Varlamov And The Avs Have The Hawks Number

Doug Pensinger

The Avalanche pick up their fourth win versus the Blackhawks as Semyon Varlamov continues to play well against Chicago.

Once again the Blackhawks lose to the Avalanche and once again, they probably deserved a better fate.  A soft goal, and dumb penalty and a hot goaltender helped Colorado move ahead of the Hawks for second place in the Central Division.  Queue the panic and downers.

The 1st period was a goaltender showcase. The Avalanche seemed to get the majority of the chances in the first half of the period.  Antti Raanta was able to stone Nathan MacKinnon from point blank range early on after Duncan Keith duffed on a clearing attempt.  Gabriel Landeskog had golden opportunity in front of the net after Patrick Kane tried an ill advised stick handle through traffic, but Raanta made the stop.  The Hawks seemed to get momentum during a mid period power play.  The Hawks had great movement and generated three shots on goal including a great rebound chance for Jonathan Toews but Semyon Varlamov made the stop. Brad Malone gave the Avs a lead after he chipped the puck to himself at center ice and scored from below the right faceoff circle a'la Kane in Game 6 in Philadelphia.  It was a weak goal to give up after a number of quality saves throughout the period.

Matt Duchene doubled the Avs' lead just 19 seconds into the 2nd period.  A Jamie McGinn shot was blocked and the puck bounced right to Duchene who went top shelf up and over Raanta.  Patrick Kane would get the Hawks on the board with his 29th goal of the season about eight minutes later.  Kane waited for Jan Hedja to lean towards the center of ice before going right around him and shooting a backhand shot over Varlamov.  The Blackhawks would seem to have the Avs on their heels for the final few minutes of the 2nd, but went into the intermission still down by a goal.

The momentum carried over into the 3rd period as the Blackhawks dictated the play and had a few quality chances.  All of that momentum was killed by a dumb, late hit by Andrew Shaw on Marc-Andre Cliche.  30 seconds later Marcus Kruger got called for delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass.  Ryan O'Reilly scored his 25th goal of the season on the two man advantage by cashing in on an Antti Raanta rebound.  The puck found the stick of Brandon Saad, during a scrum in front of the net, and he got the Hawks within one at 17:43.  Saad and the Hawks and a couple more chances in the final moments but could not get the equalizer.

This is usually the spot of my recaps where you would find the bullets points.  I am skipping them to go straight into a rant, so bare with me.  Joel Quenneville needs to take some heat in the main stream media for this one.  Even though he was pretty good, I still don't know why Raanta got the start tonight.  I would have thought the game in Buffalo would have been the perfect chance for him to play.  That decision did not doom the Hawks.  Even though he gave up a garbage goal, the Hawks could have been down two or three goals within the first seven minutes of the game if it wasn't for the play of Raanta.

What I am really pissed off about is why in the hell is Sheldon Brookbank playing forward in the biggest game of the regular season so far??? Stan Bowman trades for actual NHL forwards like Peter Regin and Marc-Pierre Bouchard but we get to watch Brookbank skate with Bryan Bickell and Michal Hanzdus against a team whose speed has caused the Hawks fits all season long.  Brilliant! I keep hearing that Brookbank is going to get sent down if and when Teuvo Teravainen gets to Chicago.  Well if that's the case why not send him down now and call up Jeremy Morin?  I know AHL scoring doesn't automatically translate to the NHL (see Brandon Pirri) but at least Morin gives you a chance for some offense.

And for all you gloom and doom Hawks fans out there, relax.  Regular season hockey and playoff hockey are not the same beast.  Yes, winning the division would be great but it is not the end of the world if the Hawks don't.  There is still a month to go with just five points separating the Hawks, Blues and Avs; a lot can happen.  There is a good chance these two teams will meet in the first round and that isn't something to be afraid of.  The Hawks have yet to be out worked by the Avalanche this year.  The biggest difference in the season series has been Semyon Varlamov.  I seriously doubt he can keep up his .966 save % through a seven game playoff series.  I will still put the Blackhawks up against any team come playoff time and take my chances.  This is a team built for the post season, so let's pull back the panic for a bit.

Player

Pos.

ES TOI

CF%

CF% Rel

CF% Close

CF%Rel

Close

O/D st%

Keith, Duncan

D

19:15

41.5

-19.4

33.3

-26.7

50.0

Hjalmarsson, Niklas

D

16:30

62.1

15.5

53.3

12.0

70.0

Seabrook, Brent

D

16:32

41.0

-19.4

40.0

-12.6

50.0

Leddy, Nick

D

11:36

57.1

7.1

60.0

16.4

100

Sharp, Patrick

R

16:46

60.6

14.3

52.9

12.2

100

Brookbank, Sheldon

L

10:41

61.9

13.4

50.0

6.3

0.0

Kruger, Marcus

C

04:33

33.3

-19.8

0.0

-48.8

100

Toews, Jonathan

C

18:15

58.8

11.7

53.3

12.0

100

Saad, Brandon

L

15:01

52.0

0.4

58.3

17.7

100

Versteeg, Kris

R

07:54

41.7

-11.7

20.0

-28.7

83.3

Handzus, Michal

C

08:55

33.3

-23.2

27.3

-24.2

87.5

Oduya, Johnny

D

16:23

64.0

17.2

60.0

22.1

70.0

Smith, Ben

R

08:20

52.4

0.9

36.4

-12.1

0.0

Bickell, Bryan

L

10:39

36.8

-19.0

28.6

-20.1

71.4

Rozsival, Michal

D

12:14

46.7

-6.1

50.0

5.0

100

Bollig, Brandon

L

10:30

60.0

10.7

40.0

-7.1

27.3

Shaw, Andrew

C

14:53

52.4

0.9

54.5

12.1

100

Kane, Patrick

R

20:25

54.3

4.3

55.6

17.1

100

Player

Pos.

ES TOI

CF%

CF% Rel

CF% Close

CF%Rel

Close

O/D st%

Holden, Nick

D

15:54

54.5

10.1

50.0

-8.3

10.0

Barrie, Tyson

D

13:42

62.5

19.6

75.0

32.1

66.7

Guenin, Nate

D

11:28

50.0

2.1

60.0

7.1

61.5

Johnson, Erik

D

19:33

34.4

-22.0

38.5

-22.8

14.3

Mitchell, John

C

15:52

57.6

15.0

50.0

-7.7

30.0

Hejda, Jan

D

17:52

32.2

-24.9

33.3

-26.7

12.5

Duchene, Matt

C

14:48

35.5

-19.9

53.3

-1.8

0.0

McGinn, Jamie

L

13:13

34.5

-20.7

57.1

3.8

0.0

Cliché, Marc-Andre

R

10:21

40.0

-10.0

25.0

-32.5

20.0

Talbot, Maxime

C

11:59

43.8

-5.5

25.0

-32.5

20.0

Carey, Paul

C

05:59

66.7

20.5

85.7

37.1

83.3

MacKinnon, Nathan

C

15:12

57.6

15.0

50.0

-7.7

30.0

Malone, Brad

C

07:09

75.0

29.4

85.7

37.1

71.4

McLeod, Cody

L

11:03

47.4

-1.2

42.9

-13.9

36.4

Bordeleau, Patrick

L

06:53

57.1

9.6

66.7

14.0

75.0

Benoit, Andre

D

16:40

57.9

17.1

60.0

10.0

10.0

O'Reilly, Ryan

C

14:25

33.3

-22.8

53.3

-1.8

0.0

Landeskog, Gabriel

L

15:27

61.3

20.2

52.9

-2.6

30.0

*all data collected from www.nhl.com and www.extraskater.com

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