USA TODAY Sports
The Blackhawks grind out a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks to set the all time record for most games to start a season with a point, at 17.
It wasn't the prettiest of games but the end result was exactly what the Hawks were looking for. As the clock hit triple zeros on Friday night, the Blackhawks wrote themselves into the NHL history book. Going 14-0-3 is extremely impressive, especially when 10 of the first 12 games are the road. Not to be a "Debbie Downer" but regular season records don't mean squat without that big silver thingy at the end of the season. Just ask Hank and Dank and their traveling circus of assbags. The last two teams to have starts nearly as good as the 2013 Blackhawks, the 84-85 Oilers and the 06-07 Ducks, both won the Stanley Cup. Hopefully that trend continues and the last 17 playoffs games of the years are as much fun as the first 17 games of the regular season have been.
The Blackhawks had some chances to grab an early lead but could not take advantage of them. Marian Hossa had all the time in the world in front of the net but tried to go between Antti Niemi's legs despite the entire top half of the net being wide open. A pair of defensemen had prime scoring chances but Johnny Oduya hit the crossbar and Michal Rozsival, who was wide open out in front, shot the puck wide of the net. It was Patrick Marleau who gave Blackhawks fans a flashback to 2011-12 when he broke the scoreless tie with just 14 seconds left in the period. The Hawks forwards were slow getting out of their own zone which lead to a 3 on 2 rush going the other way. Joe Thornton got a shot on goal from the left wing but Ray Emery could not control the rebound. Marleau, who never stopped skating towards the net, just got the puck under Emery's pad for his 11th goal of the year. Joe Pavelski was credited with the secondary assist.
Viktor Stalberg tied the game at one with a trick shot at 16:40 of the 2nd period. Stalberg lead the rush down the left side and got below the goal line where he looked to pass to either Andrew Shaw or Patrick Kane, who were both heading towards the crease. The puck hit off the inside of Niemi's left leg and went into the net for Viktor's 4th goal of the year. Kane and Oduya picked up assists on the play.
Early in the 3rd period, the Blackhawks found themselves on their 3rd of 5 penalty kills on the night thanks to a Brent Seabrook tripping call. Rozvial picked off an errant centering pass and got the puck ahead to Brandon Saad as he was skating towards center ice. Once gaining the Sharks zone he showed some great patience with the puck. He had Niemi shading towards his right side so he shot all the way to his left for his first career shorthanded goal. He was aided on the play by Brent Burns being very uninterested in playing defense. The Hawks were able to make the 2-1 lead hold to put themselves in the history books and sweep the regular season series from San Jose.
* The Blackhawks penalty kill was fantastic once again. They killed off all 5 penalties they were faced with on the night. The PK seemed to spark the Hawks late in the 2nd period and Stalberg's goal came immediately following a successful kill of a Dave Bolland penalty. Some people say your goaltender is the most important penalty killer. Last night, that statement held true as Ray Emery stopped all 10 shots he saw while the Sharks had the man advantage. The Hawks PK unit has now killed off 88.7% of their penalties which puts them 3rd in the league only behind Boston and Ottawa.
* The Hawks centers, as a whole, were ok at the dot. Jonathan Toews, per usual was the best in the face off circle winning 79% of his draws. Dave Bolland had a good night, before leaving the game with an upper body injury, as won 6 of his 10 draws. He was 2 of 3 in his defensive zone which is very good. Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw were not very good. Kruger was 6/16 (38%) and Shaw was 3/11 (27%). If Bolland is going to miss an extended period of time these two are going to have to improve their numbers at the dot.
* Who needs Daniel Carcillo when you have Andrew Shaw to lead the team in the shithead department? His hit on Joe Pavelski, with just 10 seconds to go, was reckless, dirty and stupid. He has his moments when he looks like he can be a very valuable weapon, like the shootout on Tuesday, and then he pulls crap like this. If he wants to stay in the NHL he going to have learn to stop making such dumb and selfish plays.
* It looked for a moment, at the start of the 2nd period, the Q was ready to throw the team through his line blender when he started Carcillo off with the 1st line. I was afraid something like this might happen, but fortunately it was only a quick change for a shift or two before Saad was back on the top line. When Bolland left the game Q used both Kruger and Shaw as the 2nd line center, with Kruger getting the majority of the reps. If Bolland is to miss time I would guess it would be Frogger who gets plugged in between Kane and Sharp. If a center from Rockford, like Brandon Pirri, gets called up then we know that Bolly's injury is more than just a hangover from the Swedish House Mafia concert.
*Sharks coach Todd McLellan pretty much threw Brett Burns under the bus for his lack of defense on Saad's game winning goal. When asked if Burns should have been more aggressive on the play he replied "Absolutely. The average hockey fan can tell you that." LOL. Maybe it will be Burns sent packing instead of Dan Boyle as the rumor mill is suggesting.
*Antti Niemi now has 3 regulation losses on the season, all to the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Hawks can add to their record starting tomorrow when the Columbus Blue Jackets make their first visit to the United Center Sunday night. The Jackets have only 12 points which is worst in the Western Conference. The only team with less points are the Washington Capitals with 11. Wait, the Caps are worse than the BJ's??? Now that is funny!!