Hawks Thoughts - Hawks Soar Over 'Nucks
Last night's 5-1 Blackhawks' victory over rival Vancouver was the perfect example of how a successful powerplay can seriously steal the momentum for your team.
The Blackhawks did a great job of exposing the Canucks lack of offensive depth last night at Rogers Arena. Despite the addition of David Booth, trading away both Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm, along with the continued absence of Mason Raymond, significantly leaves Vancouver with limited offensive options. It also remains to be seen whether Ryan Kesler is really 100% after his intense surgery for a torn labrum in the offseason.
Granted, the Sedin Twins are still the NHL's best one-two punch when it comes to a team's top line, but you can't continue to win games in the NHL solely on that alone. At the end of the day though...well...sucks for them, I guess.
Hawks fans should be optimistic about the fact that, not only did Chicago abstain from giving Vancouver a powerplay at any point in the entire game, they scored two powerplay goals AND held the Canucks to just one goal without the services of Brent Seabrook. Steve Montador's play is a great example of how a team's defensemen must step up when an integral piece of your defensive core is missing. It's a testament of will power and strength when a team can continue to perform this way and the Blackhawks have done a good job of showing this, such as when Duncan Keith went down and now with Seabrook out indefinitely.
Was the defensive effort last night on Chicago's part perfect? Far from it. They still allowed too many rushes to the Canucks and were not nearly as tight as they should/could have been in their own zone, especially along the half boards. And as much as John Scott is probably the biggest defensive liability since....well...ever, I admit that he really made a few solid defensive plays last night that prevented a scoring chance or two. He has proven to be of some use on the back end.
My last night's star of the game (at least in the first two periods) was clearly Corey Crawford. That may have been the best game he's played all season. Yes, Hossa had three assists and played a monster game, that much is true. But not only did Crawford stop 28 of 29 shots on net, this game could have gone to overtime if Craw didn't make some key stops at key moments of the match.
Some notes -
* If Viktor Stalberg thinks the refs are going to just stop play because he says they should, he should be sent to the ECHL. I don't care if the opposing team chopped someone's head off during a play, you keep battling until you hear that whistle. He directly allowed Vancouver a scoring opportunity when he thought play should have been blown dead due to a high stick. Not okay.
*Steve Montador has 4 goals and 6 points in his last 4 games. He has also been very solid in his own zone on a consistent basis- exactly what you need when one of your top two D-men goes down to injury.
*Hossa and Kane once again turned in monster efforts- 3 and 2 pts, respectively. Lead team in pts, both with 21.
*Toews is starting to heat up after a slow start to the season. Very few skilled players in the NHL can combine said skill with the tenacity and grit that J Toews does. This is one of the many attributes that makes him so valuable to the Blackhawks, not to mention being a tremendous captain. A nice 2 point effort last night as well - currently leads Hawks in goals with 10.
*Ben Smith has been recalled from Rockford. Update - Ben Smith has not officially been recalled yet, but is expected to be.
Hawk ?s - Who will lead the Blackhawks in scoring at the end of the season? Goals? Points?
Hawk, Hawk, Hawk it up!
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