I’m Working So I Won’t Have To Try So Hard: Blackhawks 4, Wild 3 (Hawks lead series 1-0)

Box Score

Event Summary

War on Ice

3-0, 3-3. 4-3. I feel like we’ve seen this movie before a couple times. The only difference tonight was the Hawks weren’t the ones scratching and clawing their way back into it.

You saw the game. You know the specifics. Let’s get right down to it.

–That first period wasn’t vintage Hawks, per se with the puck possession, pin a team deep in their end for shifts on end only to finish with a goal or power play. But it was opportunistic Hawks.

Brandon Saad didn’t miss his chance when he blew past Ryan Suter and roofed it over Devan Dubnyk.

The second Hawks goal was one part terrific advanced scouting and second part execution.

The Hawks clearly found an opportunity to exploit a Minnesota offensive zone face off play. With Spurgeon and Scandella lined up on opposite sides and close together, the Hawks designed a faceoff play for Vermette to push the puck strong side with the winger, in this case Brad Richards, breaking up the middle.

The play worked perfectly as Vermette easily won the draw, Richards took the puck out cleanly with a head of steam, undressed Scandella at the blue line and hit Kane for a perfect one-timer over Dubnyk’s glove.

The third goal was created after an extended zone play by the fourth line and was finished by Kruger. Desjardins made a strong play by maintaining possession even though he was flat on his stomach and getting his face shoved into the ice.

It wasn’t that the Hawks were dominating zone time in the period but every opportunity they were generating, it seemed like it was finding its way past Dubnyk.

–Of course, it wouldn’t be your Chicago Blackhawks without a rapid and violent swing in the other direction.

It started with Brent Seabrook and Marcus Kruger contemplating the high price of coconut milk while Jason Zucker stood wide open in front of the net for a tip in.

The second goal seemed a bit fluky. It’s hard to tell what happened exactly whether it was a Crawford brain fart, or if he thought Thomas Vanek was a Hawks defensemen coming to pick up the puck, or if Vanek yelled like he was a Hawks defensemen to not freeze the puck.

Either way, Crawford had an opportunity to freeze the puck but for whatever reason, he didn’t. Vanek passed it to a wide open Zach Parise and the lead was down to one just five minutes into the period.

The third goal was a result of Duncan Keith missing a wide open breakout pass, then getting outmuslced in the corner, then regaining possession only to make another terrible pass that Granlund happily deposited behind Crawford.

After a timeout by Quenneville, the Hawks seemed to settle down and tighten up their breakouts, neutral zone play, etc.

–After Teuvo’s goal put the Hawks in front for good, the Hawks’ third period was about as strong as their third period against Nashville. Minnesota’s best chance came off a goofy bounce off the partition, Parise interfering with Hjalmarsson and then Pominville shanking it off the glass.

Not exactly the type of play you can draw up and punish the Hawks for continuously.

–Devan Dubnyk, another goalie who makes glove saves look like Dr. Octavious trying to floss. 3 of the Hawks goals were launched over Dubnyk’s glove. There were countless other shots that hit Dubnyk in the glove only to bounce out and lay in front of him.

Maybe it’s only because it’s the second round, but it’s funny that there isn’t already a national crisis, various table talks and hot takes dedicated to Dubnyk’s shoddy glove.

–Other than his wraparound attempt in the third, it sure seemed like Jason Zucker was much less visible after Rozsival cracked him along the boards late in the second period. Whodathunkit.

–At the start of the game, I was thinking about Teuvo and how I was going to write about how we should really limit expectations for him in the playoffs. After all, Eric Daze played 16 playoff games his rookie year without getting a point. Brandon Saad went all the way to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final until he scored his first playoff goal.

So it’s not like it should be preordained that Teuvo will just suddenly become the player we all expect facing the toughest competition of his life.

Then he went and scored the game-winner. Even though it was a pretty fluky goal as well and more of Teuvo just throwing the puck to the net, but…….the guy just has a knack for making things happen. He’s got that gift and I don’t think it really matters how old he is or how little experience he has.

