The Last Baron: Blackhawks 3 - Kings 2

 

There will always be mysteries in life.  How and why was Stonehenge built?  Who is the Zodiac Killer? What does the final section of Kryptos mean?  How did REM ever become a popular band?  And now slowly approaching these other mysteries... why do the Blackhawks have such success against the Kings this year?

In three meetings this year, the Blackhawks have walked away with six points, the Kings - zero.  On paper the Kings are a team that should give the Hawks trouble.  Their forwards are quick and skilled (though as we've pointed out.. they do lack depth) and their blue liners are big and nasty.  Their goalies are also both more than capable of stealing a game if everything else breaks down.  Despite all this, the Blackhawks continue to find a way to win when it hasn't always been so easy this year.

This game started off with the Kings getting hot right off the puck drop and only a lucky post kept them from going up one very early in this game.  After that it became another north-south game and thank god, the Blackhawks seem to be getting better as a whole in these types of games.  There's no reason the Hawks shouldn't excel at these types of games and it's good to see them take away another two points.  Just like that, the Blackhawks have seem themselves go from the basement of the Central on Friday to being able to jump up to second with a win in regulation over Nashville on Wednesday.  Lets get to the bullets.

  • I understand that John Scott had to let Westgarth get his shot at redemption but I don't really like it.  It's not like Scott gets that much ice time (7:27 tonight) but the Hawks are still short on forwards and don't need players racking up more TOI.  It also was at a point in the game where neither team needed a boost.  At least Westgarth learned his lesson and didn't let Scott use his reach to his advantage.  Westgarth seemed happy with the result but anything that didn't end with his face looking like a Picasso painting was a marked improvement from last time.  
  • Jonathan Toews has been nothing short of crucial for the Hawks since Kane and Hossa have been out.  He's carrying this team and leading by example. 8 points in 6 games since Kane went out.  We can only hope he can continue once the other two forwards get back in the game.
  • There was a common theme for the first two goals for the Hawks tonight - Troy Brouwer was right in front of the net.  More of this please.  When the Hawks get in front of the net, more often than not, they win.  When they don't get traffic, they tend to lose.  It's common sense - goalies can't stop what they can't see.  
  • Another welcome sight has been the Hawks clogging up passing and shooting lanes with bodies and sticks.  Hendry, Kopecky and Toews are the only Hawks without a recorded blocked shot.  Going along with this, in the last two games they've also been right in front of Crawford sweeping out any and all rebounds.  This is the team defense that was missing early in the season. 
  • Another great physical game from Brouwer and Seabrook who had 7 and 5 hits, respectively.  Right out of the gate the Hawks were punishing the Kings and didn't let up. 
  • Has it seemed like the boards/glass have been a bit wonky lately?  The puck is bouncing off them at odd angles like it was Joe Louis Arena.  Every game also seems to have a delay as they fix a partition or piece of glass.  Today's stoppage came when Jack Johnson shot a puck right through the glass.  This is especially bad since it forces Pat and Eddie to adlib and these two have been downright awful lately.  
  • Bolland, Bickell and Pisani ate up the Kopitar line toinght, along with some help from Marlboro 72.  The fact they chipped in with some goals is pure icing on your Christmas cookies.  
  • Not to be outdone, the third period belonged to Corey Crawford who made some big saves.  Even the goal was a bit of a fluke as it seems like Hammer poked the puck away from Simmonds just as started his shot.  Unfortunately, he was able to hit it with the shaft of his stick (heh) and it chipped over Crawford and in. 
  • Friday's game was a welcome sight but the Hawks still needed a win like tonight's to show it wasn't just a fluke.  That's two big wins in a row over two great teams.  Keep it up boys.

Player of the Game:

This was another team effort - I don't think anyone stood out in particular.  I also want to go to the bar... so you decide. Tell us in the comments.

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