Home for the Holidays: Hawks 4, Blue Jackets 1
And, we're back. CT here, and I hope you all had a great Christmas. Unfortunately, noted beat poet Forklift is still in Soho (wearing a turtleneck sweater and beret, no doubt) so the keys* to the kingdom** have been left to yours truly for the next few days.
Remember that make or break homestand that the Hawks just had? Well, with their 4th straight win, I think we can slide it into the "make" category. While hands were wrung over how the Blackhawks may get stomped, facing Colorado, LA and three divisional foes mostly without the services of Hossa, Kane and Stalberg.
The anxiety grew as the Hawks dropped the first game to the Avs, but anybody who watched that game saw that Chicago was starting to turn around their defensive effort. And during this homestand, we saw a team that was responsible in its own zone, won its board battles, and pounced on every rebound that the goaltenders gave up. You see, this team never had problems scoring. Even with missed time from Kane, Hossa and others, they were still in the top 5 in goals scored. So once the defense picked up, it was a matter of time before they started winning. Now we need to hope that this is going to be the rule, and not the exception.
I will say I was a bit shocked to see Joel Quenneville's lines stay mostly in tact. Q's never been afraid to shuffle things up before, but with Hossa and Stalberg returning, Q pretty stuck them together with Kopecky to form the line of misfit wingers and moved Skille to the 4th line (Ryan Johnson, welcome to the press box, Jordan Hendry can show you where to sit). It seemed to work, as Hossa was good enough to elevate the play of his mates, and Skille brought an element of offense to the fourth line, earning a penalty shot with his speed (and failing to finish it, of course).
Marian Hossa - Good to have Marian the Barbarian back on the ice. While Hossa showed some rust, he's seemed to be completely healed. He single-handedly set up the Hawks first goal by blowing through the Blue Jackets zone, looping around the net and putting a nice wrap around attempt on net. His action drew 3 Jackets to him and left Tomas Kopecky alone to bang home the rebound.
Patrick Sharp - A little advice for opposing teams, do not, under any circumstances, let Patrick Sharp get loose in the circles for a shot, because he will fucking bury you. 2 more goals from Sharpie gets him halfway to the 40 mark.
Marty Turco - Turco hasn't started since he was yanked in Colorado on December 13th. He wasn't even supposed to start tonight, except that Corey Crawford came down with an illness. Well, it turns out that when the Blackhawks corral every rebound that Marty gives up, he's just as effective a netminder as Crawford. Only a late power play goal by the Blue Jackets in garbage time robbed him of the shutout.
I can't say any one phase or player was bad throughout the game. The Hawks power play looked like shit on its first three chances, but managed to score twice in the third period to ice the game. The Blue Jackets terrible power play managed a goal with the man advantage late in the game to break the shutout, but until that point, the Hawks PK had been very good. So, we'll just go with a few bad moments and that's it.
Boarding penalties - the Hawks had a couple of these, one to Seabrook and another to Bolland when the Blackhawk players each drilled a Blue Jacket in the back. Remember boys, if you can read the name on the back of the jersey, don't hit the guy.
DID YOU KNOW - Blue Jackets is a pretty stupid nickname for a team. Or anything else for that matter.
Up Next - The Hawks take on the Blues in St. Louis on Tuesday night.
*unfortunately, the keys are to the door of a room that is filled with soiled thongs
**Kingdom contains no more than $15 cash at any time