–Did you notice how fast Joel Quenneville tried to get Kane and/or Toews on the ice as soon as Jordan Leopold hopped over the boards? I’m half surprised he hasn’t designed some kind of cannon to just shoot them off the bench and directly into the offensive zone.

–As far as the penalty kill, the Hawks were kind of victimized by the aforementioned weird goal where something, but I’m not sure what, happened. Their other two kills in the third period, though, were very strong.

In the previous round, whether it was Nashville exploiting a weakness on the right half wall, or just a bad match-up for the Hawks, the Wild’s power play plays a little more into the Hawks set up.

Other than times when the Wild were able to cross the offensive blue line with a ton of speed, the Hawks closed down a lot of the shooting and passing lanes. Whatever was open, wasn’t open very long and the Hawks did a good job of not allowing extended looks at Crawford.

Something to watch as the series progresses, for sure.

–The pace of Game 2 may look a bit different than this one. Though the Wild have proven they can skate with the Hawks, I don’t think they’re necessarily going to push the pace. Mike Yeo, who probably used to call the Score to complain about Dick Jauron for his lack of 2nd half adjustments, will certainly look to try something different so his team doesn’t leave the first period feeling as though the armies of Helm’s Deep are surrounding them.

The thing with the Wild, though, is they’ve proven to be sort of unpredictable in this regard. On one hand, you’d think they’ll want to chip and chase a little more, make the Hawks skate the full 200 feet of the ice and all that other stuff.

But on the other, I almost think they may double down and keep forcing the Hawks to keep up the tempo with the hope they may eventually wear down.

Only one way to find out.

  • Jim

    You say Dubnyk’s glove is bad? I was watching highlights of St. Louis in the first round and they were scoring against Dubnyk high blocker side.

    Nice to see the Blackhawks skating 4 complete lines composed of their 12 most talented players. What a concept. Each line scored! Wonder if Q starts the playoffs scratching some of his best players just to be sporting? Or maybe so the opponents don’t have film on them? Or he’s embarrassed to have so many good players?

    What a nice win. I was thinking it might have been 5-1 or something (might have been if Oduya’s early 2nd period shot went in instead of hitting a crossbar). But this was another entertaining game. Hawks in 6! The Wild’s goalie sux again, Dubynk is returning to earth, due to waves of Hawks coming at him.

    • ourgeorge

      Good points, but credit management for putting the Hawks in a position to roll 4 lines this year, right? I’ve only started reading the blog recently, but I just don’t understand the negativity about Q in the comments. I guess it’s par for the course, but he’s brought 2 cups, a highly-paced entertaining brand of hockey, and the players go to war for him. What’s not to love?

      • Jim

        I’m not sure there is a better coach for the Blackhawks out there, and Q is a great coach. But it is a cognitive bias to accept Q as being perfect because of the 2 cups. There is without a doubt room for improvement. Do we stop improving because of past results?

        (And I’m talking about hockey fans that like to go beneath the surface, not the casual fan)

        I would argue Q cost the Blackhawks a cup last year by sticking with Handzus too long centering Kane in the WCF until the Hawks were already too far behind against a great LA Kings team. And the Hawks started winning games in that series after the line adjustment was made. But lots of fans saw this right away, before it was too late.

        Also, the reason we have Rosival in there is we did not develop many of the defensive prospects during the regular season. You saw last night Rosival taking a penalty, and costing the Hawks another goal. We could write a whole blog on his penalties and flat footed mistakes costing goals. Why didn’t we develop Dahlbeck or Clendening? The Hawks could have had some additional speedy defensive depth, then they would have been deep in offense and defense, and unstoppable.

        Also, why did Q sit Tuevo against Nashville? This is after he made a brilliant pass that scored the game winner that may have been crucial to saving that series. Here TT is in again last night, and look, game winning goal.

