Blackhawks Clinch Division Crown, Sweep Red Wings

With a dramatic third period and shootout victory against the Detroit Red Wings, the Chicago Blackhawks clinched the final Central Division championship.

Chicago had done a good job of staying out of the penalty box during a streak of strong penalty killing. But on Friday night the Hawks found themselves short-handed five times; they hadn’t been short-handed that many times in a game since Feb. 24 against Columbus.

The strong penalty killing continued, though, as the Red Wings failed to score on all five of their powerplay opportunities.

Also, third periods have been a struggle for the Hawks lately, but they fought through a sloppy beginning to the final stanza and were able to tie the game late. As he has done all season, Jonathan Toews found a way to put the puck in the net in a huge spot, getting the game tied with less than three minutes remaining in regulation.

For Toews, the goal was his 20th of the season and added just another clip to his Hart Trophy resume. He also won 12 of 19 faceoffs in the game and blocked two shots.

Corey Crawford returned to the net and had a good game. He allowed two goals against 29 shots in 65 minutes of hockey. Trailing entering the third, Crawford stopped all nine Detroit shots in the third period and overtime, and looked much better in the shootout to earn the Hawks the second point.

Viktor Stalberg scored his eighth goal of the season to open the scoring in the second period. For Stalberg it was his second goal in the last 18 games; he scored a third period, game-tying goal against St. Louis eight days ago (the only loss the Hawks have suffered in their division this year).

Chicago dominated Detroit at the dot, winning 37 of 59 faceoffs in the game. Patrick Sharp once again served as the primary center on the Hawks’ second line and won seven of eight faceoffs, while Michal Handzus¬†won six of nine.

Brent Seabrook had three hits and a team-leading four blocked shots in the game, while Nick Leddy was credited with four hits in the game. Yes, Leddy had more hits than Seabrook…

Brandon Saad added the shootout game-winner to his Calder Trophy resume.

The Blackhawks are now 14-0-1 against the Central Division this year.

In their final season as division rivals, the Blackhawks swept the Red Wings in the regular season. But, if the season ended today, the two would be first round opponents in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Hawks now have a four point edge on the Pittsburgh Penguins for the top spot in the NHL, and still have a game in-hand. They also have a seven point lead on Anaheim for the to spot in the Western Conference, and have a game in-hand with the Ducks as well.

Chicago will travel to St. Louis on Sunday.

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22 Responses to Blackhawks Clinch Division Crown, Sweep Red Wings

  1. Sr. Brad says:

    A very entertaining game, but pretty sloppy…I haven’t seen the Hawks D (all of them) give away the puck this much all season…CC looked good, and was taller in the SO…with the exception of the one that went in where he slumped down on the fake. CC has all the physical tools to be a top goalie, he just needs to play mentally stong against all other opponents.

    Huge goal for Toews, but how about Frolik…yet another great game, and he almost willed that tying goal in for us. Stahlberg was on fire, and was a treat to watch…I love the thought of signing him long term. Bickell was good, Shaw was very good, Kruger was good…Patrick Sharp continues to look very strong on his return. More Brandon Saad please…a friend told me today that Garret Ross looked like a cross between Saad and Shaw this past season in juniors. Ah, I’d take that…

    How about the Hawks at the dot since the Handzus trade and Sharp returning. What a turnaround…Kruger looks infinitely better and now Shaw had a good night as well. This is huge for us moving forward. It will be fun to see what happens when Bolland returns…Carcillo will be the odd man out, but where does everyone lineup???

  2. Dave says:

    First Detroit goal was PP.

  3. wall says:

    Drew LeBlanc??? On Hawks roster? Interesting.

    Any body see the guy play a lot? Center- Good face-off guy?

    What I read is this guy has great vision- best hands in College Hockey- and creates space w/ his I.Q. and patience… Hockey Academic All-American… could he be the 2nd line Center??? Sounds like it to me… also sounds just like Teuvo T. Lets hope this guy can be another Cory Conacher or Matt Read-

  4. alikatze says:

    Hi, guys, I’ve one question – perhaps it’s me, but when I read anything on the NHL.com website about this year’s trophies, the Hawks either don’t come up at all, or are not the favorites. Why?? I know everyone and their uncle thinks Sidney Crosby is the God of hockey, but he is out with a broken jaw – Toews has played brilliantly the whole season and is healthy – why is he not top of the NHL list for the Hart?? Saad at least gets a mention on the Calder short list, but why isn’t he #1? For the Adams, Michel Therrien’s name is top of list – why isn’t Quennville’s?? For a team that has sat atop not only the west, but the entire NHL for all but a wee patch of the season, I’m surprised to see there are no Hawks that are trophy favorites. Thoughts on that?

