Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The Blackhawks fall to the Minnesota Wild 3-2, in a shootout but remain atop the NHL with 13 points.
Last's night game between the Blackhawks and the Wild reminded me a lot of Sunday's game versus the Red Wings. Minnesota was the team who played the night before, just the Hawks on Sunday, but they started off the game like they were the fresh team. Matt Cullen was able to put back a Devin Setoguchi rebound at 1:30 for a early Wild lead. Rookie Mikael Granlund picked up the secondary assist on Cullen's first goal of the year. It did not take the Hawks very long to get themselves back into the game. Andrew Shaw finally made an appearance with his first goal of the year at 5:14. The play was made possible by Bryan Bickell doing what he needs to do more often, going hard to the net. He made a charge out of the corner and found an open Shaw for the easy goal. Patrick Kane tallied his 8th assist of the season on the play as well. A minute and a half later, Jonathan Toews flicked a wrist shot at the goal and it bounced its way between the legs of starting goaltender Josh Harding. Marian Hossa assisted on the captain's 4th goal of the year. It was at this point Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo pulled Harding and put in Niklas Backstrom. It was a very curious move at the time but, in hindsight, it saved the game for the Wild.
The 2nd period started about as well as the 1st did for the Blackhawks. Douche canoe Cal Clutterbuck redirected a Tom Gilbert shot past Crawford at 0:59 to tie the game at 2. Clutterbuck played his role as the villain perfectly by saying "nobody likes Chicago" in a pregame interview. Even tough it was in a futile attempt to pretend there is a Hawks/Wild rivalry you are still a clown. At this point of the game the Hawks were being out shot 16-7, but that would change. Much like what happened Sunday, fatigue starting to set in on the Wild and the Hawks out played them the final 35 minutes of regulation. After the Clutterbuck goal, the Blackhawks held a 25-9 shot advantage on the Wild, including the overtime period.
Even though the Hawks were the better, fresher team the tired team prevailed in the end, just like the Hawks did against the Wings. The game was decided by a skills competition, which a I hate. Zach Parise scored on a great move and then Toews and Cullen scored on goals shot directly at the goaltenders. The shootouts suck! I would rather bring ties back, or least make a regulation win worth 3 points,but that's a discussion for a whole other time. The Blackhawks have 13 points in their first 7 games. In a 48 game season you have to be thrilled with this start.
* NBC Sports did a real piss poor job last night. There is no rivalry between the Hawks and the Wild. The Minnesota/Chicago rivalry died when Norm Green moved the Stars to Dallas. Stop trying to force something down our throats that isn't there. Bringing up Harding's MS as a possible reason for him getting pulled so early was shitty too. And shut the fuck up about Shattuck St Mary's! We get it, a lot of good hockey players went there.
* Brandon Saad is here to stay. Sure he doesn't have a point yet but he is doing everything else besides score, which will come. He is forechecking and back checking well. He is using his size and speed to draw penalties. He is doing all the little things and I am really excited about his upside.
* The Hawks penalty kill continues to shine. They killed off a 5 on 3 for nearly a minute and a half in the 1st period. They were bailed out by an amazing Bobby Orr-esque save by Corey Crawford. Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger have to stop taking penalties because they are too valuable on the PK unit.
* Did you notice the common themes of both Minnesota goals? Dave Bolland loses a defensive zone faceoff and then Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson stand around and forget to cover anybody going to the net. If Bolly wants to be a legit #2 center he has to do a better job at defensive zone draws.
* Mark this day down on your calendars because I am about to give Brandon Bollig some credit. Zenon Konopka tried to engage Bollig into a silly fight late in the 1st period. Brandon did the right thing by skating away. Is this a sign that he is learning exactly what his role should be? We shall see.
* Can someone please tell me why Q is the only person on the entire planet that doesn't see that Patrick Sharp blows at the shootout? Even Shaprie knows he sucks at it! There are plenty of options on this team, Sharp should not be one of them.
* I'm pretty sure, as a kid, Eddie Olczyk used to hide pictures of hockey players with their sticks on the ice under his mattress instead of a Playboy.
The road trip continues tomorrow night in Vancouver with our old friends the Canucks. Should be a fun one considering the hot mess the goalie situation has turned into out there!