Blackhawks Blank Blues, Continue Central Dominance

The Blackhawks dominance of the Central Division continued in St. Louis on Sunday, as Corey Crawford led Chicago to a 2-0 shutout of the Blues.

There was a lot of talk about shutouts coming in, with St. Louis netminder Brian Elliott coming in with an impressive streak without having allowed a goal. But it was Crawford who earned a big victory on Sunday afternoon.

Crawford stopped all 30 shots put on net by the Blues to earn his third shutout of the campaign. Impressively, Crawford was run into a couple times and had to deal with traffic in front of the net all afternoon but played a strong game.

The skaters in front of Crawford were under attack throughout the game. St. Louis, predictably, brought a very physical approach to the game and hit any Hawks player that got close to the puck early on. David Backes made a point to target Jonathan Toews in the first period, and the Hawks captain left the bench for some extra attention late in the opening period after a couple of knee-to-knee hits from the Blues’ captain.

Toews returned to start the second period, however, and finished the game winning half of his faceoffs (10 of 20) while adding one takeaway and an assist on Marian Hossa’s goal.

Hossa added three takeaways to his 15th goal of the season, which was short-handed right off an offensive zone faceoff; a St. Louis high stick led to the draw being to Elliott’s left, and Hossa put a missile five-hole through Elliott.

Bryan Bickell ended Elliott’s shutout streak at 4:31 in the second. Viktor Stalberg, once again skating with a lot of confidence, got the puck into traffic and Bickell put a rebound into the net. Bickell now has five points (three goals, two assists) in his last six games. For Stalberg, the assist gave him points in three of the last four games (one goal, two assists).

Dave Bolland returned to the lineup and was as feisty as we’ve seen him all season. He won only three of ten faceoffs, and served two minor penalties, but was also credited with two hits and a takeaway.

Michael Frolik led the Hawks with four hits.

Once again, a national audience saw some of the best from Chicago’s defensemen. Niklas Hjalmarsson and Duncan Keith combined to block five shots, and Sheldon Brookbank added two blocks as well. Despite getting more shots on net than the Blackhawks, the Blues struggled to maintain puck possession throughout the game.

The Hawks were without Patrick Sharp, who did not travel with the team. He reportedly has an unspecified upper-body injury, and while coach Joel Quenneville wouldn’t admit that it is related to the shoulder issue that kept Sharp out for the last few weeks he would say Sharp is doubtful for Monday night’s game against Dallas at the United Center.

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40 Responses to Blackhawks Blank Blues, Continue Central Dominance

  1. BigSmokeJ says:

    Great effort b\y the team today. But Sharp being out is a concern and Towes getting hurt is a bigger concern, even though he played the rest of the game. They need every to be health come the playoffs. I just hope they don’t put to much effort in being number 1 in points an loose site on that the CUP is all that matters. Who cares about how many points they accumulate.

  2. wildike says:

    I’m getting real tired of everybody banging on Toews without a response from anyone. No one, and I mean, no one should be able to touch him without someone reacting.

  3. EbonyRaptor says:

    Backes and others on the Blues are known for going beyond the limits of acceptable play and sometimes go so far as dirty cheap shots. Backes and Toews have a history of hatred for each other and it looked to me like Backes intentionally tried to knee Toews on the inner thigh the first time and on the outer leg just above the knee the second time. At this point Backes doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt because he is known for those kind of plays. Even though Toews missed only a few shifts and came back and played the 2nd and 3rd periods with no apparent problem, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a thigh bruise and he misses a game or two. Hopefully not though.

    It was good to see the Hawks weather the physical onslaught in the 1st and not let it dictate their play. And it was nice Crawford and the defense in front of him played well enough to not give the Blues anything. A definite playoff type game and handled very well by the Hawks.

  4. BigSmokej says:

    That is going to be every teams strategy to try an wear the hawks down by being physical. They know they can’t skate with them so they will try an beat them up. If the hawks can withstand it their superior talent will win out.. But it’s a long way to 16 wins playing that style.
    I hope they can withstand the long journey.

