Chicago Blackhawks Week in Review: January 27 – February 2
Chicago Blackhawks: Week Two
The second week of the season brought a lot of ups and downs to the Chicago Blackhawks. On the one hand, they made franchise history. On the other hand, they were handed their first loss. They met two old foes at both the beginning and the end of the week, vanquishing one but falling to the other.
Sunday was the first meeting of the Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings, and Nick Leddy saved the day with a laser shot for a 3-2 overtime win and the best starting record in the team’s history. By Wednesday, they were on the road for their semi-annual road trip and were handed their first loss by the Minnesota Wild in their first shootout. That 3-2 game also was a showcase for Corey Crawford and his amazing goaltending skills.
Friday brought the team to Rogers Arena for their first meeting with their perennial nemesis, the Vancouver Canucks. There was no retaliation from the Canucks for Duncan Keith’s elbow to Daniel Sedin last March, but the crowd did boo Keith every time he touched the puck. After some very sloppy play and an injury to Dave Bolland, the Blackhawks were bested 2-1 in a shootout by Roberto Luongo.
The next night found the Blackhawks at the ScotiaBank Saddledome against the struggling Calgary Flames, and they finally got their groove back with a 3-2 shootout win in an otherwise sloppy game. Ray Emery was first star of the game for his amazing 45 of 47 blocked shots. Even his teammates admitted later that he won the game for them.
The next two weeks bring the Blackhawks face-to-face with the San Jose Sharks, who are nipping at their heels in the league standings, but they also bring the team back home to Chicago. They’ll be able to sleep in their own beds after the 10th, but they won’t be able to rest.
Penalty Kill Unit Does Its Thing
While the power play is slowly regressing back to its abject failure, the Blackhawks' penalty kill is one of the best in the league. Case in point: they turned away every Detroit power play, six in all, and were 22 for 23 at that point in the schedule.
Once again, Corey Crawford put on a show with 29 saves against the Red Wings. His performance bolstered the rest of the team, who were seriously lagging during the game.
Leddy! Leddy! Leddy!
It was Nick Leddy, who’d been in Rockford during the lockout, who went to the boards and rifled a one-timer past Jimmy Howard to win the game and make team history. With that game, they made their best start in 85 years.
Harding Gets the Hook
Nearly seven minutes into the first period, Josh Harding gave up two goals in 90 seconds. After that second goal, he was pulled in favor of Niklas Backstrom and was seen lashing out in frustration as he walked down the hallway. Coach Mike Yeo later said he felt bad about the decision and that it had nothing to do with Harding’s health.
Fresh off his honor of being named NHL Second Star of the Week, Crawford again had an amazing game. During a 5-on-3 in the first period, he dove post to post across the crease to stop a chip-in shot from Pierre-Marc Bouchard, which took everyone’s breath away.
The Ol’ Five-Hole
In the Blackhawks’ first shootout of the season, Jonathan Toews used his tried and true move on Backstrom, just as he had last season. His trusty five-hole shot worked again.
Backstrom Says Not Again
It was then Patrick Kane’s turn in the shootout. Like last time, Kane used his deke-and-fake move on Backstrom. Unlike last time, Backstrom didn’t fall for it and stopped his shot.
In Honor of Rick Rypien
Prior to the Blackhawks’ game with the Vancouver Canucks, Wes Rypien, brother of former Canuck player Rick Rypien, dropped the puck to honor Hockey Talks, an initiative sponsored by the seven Canadian NHL teams to promote mental health awareness. Kevin Bieksa, Rypien’s friend and former teammate, is a supporter of the program behind Hockey Talks.
Jordan Schroeder tried to score in regulation with no success – the Canuck’s lone goal in regulation went to Alex Edler. But on the shootout, he was the fourth in line and wiggled the puck past Corey Crawford for the win.
Brandon Saad: He’s Trying
Brandon Saad has been on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa since the season started, and he’s had chance after chance to score. According to coach Joel Quenneville, he’s doing everything right, so a goal is only a matter of time.
The Rat Goes Down
Second line center Dave Bolland took an accidental stick to the ankle and went down in the third period, and as he limped to the bench he took out his frustration on his stick. Coach Quenneville later said that Bolland’s injury was day-to-day and he would be staying with the team on the road.
Hossa in a Clutch
What seemed like a sure ticket to another overtime game disappeared when Jay Bouwmeester scored with 24 second left in the third period. But a last-minute pass from Johnny Oduya to Marian Hossa the chance to snipe the puck past Miikka Kiprusoff, who was down on the ice.
SuperKane in the Shootout
With Kiprusoff denying Jonathan Toews’ shootout attempt and both Flames shooters receiving the same fate from Ray Emery, Patrick Kane took his turn. This time, instead of trying to be fancy with his dangle-and-shoot move, he went five-hole on Kiprusoff and scored what became the game winner for the Blackhawks.
The Razor’s Edge
In only his second start of the season, Ray Emery did what the rest of the Blackhawks struggled to do: keep the Calgary Flames at bay. He blocked 45 of 47 shots and turned away all three of the Flames’ shootout participants, giving the Blackhawks their first shootout win and placing them atop the league.