        The knock on Q is well summarized in this article:

        • ourgeorge

          They did try to develop defensemen this year, Rundblad, and van Riemsdyk. Some bad luck there, but I’m doubtful a different set of undeveloped prospects would’ve panned out better. This seems to be a common theme, if only Q would go with the unproven option that has unlimited potential in the eyes of fans.

          I see some of the points of the blog post, but seriously, Andrew Shaw is considered a “meatball”? The guy is an asset! And why no credit for developing Leddy and Saad? I’ve also learned to accept the line switching. The Hawks have so many different weapons, it’s good to see them deployed in a variety of ways. The team is probably more resilient and accountable for it too. I also don’t get the timing, the hawks are better than they were last year!

          • Jim

            Yes, i agree with your points. The beauty of all this is that we are arguing over the finer points and mostly how the 4th line and bottom six pairings should be arranged. We are living in a golden age to be a chicago hockey fan. I hope this team wins the Cup. They are good enough for sure. And I think Q has everything how people wanted it (TT, Vermette, Shaw on wing, Versteeg out, etc.) Rozie is still in there, but what else are you going to do?

          • ourgeorge

            Indeed. It’s such a pleasure to watch this team. I’m trying to enjoy every minute of it.

          • HostileHawk

            There is a plethora of recorded issues with Q.His choices in personnel is a constant issue, such as insistently playing players like Handzus, Bollig, and worst of all John Scott. Then, refusing to play and develop the talented youth such as Hayes, Morin, and Pirri most recently. Remember that Saad only got icetime because Carcillo injured himself. There are many arguments that his development of Leddy was negligent in the beginning. Then, there are the issues of playing people in positions they don’t belong in (Shaw and Kane as centers). Last game is the very first game that Q iced the best forward line combos he could, and every line scored. There are a bunch of fans who have been asking for those lines since the start.

            Then there are the recorded issues between Q and Bowman. Q almost seems to refuse to play Bowman’s system at times.

            Coaching wise, most recently, not calling a timeout in Game 5 after the 3rd goal, and then not giving Crow a look in that game. Sitting Teuvo after he was a noticeable factor. Not sitting Rozie after being directly responsible for 6 of the first 9 goals against in the Preds series, and then sitting other players for coughing on the bench.

            The list goes on and on and on, and has been recorded since 2010. His biggest concern imo is his lack of faith in the youth and random loyalty to veterans who can’t skate.

          • ourgeorge

            “Not sitting Rozie after being directly responsible for 6 of the first 9 goals against in the Preds series …”

            I went ahead and checked those 9 goals just in case I had missed something. First, Rozsival was only on the ice for 4 of the 9 goals. Second, only goal #1 can be blamed directly on him for getting beat back to the net. Here’s how the rest of the goals played out:

            2: Crawford misplayed puck stolen and wrapped around Keith’s side of the net.
            3: Allows backhand shot from the faceoff circle, plumb rebound from Crow picked up by Keith’s man and finished. (borderline his fault since he might’ve reached the puck first to prevent the backhand in the first place)
            4: Nordstrom turnover in neutral zone and Forsberg in the right place at the right time with speed catches everyone out of position.

            Roszival seems to be the whipping boy around here, but I don’t agree that he is obviously worse than alternative options.

          • HostileHawk

            You are forgetting bad penalties which were scored against, and missed coverage. Two of Roszival’s biggest issues besides being often out-skated. You don’t always have to be on the ice to have helped cause a goal against. Every perspective is always worthy of consideration, but there aren’t any experienced hockey players that I know who are comfortable with Roszival’s play throughout the season. Most would rather see Rundblad get some looks.

            I even forgot to mention how Q sat Vermette the first 2 games, opting to play Shaw as a center instead. Roszival has more than earned his critics, but he plays every game.

            I’m not expecting to change anyone’s opinion. Only offering the facts as I, and many experienced hockey minds see them.

            Furthermore, most agree that bad coaching decisions is what kept the Hawks from winning a Cup last year. The biggest factor being a gross mismanagement of ice-time.

      • Björn

        He doesn’t make the armchair coaches decisions. It seems to piss them off.

