That my friends, was a paddlin' indeed.
During the first period it seemed like the Hawks were having a bit of trouble getting things going. They grabbed the lead when Troy Brouwer was left alone in front of the net on the Hawks first power play but it didn't seem like somthing you'd want to rest on. It was obvious the winning team would need more than just one goal that resulted after an even first. The shots on goal were tied and if not for a few great saves by Huet, it could have been tied. Then the Flames started the second on a power play and wasted only 14 seconds before Olli Jokinen snuck the puck past Cristobal Huet. With the game tied we started to settle in for nail-biting close game.
And then Hammer absolutely ruined Rene Bourque.
We'll set aside the fact that Niklas Hjalmarsson may have left his feet to make the hit (haven't seen a good enough replay of it yet) because this was the breaking point in this game. Nigel Dawes came to defend Bourque (who didn't really skate again after the hit) and was given 2 minutes for roughing. Shockingly, the Blackhawks scored on that power play too and didn't look back. Even Dustin Byfuglien decided it was just about time for him to do something again to keep himself from getting benched and had a nice takeaway and goal. Don't expect to see him again for at least 6 more weeks. After Hammer's hit the Flames wilted and died - We didn't see anything close to the game we were expecting.
How good were the Hawks in the second period? They finally fucking scored on a 5 on 3... that's how good. They were something like 0 for 5 with the two extra men but had continually been shut down until tonight. The Hawks exploded for the most goals of any period this year, got their first player with a multi-goal game (VERSTEEG!), were 80% on the power play, and finished with 13 players getting at least a single point... There's just about nothing poor to say about the men of four feathers in this game. Everything went as well as you could hope.
Well - I guess Seabrook could have made Dion Phaneuf bleed. That would have completed the night. In case you needed any more evidence that this frankenstein is one of the biggest shitbirds in the league, look no further than picking a fight with someone while wearing a visor. Even the zebras called bullshit on that move and gave him a phantom 2 minutes for roughing. So VERSTEEG! followed it up by scoring his second of the night.
Oh, and as is being pointed out - Hossa is almost ready to make the Blackhawks even more dangerous.
- The Flames ought to be ashamed for leaving Brouwer alone on the crease for so long. It's one thing to ignore a player while the puck is being cycled around the zone but I think Troy got three shots off before netting the final one without so much as being breathed on by a Flames player.
- Seabrook was a force all over the ice tonight.
- Has Colin Fraser ever won a fight? Dude, you're a center and I think we've seen the end of the Ebbett experiment - I think your spot is safe at least until Dave Bolland comes back.
- This was the first game of the year where the Hawks were outshot but still won. They also lost the face off battle (EDIT: Just kidding - they actually won 53% of the faceoffs, I misread)
Player Of The Game:
Fuck.. how do you choose? Duncan Keith had three assists and was the usual monster in the Hawks end. Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist on his 21st birthday (first carbomb is on me, kid). Kris Versteeg had 2 goals on the power play. Patrick Sharp added two points. Hammer changed the tempo of the game with a huge hit on a player I'm quickly growing to hate (and added an assist). And of course Cristobal Huet had a brilliant game making big stops to keep the Hawks in it when it was close and stayed focused when it got out of control - this was also his best SV% (.964) in a non-shutout game.
So we're going to let you pick. Time for the first poll in a while.