What a nice sendoff for an eight game marathon road trip. As was pointed out in tonight's Indian, while many in the mainstream media (aside from Steve Rosenbloom and Dan Bernstein) were getting a little itchy as a result of the last two games resulting in losses for the Men Of Four Feathers, we the vanguard of Blackhawks Nation remained level headed, and for good reason. It took extraordinary anomalies to give the Hawks one point out of their last four, and we knew that water would find its own level. The Hawks proved that right off the bat tonight when they quickly converted a Mike Commodore turnover just inside the Blackhawks blue line into a tally at the other end. Niklas Hjalmarsson knifed the puck ahead to VERSTEEG!, who made a hell of a read in seeing Brian Campbell as the late man while still showing shot, and Campbell labeled a perfect shot past Mathieu Garon just a pube over a minute into the game. Throughout the remainder of the period, the Hawks carried the play outshooting the Jackets 12 to 5 in the first, with Cristobal Huet rarely being seriously tested.
The Jackets came out in the second with a little bit more piss and vinegar for the first few shifts, but it wasn't sustainable. Eventually the tide turned, with a couple of prolonged shifts in the Columbus end, most notably nearly a minute of sustained possession by the Toews line in the middle of the frame, but they wouldn't cash in on their numerous chances. Columbus did have a golden opportunity on a redirection from Rick Nash on a rare errant pass from Niklas Hjalmarsson which Huet turned aside and started the transition the other way. Once again, it would be the Madden line who would tally, as Dustin Byfuglien unleashed an EMP blast (best gun in movie history in Eraser) on the rush off a feed from John Madden and Versteeg to give the Hawks a 2-0 cushion after 40 minutes.
Similarly to the second period, Columbus came out with a bit of jump in their step, throwing numerous attempts at Huet in the early going, all of which he turned aside. And once again, the ice would tilt in favor of the Hawks, and they would eventually cash in on some excellent board work from Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, who fed Duncan Keith on his career high 10th goal of the year. Cruise control from there on out. Hawks win 3-0.
- All four lines generated significant stretches of sustained pressure tonight, which is tough for any team to handle. We even saw a one-man, coast-to-coast rush from Tomas Kopecky!
- Huet was very solid if not spectacular, making 24 saves tonight, often times the save he needed to make, none bigger than the one on Nash. As Killion pointed out earlier, while Cris has pooped his pampers a couple times this year, he's always come back strong in the follow up game, and tonight was no exception.
- Hjalmarsson was a shot blocking machine tonight, particularly in the third. His being rewarded with the second star of the game was well-earned.
- Dustin Byfuglien was everywhere tonight, and while the Hawks are still excellent on his out-to-lunch nights, they're nigh unstoppable when he gives a shit.
- While I understand what Ben Eager was trying to do on his charging call after Hammer got rung up in the corner, he has to pick his spots better and not be so obvious. This is what is going to happen more and more frequently when teams realize they can't beat the Hawks at hockey so they're going to start taking runs, and the Hawks need to keep their heads and make them pay in a smarter fashion.
- What the fuck was up with the ultra-close Comcast camera shots in the third? There were numerous times when the camera man lost the puck, and the rapid zooms in and out were nauseating. Please stop this, and keep a consistent panoramic view of the rink, powers that be.
- Let us know what you think of the new format of breaking up the thread in the comments. Tonight was the pilot program for it. Did you like it better this way, or just to keep one giant brachiosaurus of a thread?