Blackhawks Clinch Presidents’ Trophy, Beat Oilers

presidents trophy

The Blackhawks bounced back from an underwhelming performance in Vancouver with a resounding victory in Edmonton on Wednesday night. With their 4-1 win over the Oilers, the Hawks clinch the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time since 1991.

However, while the box score might look like a controlled, dominant win, there was a moment of pause when Ray Emery removed himself from the game at 13:49 into the first period.

In relief, Corey Crawford was solid. He didn’t allow a goal against only 14 shots in the final 46 minutes of the contest. And one of his two saves in the second period was this ridiculous glove save against Jordan Eberle.

Skating in his first NHL game, center Drew LeBlanc had a pretty good game. He did get lost on Nail Yakupov’s goal in the first period, but by looked more confident as the game continued. Patrick Kane mentioned LeBlanc during his first intermission interview, saying he felt bad the kid was on the ice for a goal. The rest of the night, Kane tried to get the kid onto the scoreboard.

For his first NHL contest, LeBlanc won three of eight faceoffs and was credited with one takeaway and three shots in 13 shifts. He was minus-one, but had a number of good scoring chances in the final period.

Kane was the game’s number one star with the game-winning goal (in the first period) and assists later on goals by Johnny Oduya and Patrick Sharp.

Michal Handzus had a very good game, spending some time between Kane and Sharp in the second period and replacing Michael Frolik (scratch) on the penalty kill with Marcus Kruger. Handzus was credited with two assists and won nine of 14 faceoffs in the game. He was plus-three and blocked two shots as well.

Sharp’s third period ended with some vindication after concern. What appeared to be a knee-to-knee hit with just under five minutes left in the game had a visibly frustrated Sharp limping to the bench, but he returned to the ice in time to score an empty-net goal.

Edmonton’s top line of Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner and Eberle finished the night minus-three each.

With nothing left to accomplish during the regular season, the final two games this weekend figure to see a number of players from Rockford in action.

Here are your Western Conference standings with all games final on Wednesday night:

Western Conf

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30 Responses to Blackhawks Clinch Presidents’ Trophy, Beat Oilers

  1. EbonyRaptor says:

    Good, two games left to get some top players some rest and see some prospects. I hope Leblanc gets another game or two because he showed some good instincts and offensive skills in the 3rd period, and he made a couple good defensive plays as the game went along too.

    Hopefully Emery is a quick healer. I’d hate to go into the playoffs with Hutton as the backup. Crawford looked solid, although not tested much.

    This season has been magical. I almost don’t want it to end, although at the same time I look forward to the playoffs. Just a lot of fun. One for the ages.

  2. mike says:

    anyone else think that trophy looks like the starship enterprise?

  3. Bill says:

    Anyone think the 2nd line is better with sharp, handzus, and kane? Even though he is not as fast as the other two I feel he brings a special presence to it. Like standing in front of the net while he lets kane and sharp do their thing on the outside. I’d like to see this line continue as is. Thoughts?

  4. wall says:

    Bill, I was the first person on this thread to suggest 10-26-88… cuz he can win face offs and play D… which alleviates the weaknesses of the 2nd line wingers- D… Tab thought I was crazy and said Zues is too slow… he is not too slow… and he does win FO’s and is a “nifty/subtle” passer…

    if 36 is not ready- 26 is the New 2nd line center -IMO

    or bring up Pirri and see what he can do… once again- big 16 fan- but he IS NOT a 2nd line center

    14- does have good instincts and hands- not as fast as the bunch… but anticipates well on the O end… doesn’t seem comfortable in the D zone with Hawks scheme…

  5. IceHogst says:

    An iceHog I spoke to yesterday said a group of Hogs are skating and working out together in Rockford, and that they wouldn’t be called up until after the season one, because the hawks didn’t want to pay them and two, because they would count against the salary cap. I quote verbatim.

    Congratulations Hawks! Just a stunning regular season that will shine in history. I think some great hockey will be coming our way during the playoffs

  6. Mike says:

    Great to see the Hawks play well against a team as fast as the Oilers.

    I do not think 14 can play in the playoffs because he was signed after the trade deadline. Tab can probably shed some light on that subject. I also hope to see many “Hogs” in the line up the next two games, especially Ben Smith. I would not look for many big changes come playoff game day. It is hard to argue with the lineup that got us here.

    It is looking more like an original 6 first round. I love that idea, but the Wings scare me. Several of you disagreed with me and said Detroit is a good matchup for the Hawks. Regular season, yes. Playoffs, not so sure. The Wings are a veteran group, well coached, disciplined and run their system well. You can see the rise in their game the past 2 weeks. I hate the Wings.

    Minny could easily fall to 8th or even 9th the way they are playing which could mean an opening round vs. Minny or the Jackets. Either way, I hope the Hawks play the Wings sometime this post season. It is still the longest and most intense rivalry in hockey.

  7. McKay says:

    I think Handzus has a very high hockey IQ and can fit in on any line on this team. I was skeptical at first but this is proving to be a great acquisition.