  5. IceHogst says:

    Man, all is well in Hawkville. CC looked strong and confident. The boys really look good. I watched a lot of the IceHogs game but when I flipped to the Hawks there seemed to be some line juggling going on. True?

    IceHogs stayed alive for a playoff spot by destroying the Wolves 7-3. They had 58 shots, 25 in the second period alone. Ben smith returned from injury and had a hat trick. Pirri had 6 points. Carter hutton was strong in goal. They’re tied for the 8th spot with Milwaukee, who unfortunately have 2 games in hand, as do the wolves who are now 2 points behind Rockford. Hogs play Milwaukee tonight. No Garret Ross, McNeill or danault on the ice- the boys are not experimenting, they are focused on much needed playoff experience.

  6. TJ says:

    Is this going to be Bickell’s last year in a Hawks jersey? He has played great, chipping in 21 points on third line but he will surely get a nice pay raise and I’m not sure Hawks will be able to afford him. Any thoughts????

  7. Mike says:

    Saad / Towes / Kane
    Sharp / Kruger / Hossa
    Bickell / Handzus / Stalberg
    Shaw / Bolland / Frolik or Carcillo

    You could switch Bolland and Handzus at any time.

    Kieth / Hammer
    Seabs / Leddy
    Oduya / Rosival

    Kieth / Leddy
    Seabs / Hammer
    I like this combo if the Hawks are behind in the third

  8. EbonyRaptor says:

    Man the pirouette move that Stalberg did last night was a thing of beauty. Catching the puck that was behind him by spinning around at top speed and then continuing the rush into the o-zone was WOW worthy. I hope the Hawks find a way to resign him just so we can all be treated to watching him skate on a regular basis. Outstanding.

    Speaking of skating – Leddy. That one rush where he went straight up the middle and then centered the puck to no one because none of his teammates kept up. Man that kid can skate. When he gets a little older/stronger he will be able to finish some of those rushes and if he can do that on a regular basis … can see potential for Norris at some point down the line, wishful thinking as that is right now.

    Stalberg and Leddy have to be two of the best skaters in the NHL.

    Oh yeah … Hawks won the game and clinched. Pretty nice that that is almost a non-story. Speaks to how well the Hawks have played this year. Still over 80% for points taken. What a ride. Happy happy happy.

  9. Mike says:

    alikatze, If the Hawks win the cup…..who cares. Our young guys get overshadowed by the stars sometimes and our stars have the O spread out. While I hate to say it…..don’t beat me up too bad….I would take Crosby for Towes straight up in a minute. Crosby is the best player of this generation.

  10. wall says:

    Mike- put this kid LeBlanc between 10-81/88 for a couple of games and lets see what he can do. I did get to see him skate a few shifts for NCAA Semi-final– not impressed w/ speed- but was pretty strong w/ puck in O zone- and always looking to pass…

    drop 16 to 4th and 36 to 3rd line and Zus can sit out a couple… I thought Zus was pretty slow/tired last nite…

  11. Sr. Brad says:

    Excellent comments everyone…

    Wall…I don’t know a thing about LeBlanc, other than he’s 23 and just won the Hoby Baker Award…I asked Tab for clarification on the signing…is it to the Hawks roster, or a minor league deal?

    Ali…I have never understood how Toews is not a finalist every year for the Hart…and how Toews hasn’t won the Selke is beyond me…and yet, if you ask any voter, any player and any fan who the first person they would take to start a new roster…they all say Toews…best player in the NHL, hands down. With that SO goal last night from Saad, it puts him over the top…he’s your front runner for the Calder now.

    Mike…GREAT lineup…and I agree 100% about the Kane/Hossa switch…Toews and Saad would compensate defensively for Kane, and Kane would make Saad a 40 goal scorer. Sharp/Kruger/Hossa is a VERY responsible line that will have a great +/-
    As for Carcillo, I know that he’s been playing better, but Frolik is WAY too good to take out of the lineup…a 4th line of Shaw, Bolland, Frolik would be as good as many teams 2nd lines.