        • Jim

          The armchair fan is what makes the whole game possible. Without us armchair fans, there would be nobody to care at all, and they could just shut it all down. Getting invested in it is fun, and that’s why I’m here posting and why I watch the games. Also, in my years of watching sports, I’ve noticed the coach is not always right. Check the Seahawks last play in the Superbowl this year. If I was a Seahawks fan, I’d be plenty pissed off.

          • Björn

            Please dont change what I said. theres a difference between “fan” and “coach”, and I never said to not be invested. I wouldn’t be reading boards and blogs such as this, and dedicating myself to sleep deprived days if I didn’t care. My opinion is that people are just far too irrational when it comes to Q (as well as goalies and quarterbacks, but thats another story).
            And I never said that Q is infallible. But the needless negativity and hatred of a coach who, despite being imperfect, still has helped bring success (notice how I said helped, not that its only because of him, or as many on this board now think, in spite of him) is strange, to put it mildly. He does things that make me scratch my head, but he has the record of success that lets him get to make those decisions. Its just like how Toews and Hoss have the track record of performance that allows them to have a bad game, lose an assignment, take a bad penalty, etc. I just think that most posters on this board who want Q gone would be even more pissed with his replacement, because odds are its a huge drop off.

          • TheRealBBOX

            Nice to see the “middle ground” view get some air time since most people seem to want to fall in to either the camp of “Q is a moron” or “Q won two Cups!” and not recognize that, like with most things in life, the truth lies between the extremes.

          • Björn


          • Preacher

            I don’t think many fans would suggest or expect Q to be infallible. The issue is more with what seems to be absolutely obvious to so many of us. And what seems to be obvious is not coming from the drunken “bring in Kyle Orton” crowd. Many of the folks here look at the numbers–the shooting percentages, the zone starts, how Player A does when on the ice with Player B compared to with Player C, right side vs. left side, and so on–and the decisions Q makes seem to fly in the face of what clearly works according to the stats. This is not just irrational “I hate the head coach” bluster. What’s really interesting is that when Q actually DOES make a change that many of us have been calling for, it usually produces good results. That’s why I say it seemed “obvious” to us–why did it take him so long to figure it out? Hence the negativity.

          • Björn

            I know there are fewer commenters here, but reading some of the thoughts here reminds me of what many people got angry over on this very board: hive mind mentality. Not to say that everyone here says the same things, but majority of the posters I see here consider Q leaving “nirvana”, or “freedom”. And to be fair, for being constiuents of stats, this board has been notoriously ragging on Seabrook for years despite what the deeper stats tell. I feel the same way about that as I do Rozie, its confirmation bias. If you look for something, odds are you’ll find it.
            So while I wasnt necessarily targeting you, Preacher, I think a vast majority of the readership should take a chill pill over Q. Hes gonna make mistakes, he’ll play one of “his guys” over a younger player, but he deserves the benefit of the doubt.
            But even to that point, hows Mo treating Lumbus?

          • Preacher

            I didn’t take your comment personally, Bjorn. And I, for one, don’t actually think it would be good to get rid of Q. His system is why these Hawks have been so successful. Watch other teams, and their D don’t pinch nearly as much as our guys do. They don’t have the same scheme as we do, and I don’t think another scheme would serve us as well. So, no, I’m not anxious to see Q go anywhere. I just wish he’d stop trying to outcoach himself and go with what works best instead of his “gut” or favorites or the “veteran” or whatever other measure he’s using that doesn’t seem to translate to success on the ice. (Babcock would be interesting to see with this roster though…)

          • seabsrat

            The reason I get annoyed with Q is because I just don’t understand his reasoning behind personnel changes. He usually gives the same kind of answer in any press conference regarding a change along the lines of, “We like the play he brings to the table. Blah blah consistency. Blah blah both ends of the ice.”

            I still like Q quite a bit, and I think he’s one of the best coaches in the league, I just tend to get frustrated with those kinds of decisions that I can’t seem to wrap my head around. I will never understand how Rozsival can play with total impugnity despite his total lack of skill. I will never understand why certain players will forever be in his doghouse no matter how they’re currently playing.