  5. Sr. Brad says:

    Very good effort by the Hawks…good goaltending from CC, he played “big” in the net today, not giving the Blues shooters a lot to look at…but the D was the real story…as Tab said, the Blues had 30 shots, but not many were of the difficult variety…CC did a good job of rebound control, while our D took care of their men…plus lots of back checking from the forwards.

    St. Louis crossed a line, IMO, with their targeting of Toews and Kane…lots and lots of cheap shots, often late, with none of it being called by the refs. Backes 2 runs at Toews were brutal, especially the first (I think)…even the announcers on NBC were talking about how the Hawks would take their revenge on Backes, but no one did.

    Please don’t let anyone talk to me about Bollig…he was horribly nervous out there today, especially in the 3rd period, and doesn’t hold any of the opposition accountable for their actions against our star players…he is a waste of a roster space and it almost cost us in the 3rd.

    Nice to see the Shaw, Bickell, Stahlberg line back to normal today…they wrecked havoc out there all game…plus they hit people.

    Yes Bolland was back and he was feisty (which is a good sign), but he was awful at the dot, especially in our zone, where he loses every draw…in most cases cleanly creating scoring chances for the opposition….I don’t know how long Sharp is out for again (likely from the Weber cheap shot) but Bolland back as 2nd line centre, taking face-offs, puts us right back in that same scenario again.

    The new D pairings are really starting to pay off, as Sebs and Leddy are settling in together, as are Keith and Hammer…even Brookbank played well today along side Oduya…big plus!

    I think we have one game left with these guys and I hope we do something about Backes.

  6. wall says:

    BigSmoke… the Hawks will have a very difficult time in playoffs – especially if the Refs call the game like they did in 1st… really Toews got slew footed, cross-checked, and Knee on knee contact in the 1st 10 minutes of the game- No calls… The Kings, Ducks, Blues are TOO big to beat when anything goes… And I said this a long time ago- it will be interesting to see if the Refs swallow the Whistles for the Playoffs/TV ratings like they always do…

    It is the OLD double standard… the NHL wants to end cheap shots and protect the elite players… but at the end of the day they are Money Hungry Whores… and love the ratings/hitting in the playoffs…

    Hope the Blues aren’t the 8th seed… we might beat them… but I don’t know if we can survive the physical beating…

    Sharp out- that shoulder injury isn’t going away this year… Q was smart to keep him out – knowing the size and physicality of the Blues.

    I thought Hammer was our best D man of the day.

  7. BigSmokej says:

    It’s going to be very difficult to advance if the refs continue holding the whistle. But if you have been watching games lately that is actually what they have done. Not just hawks games but all games. They are getting playoff teams ready for the playoffs. The Hawks need the D and either goalie to be strong because teams are going to take it to the hawks hard. That is the only way they can stay in the game. As for Sharp hold him out until the playoffs, there is no reason we should see him before then.

  8. IceHogst says:

    Invaluable game for the hawks today. They punched back, weathered the pressure, established their shut down D game and made the Blues play Blackhawk hockey. That’s how they can beat big teams. Fight back! Eventually the cream rises to the top.

    Hawks will need to protect Toews and Kane though, and i agree with SrB on bollig’s ineffective defense of these two. He has no moxie, not a clue how to make a difference. Hawks had to fight through a period and a half of blatant hacking before they got a foothold on their game. Bollig should have been a backs seeking missile in the first five minutes.

    Still, great game hawks. They will not quit!

  9. Tre says:

    I just did a little math: Extrapolating to an 82 game season, if the Hawks continued at the pace they have been on for this season, they would end up with 136 points.

    I get it, it’s not an 82 game season, and keeping up this pace through a longer season would be EXTREMELY unlikely, but to put it in perspective, the highest point total since the President’s trophy was established in the mid eighties is 131 (Detroit ’95-’96)

    This team is special. But the Persident’s trophy is no indicator of winning the big prize.

    Go Hawks!

  10. Chitownarkansas says:

    The Hawks are a finesse team with very few big bodies on the ice. I thought Hayes might be a player to fill that void, but he didn’t seem to know where to be or if it was OK to use his body to slow down defenseman or get in the crease. So it comes down too the bigger men on the Hawks need to give as much as they take.
    Sportsmanship is a big part of the reason Toews is respected around the league but Toews is a big boy and should be giving out punishment of his own. He needs to stand up for himself and the team. Most captains in the league lead their teams by setting this example also. He doesn’t give hard body checks and he lets people get away with pushing his line mates around. Go Hawks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Sr. Brad says:

    I didn’t want to bring it up, but what the hell…how bad is our PP? Is it just me or is it getting worse not better?

  12. wall says:

    I read somewhere that we had 0 shots on 2 PP’s today… that has to be wrong!

  13. RyanDale says:

    Another impressive road win!! I have no doubt we could beat them in a series. Doesn’t mean I want to see it unfold though. It would surely take a toll on all involved.

    Home whites vote -YES !

  14. IceHogst says:

    Yeah the Blackhawk PP has regressed all year. Considering the firepower the hawks have, a mediocre PP is as big a mystery as why Kitchen still has a job. A better power play would make opponents less likely to use hacking tactics. Theoretically, at least.

    Anyway, Hawks were successful on the PP early in the year when they physically moved while passing, thereby opening shooting lanes and setting up one timers. Hawks struggle when they stand in place waiting for the puck to come to them. The latter is because they think too much instead of drilling the puck.

  15. RyanDale says:

    It comes and goes, usually varying from mediocre to totally inept.

    It’s embarrassing

  16. RyanDale says:

    wall… we had 3pp with zero SOG

  17. Pete C says:

    Why is Q playing Bollig over Carcillo?
    Bollig is brutal……at least CarBomb provides
    some O with his game.

  18. wildike says:

    even if toews is a big boy, I repeat, no one should touch the captain without some retaliation from somebody, anybody, I don’t care. a slash across the hands, ankles, or the back of the knees would stop the garbage. Bring in reggie fleming if you must. lol

  19. wildike says:

    Q giving Bollig last chance to see if he wants to stay with the Hawks or not. Or trying to showcase him for a trade, but if he continues like he is, they wouldn’t get a brkoken stick for him straight up.

  20. Sudden Death Hockey says:

    Well boys, what you saw today wasn’t that the Hawks didn’t want to retaliate against Backes, the instigator penalty prevented them from dishing out some “justice”. This game was much too close to go and punch out a guy and possibly play short handed for 5 minutes.

    Again, if you let the players police themselves this kind of crap will slowly go away.

  21. ZebraGreg says:

    Like others, I’m not feeling fuzzy about the PP. Little to no movement, predictable, no quick change of direction with puck movement.
    Thinking back to the Cup year, what’s the differences in personnel or strategy when we had effectiveness? Buff or Brower in front of the net; we spend too much time cycling near the boards and get little to no penetration into the slot areas; we always seem to be looking for the perfect, cute pass and play. I’d like to see more shots just for the sake of getting something onto net even if not high percentage.
    Something’s got to develop with PP or…?
    Agreed, someone has to say hello to Backes or any other scumbag that goes after JT or any of our top guys. For that last game against the ‘Bloos’, I’d dress Mayers, Carcillo, Bollig, Brookbank and give them free reign to bounce a few heads if necessary. At that point, seemingly the points will likely mean nothing and a message may need to be sent.
    Sharpie has to be back and ready to go in two weeks as well.
    Any chance we’ll see #14 dress tomorrow or soon?

  22. Sr. Brad says:

    Hey Greg, I was just thinking that too…perhaps LeBlanc might be ready soon and could fill in while Sharp is away…I was told that he is good at the dot…Bolland is frightening at the circle…and he can’t be any worse than Bollig.

  23. Sr. Brad says:

    And I get the “old” thinking from Q dressing Bollig, but it didn’t work…it never does…he doesn’t intimidate anyone and he NEVER stands up for his team mates. So why dress him? Carcillo was playing very well.

