NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks 1, Blue Jackets 0

Sometimes it’s difficult to find beauty after 18 games of not losing in regulation.  Against a Columbus team that is still struggling to figure out how to score more goals than the opposition, the Hawks scored the minimum amount required to net two points.  If there was a silver lining in tonight’s playbook, it was that the Hawks got a performance from their goalie that we’ve been begging for for a couple years.

No, Corey Crawford didn’t stand on his head or make a plethora of highlight reel saves.  All he did was make the saves that should be expected of him.  The Blue Jackets had a couple of good chances to find twine but they didn’t and Crawford didn’t give them any breaks by giving up any soft goals.  It wasn’t a goalie win.  It was a team win.  Take it and move on.

–For a team playing its third game in four nights, the Blue Jackets played a pretty solid game.  They had a strong compete level and looked way more engaged than they have the last couple seasons.  The combination of a new young wave of high draft picks combined with a new coach and the loss of Rick Nash gives the Jackets a new dynamic.  If it keeps going this way, it’s only a matter of time until they start winning games like tonight.

The one guy who impresses me the most is Cam Atkinson.  For whatever reason, I’ve watched more Blue Jackets hockey than ever before and each game Atkinson has impressed me more and more.  That little bastard is a handful.

–Another impressive performance out of Niklas Hjalmarsson.  He had as much to do with preserving the shutout as Corey Crawford did.  Late in the first, Hjalmarsson saved a sure goal by sacrificing his body in front.  In the second, he cleared a loose puck with Crawford swimming in his crease during a scramble in front.  He has been the Hawks most consistent defensemen this year.  It’s almost humorous to recall his performances from the past couple seasons at this point; like he had some alien pod infesting his body during that time because the difference in his play is that drastic.

–As a fourth line player and top penalty killer, Michael Frolik is a lot of fun to watch.  When you forget about the fact that he’s the Hawks 6th highest paid forward and was originally thought to be a key contributor to their secondary scoring, it makes it a lot easier to stomach.

–Maybe it’s the lack of sleep but I think I like Dan Carcillo on that fourth line.  Certainly better than him on either of the top two lines.

–Did we really need a spear to the nuts to be reminded that James Wisniewski is a dirty player?  This is the same guy who sent one of his groomsmen to the 12th century with a vicious forearm to the mouth.  And if you think that Andrew Shaw is going to forgive and forget, you would be sorely mistaken.

–Michael Rozsival is a prototypical 3rd pair defensemen.  That doesn’t mean he should be excused for letting not one, but two guys slip behind him for breakaways.  Crawford bailed him out one time and the post the second time.  Both times, Rozsival was caught napping and let guys slip behind him.  Yeah, one guy came off the bench on a change but Rozsival was on the other side of the red line during a penalty kill.  That probably shouldn’t happen.

  • Z-man19

    Seemed like Frogger stepped in for Bolly nicely and the 4th line was still effective. Of course it was against the Beej but I’ll take it.

    2 shutouts this season, what is happening here? Crow has been better this year but so has the D in front of him.

    I’m very curious to see how the hawks deal with the oil tomorrow.

    • Accipiter

      No Taylor Hall tomorrow.

      • Z-man19

        2nd game of a back to back against a team that torched the hawks twice last year and beat them 3 out of 4 (IIRC), it will still be interesting without Hall.

        • Accipiter

          I agree, they have a lot of fire power.

          • jackattack

            They’re very small though, and that doesn’t bode well when the Hawks already match them in speed. Hats off to Dubnyk, though. He’s been great.

          • justforkicks

            may be true against other teams but they obviously have a good record against us, by which i mean they killed us dead.

          • Accipiter

            Meh, new season. Let them play the game to decide.

          • justforkicks

            obviously. i’m not predicting the game here, i’m saying it may not be as easy as people may think.

          • Accipiter

            It’s the NHL, I hope people don’t think it’s easy. Not directed at you, but any NHL team can beat you on any given night, luckily for the Hawks it hasn’t happened yet.

          • justforkicks

            given the “Its just the BJs! Its just the Oilers!” talk I’ve seen, its unfortunately not the case.

          • http://whatisthebestadverb.wordpress.com/ I am not Chico Maki

            Two of our tougher games have been the Jackets!

          • Z-man19

            you are ready for the media

          • Accipiter

            Just waiting for the coach to put me in.

          • zacked

            The important thing is just to not take penalties. The Oil have scored 47% of their goals this year from power plays, which is by far the highest percentage in the league, and I doubt it’s just small sample because their scoring is made up of high-skill small forwards and teenagers. They are also second in PPG per game. During the two pastings last year, the ‘hawks gave up a very uncharacteristic 7 power plays in each game.

