If there’s ever been a time where one game stands as a microcosm for two teams, Friday night’s tilt between the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins would stand as Exhibit A.
The Blackhawks did what they’ve been doing – get lopsided in possession for one period while playing relatively even the rest of the game, take advantage of their limited opportunities and get stellar goaltending.
The Bruins did what they’ve been doing – maintain an edge in possession while throwing a high amount of shots from low percentage scoring areas, give up a backbreaking goal and then lose in the most heartbreaking way conceivable.
Needless to say, it was a fun one.
–This could be the result of a few cold ones but while the shots were lopsided heavily in the Bruins favor after the first period, it didn’t seem like the shooting gallery the shot totals pertained. Generally speaking after a period like that, you’d be counting your blessings the game was still tied. This game felt like it still should’ve been tied. It didn’t feel like the Bruins dominated or controlled the puck in the Hawks end for long periods without turning over the puck. In fact, I can only really recall one such shift where it felt like the Bruins had a marked edge and that was in the second period, anyways.
Again, this can be the cold ones.
–I’m still not sure why Matt Carlo is deemed untouchable in a franchise where Dougie Hamilton was kicked to Alberta and Tyler Seguin banished to Dallas.
–Don’t look at the advanced numbers unless you want to throw up in your cereal. They are very bad. Tanner Kero’s line took the brunt of it as he and Marian Hossa combined for a -26. Then again, they also teamed up for the only goal of the game so it couldn’t have been all that bad.
The scoring play not withstanding (more below), Hossa had a very quiet night otherwise to the point it was hard to notice him at all. At one point in the second period, I thought maybe he had been injured because I hadn’t noticed him in awhile. Nope, he was there. And then he ended up mattering in a big way.
–On the other hand, stop me when you’ve heard this before…the Kane-Anisimov-Panarin line was quite noticeable throughout the night generating the best chances for the Hawks the majority of the game. And holy crap did Quenneville abuse Kane and Panarin.
Each played well over 20 minutes – Kane with 24 minutes and Panarin with 22. Ansimov played 19 minutes and Toews was on the ice for nearly 18 minutes. Meanwhile, everyone else was between 10 and 14. So maybe that’s also why Hossa wasn’t as noticeable seeing as though he only scratched 12 minutes.
Patrick Kane is clearly their best player, and arguably the top player in the West, but cranking him out there now for 27, 21 and 24 minutes the last three games seems a bit extreme. In Quenneville’s defense, though, he does manage his minutes accordingly during stretches where the Hawks are playing more frequently. With a few off days between games, he has clearly been a bit more liberal.
–About that scoring play…As McClure mentioned on Twitter, this was a play that the Hawks transition game has been built on for years. It starts with Michael Kempny who plays his angle perfectly on the opposing Bruin (Frank Vatrano) with the puck. With backside support from Vince Stroh’s, Kempny knows he can cut Vatrano off at the blue line and make a play on the puck.
Vince Stroh’s also leaves enough room in his backside support to give himself space to turn and burn should Kempny win the battle and chip the puck up the boards. Sure enough, this is exactly what ended up happening. Of course, the scoring play also doesn’t happen without two great passes that threaded through sticks and limbs from Stroh’s and Working Class Kero.
None of that happens though without the two plays made by Kempny and Stroh’s. It also serves as a perfect example of why speed is such an important element to the sport as both players used their quickness to create offense before they even had possession of the puck.
–That’s it for now. Tomorrow the Canucks are here. Be sure to follow @hockeydipshit for the best play-by-play commentary of Canucks hockey you will ever find.