  24. Dave says:

    This is the way teams will play the Hawks . physical and dirty , if they do get a power play, well i guess they could just forfeit the pp . im afraid it will be another early exit for the hawks maybe get out of the first round but with other teams cheap shotting our best players and no retribution , how could any team function this way . The Hawks are skilled , but you have to be skilled , big , and mean to win the
    Cup

    D

  25. BigSomkej says:

    The PP is going to cost this team in the playoffs if they can’t get it looking half was decent. Why would a team care if they take a penalty against them.
    ZG I agree at this point just shoot the puck at the net, you can’t score if it’s not in the net. To not have one shot on goal in three PP is embarrassing.

    They are a highly skilled team, (the best in the regular season), but I have a hard time believing they can handle the 16 game grind.

  26. Mike says:

    I was unable to watch the game. From reading Tab’s report and all the comments it sounds like the Hawks got bruised up again. It becomes more apparent why Q put Carcillo on the first line at the beginning of the year. Sometimes you have to give up a little offense for physicality.

    Like the comments, I like Bolig but he needs more time in Rockford to understand his role and get some leadership qualities and more ice time. Many of us me included, think the Hawks do not put out their best team when they dress Mayers, Carcillo, Brookbank etc. But these are guys who know their roles. Add Bolland to that list and your top guys might get some protection. Keep Bolland on the 3d or 4th line.

  27. Stinky says:

    Carcillo was not playing well. Bollig is a better player. Strong on his skates, can deliver a hit, better shot, better defensively, can grow a man beard. Fighting does not discourage anyone and totally unnecessary when they are dominating a game and have the momentum.

    Winning an important draw and banging in the second goal with a ferocious shot is much more effective.

  28. Peter says:

    Great point Stinky…

  29. McKay says:

    Power play is not the key to the Cup. Yes, it’s awful (so much for Haviland “owning” the PP). But it’s physical 5v5 games like tonight that matter. The 2012 Kings had the 2nd worst PP in the playoffs. I’m pretty sure the 2011 Bruins set a record for worst playoff PP of any Cup winning team ever. Even the 2010 Hawks were bottom 8.

    The key is 5v5. These are the key 5v5 stats that I take stock in:
    -Hawks are top 5 in GF
    -Hawks are #1 in GA
    -Top 5 in shots for and against
    -Best team +/- in the NHL

    Most teams who go deep in the playoffs are top 5 in 5v5 +/- during the regular season. Power play is not an indicator of future success.

  30. JS says:

    Unreal amount of crying from people about Backes. He’s a piece of crap, everyone knows this. Pretty sure JT himself would say shutting them out in their own building is the best revenge they can get.

    Bollig already has two stupid instigator penalties from protecting his teammates this year. So saying he “doesn’t come to the aid of them” is wrong. He does, he gets stupid penalties, then Q sits him for a few games because he doesn’t want him doing that stupid shit.

    Q has been the coach of this team for half a decade and you guys still don’t realize that he doesn’t tolerate the revenge crap? Ever notice when Bollig gets in one of his stupid fights, he gets sat for a couple games? Q hates it. Don’t know why you guys can’t figure this out.

    This was that physical game you guys wanted to see the Hawks win, and they did. Now the problem isn’t that they can’t handle a physical team, but they need to take cheap shots at people for revenge? Please. Let Backes talk all the smack he wants, when it comes down to it he’s not a very good player and the reason the Blues won’t get out of the first round of the playoffs. I think Bickell did plenty enough to embarass him.

  31. JS says:

    And McKay just nailed it. The PP will not be the downfall of the team if they are still good on the PK and dominate 5v5.

  32. Mike says:

    Stinky, All what you say might be true, but Bolig is not showing it. Trust me, Carcillo is not my idea of an ideal tough guy. But Bolig does not YET play the corners all that well and has delivered few meaningful or timely hits. I think he can can do those things well but needs time. I agree with one point though…..he can grow an awesome beard.

