Second To None

Hannah Foslien

The Blackhawks return the favor with a 5-1 beating of the Minesota Wild.

The Blackhawks have eased the angst of their fans, well at least for one night.  We got to see a lot of what we have been waiting for this season.  We saw a perfect penalty kill, a power play goal, Brandon Pirri up on the 2nd line, a three goal lead, no 3rd period collaspe and an easy victory.

The Blackhawks were outplayed for much of the 1st period. In fact, they were out shot 6-1 by the time they were given a power play opportunity 12 minutes into the game.  The problem was that it was the Wild that had the best scoring chance of the ensuing 2 minutes. Patrick Sharp would get the scoring started with his 2nd goal of the season at 17:33. The play was created by Marian Hossa winning a board battle with both Minnesota defensemen, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon.  Hossa got the puck over to Sharp who was nearly below the goal line when he quickly flicked the puck behind Niklas Backstrom.  Johnny Oduya picked up the secondary assist on the play.

The first half of the 2nd period was a bit of a snoozer, but the second half certainly got interesting.  Duncan Keith's lazy play in the neutral zone led to Mikael Granlund setting up Jason Pominville for the 3rd time in 5 periods at 11:27.  It did not take long for the Blackhawks to answer with the first of many great plays by their new 2nd line. Nick Leddy started the play with a slap shot from the blue line.  Patrick Kane scooped up the rebound and took the puck around the net where he found a wide open Sheldon Brookbank.  With Backstrom down and out, Brookbank was able to put the puck into a wide open net for his first goal of the season.  Leddy wan'ts finished making the team that drafted him pay for giving up on him so early.  Leddy would score on the power play at 16:43 after a nice keep in from Brent Seabrook.  Backstorm was a bit too far out of the net to react and Brandon Saad had a nice screen in front of him as well.

The Blackhawks avoided the 3rd period let down we have seen all too often this month and added 2 more goals during the final frame.  Patrick Kane scored his 7th goal of the season 2:37 into the period, all set up from a highlight reel, spin-o-rama pass by Brandon Saad.  Brandon Pirri was credited with the secondary assist.  Saad would make another exceptional play, this time finishing it himself at 8:43.  Duncan Keith made a great lead pass to Saad who got to the front of the net uncontested, where he deked the puck right between the legs of Backstrom.  Jonathan Toews picked up the secondary assist on Saad's 3rd goal of the season.

* Sheldon Brookbank had one of his best games in a Blackhawks sweater last night and his been pretty damn good this year.  He is playing with more confidence now than he did at any point last year.  I think part of the reason for his improvement is finally getting used to a more offensive system.  He spent most of his career playing in defense heavy systems of New Jersey and Anaheim.  He finally looks comfortable playing in a system that wants the defensemen to be more active in the offensive zone as well.  His good play could not have come at a better time considering Michal Rozsival has come down with a bad case of the "sucks" to start the year.

* Nick Leddy was fantastic last night which, of course, prompted many Cam Barker Tweets.  His game got off to rough start with a terrible turnover, in his own zone, that almost led to a Wild goal.  A few moments later he was hit pretty hard by Torrey Mitchell behind his net.  His very next shift he returned the favor a gave Mitchell a good clean hit back.  He had a great 2nd period with his goal and assist and spent the whole game outskating anyone wearing white.  As Mark Lazerus wrote last week, it seems that Leddy's benching during the Stanley Cup Final has lit a fire under him.  I completely agree with what Laz wrote and give Leddy a ton of credit for playing good hockey while pretty much playing with a different partner every night.

* One last thing about the defense; dare I say it's time to split up Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith?  The top pairing's play has been lackluster to say the least the last few outings. Seabrook and Leddy have played good together in the past and Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson can play top pair minutes.  Johnny Oduya will be just fine with Brookival on the 3rd pair.  It worked last year and I think the top duo needs a kick in the pants.

* Jonathan Toews was very vocal after Saturday's loss and questioned his teammates work eithic.  That is all fine and good, but don't follow it up with one of your worst games of the year.  It seems like Tazer was gripping his stick a bit too tight last night and wanted to do everything on his own.  It reminded me a little bit of what we saw out of him in Detroit last spring.