    I can’t wait to watch this team do some damage in the playoffs. They are going to be a match-up nightmare for anyone. You look up and down the roster and you’ve got guys who can beat their man one-on-one and create chances, as well as a team that can handle the physical play. I was re-watching the Philly series and I anticipate the same toughness (mental and physical) as 2010 in 2013.

  8. Stinky says:

    Blah is a pretty smooth skater. I think the slowness comes from going from college to NHL which is a major transition. Two year two way deal would probably be a good idea. That way Jimmy Hayes can stop trying to pretend to be a center and if the kid comes around he has some upside.

    Either way, the Oilers are terrible at defense, got dominated by the best team in the NHL and the Detroit – LA game was significantly more entertaining. Good thing the playoffs are next week.

  9. Tab Bamford says:

    I still believe that, if/when the roster is healthy, Handzus is a bottom-six center on this Blackhawks team. If Bolland’s out, that’s a game-changer; Handzus is undoubtedly a better fit between Kane & Sharp than Shaw and/or Kruger, but we all know Quenneville will keep the lines in flux throughout the game.

    re: Rockford call-ups – the Hawks might not want to put someone like Clendening on the UC ice before the regular season is over, but calling up someone w/ NHL experience like Hayes, Morin and/or Pirri makes sense at this point. STAY HEALTHy.

  10. JS says:

    Handzus had a great game. I don’t understand how this guy couldn’t dress in San Jose.

    People are still silly enough to think that Emery is faking this injury so Crawford can be the obvious number one choice going into the post season. The first 10 minutes of that game yesterday were more than enough to prove that Crawford is the better option, no matter how much you hate him.

    I was very scared for Sharp’s leg. First thought was an MCL, but glad to see him go into beast mode to get that ENG. He looked a little rusty, but that line was a pleasure to watch once Handzus was on it. He has great passing vision and he just knows where to be on the ice so it really helps make up for the lack of speed. He isn’t a REAL 2c, but he can win more than half of his faceoffs and 10/88 are good enough to hold the puck an extra second for him to catch up.

    Are the Hawks better off with Sharp playing the pivot and Kruger taking center after the draw? Not sure.

    I don’t care who the Hawks play in the first round. As veteran as Detroit might be, their defense can not keep up with the Hawks forwards. The only thing I care about for the first round is Vancouver playing either LA or St. Louis so they can beat the crap out of each other.

  11. wall says:

    to add to that thought JS- Hawks can throw game to Blues – if it helps to determine a 1st round of Blues vs. Canucks… Blues have won 2 out of 3 vs. Vancouver this year… and it will be a very physical series…

  12. Sr. Brad says:

    Good rebound game by the whole team to sew up the Star Trek Trophy…I mean the President’s Trophy. Home ice the whole way through is going to help.

    I don’t think whom we play in the first round is a problem, the Hawks just have to play their game with their effort and they will be fine. LA will finish 4th or 5th and that means a strong chance of a 2nd round match up…beat the Kings, win the Cup…

    I like LeBlanc, he looked very good to me for a first game…playing in EDM for a first game is a tough NHL debut because the game moves so fast. But he did well, and got better as the game went on. He might just be our 2nd line centre next season. Nice pick up by Bowman.

    I sure didn’t like all the hits, cheap shots Patrick Sharp took last night. Winning 4-1 late in the game, why doesn’t a Mayers or Bickell inflict a little payback? I don’t like how the Hawks invite so many cheap shots…that the refs never seem to see or call!

    Handzus probably should be the 2nd line centre for the playoffs even if Bolland is healthy. Some of you here are still believing that Bolland is going to turn on the magical switch come the playoffs and UNsuck. Won’t happen. ALL aspects of Bolland’s game have suffered this season, and he doesn’t show any signs of turning that around. To be brutally honest, we are a better hockey with Handzus, Shaw and Kruger as our centres.

    Hope Emery is okay as who knows which Crawford will show up each night?

    The 3rd line (Shaw/Bickell/Stahlberg) are sure rolling again, right on time…they are going to be a load in the playoffs.

    I hope IceHogst report on the Hogs changes…I really want to see them get lots of ice time over the weekend. There is no reason to even dress Toews, Hossa, Kane, Keith…let them REST.

    Great regular season Hawks…thanks very much…now it’s time to elevate that game even higher and bring home another Cup.

  13. Mike says:

    I think I get Tab’s point about 2cd line center. Bolland could play center but let Sharp take the draws.

  14. 'hawks58 says:

    Would love to see this come playoff time, Q please make it so:

    Saad/Toews/Hossa
    Sharp/Handzus/Kane
    Bickell/Bolland/Frolik
    Shaw/Kruger/Stalberg
    Smith-Morin-Pirri in the wings in case of injury. Bolig, Mayers, and Carcillo don’t sniff the ice (though I know one of them will be in the lineup nearly every game)

    The first and third lines would take the tough defensive match-ups while the second and fourth would feast on the cream puffs.

  15. Phil says:

    It was an entertaining game last night where defense seemed to take a back seat. Fine no problem at this point in the season. I was pissed off with Sharp getting run from behind and then checked hard late. Cheap shots to Kane and Sharpythat went unanswered is not acceptable. The guys that get paid to lay down the law aren’t doing their jobs! That needs to change fast.

