I could not have been more excited about the Blackhawks playing at Wrigley Field back in 2009. The Hawks were still on their way up and there was finally energy back in the stands. I gladly paid hundreds of dollars for two tickets for my brother and myself to sit in centerfield, lose all feeling in my toes and fingers to watch the Hawks get off to a fast start before getting demolished at the hands of Scum. This year, while I was tempted to go to the game and even had tickets offered the day before, I couldn’t muster up the same excitment. Whether it was my ongoing headcold or just my disinterest in Soldier Field compared to the iconic Wrigley, I just wasn’t as excited. That doesn’t mean the game didn’t turn to be a pretty exciting and beautiful spectacle though. It just means I was happy to have been watching it from a bar where I only had to walk 5 feet to get a new beer and not worry about whether I would lose a toe.
The game itself was just about as we expected when we saw the snow start to fall a lot more than predicted. It was sloppy, it was slow, it was ugly but it also looked pretty damn fun. It’s pretty worthless to start talking about strategy or gamesmanship when players simply had a hard time keeping the puck on their sticks or when simple quick passes ended up getting buried in a snowbank around center ice. If there’s one thing to note on the positives, at least it kept the Hawks from attempting their normal home run passes. Lets just get straight to the bullets.
- While the game was a great spectacle, it wasn’t without its costs. After only a handful of shifts, Marian Hossa left the game. At first, I was hoping it was simply Hoss pulling a Roger Murtaugh “I’m too old for this shit”. Instead, it seems on a hit in the corner, Hoss suffered an upper body injury that could see him miss a little bit of time. Now, if this is nothing serious, it could be slight blessing in disguise. The added games in the Olympics aren’t going to do Hoss any favors. If the injury is something that just needs time to recover, it could be a nice break for a key piece of the Hawks plan coming into the playoffs. Of course, that’s all out the window if the injury is more serious than the Hawks would let on, something they’ve been guilty of in the past.
- Other than all of the hoopla, the big story of the game had to be the first ever matchup between Toews and Crosby in the NHL. As we’ve known, due to injuries, we’ve never seen the two at the dot against the each other. And it didn’t disappoint. Or, it didn’t disappoint for Hawks fans and/or Crosby haters (not mutually exclusive, it would seem). Toews won the opening faceoff clean and never looked back. While Crosby would actually go on to win the head-to-head faceoff battle 9-7, it’s Toews 3 points, 7 shots and +3 compared to Crosby’s 0 points, 3 shots and a -2 rating that tell the bigger story.
Toews was determined as we’ve ever seen him to make sure he was the bigger man at the end of the game. He had an absolute beauty of a goal that will likely show up on his career highlight reel given the circumstances and he wasn’t afraid to yell at his teammate only a few days ago that he sure does fall pretty easy given how great of a skater he is. Toews was everything we were hoping he would be in this matchup.
- Speaking of Toews’ beautiful goal, it was once again USA getting beat up by big brother Canada as Toews made an absolute joke out of Team USA defenseman Brooks Orpik with a beautiful inside out move.
- If someone can explain to me why the “intent to blow” rule didn’t matter, that’d be nice. We’ve seen plenty of good goals called back because the official was planning on calling the play dead. If he lost track of the puck as it trickled past Fleury and wanted to call it dead, why did it suddenly not matter? Was it because there weren’t other players around? Or were they just scared of what Toews would do to their families if they called that goal back?
- In a game that was obviously going to lack a bit of flash, it was great to see the Hawks get contributions from some players that have been in the doghouse lately. Versteeg and Bicks both potted goals, though the former was simply in the right place in the right time to receive a beautiful pass from Kane after defense from Scuderi that can best be described as abstract.
- For a brief moment at the start of the second, the snow let up and both teams were able to speed up their game closer to normal speeds… and the Hawks dominated. Great to see the Hawks able to adapt to the shitty conditions when necessary but still able to turn on the jets when they were able. The game in a few weeks against these two should be pretty damn fun.
- This is the bullet where we make fun of Seabrook for just burying one past Crawford to ruin the shutout.
- Kruger was 10-3 at the dot. Not bad man.
- Enjoy the “Heritage Classic” in a few hours. See you again in a few days.