            All that being said, he’s contributed to 2 cups and you’ve gotta respect that. And no matter who is in charge in the coming seasons, they’re gonna get the some level of negative feedback because I’m a diehard fan and I need something to complain about even though the grass is plenty green on this side.

          • 1985AH1985

            Getting rid of Q would be idiotic. I’ve always defended him but this year with Versteeg playing regardless of his screw ups and seemingly looking for the first reason to sit vermette, I understand the frustration. Q is a good coach but he is stubborn with “his guys” compared to other guys. Glad he’s gotten the lineups how they are now though. 4 strong lines. Just took longer than it should have IMO.

          • DJ

            The problem with that was…given the look and the down (second down, with a chance to go to Lynch on third if necessary), it wasn’t an utterly stupid call. Sadly, people think the call was stupid as opposed to saying “My gosh, Malcolm Butler made the best single defensive read and play in the last 20 years on the biggest stage.”

          • Jim

            I’m sure this has been debated to death elsewhere, I’ve actually never had this discussion before. But if you run Lynch 3 times in a row and you get stuffed, so be it. Or if he fumbles, that’s on Lynch. I know the argument for why they called the pass, and that pick was a huge statistical outlier, but still…

          • cza

            Agreed. But that’s the beauty of the counterfactualist: you can’t prove them wrong. So in their alternate universe, of course Lynch scores. Because narrative.

      • Preacher

        The negativity about Q is mostly based on personnel decisions. For instance, why did it take him a few games to put Vermette on the ice when it seemed an obvious choice from the start? Why did TT sit for 4 games when it’s clear he was a better option than Versteeg? And why does Q regularly put players in line combos and positions (like center instead of wing *cough* Shaw *cough*) that don’t maximize the player’s abilities? Or why handcuff your best defensemen by pairing them up with players they have to babysit, instead of setting them up to do their best?

        Hence the negativity. But if they win, all is good.

        • RMM

          So you would prefer he puts Rozival with Timonen?

          • Preacher

            Actually, that possibility has been discussed here several times. With guarded zone starts and favorable matchups–which Q DOES do all the time and does it well–yes, they could be out there together. The idea is that it allows Keith to do Keith things rather than having to constantly cover for Rozy, which limits Keith’s ability to push the offense. I will agree, though, that we don’t have much more to offer in terms of Dmen, which goes back to Q not being willing to let the young ones have significant playing time during the regular season to develop into quality options come playoff time. Hence the negativity.

          • ourgeorge

            There are two ways to look at it: Keith spending a significant amount of ice time ‘covering’ for Rozy, leaving him out of position and limiting his effectiveness, or Keith being as exceptional as ever and taking some of the pressure off of Rozy as a result.

            As far as development goes, they’ve given Rundblad plenty of opportunity to develop, and wasn’t their main defensive prospect Trevor van Riemsdyk? There’s only so much that can be done.

          • DJ

            TVR, with Stephen Johns developing in Rockford. I don’t quite expect Johns to make the big club next season (unless the Capocalypse really hits hard), but he should make the decision hard for the brass.

          • WookRN

            But then….why Rosie? At least why every game? We’ve had success with a rotation for the 6th D man, even last year (or the year before…) we used Brookbank in and out, so why not Rundblad….? Or dress 5 and a sixth forward (though I do love our current lines…)

          • ourgeorge

            Quenneville must believe he’s a lower risk than alternative options. I love watching Rundblad carry the puck, but he’s not a physical presence, and he turns the puck over.

            Hawks have more flexibility with 6 defensemen. Roszival and Timonen can be thought of as filler that enable Keith and Seabrook to rack up ice time. When Keith and Rozy are out together, Rozy is able to shorten his shift, allowing Seabrook to play for a time on the right side with Keith. When Keith decides to leave the ice, Timonen finishes out the latter part of Seabrook’s shift. Hjalmarsson and Oduya come on together, giving everyone a break.

