There's a certain thing about rivalry games. It gets to a certain point where you don't even enjoy them anymore. I hate watching the Red Wings play the Blackhawks.. it's pulling teeth the entire 60+ minutes. As a Redskins fan, there's nothing I hate more than a Dallas game. It's the same now with the Canucks. From the opening kickoff or the drop of the puck, the game isn't really all that enjoyable.. it's horrible. Your stomach drops every time the other is in possesion of the puck. Every time the Hawks just miss you're sure that's the one and only chance they had to win it all. The rivals score first in the close game and you're sure you're going to do some anger drinking for the rest of the night...
Then the Blackhawks score 5 unanswered goals and everything ends up just fine and the whiskey you raise in a toast at the end of the night is nothing but pure jubilation.
Such is the case tonight as the Hawks kick off the annual circus trip in the best possible circumstances. They'd won 3 in a row coming into it, sure. But to say they'd played the best competition is a stretch. If the Hawks had truly gotten over their slump, tonight was the night to prove it. The first period was tight with a slight tilt in the Nucks favor. The second opened horribly as one of the Sedins (doesn't matter which) made a pass that only they, Patrick Kane and a few others could make to get the easy tap in for the first goal. Lucky for all of us - Ryan Kessler took the dreaded offensive zone penalty and the suddenly competent power play was able to connect. All 5 Hawks on the ice (including the ever popular 3 defensemen) touched the puck as Monty and Dream Warrior have a nice give and go before Kruger finds a wide open Andrew Brunette who puts home an easy snap shot.
Just over 5 minutes later, Patrick Kane finds a soft spot in the ice and totally flubs a shot. Toews was in the perfect spot in the slot and finds a way to either tie up the unexplicably healthy Sami Salo or just cause enough of a concern that the puck slides past Roberto Luongo... wait... that wasn't Bobby Lou giving up softies? Huh.. couldn't tell.
Sweet Little Bullets From A Pretty Blue Gun:
- For the record, as happy as I was and as much as I cursed the Canucks last night, I was the only member of the triumverent against calling it a DLR game. Call me a buzzkill, but those are still resereved for 5+ goal victories for me.. Vancouver be damned. I still watched the video though while writing this...
- Saying that though - it was pretty sweet to see the White Flaggers empty out of their arena early... I hope the downtown area got the plywood boards up in time. (I know Fels called a truce on riot jokes in the last preview but I didn't get to make one yet, so sue me)
- An easy way to not worry about giving up a power play goal... don't take any penalties. Or at least don't get caught. Of course the Hawks proabably did something illegal in the 60 minutes of play - they were just lucky enough not to do it in front of anyone with a whistle. The Nucks themselves were on that lucky side on Sunday when they played the Islanders.
- The Hawks did play a remarkably balanced and controlled game though - even after going down a goal there didn't seem to be any of the panic that crept into the game last year. They kept up their game plan and even improved upon it.
- I know I mentioned this in the last wrap.. but holy fuck is Nick Leddy fast. I made a Star Trek 4 reference at the bar when he used the slingshot maneuver to catapult himself up the ice for a rush in the second. I stand by it.
- The bar I was at (aka The Whirlaway) was filled with a surprising number of women for some lady's birthday party, so I was on my best behavior - I feel like I deserve a medal for not yelling "Bieksa is a fucking bitch" even once despite the urge every time I saw his ugly face on the TV, like I normally do.
- Steve Montador? Hack wasn't kidding with that "whoever Hossa is skating with" joke. Great job by Monty to be in the right place but Hossa's patience to hold the puck and circle back a bit to find the streaking Montador (streaking monty?) is what makes that play. I'm still not quite sure how the puck found its way in.. but god bless it.
- Side note - don't google image search for "naked mr. burns" if you're at work. Evidently cartoon porn is way more popular than I would have thought.
- The loss of Brent Seabrook was noticeable but not damning. Steve Montador was a solid fill-in but the Hawks still had trouble breaking up the Canucks cycle.. but that happens even with Biscuit in the line up.
- Frolik decided to emulate Biscuit's adventure into the boards. Attempting to gain a breakaway, Fro was knocked off balance and his momentum carried him directly into the corner where he tried to stand up but slammed awkwardly into the boards. No penalty on the play, just unfortunate. Fro didn't return to the game.
- After a couple sub-par games - Corey Crawford was back in great form tonight. The one goal against was hardly his doing and he remained solid in the net and broke up several chances from the Nucks including a few breakaways and odd man rushes. He also didn't let the spear in the groin from one of the Sedins (doesn't matter which) knock him off his game.
- Patrick Sharp misplayed a puck on the blue line while he was playing point on the power play and it directly led to a breakaway for the Canucks. No matter how many times this happens, Q will insist on keeping him there.
- Any one else know Daniel Carcillo got a penalty with 0 seconds left in the third? Way to keep up those PIM buddy.
- Goal differential between the two teams is now even for the season - Suck it Vancouver
Player of the Game:
Tough one to really choose - Toews had another solid game and a goal with an assist... so did Kane. Even Montador kept his production up with another two points. Corey Craword was solid and didn't let in any softies. However, It was Marian Hossa with the helper in the nail in the coffin plus two others. He's Marian Hossa, you're on the ice with him, they're not.