Chicago Blackhawks Week in Review: February 3 – 16
Chicago Blackhawks: Weeks Three and Four
What a ride for the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans in the last five games! They began as the best in the league and the only team without a regulation loss and ended the two-week stretch that way. We got to see the wildest game in recent memory, and one rookie finally got what was coming to him.
The first game up was against the team that was breathing down their neck in the league standings, the San Jose Sharks. In the first period alone, four goals were scored in 89 seconds, and Brandon Saad finally scored his first NHL goal. Patrick Kane became the hero of the game after scoring both an empty net goal and the game winner. And who can forget the melee between Andrew Desjardins and Duncan Keith? Even though the hit that started the fight was later deemed clean, Keith defended teammate Jamal Mayers and took the consequences.
Two days later, the highly anticipated meeting between the Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes exceeded expectations. As expected, Raffi Torres felt the vengeance of the team through the fists of Mayers, and the Blackhawks put the nail in Coyotes’ coffin six times, with four goals in the first period alone. Kane led the way with two goals and an assist for the night.
Next was the Nashville Predators, who were strong last season but have been struggling this time. With Corey Crawford in net, they not only extended their lead in the league standings, but they broke a 630-day drought by earning a 3-0 shutout win. Two nights later, they came home after their epic road trip. After a jumbled goal by Saad and two squandered power plays in overtime, the Anaheim Ducks handed the Blackhawks their third shootout loss.
Finally, they met the Sharks again, but the Sharks had been shaky since their loss to the Blackhawks. Even if Jonathan Toews had avoided fighting Joe Thornton, the Blackhawks would still have beaten the weary Sharks, who were bested 4-1. This time, Crawford was out with an injury, giving Ray Emery the net and the win.
The Blackhawks are now three wins away from matching the Ducks’ 2006-07 record of 16 games with no regulation losses. Can they break that record? Tune in next week to find out!
Brandon Saad’s First Goal
Joel Quenneville said that rookie Brandon Saad was doing everything right and that goals would come in due time. After nine games with plenty of chances, Saad finally got his first goal in the first period. It came after the Sharks went up 2-0, with Saad getting the puck behind Antti Niemi from a pass from Brent Seabrook.
In Defense of His Teammate
Andrew Desjardins had leveled Jamal Mayers with what was later deemed a clean hit, but Duncan Keith was having none of that. He rushed Desjardins, fighting for his teammate even though he was taken down. He probably felt the two minutes for instigating and unsportsmanlike conduct, along with the fighting major and game misconduct, were worth it. Desjardins’ match penalty for the hit was later rescinded.
Kane and Toews Work Their Magic
Desjardins’ and Keith’s penalties had created a 4-on-4 situation, which was just fine for the Blackhawks. Jonathan Toews stripped the puck from Douglas Murray and whipped it across the ice to a waiting Patrick Kane, who shot it past Niemi to break the 3-3 tie. That was the game winning goal and the first of Kane’s two goals in the game.
Finally, It Happened
Fans for both the Blackhawks and Coyotes were waiting to see what would happen when Raffi Torres took his first shift in the game. Jamal Mayers took his place on the ice and promptly threw down with Torres, catching him on the nose before taking him down. Mayers later said that Torres had to know someone would be looking to fight him.
Patrick Kane’s Night
Once the fire from the anticipated fight settled, the Blackhawks began their barrage of goals, including two from Patrick Kane that each came on a 5-on-3 power play. With an added assist on Jonathan Toews’ goal, Kane had three points on the night and shot to second place in the league in points, three behind Buffalo Sabres forward Thomas Vanek.
And Bickell Makes Six
After Toews had breezed through and extended the score to 5-1, Viktor Stalberg stripped Keith Yandle and passed the puck to Bryan Bickell, who was waiting by the crease. The death knell sounded for the Coyotes when Bickell sank the wrist shot, and Raffi Torres’ last-minute goal became an afterthought.
The Captain Helps Out
A minute after Marcus Kruger drew first blood with his goal in the second period, Duncan Keith fired a shot from the right circle. The puck bounced off of Jonathan Toews and went over Pekka Rinne to bring the score to 2-0, and it would be officially counted as Toews’ sixth goal of the season and the 150th goal in his NHL career.
Shades of 2010
Patrick Kane has been the Blackhawks’ best player, earning 20 points and second place in the league in points. In the third period, Kane took the puck along the boards and shot it at an impossible angle for the goal. His shot was reminiscent of the famous goal that won the Blackhawks the Stanley Cup in 2010.
Crow Says 3-0
After nearly two years, Corey Crawford finally got what had eluded him: he recorded his sixth career shutout. This was on top of the 17 shots he successfully blocked in the game.
Kneel Before Saad
Brandon Saad made an improbable shot, flying through the air and drawing comparisons to Bobby Orr’s famous flying goal. Unfortunately, the puck flew into the scrum in the crease, and the net was knocked off its moorings in the commotion. After The Powers That Be in Toronto reviewed the footage, they ruled that the puck crossed the goal line before the net came loose. That gave Saad his second goal of the season.
Leddy Powers Up
Nick Leddy did something rare for the Blackhawks: 17 seconds after Brad Staubitz give the Blackhawks the power play for instigating a fight with Bryan Bickell in the second period, Leddy fired his shot for an ever-elusive power play goal, the first of his career.
Power Play Powers Down
Toni Lydman handed the Blackhawks a double gift of two power play opportunities, one right after the other, and the majority of them were spent in overtime. But the power play unit stayed its frustrating course and did nothing.
Captain vs. Captain
Perhaps Jonathan Toews finally felt it was time to show Joe Thornton how he felt about Thornton causing the concussion that took Toews out of the last 22 games of the 2011-12 season. That could be why he boarded Thornton, shoved him several times and went toe-to-toe with him, drawing an instigator penalty and giving him a prominent shiner the next day.
A Smorgasbord of Goals
The Swedish Madhouse Mafia, as the Blackhawks’ Twitter account called Marcus Kruger and Niklas Hjalmarsson, was in full force during the game. Kruger earned a goal in the second period and an assist in the third, and Hjalmarsson scored the opposite. The best part is that their assists came on each other’s goals.
Another Razor Sharp Game
Corey Crawford left Thursday’s practice not feeling well, giving the net to Ray Emery. Just as he was in Calgary, Emery was stellar, holding off 27 of 28 shots and earning third star of the game.