Let me start off this recap off by saying how great it was to be back at the United Center last night. It felt so good to be back in one of my favorite places in the in world, section 321, row 16. The anthem not only gave me goosebumps but it also erased the anger of having to wait to January 22nd for my first home game. I even didn't mind the obnoxious 22 year drunks in my row, well at least for the majority of the game. The best part of the night was the Blackhawks rewarded their patient and loyal fans with a big win over a hated rival. This was a huge win considering 8 of the next 9 games are on the road.
The first period was a little bit odd. You could tell the Blues still have a bit of "lockout rust" to shake off. They were a bit sloppy and coughing up pucks left and right, very uncharacteristic of a Ken Hitchcock coached team. The pinnacle of the St Louis' sloppy play is when they gave a 3 on 0 rush from the blue line in. I couldn't remember the last time I have seen that in a professional hockey game. Patrick Kane took advantage of the major gaffe and scored his 2nd goal of the year at 7:20. Patrick Sharp and Nick Leddy assisted on the goal. The 1st period was one of the least physical periods I have ever seen in a Hawks/Blues tilt.
The Blackhawks were able to turn a Ian Cole Interference penalty into a 2-0 lead at the 8:21 mark of the middle frame. Brett Seabrook provided the slightest deflection, with a fly by on Duncan Keith's shot from the point, for his first goal of the season. Jonathan Toews was credited with the secondary assist.
Viktor Stalberg gave the Hawks a 3-0 lead when he sniped a beautiful wrist shot past Brian Elliot. Bryan Bickell and Johnny Oduya assisted on Stalberg's 2nd tally of the year. The Blues were able to get that goal back rather quickly to regain some momentum. Andy McDonald was able to sneak a wrist shot past Corey Crawford for his 2nd goal of the year at 4:40. Niklas Hjalmarsson took an ill advised Holding penalty with 5:30 left in regulation. Needless to say this was a huge penalty kill for a unit that, up to this point, was perfect on the season. T.J. Oshie, my most hated Blues player, was able to put back a David Backes rebound for his 2nd goal of the year. It was at this point things got pretty tense but the Hawks were able to hold on for the 3-2 win. This is the Blackhawks first 3-0-0 start since 1972-73.
- Corey Crawford looked like a real #1 goalie last night. He made some huge stops when he had to. He absolutely robbed Vladimir Tarasenko from point blank range in the 1st period. He had to make a couple of key saves after the Blues cut the game down to 3-2. Crow seems much more confident and quick in the net. But, please for the love of money, stop trying to play all those pucks behind the net! His play should put to bed the Roberto Luongo rumors that have been flying around. Besides after last night, I think the Edmonton Oilers will be doing all that can to acquire the services of Bobby Lu.
- I really like what is going on with the third line right now. They have scored goals in each of the first three games. Viktor Stalberg made a fantastic play on his goal last night. He took advantage of Chris Stewart, a slower forward, who was caught in no man's land and sniped a sick wrister between his legs and over Elliot's left shoulder. A couple more plays like that and it will be time to come to Mr. Stalberg with some new paper.
- We are still seeing the clown shoes on the power play but not nearly as often as last year. There has been better zone entry and movement once the puck has entered the zone. The most surprising thing about Keith's shot, that lead to Seabrook's goal, was that he didn't hit any shin pads!
- Nick Leddy continues his solid play. He made a few good plays by shielding the puck with his body and I even saw him take a guy off the puck behind his own net. He also as an assist in all three games this year.
- Why was Jamal Mayers scratched and Brandon Bollig dressed?
- Speaking of Bollig, I figured once Ryan Reaves was scratched we wouldn't get the pointless fight out of him. Nope, we still got one. At least he dropped the gloves with Chris Stewart a somewhat valuable player for St Louis to lose for 5 minutes.
- The Hawks seemed to get lazy at times especially in the 2nd period. There were two extended shifts, due to quite of few icing calls that kept the defensemen on the ice for way too long. They were very lucky to escape those shifts unscathed.
- One last thing about Crawford, he is now 7-1-1 in his career against the Blues. Not too shabby.
- A quick note to the music director, Fun as your intro music?? This needs to change immediately!!