Blackhawks Finish Wild, Advance To Round Two

After leaving the last two postseasons after the first round, the Blackhawks and Corey Crawford put that past, and the Minnesota Wild, behind them. Behind a dominant early performance from Crawford and an offensive explosion in the second period, the Hawks will continue into the second round.

Crawford was the star of the series, dominating games when needed. He allowed only seven goals in five games and posted a .950 save percentage in the series. While other star goaltenders are struggling, being eliminated and/or replaced, Crawford has been one of the best of the postseason; only Craig Anderson has done as much to help propel his team, the Senators, into the second round as Crawford.

The Wild outplayed the Blackhawks for much of the first period, but a number of key saves by Crawford kept the scored knotted at zero. With under five minutes left in the first, the Hawks got on the board and never looked back.

What made the Game Five victory an impressive punctuation to the first round series against the Wild was not the 5-1 score, but that those five goals came from a skater on all four of the Blackhawks’ lines.

In the game on Thursday night, the Hawks top line stepped up their production. Marian Hossa scored twice in the game to give him three goals in the series, and Brandon Saad joined Jonathan Toews in posting his first point of the postseason with an assist on Hossa’s second tally.¬†Toews came into the contest without a point in the first four games of the series, but was credited with two assists while having another outstanding night at the dot (won 10 of 17 faceoffs).

But the top line wasn’t alone.

Patrick Sharp scored his fifth goal of the series, the Hawks’ first powerplay goal since the first game of postseason. Sharp is now tied with David Krejci of the Bruins for the postseason lead with his five goals.

From the team’s bottom-six forwards, Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger added their first goals of the playoffs as well. Shaw also won seven of 10 faceoffs and led the team with four hits in Game Five.

In the series, only two Blackhawks forwards failed to register at least one point (Brandon Bollig and Daniel Carcillo).

Behind Crawford, the story of the series for the Hawks was the penalty kill unit. Chicago was perfect while short-handed in the series, led by Kruger and Michael Frolik. On Thursday night, Frolik and Niklas Hjalmarsson led the Hawks with two blocked shots each, while Kruger and Frolik skated 2:41 of the 4:00 the Blackhawks were short-handed.

The Blackhawks will now wait for to see if the Detroit Red Wings can win Games Six and Seven against the Anaheim Ducks to determine their next opponent. If Anaheim wins that series, Chicago will welcome San Jose next week.

handshake

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41 Responses to Blackhawks Finish Wild, Advance To Round Two

  1. JS says:

    Crow isn’t a good enough goalie.

    Need to trade for a guy like Pominville or Roy.

    Not physical enough.

    Defense struggles against an aggressive forecheck.

    Good luck to Detroit or San Jose next round.

  2. Tomas Venclovas says:

    Hey JS, how ’bout you do us all a favor and get off this website. No need for people like YOU to bash a team that just had a dominating series. Go post to the sharks or dead wings website you goon.

  3. Sr. Brad says:

    I have reserved my comments on CC until he demonstrated the ability to win a playoff series, and tonight he did that. His play in the first period, in particular the first 10 minutes is what won this game for the Hawks. CC has continued to play tall in net, and has been better of late with his rebound control. Certainly this quality of goaltending will help us advance through playoff rounds.

    The D was good around him, but far from perfect. There are some perplexing turnovers at times that need to be corrected, but they are certainly functional. The pairing changes by Q 2/3rds of the way through the season have been a key factor.

    I thought Saad was better tonight, and so was Hossa’s overall play. Sharp continues to play very hard for us, and its the key to his individual success.

    The 4th line has struggled in its own zone with Carcillo…I was surprised to see him back out there tonight, and he really didn’t contribute much of anything, except some horrible positioning in the Defensive zone. I really would like to see Smith out there next round.

    Overall, a very good effort by the team throughout the first round, and now they can get some rest and be ready for the 2nd round challenge where the goaltending against will get a lot tougher. I am excited to play either SJ or Detroit…both teams match up very well for the Hawks!

    BTW…Kruger was 1 for 10 at the dot against Brodziak and Koivu…2 guys who struggled against every other Hawk centre.

  4. NJ Dave says:

    Very solid first round for the Hawks. Crow was not only good this game but the whole series. Remember the Wild were dominating game 4 until Sharp opened the scoring.

