Well that certainly was fun wasn’t it? The Chicago Blackhawks are scary good right now and are giving their legions of faithful fans reasons to be excited. The Hawks pretty much dominated their game with the Phoenix Coyotes from the opening puck drop until the final horn. The Blackhawks did everything I could have asked for. They addressed Raffi Torres early, and within the rulebook, and then kicked the every living crap out of the Coyotes on the scoreboard.
The 1st period started off with the Hawks looking fresh and skating well. It only took 2:35 seconds for Jamal Mayers to call out Raffi Torres and drop the gloves with Hawks fan’s public enemy number one. I know Mayers does not offer much to this team anymore, but he is a pro’s pro. There was a reason Duncan Keith was so quick to come to his defense in San Jose Tuesday. Jamal set the tone and let Torres, along with the rest of the Coyotes that his actions last April have not been forgotten nor will they be tolerated. The best part of the fight was that it happened on Torres’ first shift of the game. It was taken care of early so both teams can move on and play hockey. But, from this point on only one team on the ice looked like they had any interest in playing hockey and that was the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Hawks started their 1st period barrage of scoring with a great play from their 3rd line. Bryan Bickell moved the puck out of his own zone and started a rush up ice before passing to Andrew Shaw. Shaw showed some good speed and stick handling as he made a great move past Kyle Chipchura at the Yotes blue line. He continued towards the net and made a great pass to Viktor Stalberg, who was trailing on the play, for his third goal of the season.
For the next few minutes it the Coyotes could not keep themselves from going to the penalty box. You would have thought they were the team that was hell bent on getting revenge and losing their focus. The Hawks were able to convert on an extended 5 on 3 with Oliver Ekman-Larson and Derrick Morris both in the box. Patrick Sharp was unable to stuff the puck home, but Jonathan Toews was able to punch the puck over to a wide open Patrick Kane who slammed it into a wide open net. Kaner was far from over in the period.
About 2 ½ minutes later the Blackhawks showed some great passing skill as Sheldon Brookbank fed a long pass to Sharp, who quickly fired the puck across ice to Kane. Once Kane gained the zone, everybody in a red sweater was drawn to him leaving Dave Bolland wide open. Bolland’s one timer past Mike Smith was good for his 4th goal of the year and a 3-0 Hawks lead. For whatever reason, Keith Yandle got a major case of butthurt after this goal, and was given a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct and a game misconduct penalty. Just 34 seconds into the power play, Zbynek Michalek was called for tripping which gave the Hawks their second extended two man advantage of the period. The result was exactly the same as the first 5 on 3, a Patrick Kane goal. The Hawks, again, used their speed to gain the zone and some exceptional passing to cash in. It seemed that all 5 Chicago players touched the puck at some point until Sharp found Kaner wide open at the back door (insert joke here) for his 8th goal of the season.
The first 20 minutes of last night’s game was so much fun to watch. The Hawks were just flying and hitting on all cylinders. The Coyotes were able to convert on a power play early in the 2nd to cut the Hawks lead to 4-1. Martin Hanzal was allowed to camp out in front of Ray Emery and deflected a Radim Vrbata shot by Razor for his 5th goal of the year. Brent Seabrook, who continues to struggle, did absolutely nothing to prevent Hazal from having his way in front of the net. This needs to change and change fast.
The Blackhawks would add two more goals before Phoenix coach Dave Tippett finally had mercy on Mike Smith and yanked him from the game. Jonathan Toews completely undressed Oliver Eckman-Larson at the blue line after shitbag Torres couldn’t figure out which way to skate. Toews scored his 5th goal of the season to along with his assist from the 1st period. It was Bryan Bickell who delivered the kill shot just over two minutes later. Shaw and Stalberg did a fantastic job on the forecheck behind the Phoenix net. This pressure lead to a turnover and an easy goal for Bickell, his 2nd of the year. Torres would add a bullshit and meaningless goal at 18:35 of the 3rd period to end the scoring at 6-2. Bullshit and meaningless, that pretty much sums of the career of Raffi Torres, doesn’t it?
· The Hawks are 9-0-2 and two of their best players, Sharp and Seabrook, have yet to show up. Yes Sharp had 3 assists, to bring his total up to 9, but he is not himself. He seems to have lost his touch. It’s a bizarro world when Viktor Stalberg is finishing plays and Sharp is missing the net.
· Speaking of Sharp and Stalberg, Viktor is going to be so upset when he finds out the goal post is cheating on him with Sharpie.
· Mayers fight with Torres proves that there still is a place for fighting in the game. When done correctly, like it was last night, fighting can serve a purpose. Had that fight not been allowed to take place to put the Torres issue to rest, God only knows what kind of ugliness could have occurred.
· Andrew Shaw seems to have found his groove. He now has one point in each game of this road trip so far with 2 goals and 3 assists. If the 3rd and 4th lines keep producing on the score sheet this is going to be a special year.
· Where was this Mike Smith last April??? He currently has a 7.57 goals against average and a .774 save percentage in less than 5 periods against the Hawks this year. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
· Shane Doan: still a douchebag!
· Speaking of douchebags, apparently Coyotes radio analyst Tyson Nash was at it again last night. He criticized Andrew Shaw for embellishing the crosscheck he received from Derrick Morris in the 1st period. Really? Do you not remember what your assbag goalie did last season? Keep it shut idiot!
The Blackhawks will finally end this road trip Sunday night in Nashville with their first look at the Predators. This game worries me a bit considering how the Preds owned the Hawks last year, especially at the Bridgestone Arena. But, this is a different Hawks team this year so we shall see.