Hawks Get The Captain Back but Lose in OT

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The Blackhawks got a much needed boost when The Captain returned to the ice for the first time in 22 games for Game 1 of the Playoffs. Toews was a force all night posting a goal and an assist, was +2 but only won 9/20 faceoffs all in 24 1/2 minutes. He was clearly a target for the Coyotes as they went after him every chance they had. In the end, Toews return was not enough to power the Hawks to victory as the Coyotes won 3-2 in overtime.

The Hawks came out flying and took an early lead on Toews first goal in over 2 months. The top line of Kane/Toews/Hossa looked dominant at times and was creating great opportunities with the puck.  The Shaw/Bolland/Bickell line was productive as well creating good chances and putting pressure on the Yotes defense but they couldn’t bury the puck. Bickell had several point blank opportunities which he just couldn’t finish. (The one timer in the goal crease when he had the open net yet shot directly into Smith comes to mind.) Although lines 1 and 3 were noticeable the other lines didn’t do much to help out. Sharp and Stals were non-existant for much of the game and the 4th line skated less than 7 minutes. I like the idea of a stacked top line but as we saw tonight, the other lines need to contribute as well or the Hawks won’t win. More on lines in a moment.

The Hawks played a mostly lazy and sloppy second period and the Coyotes took advantage by ripping 13 shots and scoring 2 goals. Both goals were questionable and preventable but that’s Playoff hockey. On the first Coyotes goal, Sean Odonnell lost his stick in the corner and passed the puck towards the front of the net so Crawford could cover. Hammer, standing in front of Crawford, freaked upon seeing the puck so close to him and slapped it behind the net where it was promptly picked up by Langkow who made a quick pass for a Pyatt one timer. The second goal resulted from a blown call by the refs who clearly missed a too many men penalty on Phoenix. I’m not blaming the refs for the loss but man did they suck huge balls tonight. They missed several trips and hooks on each team and the too many men on Phoenix. I know it’s Playoff hockey but shit…some consistency would be nice.

The Hawks used a solid third period to get some quality shots (18!) on Mike Smith but again couldn’t convert. The Hawks needed all but 14 seconds of the third period to tie the game on great goal by Seabs to send it to OT. Using the momentum of the late goal, Chicago came out with some jump to start OT getting a couple quick shots on Smith. The Coyotes settled down and then took control. With about 10 minutes left in OT, former Blackhawks captain Adrain Aucoin had his shot tipped in by Martin Hanzal to win it for Phoenix.

Sad Panda Bullets

  • The second line of Sharp/Kruger/Stals will need to step up or line 1 is going to have to be split up. Although 88-19-81 was creating magic, line 2 was invisible and that can’t happen. The Hawks are going to need production from all of their lines and if breaking up the best line to create more balance, so be it. Stals and Sharp each had 4 shots but I don’t recall them. Line 4 was slow and worthless.
  • Brandon Bollig is going to be worthless in the Playoffs. No one is going to fight him in the Playoffs and he is going to be a wasted roster spot if he keeps getting time. I like the energy and physical play he brings but he has no ability to score and since no one will fight in the Playoffs, he is worthless. I’d like to see Hayes get a shot on the 4th line. He brings a physical element and has shown he can put the puck in the net.
  • Andrew Brunette is too slow but he’s been slow all year. I don’t know if the 4th line is the best spot for him but I think he needs to be playing. He has good hands and is most effective in a 10 foot radius around the net which is where we need him this series.
  • Niklas Hjalmarsson had an especially rough night. He was a -2 in only 16 minutes and was the frequent target of physical play from the Coyotes. He reverted to his panic play anytime there was a forechecker crashing down and gave up the puck several times. He needs to be better, plain and simple.
  • Sean Odonnell is old and slow but has good hockey sense. I don’t mind Odonnell as much as others do, though I may need something shoved in my asscrack. You know what he’s going to bring you night in and night out and it’s similar to what Bruno brings – a good vet presence, hockey sense and zero speed. I wouldn’t mind seeing Dylan Olsen stepping in for either Odonnell or Hammer for game 2. Olsen will bring more speed and energy but might be just as jittery as Hammer back there. A Hammer/Olsen pairing could be scary but pairing Hammer/Leddy so Oduya/Olsen could skate together is worse.
  • Speaking of Oduya, he had a rough game as well. He uncharacteristically coughed up the puck several times, couldn’t hold the puck in the zone at a few critical moments and looked a bit skittish as well. Hopefully this was just a hiccup and game 2 will be better.
  • The power play was awful again going 0/4.
  • The Hawks got dominated on faceoffs and lost critical draws in their own zone, including one that led to the GWG.
  • Corey Crawford had a real solid game stopping 31 of 34 shots. Please continue this….thanks.
  • LOOKOUT Hammer…another forechecker
  • Brent Seabrook was dominant. He led the Hawks with 7 shots, 6 hits and added a goal for good measure. Tab had a great article the other day on how dominant Seabrook has become for the Hawks. Seabs is the best Hawk defenseman right now and has been for the last 2 years.
  • Radim Vrbata skated all of 30 seconds before being crushed into the boards by Andrew Shaw and never returned. I told you he is a giant vagina.
  • The Bolly/Shaw/Bickell line was real good again creating chances, using their physical play, drawing penalties and creating havoc. The line combined for 10 shots and was +1 on the night. More of this.
  • I hope Hossa isn’t hurt or tired but he hasn’t looked like his dominant self in about a month. I was hoping he was conserving energy for the last month but that may not be the case. He isn’t winning races to the puck, isn’t shooting and hasn’t been playing his game. Find it Hoss, the Hawks need you now.
  • In his return, The Captain had 2 points, as did Kane. Others need to step up.
  • Power Play ffffffffffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu