NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Winnipeg Jets

Every Time I Think I’m Out – Blackhawks 4, Jets 3

Box Score

Event Summary

War on Ice

I’m almost positive I’ve used this title before. If not, then there’s no lack of opportunity that we could have over the past 7 or 8 years. Just when things look as bleak as possible, the Hawks somehow find a way to get the job done. If we’ve learned anything from this Hawks’ core, it’s going to take a very special effort to drive the nail through their coffin.

Tonight, the Jets were not nearly good enough to do it even as the Hawks didn’t get one bounce through the first 30 minutes.

Let’s go.

–In Friday night’s first period, the Blue Jackets scored 4 goals after the Hawks were way too weak in their defensive coverage. They gave up three breakaways, endless odd man rushes and the puck was in their net 4 times. The rest of the game, they were buttoned up and Columbus didn’t score again until the game was out of reach. By then, the damage was already done.

Tonight, the Jets allowed the Hawks endless odd man rushes, breakaways and the very rare at the NHL level, 2 on 0. The Hawks couldn’t capitalize on any of them until Patrick Sharp, of all people, finally broke through on a breakaway after Tobias Enstrom was doing whatever.

I guess you can say “puck don’t lie” but I doubt anyone wanted to hear that going into the third period.

–Heading into the third, if this was a team that wanted to lay down and die, it was the perfect time to do it. The Hawks couldn’t catch a break on any of the odd man rushes. They were victimized on a couple bad penalties that ended up in the back of their net and they were in hostile territory with a fanbase sniffing their first playoff series since Teemu had acne.

I didn’t disagree with anything Sam wrote on Friday and the Hawks haven’t really shown recently any kind of resilience this year to suddenly expect anything different.

Going down a goal in the first or second has been met with a half-shrug and whatever most nights. So expecting the Hawks to put together the gutsy effort it was going to take to pull out one point, let alone two, seemed equivalent to driving your car off a Chicago side street after a snow storm.

And then, it all kind of happened. Sharp scores on his 3,245th breakaway of the the season. Toews redirects a puck in the final minute that saw its way past Ondrej Pavelec.

Say whatever you want, it took some massive stones for the Hawks to squeeze 2 points in regulation out of this one.

–It took ten minutes into the first for the Hawks to realize that reversing the breakout in the defensive zone is a horrible idea against the Jets. The second a winger sends the puck back to a defenseman, there are two drooling Winnipeg forecheckers all over the Hawks. It led to a lot of helter skelter chances that Corey Crawford was able to turn away.

Then the Hawks started pushing the puck straight ahead and clearing the zone at all costs.

THEN a few minutes later, they remembered the great forecheck buzzkill that they seemed to patent during the ’09-10 Cup run. A safe little zone flip by the defenseman over the head of everyone that clears the puck and relieves pressure.

Sure, it’s sort of like a punt in that they’re giving possession right back, but what it does is it keeps the opposition defensemen honest. They don’t want to get beat with an alley-oop. So instead of standing their ground at the blue line on a forecheck, they start back-pedaling.

That leads to other opportunities where the Hawks can then later skate the puck out of their zone with a head of steam. One thing feeds the other.

That’s pretty much when the game tilted in the Hawks’ favor even if they weren’t capitalizing. The only thing that was going to prevent them from gaining at least 1 point was some kind of unlucky bounce or insane blunder.

–The Hawks penalty kill system is pretty unique so I get that they’re a little apprehensive about who gets to kill when. That being said, Antoine Vermette has been in the league long enough and long enough with the Hawks that he won’t be getting in someone’s way out there.

He’s killed penalties his whole career. He should be given the nod in front of Kris Versteeg on a penalty kill from now until eternity. It shouldn’t have to take Versteeg coughing up possession on an easy clear that led to an eventual soul-crushing goal to learn this.

–This is the Oduya we know and love. Having the time off due to injury was probably just as important to clear his head. More, please.

Maybe next time, Blake Wheeler will keep his mouth shut after his team takes the lead with more than 25 minutes left in regulation.

–Michal Rozsival, less please. But it’s pretty much a cliche at this point.

–Another one tomorrow night and it won’t be much easier. Coughing up a hair ball and all this goodwill established tonight goes right out of the window.

  • jordyhawk

    Glad you pointed out Versteeg’s contribution to their first. Just clear the zone. Happy we won. That is all.

  • Bruce

    This was a great win and was badly, badly needed. I think that Sharp has actually had more than 3,245 unconverted breakaways this year until tonight. TT on the 4th line. Brutal.

    • rhodes

      …and Vermette on wing. WTF?

      • jordyhawk

        That blew me away.

        • WookRN

          Again, I do REALLY like Shaw. He just SUCKS at center…

  • seabsrat

    What’d you guys think of Timmonen? He did seem a little overwhelmed by the size and speed tonight at times.. Makes me worried for the playoffs, because Q will roll 5 defenseman (essentially 4 defenseman because we can’t really count Roszival as a contributing factor to the team’s defense).

    • rhodes

      I was just about to post a similar comment.

      To me, this is the gorilla in the room. Timonen had better come into form in short order, because the games are not getting any easier from here on out. His TOI was < 10 minutes tonight. Q is clearly protecting him still.

      Like you say, at this point it looks like we might be entering the playoffs with only 4 reliable D men. We know what Rosi is capable of. Rundblad/Kimo have to step up and fast.

      • WookRN

        I think Rundblad would like to step up, but he hasn’t gotten nearly the chances that Kimmo or Rosie has…

        • seabsrat

          I am hoping beyond hope that Q will play Rundblad or literally ANY of the other Rockford defenseman in place of Roszival. Even Cumiskey who we saw earlier this season exposed for some sub-par defensive skill in the TB game, would be a tremendous improvement in speed and offensive ability over Roszival.

          I know it’s farfetched to think Q would replace his favorite circus ape– a player that could literally take a dump on the ice and throw it at Q’s head and still find a way to play >20min– but I can dream can’t I?

          • Harshboy

            Hilarious! Love the dump on the ice analogy. So true though

        • ToucanStubbs

          Rundblad can and will step up. He played his heart out on Friday and looked solid. Its telling that Q actually plays him when the team needs a goal. I don’t think you can argue that he can drive play and create chances. His defensive play still needs work but he’s getting better at just being simple and it shows. He’s more of an asset than a liability and thats what really matters when your other options are Timonen and Roszival.

    • Jim

      The hope is that his experience will be more important than his wheels. He looks slow out there. And Q still doesn’t trust him.

  • B.I.G. Forever

    This is still a team that IS going to the playoffs. I’ve learned my lesson long ago – once the playoffs start, all bets are off.

    I’m still worried, as I think most of us are here, about whether or not this squad can sustain itself over the course of a seven game series against what seems to be larger, faster – BETTER teams around the league (see St. Louis/Nashville and others).

    This was a must win tonight and the Hawks made it happen.

    • WookRN

      And, while I have many concerns, it’s a team that has lots of playoff experience.

  • Jim

    Gutsy win. Giving up a goal in the last seconds of the period (like they did at the end of the second on Bufflin’s PP goal) usually buries a team. But they came back.

  • ChiCityKyle

    First and foremost….Sam, I love ya. After the “2015 Blackhawks are finished” article. And after this win. I have to poke a lil fun and say you are this guy right now. You love the team that you curse at. Go Hawks!

    • Bannerman

      This was just won game. I’m happy they won and it was nice to see them keep pressing even after going down 3-2. But this doesn’t really change the major focus of Sam’s article. The first period was a Chinese fire drill and it was nearly miraculous that they weren’t down by 2 let alone being up 1. Pat and Edzo were talking about how Timmonen was struggling with the size and speed of the Jets. That doesn’t bode well for the playoffs. Let’s see how they do tonight before we start needling Sam.

      • Bannerman

        If they win tonight, then it will be time. Who knows, maybe Sam’s article will be the turning point like Phil Esposito’s speech.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2v4rHgRyUo

      • ChiCityKyle

        Hey I was just poking a lil fun, that’s all. But saying that this team, which carries the largest sack in the league, is finished before April rolls around, that stings a lil as a Blackhawk faithful, but I understand the frustration. Lets. Go. Hawks.

  • wardrums

    Exciting wrap.

    “If we”ve learned anything from the Hawks core, its going to take a very special effort to drive a nail through their coffin. ”

    Boy did that observation hit the nail on the head.

    Eceryone came to play. I not only would have liked to see Vermette kill the penalty, but also see his line get a few more minutrd on the ice. He, especially “took it to the streets laast night, showing no fear of the winnipeg size.

    What was withthe Byfuglien bitxh slap of Shaw?

    • Jim

      That was my favorite line from the wrap also.

    • ToucanStubbs

      I do think its telling that no one really believed the Hawks weren’t going
      to win the Cup last year until about a week after the Kings held their parade. You can’t ever count the Hawks out because they do have so much pure talent that any one of the core can steal a game all on their own.

      Part of me thinks they know that and thus don’t give it their all on a nightly basis but in any case, if there’s ever a time to say “It ain’t over till its over” its during a Blackhawks game.

  • Brandon Murray

    “Maybe next time, Blake Wheeler will keep his mouth shut after his team takes the lead with more than 25 minutes left in regulation”
    I left a comment about this last night in the game thread. Wheeler gave a little shove and then flat out got in the face to taunt. Between Wheeler’s antics and Buff’s face slap to Shaw, the Jets showed some real bitch moves last night. Real bitch moves.

  • Mike Leaman

    Is there any chance we get TVR for the playoffs?

  • HawkIPA

    Gutsy win last night. If they bring the same resilience to the UC tonight against a very motivated Kings team, I think we can start talking about the Hawks as a contender again.