    So great start to the playoffs and I agree with Brad that either SJ or Det are a good match up for the Hawks. I’d prefer SJ because of the depth, but both teams have good and potentially great goaltending. Should be a fun series…looking forward to it.

  5. goldenbladz says:

    Good Job Hawks on to the next round. The Third line was excellent last night. Who say the Hawks aren’t physical. That hit by Bickell on Gilbert was a thing of beauty and scared a few Wild players. Bickell has done it all series. He laid out Konopka in an earlier game. All llines are rolling, just exit Carcillo and have a healthy Bolland back or insert Morin or Smith as Sr. Brad stated above.

  6. goldenbladz says:

    Oh yes and Crow has been fantastic, better than pretty much any goalie so far with the exception of maybe Anderson in Ottawa.

  7. EbonyRaptor says:

    Winning the first playoff series was a huge monkey off their back, especially for Crawford who was the biggest question mark of the Hawk’s championship potential. Even after the stellar regular season he had, the question remained – could he do it in the playoffs? When he let the first shot he saw in Game#1 slip by him for a soft goal, the collective fears of Hawk fans everywhere must have gotten that foreboding feeling. But then Crawford settled in and showed that the regular season success was a harbinger of things to come rather than a cruel mirage. Is Crawford Patrick Roy on his best day – no, but he’s not the psychologically fragile weak link we feared he might be. He’s pretty good and probably good enough.

    However, Minnesota is about the weakest offensive team in the playoffs. While my fears of Crawford breaking under playoff pressure have been put to rest, he and the team will face a much bigger test with whoever they get in the second round, especially if it’s San Jose.

    This is what playoff hockey is all about – stepping up against a bigger challenge. Isn’t playoff hockey great!

  8. wall says:

    Thomas- JS is being 100% sarcastic… making fun of people – who are quick to point out little flaws here and the.

    E Raptor- you are right and not drunk on the Hawk Kool-aid… Wild are one of the weakest O teams out there… they really did not capitalize on their Grade A chances (in fact they probably scored more on “cheapies” than Grade A in series– While Hawks (especially in this game turned 2 lucky bounces into soft goals…) scored on less than Grade A’s…

    The skilled teams like Kings, Sharks, Ducks- will not mis-fire on the majority of A chances… with that said- Hawks can beat any of these 3 (and they can beat the Hawks)- That is why SC playoffs are awesome.

    I am glad Wild are done (too much of the game was played in between blue lines).

    Now we will see faster/more open Hockey…

    I still say we will need Bolland soon- cause he is a better skater (if 100% healthy) and the pace will be needed in next few series.

    Lastly, Hawks have been making too many TO’s in own zone… AND the Better offensive teams WILL make us pay for it!!!! This needs to stop!!!! If it does- Hawks have a great chance of SC!!!

  9. Tails says:

    Lol @ Tomas Venclovas

    I’m pretty sure JS is being sarcastic. He’s just making fun of the Hawks fans who post on this website about the perceived weak points of the Hawks.

    That Minnesota is almost the weakest offensive team in the playoffs is an interesting point. I double checked, and the only team with less regular season goals was Ottawa. Detroit and San Jose were only marginally better, however.

  10. SomeGuyWithACrawfordJersey says:

    I think I can finally wear that Crawford Jersey my wife gave me for Christmas last year to the UC without feeling like everyone is looking at me like a schmuck.

  11. JS says:

    Was definitely making jokes. I wanted to add Jokinen, Morrow, Jagr, and Iginila to the list of people the Hawks needed to trade for, but the silly Pens won last night.

    Hossa is an absolute pleasure to watch play hockey, I hope he never gets old (or too concussiony).

    Hawks are only going to get better when Bolland comes back. Yes, he had a bad season. But I’m guessing he will perform better than Bollig and Carcillo. What the hell was Carcillo with 3 minutes left when he started chirping at Clutterbuck?

    The PP looked a lot better last night when they were trying to force feed Hossa his hat trick. There was a lot of movement and crisp passing… Hossa just didn’t want to shoot for some reason. My man crush for Kane grows larger when I watch how hard he works to try to get people hat tricks.

    I don’t want to wait until Tuesday for more hockey!

  12. Tim G says:

    Is it just me, or is anyone else a little upset at the whole “the first step is the hardest”/”this is the first playoff series win in 3 years” thing on most sites.