* The penalty kill went a perfect 3 for 3 which will hopefully get the ball rolling in the right direction.  Q is still searching for the right fit to play next to Marcus Kruger.  Brad Mills, Brandon Bollig and Andrew Shaw all got some time on the penalty kill.  Brandon Saad was given over 2 minutes of time while shorthanded, a good chunk of that time occurred with Kruger in the penalty box.  The fowards were pressuring the puck a bit more on the kill which I like to see.  The Hawks have been too passive while on the PK where it looks as if they are just sitting back waiting to get scored on.  Much of their success last year came from putting more pressure on the puck with guys like Kruger and Michael Frolik.

* The power play scored for the 5th straight game, which is great.  They are still passing way too much for my liking.  The Hawks have 10 power play goals in 12 games, which is good considering they only scored 25 in 48 games last season.  If they stop trying to make that extra cute pass and just get the puck to the net, they could have at least 5 more power play goals this year.

* Funny that I didn't see any Tweets about Corey Crawford's paycheck last night.  Crow had himself a really good bounce back game.  He made some huge saves early to keep the Hawks in the game.  The two that stick out the most was right after Nick Leddy's early turnover and a really good save on Torrey Mitchell during the Hawks' first power play.  I got a feeling Crawford starts again tonight with no games until Saturday afternoon.

Player of the Game

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via i.imgur.com

Brandon Saad reminded everyone in Minnesota why he was a Calder finalist last year.  They new 2nd line of Saad, Brandon Pirri and Patrick Kane was great.  I am really excited to see what Kane and Saad can do together.  I would love to see more Saad on the penalty kill as well because why the hell not? Has he given us any reason why he couldn't excel in that role too?

Blackhawks Corsi Numbers

Player Pos ES TOI Total Shots For Total Shots Against Corsi Net Zone Starts Adjusted Corsi
Duncan Keith D 18:10 21 18 +3 +2 +2
Niklas Hjalmarsson D 18:13 16 17 -1 +2 -2
Brent Seabrook D 19:00 25 16 +9 +2 +8
Nick Leddy D 14:20 15 12 +3 +3 +2
Patrick Sharp R 14:07 10 17 -7 +1 -7
Jeremy Morin L 10:03 8 4 +4 +2 +3
Marcus Kruger C 8:36 12 7 +5 -2 +6
Sheldon Brookbank D 9:10 7 11 -4 +3 -5
Jonathan Toews C 15:09 12 19 -7 +1 -7
Brandon Saad L 12:33 20 13 +7 +5 +5
Johnny Oduya D 17:41 14 16 -2 +2 -3
Bryan Bickell L 10:00 8 5 +3 +2 +2
Brandon Pirri C 11:20 15 13 +2 +5 0
Brad Mills C 9:26 9 7 +2 -1 +2
Brandon Bollig L 10:22 12 11 +1 -2 +2
Andrew Shaw C 12:23 10 6 +4 +3 +3
Marian Hossa R 13:33 12 19 -7 0 -7
Patrick Kane R 13:21 16 14 +2 +6 -0

Wild Corsi Numbers

Player Pos ES TOI Total Shots For Total Shots Against Corsi Net Zone Starts Adjusted Corsi
Clayton Stoner D 16:52 18 13 +5 -1 +5
Marco Scandella D 17:09 17 17 0 -6 +2
Mikko Koivu C 14:27 12 11 +1 -1 +1
Zach Parise L 14:38 13 10 +3 -1 +3
Justin Fontaine R 13:21 13 13 0 0 0
Dany Heatley L 12:38 15 13 +2 -2 +3
Torrey Mitchell C 8:51 5 8 -3 -4 -1
Stephane Veilleux L 6:56 5 6 -1 -2 -0
Ryan Suter D 21:22 18 23 -5 -1 -5
Kyle Brodziak C 13:53 12 16 -4 -5 -2
Nino Niederreiter R 12:39 14 18 -4 +2 -5
Matt Cooke L 12:42 13 13 0 -4 +2
Zenon Konopka C 6:52 6 5 +1 -4 +3
Jason Pominville R 10:48 12 12 0 +1 -0
Nate Prosser D 10:39 8 13 -5 -6 -3
Jared Spurgeon D 18:55 14 14 0 -3 +1
Mathew Dumba D 11:45 16 18 -2 +3 -3
Mikael Granlund C 13:05 15 19 -4 0 -4

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