        • laaarmer

          Ben Eager! Hide the paste!

      • justforkicks

        meh its sam gagner we have to look out for

    • jackattack

      Where did the Frogger nickname come from?

      • http://www.facebook.com/hair.helmet Hair Helmet

        IIRC, when the-plan-all-along first started, he was constantly being manhandled and crushed by the opposition and bouncing to and fro through traffic with the inevitable flattening…and then he would get back up for the next shift and do the same.

        • http://whatisthebestadverb.wordpress.com/ I am not Chico Maki

          It really is one of the better nicknames … among bunches of good ones.

        • Jim A

          So nothing has changed…

      • ahnfire

        back when we were at SBN, zacked coined it during a comment and the masses made it so.

        link: http://www.secondcityhockey.com/2012/3/23/2897100/morning-links-3-23#96412178

  • Preacher

    Methinks the Hawks will remember the Nightmare in Edmonton last year and come out with a bit of fire and with something to prove. Getting beat in 3 games by an aggregate score of 21 to 9, I think Captain Serious will have our boys VERY up for this game.

    • justforkicks

      well, i hope the captain doesn’t have our boys up and they remember the humiliation themselves and are fired up

  • Accipiter

    Hjalmarsson was not as bad as you are making him out to be (in the last two seasons), but he is playing really well this year.

    • PainSt

      I agree

      People keep extrapolating Hjalmarsson’s sophmore slump onto last year when he was actually quite good and not one of the reasons that the Hawks sucked half the time ..he had to babysit Leddy ffs

      Also I thought Rozsival had a solid game last night and wasn’t the weak link that he is being made out to be here. Great pickup by Stan B.

      It was nice to see Crow get better and better as the game went along

      Good game

    • justforkicks

      agreed. he’s been a rock this year, its just more apparent.

    • http://whatisthebestadverb.wordpress.com/ I am not Chico Maki

      Also agree, but he really is exceeding expectations.

      There’s something to be said, even at this level, about intangibles like, say, confidence in your goalie, like not feeling like you’re going to cost the team a game if you make a mistake … which I think was the case last year with both forwards and d-men. It’s a stupid claim, I realize, in that it’s impossible to back up, but still, Craw/Emery last year … so many player mistakes led to goals. This year, nope. Can’t help freeing them up in my opinion. If you’re not worrying about making mistakes at this level, you’re not making them.

  • cliffkoroll

    Nice wrap, but see…see…we as fans are so jaded. Not a peep about Hossa’s two cyborg-kill-mode FUs? Or Kaner’s crazy-ass dipsy doo? Or props to the beleagured Steve Mason for stoppin’ all three there?

    Can’t remember everything, but damn they’re good and fun.

    However, I just don’t see this team winning a Cup with Niemi in net.

    • laaarmer

      Neither do I. Huet is the #1. He will get them there.

  • laaarmer

    Wisniewski. What a waste of time that guy is. He hit a guy in the nuts on purpose with his stick. I believe some playground justice is in order.

  • justforkicks

    Random but highest TOI last night was Keith with 22:29, 2nd highest was Kane with 22:53, and 3rd highest Seabrook with 22:21

  • Sparky_The_Barbarian

    Yes, solid if not spectacular performance by Crow, worthy of a 1st star not so much for outstanding play, but for consistent play on a night when everyone else was inconsistent.

    For most of the game it looked to me like the BJ’s brought more energy. They were fired up to play the best team in the league. The Hawks were not so inspired to play the worst team in the league… so on and so on….

    PK was awesome again, but why the hell are we in the box five times against Columbus?

    Turns out Hammer and Crow and Razor may not have been playing all that badly last year after all. And I’m sure it will turn out that the entire team isn’t playing as well as their record indicates this year. We’re winning a lot of 1 goal games in the first half of the season, just like Minn did last year, and they won the Cup last year, right?

    Yeah, I know, this team is a LOT more talented and a LOT deeper than Minn.

  • hz82

    PK has gotten all the attention for his excellent play this season (deservedly, of course) but Hammer has been playing some excellent hockey with less attention.

    • Accipiter

      Well, Subban is an attention seeker.

  • Bwana

    Away Bolland: 4-0-1, Home Hjalmarsson: 0-0-1, WC Kane: 4-0-1, Black Ice Toews: 5-0-0, Socks: 1-0-0, Hat: 1-0-0

    • Accipiter

      No pants 15-0-3.