    I understand we won a cup, so expectations are high, but when you examine the evidence, we turned over 70% of the cup team. The team that just won this series had only 7 holdovers from the cup team… (albeit is a good 7… Toews, Kane, Hossa, Sharp, Keith, Seabs, Hjalmersson… *Bolland is the other holdover, but didn’t play so im not including him*). We are doing it with a COMPLETELY different roster.

    I think a 3 year turn around is QUITE an accomplishment myself given we lost the majority of that team, and I’m very proud of the way this franchise has re-tooled from our Cup run.

    Bring on the Wings/Sharks! HERE COME THE HAWKS!

  13. Peter says:

    The Wild reminded me a lot of the Blackhawks from the playoffs last year against Phoenix. They didn’t really have a ton of offense and ran into a goaltender who probably got into their heads. Minny needs a lot more offense and probably another good pair of D-Men. I thought they put themselves in a worse position with the Suter and Parise Contracts then they did. Checking Cap Geek they have 9 million for 6 spots next year (before any amnesty). They only players they have locked up for more than 2 years (after this one) are Koivu, Parise, and Suter with a lot of contracts expiring after next season. They could be dangerous if built the right way and they keep some of the players that impressed me like Coyle and Brodin.

    The NHL is better when teams in big cities are good or playing hot (Toronto, NY, Boston, Chicago, and even LA). I would throw having a good Minnesota team makes the NHL better too.

  14. Tom Jaremka says:

    The great thing about this victory was that we beat a team in a 5 game series WITHOUT our captain tearing up the score sheet. Alot of our scoring came from second, third and fourth line players. Our depth is what makes us good, just like 2010.

    We also backcheck better than any other team in the playoffs. When we make a bad pass or cough up the puck in our zone, we have numbers back to cover up the mistakes. When we really screw up, Crawford keeps the puck out of the net. This is as complete a team effort as we’ve seen in a couple of years.

    Championship teams have the ability to weather the storm of their opponents, right the ship, then turn the game in their favor. That’s what the Hawks did in this series with the Wild.

    I also think that a huge factor that we tend to overlook is the fact that the HAwks have NOT has any significant injuries in a long time. Let’s hope that this trend continues throughtout the playoffs. Bring on the next victim!!!

  15. Peter says:

    This Toews not being a Hart finalist is Bullshit. Put Toews with the Islanders and do you think they are an 8th seed? Do you think Washington would have slept walk for half the season with Toews? Pittsburgh won a lot of games without Crosby (although I think he deserves the nomination). Tell me another team besides Pittsburgh who wouldn’t trade their best “player” for Toews in a second. What more does he have to do. 23 goals (tied for 5th in the league) plays both special teams units, doesn’t take many penalties. Crushes faceoffs. That’s fine writers. You keep Toews off. I will take him on my team and he can hold the cup. Ridiculous.

  16. Tre says:

    Looking forward, since the Hawks will probably be facing the Sharks, am I the only one who is thinking the Sharks acquired Torres (beginning of April I believe) with the Hawks in mind?

    He has been a common denominator in the Hawks last two playoff exits–last year, most obviously, with the devastating hit on Hoss but also with the Canucks the year before (I still think he got away with a nasty illegal hit in that series that had Seabrook watching from the pressbox for a couple games, if my memory is correct).

    I respect a tough player that can has the reputation of making big hits (I wish the Hawks had one or two. Kronwall comes to mind), but that dirty prick has earned a spot next to Bertuzzi as players that deserve no respect from their counterparts and should be kept on a VERY short leash by the league. I’m a little concerned history may repeat itself and Torres may again be the reason one of our key players may miss playoff games.

  17. Travis says:

    Defense wins championships because it’s less likely to slump. I don’t care who we’re playing nor who’s in goal; 7 goals against in 5 games = Hawks advance.

    The crazy thing is that this team still has another two gears.

    Did anybody else see the NBC production on gamecenter live? I swear, half of these NBC presenters are absolute clowns. Joe Micheletti is the worst of the worst, easily surpassing the abhorrences Pierre McGuire, Mike Milbury, and Liam McHugh. At one point, Micheletti pondered whether the Hawks’ slow start was because they lost their last two playoff series, and thus lacked “confidence” to close this series out. Useless!

