It will go down as just another win by the “high flying BlackHawks” against the young Canucks. They have a panoply of talent, and like I said above, they are the better team in the NHL right now. But they were only able to win this game on a bit of a lucky goal late in the third against a team that is supposed to be ( according to the “experts” ) at the bottom of the league, instead of fighting for a playoff spot. So, be proud of the effort Canuck fans.
The Hawks now have 18 home wins. That is one more than the Canucks. The difference is the 12 road wins they have compared to the Canucks, who have only five. The Hawks are also only one spot above the Canucks when it comes to their record in one goal games, as the Canucks are third in that telling stat. The visitors tonight work hard, and never quit. They deserved to get at least a point tonight.
- In the first period, the Canucks looked anything but world beaters, however. They managed 9 shots, sure, and there were some good chances in those 9 shots. But the Hawks had 18, and it seemed like almost every one was a scoring chance. The difference was that the Canucks were being kept more to the outside, and the Hawks were controlling the middle of the ice in the offensive zone better.
- That turned around in the second and third periods. In the second, they outshot their hosts 8 to 4, and it was only towards the second half of the third, where the Canucks looked to be playing for O/T, that the Hawks got a bunch more shots to give them a 13-11 edge in the final frame. As far as the run of play went though, the dominance the Hawks showed in the first was echoed in the play of the visitors for the next 30 minutes of game time. They controlled zone time. They were solid on breakouts and played hard to keep a strong forecheck going on the Chicago team.
- The first two goals of the game, in the first, came about three minutes apart, and they showed the main difference between the veteran, championship tested Hawks, and the young Canucks. Execution. The Hawks first goal was a perfect example of that. Toews took a shot that was easily saved to the corner, but then he passed it back to Campbell, who faked a shot and found Panik drifting in the high slot. The Hawks continue to find shooters, and he was ready and buried it off the post and in. There was traffic that did not help Miller either. But what a shot. That goal was a perfect example of how they all did their jobs at the right time to beat a team that was maybe a second behind on the play. They were a second behind on that play because the Hawks had their execution down pat.
- The second one was just an indication of having Patrick Kane, as far as I can tell. Sure it came off some pressure. It was another example of Jonathan Toews’ talent, as he schooled Sbisa a bit on the rush and in the corner. The puck fell to Kane off of Sbisa not playing it hard around, but that was a minor quibble, considering the pressure he was under. However, that shot by Kane. Man. Miller even came out a bit to cut down the angle. It was simply one of those perfect shots he can make. Top corner, short side. Goalies the NHL over know how that felt for Miller.
- Even in that period though, Corey Crawford’s play was important. Megna made a nice drag move ( maybe that one had a defenseman block mixed in with the save ). Daniel Sedin had a break from the blue line thwarted by his blocker on the best chance of the period for the visitors. Bo’s line had a swarming shift at the end of the period where Crawford was great a few times. The Hawks showed their quality in that first period, and were full marks for the lead. But they still could have been only one up, or even just tied after a period they were dominant in. Credit Miller for not allowing the third goal that would have made things different as well.
- The second period was where the Canucks showed their fight. Right off the bat. A disputed faceoff just 15 seconds in resulted in a great chance for Granlund ( clearly a set play. He scored a winner vs the Stars on that play, and has had great chances off that quick shot off Sutter’s faceoff win several times since. Hank and Danny had a rush chance. A point shot from Tryamkin resulted in a Baertschi rebound chance that he just couldn’t get around on. A Gaunce and Skille rush resulted in a short side shot that Crawford “just” got enough of, and it still hit the post. They came out playing hard.
- The special teams were a bit more special tonight as well. The penalty kill, against a talented Hawk power play ( it only had one chance at it in the second period though ) was hard working and successful. The power play for the Canucks went 1 for 3, and had 2 shots on each of the first two chances at it in the second period that, for a change, added to the momentum instead of giving the other team a boost for killing one off.
- After having their own two to one edge in shots ( 8-4 ) in the second, the Canucks continued to press the play to start the third. They drew a holding call when Sutter’s line forechecked so well Kempny had no choice but to bear hug the Canuck centre. That power play resulted in a goal because the Canucks finally got one on the basics of a power play. Win the faceoff ? Check. Get the puck to the point ? Yep. Get the shot through with a screen ? Did that too. Stecher’s shot was only a wrister, and more of a knuckler than a bomb, but Daniel Sedin had a good screen. Henrik got his 1,001st point on the play as well.
- The second one was less than a minute later, and a great example of how good Bo Horvat has become. Sven Baertschi made a nice rush towards the net, but was checked. Bo was following the play, and not only got off a solid backhand on the play, he overpowered his check and got a backhand on the rebound that he carried past the sprawling Crawford to put in the empty net. I am sure the family that came down to see him ( including Grandma and Grandpa ) loved seeing that one.
- The fourth line had a great chance not long afterwards, and really had a good night. They played a lot more in the offensive zone than the defensive end, and did not look out of their depth when they were out against Kane or Hossa’s line. On this one, Gaunce made a strong play on the forecheck and got Chaput a wonderful chance, but he was denied by Crawford. They only had a couple shots, and maybe 9 minutes on the ice. But they were certainly not the millstone a fourth line can be against a deeper, stronger team like the Hawks tonight.
- The rest of the period, they were working so hard, it seemed a shame to get beat at the end. On the winning goal, I don’t want to really blame someone. Sure, Miller was slow coming across after the Panik shot down the wing went wide ( on purpose ? ), and Stecher was a split second slow reacting to Toews getting on the puck first. Maybe it was not just “luck”, so much as a set play, and a slight letdown. But it was still a shitty way to lose a game you battled back in.
- Toews also got an assist on the empty netter, by beating everyone to the puck and feeding Hossa for the easy goal. He finished with a goal and three assists, and looked very good tonight.
- Not in the circle though. He finished 8 for 24 for only 33 %, mainly because Brandon Sutter was amazing at 85.7 %, winning an impressive 18 of 21 draws. He also had an assist and 2 shots. ( rest of the stats here from ESPN ) The stat line also shows how flawed plus / minus is. His line mates were even ( Megna ) and -3 ( Granlund ) while still being a very good line tonight.
So, the Canucks are now 8 - 2 - 3 in their last 13 games. That is still pretty good. If they play as hard and well as they did at times in this one, against a less talented Avalanche team on Wednesday, they will be back in the win column. They still might need a little puck luck, as this game sometimes is more about the bounce than the hard work, but I believe you make your own bounces. The Hawks maybe got a bit of luck on the winner, or, just as likely, created their own luck.
But did you think the Canucks had a shot after that first period ? Again, Willie’s team shows they will not be outworked. It got them close tonight, but just not all the way.