  33. McKay says:

    p.s. shout out to Bolland tonight. He was mean as hell. He gets killed in the press and an this blog all the time. How bad did we all want to see him tear Sobotka’s head off? He was our answer to Backes. I actually loved the first minor penalty he took—if you’re going to take a penalty against a team that is trying to push you around, make it a hard penalty like that one.

  34. Tab Bamford says:

    ps shout out to Bolland for… 4 PIM and nothing else? He didn’t play a good game on Sunday, McKay. Pick a better game to give 36 a shoutout.

  35. Stinky says:

    Exactly Bollig is showing nothing. Nothing egregiously bad and nothing spectacular or eye opening. Exactly what you want over a 4th line banger. Eat minutes, don’t do anything stupid, get the puck deep, cycle it round, change. The less you notice that guy the better.

    Oh and Bolland still sucks at hockey. When he starts completing passes and winning draws you can say “he played well” or “is back”. Until that bozo does something tangible on the ice he is doing nothing but dragging that second line down.

  36. Tab Bamford says:

    Just a note for the bed wetting that’s taking place because of the Hawks’ PP woes, here are the last four Stanley Cup Champions and how they ranked on the PP during the regular season:

    2013 – Chicago Blackhawks – 21st – 15.9%
    2011-12 – Los Angeles Kings – 17th – 16.9%
    2010-11 – Boston Bruins – 20th – 16.2%
    2009-10 – Chicago Blackhawks – 16th – 17.7%
    2008-09 – Pittsburgh Penguins – 20th – 17.2%

    Certainly I’m not saying the pathetic display that has become the Blackhawks’ PP isn’t a cause for concern, but none of the last four champions ranked in the league’s upper half on PP during the regular season of their respective Cup win. The PK is where the difference is made, and the Hawks have been dominant on that unit over the last month.

  37. Phil says:

    The best play Bolland made was scaring the daylights out of Sobotka with that fake right hand punch he pulled at the end of the game. Did you see Sobotka almost fall down trying to get out of the way of a punch that never came? Hilarious. I’m a big Bolland fan, but he has been a lesser player for us all year. Why would Q have him out there to take a face off in the O zone on a power play? Still think he must have some kind of injury. Meanwhile, despite his lesser quality play I still love his attitude when push comes to shove.

    Yes, the refs yesterday were terrible. What’s a penalty in a game like that? Then they call the ticky tac BS just to make it look like they are trying to keep some control, which they sure did not have. This trend of “letting them play” is for sure entertaining to watch, but the attrition will be high if we have to play games like that through the playoffs. I would have no problem with Q sitting some of out top end guys out a game here or there as we wind down the end of the regular season. I hope Sharp is not re-injured after that no call hit from behind he took from Webber face first into the boards. Thank God JT didn’t hurt a knee or shoulder yesterday. That was the most abuse he has taken all year. At least our guys took to to hack and whack against the Blues in the 2nd and 3rd yesterday. There has to be some retribution when the play turns that nasty.

    Power play is now embarrassing. Just keep it simple and get some pucks to net. Too much time looking for the perfect play. Get bodies to the net and shoot the damn puck! Pk has been brilliant. Fro and Kruger have been fantastic. Good for Fro to embrace the role he has played for the Hawks this year. A hugely important reason why we have succeeded this year.

    Let’s see if Roussel goes anywhere near Seabs tonight.

  38. BigSomkej says:

    Tab very interesting stats on the Cup winning teams. I agree the PK is the most important, as is their D in general. Which hopefully will carry them in the playoffs.

    But to have three PP and not get a shot is embarrassing, There’s a difference between getting shots on goal and not scoring and not getting a single shot. That’s all I’m saying.

  39. Dave says:

    Can you imagine if Shaw or Bolland were as big as Bick it would be as if Messier was reborn oh well we can dream . I have never seen Bick or Seabrook duke it out oh i take that back couple of weeks ago Seabrook had an altercation but it didnt turn out well
    D

  40. Sr. Brad says:

    Phil, I think you are right on the PP…keep it simple…get the puck to the point men, get bodies to the net…create a screen and then pound home rebounds. At the very least this will put stress on the opposition and wear them down.

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