            Seabrook’s minutes can be controlled by telling Rozy how short to keep his shifts, and Keith controls his own minutes with Timonen picking up the slack. This pattern is borne out in the TOI numbers for the playoffs thus far. There is an inverse relationship between both Keith and Timonen TOI, and Seabrook and Rozsival TOI.

            Interesting stats: both losses of these playoffs came during Timonen’s highest TOI. Conversely, it would be true that both losses came during Duncan Keith’s lowest TOI games, except for the fact that his lowest TOI game was last game vs the wild. Oduya picked up his ice time slack against Minnesota.

            In any case, I will be looking at D line changes in a new light this evening.

            Also, give Rozy a break!

          • WookRN

            First, you make good points. Second, while I’m complaining about Rosie, ultimately, I’m complaining about the situations he’s put in. He’s been playing every game all season, not being the healthy scratch that he should have been to get some other looks, and look what those looks have gotten us from Teuvo and to some extent Desjardins, who Q didn’t seem to keen to dress after that trade.

            Oduya has been improving his game (not to say he’s a bad player, but before his injury, he wasn’t having his best season.) He and Hjammer have been the only reliable pair at a play off level, where as we’re using both Timmonen and Rosensval like they are the 6th/ kinda odd man d man, and breaking up a pairing of Seabrook and Keith that has carried the offensive side of the d-pair for seasons now. Hjammer and Oduya are the lock down, Seabs and Dunc force the offense, the third pair does whatever it needs to do, which was beautiful when being wheeled on by Leddy. Now we look like we have 1 D pair we trust, and that doesn’t work in the modern NHL.

            And I don’t think it’s borne out TOI so much as I had anticipated, so much as the D shrinking back to the neutral zone faster than usual, instead of one back, one trying pinch the puck and keep it in to drive the offense.

            Just my two cents. But he may have been counting on TVR returning, etc, etc.

          • 1985AH1985

            At home, I woundt be against it. Completely cherry pick ozone starts for their 10-12 minutes

  • chichicagochi

    Coconut milk commodity prices and Dick Jauron half time adjustments… you good sir are winning today.

  • jordyhawk

    Some poor passing. Their third was a prime example. Maybe 5 or 6 seconds before the goal DK had the puck and we had three guys breaking out but his pass for Jonny missed and went right to their point man and it all went sideways after that. We need to be sharper with the puck. As Q (correctly) says, attention to details.

    To the good, we put that sloppy play behind us and came up with a solid professional final 20. All four line scored last night night which is pretty rare. It wasn’t art, but I’ll take it.

    • Preacher

      Also on passing, I’ve started to track the times our Dmen, when they’re deep in our zone trying to move the puck up, make the “harder” pass than what seems to be the much easier option. For instance, the guy 10 feet away from me with no one on him or even coming toward him, vs. the teammate all the way across the ice with one or more opposing players nearby or in the passing lane. It’s scary how many times our guys try to make the more dangerous pass. Rozy and Seabs are the biggest culprits of this. Rozy’s usually end up on an opponent’s stick. Oduya does this a lot too, but his mostly end up in icings. Hammer is by far the “safest” of the bunch. Making the simple pass would certainly cut down on the puck being in our end more.

      • jordyhawk

        Yeah, I agree. I think that Rozy in particular is notorious for making diagonal passes that get picked off. One way to improve on that is to make those passes behind the winger so that he can pick it up on the carom off the boards, but that is very hard to do all the time.

        • To Saad be the glory

          Or see if Rozsival can make those passes from the press box.

      • PuttingOnTheFoil77

        Hammer is one of the best for stretch passes.

  • wihawkfan

    Tuevo had the assist to start the Hawks playoff scoring and then last night had a game winning goal. Is he dominant? No, but I think he will grow leaps and bounds by playing playoff hockey. He’s just one of those guys who always seems to show up when the lights are bright.

    I don’t think he will hurt you and the upside just seems too great to ignore. He is defensively responsible and he is going to get some turnovers with his stick.

    Please leave him in the rest of the way.