White Out: Hawks 4, Avs 0
So, what do we make of this now? Going into the weekend, the Hawks needed to 4 points from two bad teams and they did it. Granted, nobody was impressed with the manner in which they dispatched the Senators last Friday, and while the blowout on Sunday was night, it was still against the Islanders (albeit an Isles team that had gone 8-3 in its previous 11 games). But now the Hawks faced a Western Conference that they were in a dogfight with for a playoff spot. A team that seemingly had their number, beating them in 3 previous games this year.
So, we can forgive ourselves for being a little urpy about this one.
And then the Hawks came out and plastered the Avs. Yes, the Avalanche had their share of chances, but this is a team that has been cashing in on those chances all year, and Corey Crawford turned them all aside and his defensemen made sure to clear anything left laying in the slot. For most of the game, the Hawks dictated the pace and even managed to kill off 4 penalties (granted against one of the worst power play units in the NHL - baby steps). So for now, everything is sunshine and double-rainbows.
Corey Crawford - The Avalanche have a ton of offensive talent, and while the Hawks defense was pretty good tonight, Crawford was excellent, earning his second straight shutout. It's weird, but at this point in the season, I am completely comfortable with Crawford in net. He's just very solid in net right now, and almost never surrenders a soft goal. Hell, lately he's not even surrendering the hard ones.
Bolland/Pisani/Bickell - Pisani and Bolland each had a goal and an assist, while keeping the Avs best line of Duchene/Fleischmann/Jones in check as well.
Patrick Kane - Kane only ended up with one assist, but there was a jump in his step, and he's looked much more like his old self in these last two games than at any point since his return from injury.
Peter Budaj - Budaj was not good tonight. He was giving up some hilarious rebounds that would have made Roberto Luongo blush.
The United Center boards - Once again the glass at the UC was broken (although it was a shattered panel as opposed to a dislodged one) resulting in a rare situation where the Hawks and Avs ended up playing the last 2 minutes of the 2nd period after the second intermission, then immediately switching benches and playing the 3rd period. If only Eddie Olczyk had been here tonight, I'm sure he would have had a stroke warning us of all the crazy mental adjustments that the players would have to make.
Adam Foote - Foote's barely ambulatory anymore, but he manages to stay in the league because, I don't know, maybe he played in the Little League World Series with Chris Drury or something. Regardless, with his team getting thumped, he started handing out cheap shots to Patrick Sharp and Jack Skille. Let's hope Fernando Pisani makes him an offer he can't refuse.
DID YOU KNOW? - Jonathan Toews has 99 career goals, and Pat Foley is going to mention this fact every time Toews touches the puck until he finally scores his 100th. Let's hope it happens soon so we as a nation can move on.
The Blackhawks play a home and home set with Nashville on Saturday and Sunday. With the Thrash currently one point ahead of the Hawks in the standings, this will be a rare attempt to directly gain some ground in today's "everybody gets a point" NHL.