Observations From Section 321 : Save The Last Dance For Me

The Blackhawks score 3 times in the 3rd period to force an epic Game 7, against the Red Wings, on Wednesday night.

If you were to tell me, at the beginning of the year, that the Hawks season would rely on 3rd period goals from Michal Handzus, Bryan Bickell and Micheal Frolik, I would have told you we were in trouble. But that is exactly the kind of season and series this has been. With a dressing room full of stars it was three of the Hawks "role players" who made the difference in a season saving 3rd period comeback. Boy, this series has been fun, hasn't it? Too bad the geniuses in the NHL offices have made sure we won't get too many chances, if any at all, to see it again.

The Blackhawks got the start they needed in Game 6 with a few good shifts early. The Blackhawks suddenly scorching hot power play got an early chance thanks to a textbook interference call on Jakub Kindl at 3:44. It took all of 9 seconds for the Hawks to get one past Jimmy Howard. Marian Hossa was able to clean up a mess in front of Howard after Jonathan Toews took the puck hard to the net. Duncan Keith picked up the secondary assist on Hossa's 5th playoff goal and 2nd of this series. The Wings were able to tie it up at 18:51 with a goal from Patrick Eaves. The goal was a combination of bad rebound control from Corey Crawford and bad defense from Michal Rozsival, who let Eaves go right by him.

The Hawks would get back to back power plays to start off the 2nd period but couldn't convert on either one. At the time you couldn't help but worry that these were missed opportunities that would come back to haunt them. At 10:11 those fears became reality as Joakim Andersson flipped a knuckle puck past Crow from nearly 50 feet out. As much as Edzo wanted to defend the goal on air, it was an inexcusable goal. The neutral ice turnover that started the play didn't help matters much either. So there it was, the Hawks had 20 minutes to save their season. After the Andersson goal, I Tweeted that it was time for the Blackhawks to pick up their goalie, like Crow had done for them many times this season. Thankfully, the Hawks did just that!

Michal Handzus took advantage of Brendan Smith going out for a leisurely skate to tie up the game just 51 seconds into the 3rd period. Handzus was left alone in front of the net, after taking the feed from Niklas Hjalmarsson, and had enough time to write a novel before he put the puck up and over Howard's right shoulder. Bryan Bickell was in the right place at the right time to give the Hawks the lead at 5:48. Bicks was able to get to the dirty area in front of the net and victimize Smith again for the go ahead goal, off a Toews rebound. Marian Hossa picked up the secondary assist on the play. There was some confusion on why the play wasn't blown offside because Toews was clearly in the zone when the puck was brought back in. But, since it was Johan Franzen who brought the puck into the zone and not a member of the Hawks, the play was an offside play. Thanks big guy!

Micheal Frolik put the Hawks up 4-1 after becoming the first player in NHL history to score 2 penalty shot goals in the playoffs. All Blackhawks fans and Cory Schneider's groin remember his first penalty shot from Game 6 in 2011. The breakaway was caused by a Carlo Colaiacovo turnover at his own blue line and then he was called for the slash of Frolik. The Wings got a goal from Damien Brunner to make Chicago fans sweat out the final 51 seconds, but the Hawks held on to bring the series back to the Madhouse one last time.

Now is not the time to gloat, the Hawks have not won anything yet. If you believe that confidence and momentum are the sole factors in victory then the Hawks are going to steamroll the Wings on Wednesday. Most of us know that is probably not going to happen. It's one game, where anything can happen. The ice might be an adventure with warm weather in the forecast and the Rolling Stones bringing their cavalcade of walkers and over priced tickets to the UC tonight. But, if the Hawks continue to roll 4 lines and pressure the younger Wings into mistakes, the comeback will be complete and then we can all gloat away.

* Corey Crawford is money. When he let in the Andersson goal I blurted out "From there? Really??" I would have felt terrible of Crawford's great season would have ended on a goal like that. All the meatballs would have forgotten every great save Crow made and would have spent the entire summer clamoring for every other goalie on the free agent market. But Crow didn't fall apart, like he has in years past, after the soft goal. He answered the bell and made some big saves to keep the score 2-1 at the end of the 2nd period. After last season I was a big Crawford doubter. The way he has rebounded from bad goals, all season long, and his overall play has erased all of these doubts.

* Jimmy Howard has certainly looked human these last two games. Granted he faced 45 shots in Game 5, but giving up 4 goals on just 28 shots is not exactly spectacular. Both Michal Handzus and Michael Frolik made Howard look silly. This should be a concern to Wings fans. Hopefully we seen more of this out of Howard on Wednesday night.