    Sadly, I think Ray is done for the year. More than likely he has a bad groin problem now. Keepers can’t play with that type of injury just like regular skaters. This is a great pity since Ray has contributed so much this year. Talk about a comeback. Very impressive. Meanwhile, I think Corey can handle the load, but many fans will be nervous and skeptical. I believe our total team game ultimately wins for us. As long as we play strong 2 way hockey our glass remains half full in my mind.

    I echo sentiments expressed in other comments here regarding lineups this weekend. Rest the core stars Saturday for sure. Send half of Rockford to St. Louis and let em have at it. Skating our smaller d men and star players in St Louis would be nothing less than insane. We need to enter the playoffs as healthy as possible.

    I’m really proud of the Hawks! We are lucky to be fans of such a quality team. The Cpt has it right. There is much work left to be done. Keep your eye on the real prize.

  16. wall says:

    as someone else has stated… you have to worry about Crow letting in the “change-up, softy, playing the puck” and losing game/series… Playoff Hockey is usually to tight to overcome the “softies”!!!

    and yes 36 has been MIA most of year- but we need him believe it or not- he has high playoff IQ to go with his Body made of glass.

  17. Tab Bamford says:

    Good point, wall. But what I took away from the Phoenix game on Saturday was that Crawford was able to bounce back from a hideous first period to play two strong periods of hockey. Last year, he may have allowed four before Emery got the call, but he bounced back well after the two soft goals. His performance in Vancouver was also very good in spite of the goals allowed; he was the only bright spot on the roster in that game. The postseason is a different animal, of course, but if the guys in front of him play like they have most of the regular season it will help a great deal. The shot blocking and takeaways this year have been the difference from the last two years.

  18. goldenbladz says:

    I really hope the Hawks are able to resign Stalberg. He s absolutely untouchable out there. His spped is unmatched and he wins every race to the puck and has the size and strength to hold off checkers and dish the puck to the open man and he is only getting better.

  19. goldenbladz says:

    And please get rid of Bolland as he adds nothing to the line up and his in and out of the lineup routine is getting old.

  20. Tim G says:

    Interesting night last night. St. Louis positions themselves for the 4 seed, Detroit moves into Win and In territory. Minnesota looks like a good bet to lock themselves in tonight vs Edmonton. I’m actually really starting to pull for Detroit as a 7. I liked them as the 8 because we match up with them well. But in the grand scheme, Detroit could end up being a nightmare for Anahiem. If we draw Minny or Columbus, we could very easily find ourselfs with Detroit in the second round. I would be ok with that…
    And with some real luck, we will beat STL AND San Jose will beat LA in OT/SO on saturday, forcing STL back to the 6… but thats less likely.

    But to be honest, im just ready for some playoff hockey! I will take whatever draw we get thrown at us because, imo, we can match up and beat ANYONE.

  21. wall says:

    Also, both Blues and Sharks played Canucks well this year…

    assuming we beat Wings in 1st
    we could see the #6 SJ or Blues in 2nd round (which I prefer over Kings)

    then winner of Ducks/Kings in 3rd round…
    Best possible scenario for Hawks to get to Cup

  22. JS says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Anaheim lost in the first round.

    The Blues can not possibly fall to the 6th seed after winning last night. It’s 4th if they win on Saturday, 5th if they lose.

  23. Tim G says:

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but in response to JS- STL has 58 points and 23 Regulation/OT wins (SO wins don’t count in tie breaker). LA 57 points and 24 Reg/OT wins. SJ also has 57 points.

    If we win, and SJ beats LA in OT/SO, the Sharks will jump STL to 59 points, and LA would pick up 1 point to tie STL @ 58, but then have more Reg/OT wins.

  24. RyanDale says:

    Tim, I think you are right, JS is off .. its still possible the Blues can finish 6th

    If Blues lose in reg. Saturday…

    Sharks/Kings winner is 4th
    If 3-point game and Sharks win: Sharks 4th, Kings 5th, Blues 6th
    If 3-point game and Kings win or if Kings win in regulation: Kings 4th, Blues 5th, Sharks 6th
    If Sharks win in regulation: Sharks 4th, Blues 5th, Kings 6th

  25. Tom Jaremka says:

    Who is in favor of getting rid of the instigation rule??????
    The game is too fast and even two (2) referee’s can’t see everything!!!

    All in favor?????????

  26. Stinky says:

    JS is never wrong…

    STL vs VAN and LAK vs SJS I think would be an ideal start. I don’t think it matters much otherwise. Let those teams beat the hell out of each other.

  27. RyanDale says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing the Wings first round. CC is 4-0 with about a .970 save% vs Det this season. A first round matchup with them could be a big help to CC getting off to a good start in the playoffs.

  28. JS says:

    Sorry, I was drunk earlier (and my mobile phone app failed me)

  29. Sr. Brad says:

    Agree Tom

  30. Tab Bamford says:

    Note: 8 IceHogs were called up on Friday.

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