    24% chance of Detroit, 76% chance of San Jose. Really pulling for the Wings to meet us in Round 2, but either way, go Hawks!

  18. wihawkfan says:

    peter – re toews: great points.

    the wild are going to be a tough customer in another 2 years. they have good youngsters coming up and solid leadership. minnesota is a hockey crazy state and i’m happy for them.

    tough break with their goal situation this postseason, but those guys showed a ton of heart.

    the hawks don’t seem like they’ve even started to play playoff intensity hockey yet. that should scare the piss out of the rest of the league.

    how do they address torres? does anyone think that burish and niemi have an influence on keeping him from injuring some of the guys they won a cup with in chicago. i remember when reggie white left the packers at the end of his career to play with another team. (don’t remember which one, i’m not a packer fan) but they played the packers and one of reggie’s teammates was a little over zealous sacking farve. reggie went after his new teammate on the spot for that.

    maybe burrish pressures him to keep it clean?

    do the hawks trot out someone to kick his ass out of the gate and all series long to keep him on the run?

    do they just play with their heads on a swivel and hope to avoid injury?

    will the officials….oh who am i kidding…..

  19. Mike says:

    Peter, I am a DIE HARD Hawks fan. Towes is not Crosby but he doesn’t have to be. The Pens would never trade Crosby for Towes…….and either would I. Crosby is THE best player of the current era, but that’s OK. Towes is exactly what the HAWKS need……enough said!

  20. RyanDale says:

    Great series win. It’s been a long time coming. I gotta temper my excitement a little though. We(hopefully) have alot of hockey yet to play and we need to get better than what we showed moving on. We did what we were suppose to do. Beat a no.8. Let’s hope we have an answer for the rest of the West . Love the way CC stood tall, PKill was great. Happy for the fans who shell out major bucks, they got see a series end at home . When 16 nets one , it’s bound to be a good night! Still hoping for a B Smith sighting

  21. Tab Bamford says:

    Can’t help but love a DIE HARD Hawks fan that spells Toews wrong three times in four sentences…

  22. Tab Bamford says:

    I have been pretty clear with where I felt the Hawks would/should receive consideration in postseason awards this year. I wrote about Saad’s case for the Calder, Quenneville’s shot at the Adams, Kane’s chances of the Byng & Toews’ odds of winning the Selke towards the end of the regular season. I think Saad has a great shot at the Calder, but the best bet for Hawks postseason Award hardware is Toews winning the Selke. http://committedindians.com/2013-nhl-awards-blackhawks-for-selke/

    There are some that had Kane in the Hart conversation, so if the two split votes it’s understandable that neither would make the top three. To Mike’s point about Crosby being the best player of the current era: he wasn’t the most outstanding player at the 2010 Olympics and didn’t win the Conn Smythe. He’s the best offensive force in the game today without a doubt, and had a great season before breaking his face. I would have had Toews ahead of Ovi in my top 3; Crosby & Tavares belong in that conversation.

  23. Mike says:

    Sorry Tab….my spelling and typing leave much to be desired. I love TOEWS and felt he should have been in the top 3. Anyway I misspelled his name only 3 times. Thanks for keeping me in check.

  24. Tails says:

    I’d say the best players currently are Crosby, Malkin, and Toews, in that order. It’s close though, and you could easily argue differently. Datsyuk, Stamkos, Ovechkin, Tavares, Kane, Getzlaf, Eric Staal, Giroux, Chara, Karlsson, Subban, Suter, Weber, Rask, Lundqvist, Rinne, and Quick are all players in the top 5 discussion.

  25. Mike says:

    Damn it Tab, you did say 3 times….

  26. alikatze says:

    Peter – with regard to the Hart, I’d have to agree with you, Toews should have been a Hart finalist. With all due respect to Mr. Crosby, he was out half the season! Of course, I think Kane has been a stealth weapon for us and he should also have been a Hart finalist. I do hope Toews wins the Selke, but why not both Selke *and* Hart?? I don’t know, it seems to me that the NHL and the sports media crowd hovers around and fawns over a few specific teams out east – leaving the rest of the NHL as an afterthought – this drives me nuts, especially as there are hugely talented guys playing outside that northeastern seaboard/Ontario zone. Maybe I’m too sensitive, who knows.

