The Blackhawks end the Circus Trip with a quality 5-2 win over the Coyotes. Six straight victories on the west coast swing is nothing to sneeze at. Foley touched on it at the end of the broadcast, but this team finds ways to win in all situations. This back and forth affair against a solid Pacific Rim opponent shows that the Blackhawks have the balance and depth it takes to win in this league.
You can’t have a better road period than the Blackhawks did in the 1st. The forechecking, crisp passing, and finish was aided by the sluggish, sloppy start by the Coyotes. Just 49 seconds into the contest, a brain fart TOO MUCH MAN penalty put the Blackhawks on the advantage. A mere 24 seconds later, Derek Morris would draw a holding penalty to make it a 5 on 3. Quality puck movement would result in a Marian Hossa blast that Patrick Kane tipped passed Mike Smith making it 1-0 Blackhawks before people could finish their first beer. The pressure kept coming as the Hawks brought the fury on the forecheck. Halfway through, Andrew Shaw would trickle one past Smith to make it 2-0. Definitely one that Smith would like to have back. Not sure why he tried to cover it with his blocker instead of kicking it to the corner, but I'm sure it made Shaw smirk considering the history between the two. The Blackhawks weren't finished as two minutes later, Patrick Kane would set up offensive sensation Niklas Hjalmarsson who snapped one passed Smith's blocker. Filthy pass from Kane, who slid it between Martin Hanzal's legs right on Hjammer's tape.
It seemed like the teams went Freaky Friday and switched personalities in the 2nd period as it was Phoenix controlling possession and creating chances. The Blackhawks couldn't sustain pressure and the Coyotes hemmed them in the defensive zone for a few long shifts. Six minutes in, Michael Stone would bank one off the boards right onto Rob Klinkhammer's stick who pushed it passed Raanta. Credit where credit is due, a real nifty play by Stone knowing his own rink. Raanta was completely fooled and Klink got position on Leddy. Then the sloppiness set in when Oduya and Hjalmarsson took 2 minors apiece in rapid succession. Hjalmarsson got tagged for a slash and an unsportsmanlike when he started yapping instead of keeping his Swedish meatball hole shut. Gotta be smart when your team is already reeling, Hjammer. Hanzal would score on the power play to put the Coyotes down 3-2. They kept the energy up, and the Blackhawks were lucky to go to the second intermission still up a goal.
But the Blackhawks would rebound to start the third. Lots of zone time and lots of rubber heading towards the Coyotes net. Quenneville's promise of deep dish pizza waiting on the tarmac in exchange for one more good road period paid dividends. The Blackhawks logged the first 10 Corsi events of the 3rd and were outshooting the Yotes 7-3 when Bollig dented the twine halfway through the period. A really good play from the fourth liners on the marker. Smith made a good reception on the blue line, got a fortunate bounce on a pass to Bollig who wired it home as Kruger crashed the net. Superb. Phoenix didn't get many good chances after that, and Marian Hossa would bury an empty netter with 56 seconds to go. 5-2. Come on home boys, leave the desert dogs where they lie.
Raanta, Kaner, Paul Walker and More
- Let's begin with Antti Raanta and his second start. He was okay. His rebound control wasn't stellar, and he slides around a lot. Not much he could do about the two goals though, and he looks like a good option at back up. On a positive note, he saw the puck real well through traffic. This is something that he has really had to work on coming from the larger, less congested international ice. Khabi is going to get another shot because of his paycheck, but Raanta feels like the real deal if needed.
- If you're among the people that hate Bollig, remember that Paul Bissonnette exists. Pretty sure that the most memorable thing in his 2:32 TOI was taking an icing.
- One trend over the last two games that I don't like is teams employing the "Beat the Hell out of Kane" strategy. Both Dallas and Phoenix took some runs at him with middling success. It's something that goes in and out of vogue as teams try to figure out strategies to stop him. It's never worked in the past, but this is an area where Bickell's big toothless body is missed even though I don't believe in that shit.
- All four lines scored tonight. Depth on depth. Strong game from Ben Smith again tonight. Finished a +4 in Corsi, tops amongst forwards. It's going to be real interesting to see who gets scratched when Bicks comes back. Smith's penalty killing might just keep him in the line up. Unfortunately, that would put Pirri on the outside looking in.
- Obligatory Shane Doan is a Golgothan note.
- Both Keith and Seabrook turned in stellar performances tonight. The top pairing is something that has been shaky at times this year, but that wasn't the case against the Yotes. Keith picked up two more assists tonight pushing him up to 3rd in the league.
- Toews and Handzus got porked at the dot. 7 of 18 for Toews and 3 of 11 for Zus. Aberration, for sure.
- The big social media story of the night was the death of Paul Walker. Whatever you feel about the Fast and Furious movies, 40 is too young for anyone to go. Check out Running Scared if you want to celebrate his life. That movie is awesome, and the best acting job of his career.
Attach The Stone of Triumph To...
Patty Kane, you dirty dog
I had some trouble putting up the Corsi stats that Greg usually posts, so I'm just going to have to direct you to Extra Skater tonight. I'll have it sorted out by next time.
Dallas comes to the UC on Tuesday as the Blackhawks look for their 7th straight W. Later.