    IH…thanks for the update…I didn’t watch it because of the Hawks game…Ben Smith pots 3 goals in his first game back??? He has 22 goals now in 50 games with Rockford…without that concussion at the beginning of last year, Smith is a regular fixture with the Hawks already. This kid is a winner, and loaded with character…and he’s a tremendous 2 way player…room has to be made for players like Smith next season…look at Pirri now, he’s almost a point per game and a +8 playing against the top lines with a revolving door on his left wing…Pirri has done EVERYTHING this franchise has asked of him…he has to be given a shot at the 2nd line centre next season…he’s put on a lot muscle, he’s a good skater, and he’s become a good 2 way centre…he’s earned it. Morin had a goal and 2 assists last night…now that he’s healthy, he’s been on an INSANE points streak…we got a glimpse of his power forward ability with that goal in Detroit last weekend…he has to be given a shot to play here next season…Jimmy Hayes is sulking again right now, and perhaps justifiably, but he’s proven he’s a quality NHL forward, and his size is HUGE for our team…he’s got to play here regularly next year. Adam Clendening and Ryan Stanton are both ready…I know that Clendening COULD be given some more time, but he doesn’t need it…they need to be here next season…these roles for these players simply can’t wait, so how do the Hawks open up spaces for them??? And TT will be here in 2 years…that’s a given. So when it comes to next year’s roster TS, yes Bickell has been very good this season, but how can we justify the money AND the space at the expense of the kids listed above? Frolik has been amazing with his role on the team, but the same thing…we can’t justify his denying this transition…Bowman’s signing of Rozy was GREAT, but there’s no way we resign him…Stanton is ready, Clenedening is going to be a star. If Pirri steps up and takes that 2nd line centre role (which I think he can), then there’s no room for Bolland…Toews, Pirri, Shaw and Kruger make us young and extremely solid down the middle, and the money from trading Bolland (along with his injuries) allows us to resign the big keys…Stahlberg, Leddy, Kruger and Shaw…plus by adding Pirri, Hayes, Morin, Stanton and Clendening, it allows us to sign Saad long term, and have the money necessary for Toews and Kane in 2 years…

    ER…nice post…yep, Stahlberg and Leddy MUST be resigned here long term…you win with that kind of speed, and it simply can’t be taught…Leddy’s one man rush on the PP (which was looking sluggish) was incredible to watch…not just because of his great skill, but because mentally Leddy grew frustrated with the PP, time was running out in the game and the PP, and he made that decision and went for it…he and Stahlberg were out of control in the 3rd period trying to tie the game up…Frolik got that energy from them, and had a crazy shift to tie the game up. Leddy is going to be a very, very good DMan here in Chicago.

  12. McKay says:

    There is just no quit to this team. That whole third period, I felt like not only were they going to score but they were still going to win the game outright (Bick’s post after Stall’s amazing individual effort was all that stopped it).

    Both goalies had great games. Although I couldn’t tell if Howard was playing out of his mind or if pucks were hitting him.

    Toews scores yet another clutch goal in the trenches. I loved that entire shift. Those will be the types of goals we need deep in the playoffs.

    Speaking of clutch play, Toews’ 5v5 points per 60mins is 3.21 (#6 in the NHL; Kane is 2.56). Crosby’s 5v5 PP60 is 4.19 (#1 in the NHL). While I absolutely love Toews and actually probably wouldn’t trade him for anything including Crosby (especially if 19 hoists his second Cup this year), Crosby is an absolute animal.

  13. ZebraGreg says:

    Boyz…yes, Crosby is in a class of his own when healthy but we’re so damn blessed as well to have JT here…this kid is an amazing hockey player and individual. He easily will go down as one of Chicago’s all-time greats of any of our franchise’s.
    Can’t wait for the post-season to begin…Go Hawks!

  14. Sr. Brad says:

    Clendening was just voted AHL All Star, 2nd team, in his rookie season. Clendening has already set a Rockford rookie record for assists and goals by a DMan. He leads the team with a +/- of 14.

    The list of 12 players comprising the top 2 All Star teams is a who’s who of top draft picks and veteran AHL talent. This is a huge honour for Clendening. And for those that haven’t watched Rockford play, Clendening has put on a lot of muscle this season…he’s a strong, talented DMan.

  15. Sr. Brad says:

    Rockford won 3-1 over Milwaukee for a huge win tonight, to keep their playoff hopes alive. Ben Smith was first star with a goal (23) and an assist. Clendening had a goal (his 8th) as well. Garret Ross was in a scrap on his first shift of the game. FYI, both Joe Lavin and Shawn LaLonde have improved a ton this year, and both are looking like they have a chance at the NHL. Pirri and Morin were both very good again tonight.

  16. wall says:

    Brad, any guesses or comments as to why Mcneil and Danault have been out of Hogs lineup the last couple of games???

    Bickell and Frolik- are important cogs in the Hawks lineup… and I don’t think any of the Hogs can replace them right away… 25-8 are the must signs… 16 will be the easiest to sign (cost + rfa)… so if we are short money… 36 would be the easiest to replace and keep all of the above. This would open the door for either Pirri or this new Leblanc kid. Hawks will not have room for all of these Hogs unless 2-3 of the UFA’s sign elsewhere.