* Bryan Bickell has played himself right out of another Hawks contract. I pretty much knew both Bickell and Viktor Stalberg would be gone after the season, but I held out some hope we could bring Bicks back. His play in this post season is going to get him a big contract in the summer, but it won't be from the Blackhawks due to the salary cap.

* Saw a ton of complaints about the penalty shot call last night. Had the call gone the other way I would have been upset, but the correct call was made. Granted, I have seen a lot more go uncalled but rules are rules. Wings fans wanted to piss and moan about it all night long, but they must have short memories and have forgotten the Stalberg disallowed goal from Game 3. If Wings fans need an outlet for their anger, direct it towards Carlo Colaiacovo for his terrible turnover. Or God forbid your $31 million goalie makes a save on Michael Frolik, not exactly an elite goal scorer.

* Speaking of Frolik, he has developed into one of the best 4th line players in the league. I am sure that is not what he aspired to be after posting back to back 20 goal seasons to start his career, but he is doing all the little things that will keep him employed for a long time.

* For all the grief Jonathan Toews has taken in the national media for his struggles, Pavel Datsyuk has been awfully quiet in this series. He has just one goal and one assist. He has been held to just 14 shots (6 of those came last night) and was held to zero shots twice in this series. The Chicago beat writers and bloggers wrote a lot of articles this past week about the Hawks stars needed to step it up. Those same articles about the Wings should be showing up around Detroit today and tomorrow.

* The Hawks were credited with only 3 giveaways all night. The Wings had 12, and four them were from Jakub Kindl. More of this on Wednesday night please.

Blackhawks Corsi Numbers

Player Pos ES TOI Total Shots For Total Shots Against Corsi Net Zone Starts Adjusted Corsi
Duncan Keith D 19:02 16 14 +2 -2 +3
Niklas Hjalmarsson D 21:50 9 29 -20 -1 -20
Brent Seabrook D 17:18 13 15 -2 -3 -1
Nick Leddy D 9:13 11 7 +4 +1 +4
Patrick Sharp R 14:20 11 12 -1 +2 -2
Marcus Kruger C 10:43 10 12 -2 -6 +0
Jonathan Toews C 16:43 13 17 -4 +2 -5
Brandon Saad L 10:29 8 5 +3 +3 +2
Viktor Stalberg L 7:35 5 3 +2 +3 +1
Michal Handzus C 13:28 8 19 -11 -3 -10
Johnny Oduya D 21:32 10 31 -21 0 -21
Bryan Bickell L 11:34 11 20 -9 0 -9
Michal Rozsival D 11:01 15 10 +5 +3 +4
Dave Bolland C 10:12 8 13 -5 -3 -4
Andrew Shaw C 9:42 9 5 +4 +2 +3
Michael Frolik R 11:29 11 14 -3 -3 -2
Marian Hossa R 14:02 11 16 -5 -2 -4
Patrick Kane R 15:10 12 15 -3 +3 -4

Red Wings Corsi Numbers

Player Pos ES TOI Total Shots For Total Shots Against Corsi Net Zone Starts Adjusted Corsi
Brendan Smith D 14:30 18 7 +11 -2 +12
Jakub Kindl D 15:59 15 19 -4 +3 -5
Justin Abdelkader L 14:54 25 7 +18 +1 +18
Daniel Cleary R 15:10 14 10 +4 +1 +4
Pavel Datsyuk C 17:16 25 9 +16 +3 +15
Gustav Nyquist C 7:48 4 8 -4 -3 -3
Patrick Eaves R 7:51 6 10 -4 0 -4
Drew Miller L 9:39 7 15 -8 +2 -9
Damien Brunner C 9:40 5 9 -4 +1 -4
Cory Emmerton C 8:37 6 12 -6 +2 -7
Kyle Quincey D 14:43 23 11 +12 -2 +13
Carlo Colaiacovo D 13:51 13 18 -5 +3 -6
Henrik Zetterberg L 17:23 17 12 +5 -1 +5
Valtteri Filppula C 14:13 17 9 +8 0 +8
Jonathan Ericsson D 19:26 18 12 +6 -2 +7
Niklas Kronwall D 20:16 16 9 +7 0 +7
Joakim Andersson C 7:31 4 6 -2 -3 -1
Johan Franzen C 17:59 25 7 +18 +3 +17