The match-up between the two hottest teams in the NHL — the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks – was nothing short of a thriller. Both sides basically played evenly in the stats column as well as the scoreboard until it reached a shootout. Here’s my highlight recap of the Ducks’ win.
Stellar saves: Two huge saves by Corey Crawford come to mind while the Hawks had a 2-1 lead. First, late in the second, there was a sequence during the Ducks 5-on-3 opportunity where the puck wasn’t put home and also in the early third when Crawford had a huge glove save on Bobby Ryan. It could’ve may have well been a different ball game if Crawford weren’t playing on his head.
Controversial call: Without at doubt this goes to Brandon Saad’s goal in the second. Thankfully, I work in the sports industry, so I have a plethora of replay angles at my disposal. There was one angle that showed the puck might’ve fully crossed the line, but I’m still not content with the call. First, the call on the ice was no goal, which means replays must be conclusive to overrule it and I don’t think they were. Secondly, the war zone’s reasoning on the call was that the puck crossed the line before the net came off it’s moorings, but i didn’t see that. I did see it looked like it crossed when the net was almost off it’s pegs. The Ducks’ could’ve beat the Blackhawks if it weren’t for that call. I’ll happily take the two points in a shootout though.
Unsung hero: Leave it up to Francois Beauchemin to get stuff done. He was a big factor on the Ducks’ win. Not only did he by a landslide eat up the most time on ice — with a little over 27 mins — he brought forth a physical presence. First with a near hit on Patrick Kane, who pulled a Wayne Gretzky and moved out of the way to avoid the bump, but also his forecheck is what helped set up the game-tying goal by Andrew Cogliano.
Shootout slinger: Two words: Nick Bonino. This kid is off to a great start in the shootout. He’s 2-for-2 in his shootout career — putting it in the back of the net on Saturday versus St. Louis Blues and last night against the Hawks. I’m pretty sure he will be a familiar face for the remainder of the season if games enter into a shootout.
Positive point: Why be (Jonathan) Quick when you can be (Viktor) Fasth? Both netminders have the epitome of a name for a goaltender, but Fasth is the one currently living up to his. With his 6-0 start on the Ducks — and in NHL — he is off to a remarkable rookie season and is alleviating pressure on Jonas Hiller who is currently out with a lower body injury. Unfortunately, I put Fasth on my bench on my fantasy team thinking Martin Brodeur and Pekke Rinne would easily pull off wins.
My lesson after last night: stick with the hot goalie even if it’s against the best team in the league, because defense wins games, and usually your best defender is the one standing between the pipes.