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Blackhawks 5 @ Blue Jackets 4 (SO) Game Recap

February 14, 2010

Anybody else think the Olympic break couldn’t have come at a better time? I don’t know what it is, but it looks like the injury bug has just bitten the Blackhawks too– today we saw Hossa and Sopel scratched, Madden placed on IR, and both Bickell and Dowell called up from Rockford.

It showed, too. Even though the Hawks initially peppered Mathieu Garon with shots, the Blue Jackets were able to notch the first two tallies on 5 shots against Niemi. Kris Huselius potted the first, Raffi Torres followed it up with the other not long after, and just like that the Hawks were staring at a 2-goal deficit.

Just before the period ended, however, Kane decreased that deficit to one on a power play tally. Duncan Keith skated through Blue Jackets defenders from the neutral zone, passed the puck off to Toews who found an open Kane. From a steep angle, Kane banked the puck off the post and into the net for the Hawks’ first goal.

The Hawks owned the second period with goals from call-ups Bickell and Dowell, and a tally from Patrick “Yay I’m a winger again” Sharp. While it looked like the Hawks have taken the lead back for good, a penalty taken by Kim Johnsson in the waning minutes of the second period resulted in a goal by Rick Nash, and the lead was once again down to one.

The third period is, apparently, the new second period. It was highlighted (lowlighted?) by a terrifying knee-on-knee hit from Anton Stralman that had Patrick Kane laying on the ice for a few minutes, the second Blackhawk Olympian in as many nights to be on the receiving end of a clean but hard hit. Troy Brouwer took exception to that, and it resulted in 4 minutes of minor penalties as well as 5 for fighting and 10 for an instigator misconduct penalty. He was sent off to the locker room for that, and I’m not sure why the scoresheets don’t reflect this, but Tyutin scored off the ensuing power play, tying the score.

The Hawks stepped on the pedal for the rest of that, but were not able to get anything past the end of regulation through to overtime. It would go to the shootout, a four-rounder that saw Troy Brouwer come back to finish it for the Hawks’ favor. We don’t get to see the Indianhead for two more weeks, so a win–no matter how sloppily it was achieved–is as good a sendoff as any.

Notes and Observations:

– Can’t say this enough, but the Blackhawks are a team that really need this break. Whereas we’ve been fortuitous with regard to injuries (unlike the Red Wings–they just lost Tomas Holmstrom to injury again), our depth at the forward position was actually tested tonight. Thankfully the boys from Rockford were able to answer the bell, with both of them potting goals for the team. I’ve liked what I’ve seen of Bickell every time he’s been called up, and wouldn’t be surprised to see both him and Dowell on the roster next season.

– Speaking of next season, Kris Versteeg was benched for a large majority of the last two periods today. Q didn’t mince words about the decision, saying he was unhappy with his play. That’s saying quite a lot, when the team’s down a few forwards to begin with. At this point, Versteeg fan that I am, I wouldn’t be surprised if his salary is one that gets dumped over the off-season.

– Troy Brouwer should be argument enough that the Blackhawks don’t need a goon or an enforcer. The Blackhawks stand up for their own, and we really don’t need anybody eating up cap space just so they can go out there for 3 minutes a night to draw penalties. It’s just not that kind of team.

– All these starts for Niemi are showing us that he’s more or less like Huet, but for the sake of argument, let’s wait and see how he performs with more starts. Q’s riding the “hot” goalie, inasmuch as 3 shootout wins (3.00 GAA, .895 SV%) out of 4 starts is a hot streak. Like I said, a win is a win is a win.

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