I was prepared for an all-out war, a battle between the two teams I thought were going to be in the Stanley Cup Final last year. But as it turns out; Montreal didn’t show up to fight, only Carey Price did. There are a few things that could open articles this morning, I’ve seen a lot of them already, but I’d like to start with giving credit where credit is due. What a talent and what a pleasure to watch Carey Price is.
Back to real news…
After all the clamoring, all the negativity and worry, solely relating to the puck not finding the back of the net, Captain Clutch swung his team over his shoulder yet again and reminded us all, “We’re not worried, sure it’s frustrating, but we’ve been here before”. It only took 11 minutes and 19 seconds for Jonathan Toews and his reunited, struggling, awful, won’t shoot the puck, won’t go to the net, 16.3% successful, 1st Power Play unit, (Kane, Toews, Shaw, Sharp, Hossa) yes you heard me right, POWER PLAY UNIT, to remind us just how easy it can and should be. With the puck moving to the point Toews flowed effortlessly into the blue paint, turning only to find a Duncan Keith slap shot arriving onto his stick and redirecting itself behind Carey Price. Just like that he exhaled, Q exhaled, Kevin Dineen exhaled, I exhaled and the city of Chicago exhaled… “I’ll be darned” we all thought, “the puck really does fit inside that net thing”. From there, as they’ve done in years past, the flood gates opened and the rest was history. Adding to the brilliance of the evening was Kruger for his first of the year, Versteeg, Richards and Kane on the prettiest of them all as Toews swung into the zone, backhanding a pass through the slot to Kane who screamed through the paint and tapped the puck past a helpless Price. With enthusiasm Kane erupted with eyes on his Chicago counterpart – in those eyes you could see the joy – you could see why we’re happy to pay them – why we’re already commissioning artists to start formulating their Madison Avenue statues. To quote one of my personal favorites, “when you go to the net, good things happen!” reminds Eddie Olczyk. Last night the Hawks heeded the veteran’s advice. The ending, a 5-0 rout of the Habs on their own ice in the Bell Centre, something the Hawks have been unable to do for some time.
For the first time since his injury, Corey Crawford looked spectacular. Maybe it was his hometown crowd, maybe it was his family in the stands, maybe it was just time. Crow came up with 28 saves to earn his first shutout of the year and his 11th in his underrated career, helping him improve to 4-2-1 on the year with an almost career best 1.53 Goals Against Average and an elite level 9.38 save percentage. Through thirteen games the Blackhawks goaltending has been stellar, it’s nice to see Crawford get a piece of that pie – now it’s time for him to keep it that way consistently. The last time he was consistent with numbers similar to these, we had a parade to attend in Grant Park – Flood gates on all fronts Feather Faithful, flood gates on all fronts!
With the only downside to yesterdays action being the strange injury to the lower body of Patrick Sharp on what at first appeared to be a relatively harmless hit from Alexei Emelin, there’s a lot to be considered in the next couple days as the Hawks prepare for the Washington Capitals who make their only trip to the Madhouse for the season Friday before the Winter Classic on the first of the year and on Sunday San Jose comes to town for the second in a three game home stand. Thankfully, the Hawks will have a chance to put up some numbers against a Western Conference foe Sunday and continue to quiet the Newsrooms around the country. There will be changes made again, to lines, maybe to personnel. I only have a couple things to say on personnel today, more to come tomorrow, after they’ve maybe brought someone up from Rockford.
Here’s the first, AM I THE ONLY ONE THAT CRINGES WATCHING RUNDBLAD AND ROSIVAL BRING DOWN THE PLAY OF Trevor Van Riemsdyk!? I ask this question in response, is it time to send down Rundblad, waivers or not and take a look at Adam Clandening or even Stephen Johns?
My second, WHEN IS IT TIME TO ACCEPT THE FACT THAT JEREMY MORIN IS MORE INCLINED TO SHOOT WHEN HE SHOULD PASS AND PASS WHEN HE SHOULD SHOOT, AND WORSE… WHEN IS IT TIME TO BRING UP THE QUESTION, does Jeremy Morin want or is he able, to play Chicago Blackhawk hockey? More to come in the next couple days…
Now for the excitement!
“We haven’t played with each other much the last couple of years. When we do get together, there’s some excitement of being back with one another. I’m looking forward to that.” Said Kane in response to him and Toews being reunited on the top line along with new addition Ben Smith – and what a reuniting it was. There was something surreal about the way the three of them played together last night. Kane didn’t command the puck from Toews, nor did Toews from Kane and Ben Smith didn’t look lost playing with two of the best in the league, not to mention against Montreal’s top defensive pairing for most the game. The three of them all dug in on the boards for pucks, hustled on the back check and played more balanced than any of the lines had yet this year. The long and short of it is this, Q was hit over the head with what he could have in a line with Toews and Kane on it, the third member of that line can be anyone as long as they are competent, can handle the puck and are willing to get dirty – Ben Smith seems to be that man at this point in time. Will that stay the same? Only time will tell, only the report on Sharp will tell.
Regardless, the Chicago Blackhawks are a very deep hockey team and it is starting to show. This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon and a couple miles in, the Hawks seem to be stretching their legs and breathing a full chest of air. Even with Sharps injury, the balance and talent should allow for Toews and Kane to stay together, allowing Q to see just how dominate they can actually be. This isn’t something that can’t happen, something that would tear down the balance as Kane pointed out later in his previous statement, “I think we have so many good players on this team and so many players that can put the puck in the net, we should have balance throughout the lineup no matter who is playing with who.” I agree Patrick Kane and that doesn’t just go for Toews and Kane.
Bottom line Feather faithful, IT’S SHOWTIME!