AS GOD IS MY WITNESS...: Blackhawks 3 Flames 2
...I thought turkeys could fly. I also thought this would be an easier game than it was.
The Chicago Blackhawks kept pressure on the Calgary Flames pretty much the entire night, only to find themselves down 2-0 as the midway point in the third period approached. Then Patricks Kane and Sharp scored 56 seconds apart to tie the game before Kane put a Lexus-sized bow on this one with 18 seconds left, allowing the Hawks to escape the ScotiaBank Saddledome with a 3-2 victory.
Let's get to this:
Kane. Tonight he notched his 14th and 15th goals. He is playing in such a fashion that it appears that everyone else on the ice is playing some lesser game, or skating on double runners while he's been touched by the hand of the Almighty and having the season of his life. He's now second in the NHL in goals scored, and the only player in front of him is Donald Steen with 20, and he is new to this rarified air.
Duncan Keith. Sure, Pat Foley and Ed Olczyk were pouring on the hyperbole early in the game, but you know what? Lately he's been Dunc Norris again. In fact, he looked absolutely demonic on a shift in the Calgary zone right before Kane's first goal, which he got an assist on.
Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya. 2 assists and a majestic +16 CORSI for Aspelund. No points for Oduya but a +17 CORSI. You almost want to yell "World Star" when they're on the ice, they're so dominant. And they made tonight a lot easier for...
Antti Raanta. Sure, you could see some of the flaws in his game. But hell, it was his first NHL start. Both goals Calgary scored were by moving the puck across the ice, and his lateral movement (or lack thereof) was exposed. Fortunately, this is very fixable. In fact, lateral movement was Corey Crawford's big glitch earlier in his professional career. But he did what you want your backup goalie to do - keep the team in a position to win. As long as he keeps doing this, Nikolai Khabibulin's nagging injury will continue to nag him.
The return of Marian Hossa. Mainly because it means everything is OK on the home front. But it also means the return of the Red Wedding Line. Hossa had some really great scoring chances tonight, and only the outstanding play of Calgary goalie Reto Berra kept him off the scoresheet.
Brandon Pirri. He took a bad penalty in the second, then lost the puck and his stick, leading to the Sean Monahan goal in the third that put the Hawks down a pair. Peppers is bound to have a stinker here or there, and a goalpost is the only thing that kept this one from being a wash for him. Stinker or not, this one still resulted in two points in the standings. So chin up and go get 'em on Friday.
The Second Period Lull. This has happened a bit recently. The Hawks only had 5 shots on goal in the period, and looked like the bus was already running. They pulled it together eventually, but one of these days this will happen against a team that can make them pay more than Calgary can.
My boy Zus. When the Hawks have Pirri centering Kane and Brandon Saad, they have a dynamic second line that can give their opponent fits, even when they have the last line change. Putting Michal Handzus there gives them something significantly less. I feel like I sound like a broken record here, but Handzus should be on the 4th line and taking faceoffs in the defensive zone. Putting him up with Kane just makes him a boat anchor.
Here in America, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. On behalf of CT, Morph, Slak, Thrill and Umlaut I'd like to say how thankful we all are for those of you guys who stop by and read our musings or jump in on any of the dopey stuff we do on Twitter and elsewhere. And or course, nothing says "Thanksgiving" like...