Time and time again, we prove that here at the SCH Offices we have an uncanny ability to affect the outcomes of games in the exact opposite way we predict. Everyone assumed yet another taffy pull was in store tonight, so much so that even had there not been conflicts earlier today, the preview would have read pretty similar to the one that got posted. So what happens? The game turns into a goddamn track meet.
Admittedly, I was in the car on my way home from a family function for the entirety of the first period, so I only got to hear the game on the radio. But even then, it seemed as though Nashville was going to throw out the "How To Execute The Trap" text book, and try to go end to end with the Hawks. Things started well enough for them, with Marcel Goc opening the scoring, but Patrick Kane had the answer shortly thereafter with a strike right after a Blackhawk power play had expired, and the teams went to the dressing room tied 1-1 after 20.
Early in the second, a Hawks defensive zone scramble (which there would be many of tonight) led to a 2-on-no one in front of Antti Niemi, who made the initial stop on Steve Sullivan, but Hawk hemorrhoid Martin Erat banged home the rebound, giving Nashville the lead. In the shifts afterward, though, the Hawks started to begin to build momentum, particularly on a nice sequence where Marian Hossa pick-pocketed a Preds defenseman behind the net to find Andrew Ladd in front, who sent a no-look touch pass to a streaking birthday boy Patrick Sharp, who drew iron on a gaping cage. Nashville escaped the second being up 2 to 1, and then all hell broke loose.
During an early Blackhawk power play, Dustin Byfuglien was caught pinching deep from his point, which led to a two-on-one the other way, and Niemi made a spectacular blocker save on the unfortunate looking David Legwand. Pat Foley correctly predicted at the time that it would be a turning point in the contest, as two shifts later, Andrew Ladd found John Madden alone at the Preds' blue line, and buried a backhander between Dan Ellis' legs on a nifty leg-pump and shot fake. Shortly there after, Bryan Bickell found Iron Madden streaking down the left wing, and his slap shot made its way past Ellis after being deflected off of Ryan Suter's stick, giving the Hawks the lead. With the Preds on the ropes and Steve Sullivan in the box for high sticking Brent Seabrook, Brian Campbell blasted a shot from the blue line through a beautiful Troy Brouwer screen, and it seemed the rout was on. But that wouldn't be the case. Joel Ward is becoming nearly the irritant that Martin Erat is, and a twice deflected puck made its way into the net on a delayed penalty call on the Hawks. Cody Franzen then ripped a slap shot from the blue line wide side on a shot Niemi never saw, and the game was once again tied. Both goals were as a result of the Hawks again having clown car caliber defensive zone coverage, and not clearing pucks that they should that resulted in shot attempts from the point. With less than a minute left, Duncan Keith brilliantly found Kaner alone at the right circle, who likely took too long to fire his first shot on Ellis. But Kane would receive his own rebound, and roofed a shot short side on Ellis, giving the Hawks the lead. Shea Weber rang a shot off the far post as time expired, and a scrum ensued. Hot damn, Hawks win 5-4.
- Though Niemi only made 16 stops, many of them were in spectacular fashion. Specifically, the blocker save on Legwand, and two pad saves on stuff attemps from Patrick Hornqvist.
- Iron Madden was all kinds of clutch in the third, both in burying the chances he got, and in drawing the penalty that led to the Campbell goal.
- Troy Brouwer is starting to climb the ladder in elite goalie screeners in the league. His insistence in going hard to the net is the reason we've thrown compliment after compliment his way and believed the numbers would come.
- Once again, get Buff the fuck off the point on the power play.
- While it paid off on his second goal, Kane's tendency to only shoot high is getting a little frustrating. Yes, Kaner, we know it looks awesome when you roof one and hit the water bottle, but low shots generate rebounds and more scoring chances. Get it down, viagra boy.
- The Hawks are now 8 points up in the Predators, and 12 points up on Scum. Operation "Run Away and Hide" is falling into place nicely. And on closer examination of the standings, the Blackhawks are now the top team in the league at 55 points in 38 games. Keep it up boys.