On Tuesday night the Hawks put 54 shots on goal and not only lost, but were shut out. Tonight they were outshot 44-20 and won 4-2. Hockey is weird. It’s especially weird in the middle part of what often feels like an interminably long 82 game season.
As was intimated in the preview, given the circumstances surrounding the Wild over the past couple of days with their coach hilariously chewing their asses out and J.P. Parise passing away, there was a fairly good chance the Wild were going to come out with their asses ablaze. It just appears they were off by about 20 minutes. Fortunately by that point the Hawks already had a two goal lead thanks to Patrick Sharp clowning Christian Folin and Nicklas Backstrom by walking right around both, and Patrick Kane converting at the tail end of a 5-minute major penalty given to Thomas Vanek for boarding Marcus Kruger.
The Wild got within one in the early going of the second when Jason Zucker was left alone in the slot for Jason Pominville to find from behind the goal line. And then the barrage came. Much of that was abetted by a steady stream of dumb penalties from the Hawks, but there was no shortage of even strength chances for Corey Crawford to turn away.
Bryan Bickell would convert the Hawks first shot of the third period with a lazer of a slapper left for him by Patrick Kane in transition, which would prove to be a huge goal with the Wild getting a late 5-on-3 that Pominville would convert basically immediately. But Bickell would find the empty net in the dying seconds, and the Hawks close out the first half of the season with 56 points.
- The link to War on Ice is posted as a matter of protocol, but anyone diving too deep into the numbers runs the risk of vomiting up his or her pancreas. Just as a table setter, in just shy of 42 minutes of even strength ice time, the Wild attempted 60 shots to the Hawks 23. Ick.
- Something in the Hawks’ scouting report on the Wild clearly said that they were vulerable to lob and area passes through neutral ice, as they were repeatedly attempted even before the siege began. Probably not the best idea with a team that can get lax in its gap integrity during breakouts.
- Mike Yeo probably is still going to be fired, but he’s got that Minnesota team playing the right way, and he most certainly has figured something out to get the better of Quenneville and the Blackhawks when having the matchup advantage at home. But Chuck Fletcher will probably dismiss him barring a miraculous turnaround in the next week despite the fact that he hasn’t provided Yeo an NHL caliber goalie because shit always rolls downhill.
- Speaking of which, Backstrom saved 16 of 19 for a sparkling .842 tonight.
- Both Marcus Kruger and Brent Seabrook got extremely lucky tonight in terms of their health.
- Corey Crawford: more of that please.
- Even in a game that was most certainly in doubt for its majority and special teams heavy, Duncan Keith only played 26:15 tonight on the front end of a back-to-back (as well as three-in-four). The temptation for Quenneville was most certainly there, particularly watching Ryan Suter skate a staggering 33:22, so perhaps Q is learning if only a little bit.
- Quenneville also went to Keith and Hjalmarsson as a pairing for most of the back half of the game to try to bail the water his dinghy was taking on, but to no avail.
- Johnny Oduya, a team worst -22. The team only attempted 4 shots during his 16+ minutes of 5v5 ice time. This is a problem.