When this era of the Blackhawks ends, I will miss games like Tuesday’s against the Senators the most. Those games where it looks like it’s just not the Hawks’ night and they find themselves down a 2-3 goals halfway through the game. Somehow, those games always end up in a scramble as the Hawks seem to claw their way back into the game. Sometimes, the Hawks tie it. Sometimes, they win. Sometimes, they lose but you never feel like you were cheated.
When this era of the Blackhawks end, I will definitely not miss games like tonight. Make no mistake, the Colorado Avalanche are counting down the days before this season ends. They go into games looking for the right opportunity to fold up the tents. Pop in a couple goals early and you can pretty much chalk up two points.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, Colorado woke up out of their coma in the third period and only found themselves down a goal. All of a sudden, they had a reason to give a crap.
And that’s where hockey differentiates itself from other sports. No matter how shitty of a team you are, if you find yourself in a close game late, anything can happen. It certainly helps when you get a performance like Colorado did out of Calvin Pickard.
It wasn’t all terrible, though. The Hawks had a dominant performance from their NHL ’94 line of Panarin-Toews-Kane and the Hartman-Hinostroza combo was eminently watchable every time they stepped on the ice. Kruger’s line had another solid game. So there’s that.
–After Colorado’s first goal, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Duncan Keith were having a spirited conversation on the bench. Hjalmarsson was perturbed about something after Ratanen deflected Tyson Barrie’s point shot.
Marcus Kruger seemed to be caught in no-man’s land. With the puck going low to high, Dr. Rasmussen went out to the point. Hjalmarsson was still chasing the man in the corner and suddenly had to cover a guy standing alone in front. Meanwhile, Kruger was floating in the middle of the ice. Making matters worse, his stick was a foot off the ice.
A rare mistake from Kruger, indeed.
–It can’t be a good sign for Tyler Motte the Hoople that Working Class Kero can play one game and suddenly replace him in the lineup. Motte started the game with Hinostroza and Hartman. By the end of the second period, Kero had replaced him on that line and Motte was MIA for the remainder of the game.
With three off days coming up, Joel Quenneville sure didn’t mind emptying the tank on his key players. Andrew Desjardins and Jordin Tootoo combined to play 9 minutes. And that’s with no Hossa and no Anisimov.
–The only Hawk defensemen in the black on possession for all situations was Niklas Hjalmarsson. Weird.
–Did Matt Duchene even play? For all the high picks Colorado has amassed through the years, it seems like Nathan McKinnon is the only one they haven’t completely destroyed. Patrick Roy broke Landeskog. McKinnon, though, is a total monster. Maybe someday he’ll actually get to play in a playoff game.
–Jonathan Toews looked more like his dominant self. I’m sure the fact that he was playing with the Harlem Globetrotters helped. Even still, Toews looked to have his burst of speed and had a quicker first stride tonight. He finished the game with 7 shots on net. Now that he finally scored, there’s a good chance of a binge coming. Oh, hey look, a game against Winnipeg coming up.
–I’m sure this will come up at some point so let’s try to explain why it’s happening. On the power play, when the Hawks are whipping the puck around the points and going cross-ice between Kane and Panarin, they’re trying to get the penalty killers running around and isolate a 2-on-1 situation on one side of the ice.
In years past, they fell in love with the backdoor play with Patrick Sharp and it would be maddening to watch when they just waited for it to open. This is not the same thing happening now. Panarin is, arguably, just as good as Kane at the cross-ice pass therefore opening it up for both players. Teams can’t cheat to one side because the puck is just as likely to end up on the right side as it is the left.
–Well, that’s it for a few days. Winnipeg is next. One point is better than none, I suppose.