  17. BigSmokeJ says:

    Kruger and Leddy most likely will be signed but you never know who offers them contracts. We all know Leddy will get some big offers if not signed quick.
    Bickell most likely will be back he’s only making 500K and I don’t see another team offering him a huge contract.
    Stalberg I don’t see coming back. From what I’ve read his agent is looking for big bucks and the Hawks can’t afford that.
    Frolik makes 2.3M and with the reduced cap next year he’s paid too much to be cost effective and unfortunately he will be dealt at the draft.
    Rozsival while I’d like him back, I don’t see him returning unless they lose Leddy.
    Emery mostly likely will be returning unless he’s looking for a huge increase. But they’ll need to find out quick because Karlisson is a UFA and they need to sign one of them.
    Meyers and Handzus will not be returning. But Handzus could be back if he’s willing to take a big cut in pay.
    Bolland – if they want to keep Stalberg at his price then he needs to be dealt at the draft. His 3.3M would go a long way to helping with the signing.
    Carcillo – if you can get a 4th or 5th rounder for him he should be dealt

  18. wall says:

    I don’t see anyone paying Frolik the 2.3M- so he stays- unless we trade and throw in a prospect for the taker… same situation w/ 36…

    Someone on this site said that Monty was not “eligible” for the contract dumping because u have to make over 3M??? Tab is this true? Hope not- or Hawks are stuck w/ him!!!! And will lose 25 and 29!

  19. Sr. Brad says:

    Wall…the announcers said that both of the “prized” prospects were held out because Rockford is loaded at centre right now, and they were not yet “up to full speed with the professional game”…the other announcer said, “mostly its because the Hogs need to win their remaining games to make the playoffs”. That’s code for their not good enough right now.

    The Hawks have to let Bickell and Frolik walk, plus Rozy, because we HAVE to make room for the kids within the system…not that we should make room, but that we have to. Keeping the likes of Pirri, Smith, Morin, Stanton and Hayes down in the minors any longer is going to start effecting their game mentally and physically. Whether they are good enough to replace those 3 exactly as well as they are currently playing is irrelevant…they will be different, but they will also rise to the challenge and fulfill those roles.

    As good as Bickell and Frolik have been this year, they are replaceable. Stahlberg and Leddy aren’t. Kruger and Shaw are also replaceable, but when you consider their talents, their ages, and their cost, keeping them for the long term (as centres) makes sense both practically and fiscally.

    BSJ…Emery will be gone as well…he is deserved of a good sized raise, and it can’t be afforded…Karlsson is a good goalie and will likely be the back up to CC next year at a $1 million cap hit. With the backup goalie cost staying the same, and the removal of the following contracts (Bolland, Bickell, Frolik, Rozy, Mayers, Carcillo), the Hawks will have the money to sign Leddy and Stahlberg, plus Shaw and Kruger…Plus have the money for Toews and Kane in 2 years…

    Our organization is now deep enough, and experienced enough to be our “shopping centre” for the next 5 years, not Free Agency…or trades. This means that Bowman can now literally plan out a time frame for replacing the existing core players, when it makes sense to do…for example with Keith and Seabrook, or Hossa or Hammer, etc.

    On defense, Leddy and Clendening are going to be top 4 DMen…I think that Stanton will be as well…Dahlback, Lavin and LaLonde can all play…Johns and Holl are going to be NHL DMen too, Johns likely a top 4…within 3 years max, we could replace our current D corp with the list above. On top of all the forwards I mentioned already at Rockford, we have TT, Garret Ross, Danault, McNeil, Kevin Hayes all coming within the next 3 years max.

    This is how Bowman is going to afford everything that he wants to do, because he no longer has to go shopping outside of the organization. That’s why I pushed hard for that 2nd line centre RENTAL (before I knew that Sharp would be coming back and taking faceoffs) because that’s all we need right now…we are loaded at every other spot. Even at goalie, Mac Carruth looks pretty damn good to me, and should be ready in 2 to 3 years.

  20. Sr. Brad says:

    Wall, both Bolland and Frolik can easily be traded by simply requesting picks or prospects in return, which is all we would need back. Their contracts are paltry considering what some of the fringe teams constantly pay for fringe players.

    As to Olescz and Monty, they will be the 2 salary dumps alloted to NHL teams this summer…add that money to the mix I talked about above, and we extend Saad, Toews, and Kane.

  21. BigSmokej says:

    This was the one thing I was afraid of. Towes looks to be hurt and tbe blues are hitting the hawks every chance they get. Get ready for the playoffs hawks fans.

  22. BigSmokej says:

    crow was big today. what a team effort.
    wow fantastic.

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