nick Leddy in the Hawks zone and Jakub Voracek scored late in the first when the puck took a bad bounce off the back boards to tie up the game. SOG 13-7 Philly; FO 10-7 Flyers and hit 12-7 Flyers.
Going into the second the Hawks have to lockdown on the give aways in their zone or at center ice. The period started with the Hawks having problems getting out of their own zone. Frankly were being out worked in their own zone. Then with Coach Peter Laviolette shaking his head in disbelief young Anderew Shaw on a solo took the puck from behind the net to the net and scored but it did not last long when Hartnell scored on a mid-air tip in to even it up at 2-2.
Then there was another breakdown in the Hawk zone and within 23 seconds Zolnierczyk and James Van Riemsdyk scored with virtually empty nets due to good east/west puck movement in both instances 4-2 Flyers. The usual stellar defensive play of Hossa collapsed as he didn’t stay with his man Zolnierczyk. The period was definitely more wide open with the SOG 21-15 Flyers.
The third period was pretty non-descript as the Hawks had to kill a four minute penalty to Sharp for accidentally high sticking Giroux which when your down two goals is not a great attacking strategy or so you’d think but we are not talking any team here we are talking the Blackhawks. Brent Seabrook scored on a shorty when he took the puck on a give and go with Dave Bolland 4-3 Flyers.
Then there must be something magical about Philly ice. Patrick Kane scored 25 seconds later when Toews took the puck got it to Sharp and there was Kane alone in the slot and we know he is a dangerous, dangerous man in the slot. This got the Philadelphia fans booing when they announced Kane as the goal scorer. Philadelphia hockey fans must see 88 in their nightmares.4-4
Then with only 32 seconds left in the period on the power play Van Riemsdyk scored again 5-4 Flyers and that was the end of the game. Everyone in Philadelphia saw one hell of a game.
This game was lost due to poor defensive efforts which has been a recurring problem all year. This will need to be fixed especially in the playoffs where every team has a potent scoring attack. There was way too many shot on goal given up and no clear outs infront of the Hawk nets.
Observations going forward
Along with the dreaded power play the Blackhawks need to add to the practice list defense in their own zone. The forwards need to work on their back checks or study man to man defenses or cycling your man if your going to play a zone type defense. All the Hawks need to work on not turning the puck over in your own end of the ice too.
Patrick Kane needs to be with Toews and Sharp and moved back to the wing. That trio is magical need I say more. Stan you need to get a second line center open up the checkbook please.
Brent Seabrook has one hell of a shot whether it is a big slapshot from the point or a snapshot from the face-off circle the Hawks need to get him involved in the offense more often.
Congrats to Andrew Shaw on his first NHL goal and fight. Welcome aboard.
The Mayers/Hayes/Frolik line was the hottest line of the night. If they can continue to click this fourth line will be a pleasant surprise.
What’s encouraging for the Blackhawks future is the youngsters. Hayes is big and can provide presence in front of the net. His reach is very good as well. Shaw is scrappy and you can tell he doesn’t know the word quit. Olsen was solid as well on the defense and one day could be a Seabrook type defensemen. Can a team ever have enough Seabrook types?
Three stars of the game – 3) Voracek 2) Toews 1) Van Riemsdyk
Hawks next play again Friday @ the United Center vs. the Colorado Avalanche which can be caught on CSN or WGN Radio 720. Start time is early at 7:30 pm CT
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