    Oh, and anyone care to explain to me why Lundquist got a Vezina nod again? What about Rinne (when is he going to get the love, i.e., hardware, he so deserves?)? And Anderson (ok, he was out half the season, but, still…)? What about Crow?…

  27. southsidehawkman says:

    I felt this was a 5 game matchup and it was exactly that. The Crow had an excellent 1st round and it was nice to hear the UC crowd rally around Crow. It really appears elevated his game after the questionable OT goal he allowed. I feel both Det and SJ are good 2nd round matchups. I also hope Bollandd will be available soon he us a proven playoffs difference maker as I posted a few months back when checking his stats.

  28. Negzz says:

    Thrilled to see Hawks put away the weekest team in the playoffs in 5. Stars, errr, Wild had no shot in view of the goalie situation and withstood their best shot with only one loss in Minny’s most physical game. CC was outstanding last night (particularly in 1st period), hopefully he carries confidence into next series when both he and the team will be tested more severely.

    Rooting for Wings but expect it will be Sharks who we beat all 3 times this year. Playoffs are dif’t animal, and expect a much harder, more physical series. Further, Niemi is having a great year and tends to rise to the occasion, will be much tougher than Harding. As has stated, will need to ratchet up our edge/intensity, prepare for bigger/tougher and more physical series and cut down on some careless play in our end, but should take them down in 5-6 games unless we get bullied or CC loses his edge. Regardless, far prefer this matchup to either ANA, StL or LA who we will see in grueling conf finals..

  29. Sr. Brad says:

    DET won tonight and they will be tough to beat in game 7…so who knows there. The LA/SJ or LA/ANA series will leave a beat up team for the Hawks…and no matter who the Hawks play in the 2nd round, it doesn’t matter, all the Hawks have to do is play there game…a real key will be winning face-offs…this means more puck possession time and thus less forecheck and hits against.

    If Emery is back, CC/Emery were the best tandem in the league this season…Handzus/Kane/Sharp are playing like a first line, so we have two…Shaw’s line is a nightmare for the opposition and a difference maker night in and night out. And Frolik/Kruger are playing well…really, if Q would just skate one of the Rockford kids on the 4th line (Smith would be the best I think) we would be untouchable…both Bollig and Carcillo have looked iffy in the playoffs thus far.

    The D has room for improvement, but all 3 pairings are skating similar minutes and playing quite well. This will keep Keith/Hammer fresh for the late game minutes. Sebs needs to pick up his game.

    This was the best team in the NHL in all five “10 game” sections…and most of it was without Sharp and Hoss in the lineup…with them together we are undefeated this season (with the exception of game 4 in Minny). That’s an incredible record, and I just don’t see that changing…tough or not, LA/ANA/SJ/DT have a lot more to worry about in the Hawks then do the Hawks about any of them.

  30. Negzz says:

    @SrBrad: “LA/ANA/SJ/DT have a lot more to worry about in the Hawks then do the Hawks about any of them.”

    As both a Hawks fan and someone who tries to be an objective follower of the NHL, I agree the Hawks are a dangerous, deep and talented team that everyone in the league should fear. That said, Hawks lost all 3 games to the Ducks this year (2 in reg), and after winning 1st 2 games early in season, lost to LA in March (after LA had their act together and the Hawks had suffered some injuries.) All I’m saying is we should all be reasonable in our assessment of beating Minny, they were weakest team in playoffs, were forced to play a backup goalie that had only played 3 games all season and had little chance of keeping up. Were the Hawks rolling in games 4-5? Yes, as they SHOULD have been considering the competition. The only game that the Wild won was the game where they were tenacious, physical and aggressive. While Minny could not sustain that approach through the series, you can count on that style of play EVERY game from ANA and LA. And Quick, Hiller and even Howard are a far cry from Harding/Kuemper. So now that we beat the Wild we’re unbeatable? Buckle your seat belts boys, it’s going to get MUCH more difficult moving forward.

  31. IceHogst says:

    Solid series for the Hawks; sound goaltending, shut down D, opportunistic O, stifling PK, PP which wasn’t too much of a self inflicted wound. Great job.

    In thinking about that last game, there was a Jekyll & Hyde moment after Kruger scored the second goal. Hawks began to wheel with that fluid puck possession game we know they have but hadn’t really shown all series. Why was that? Tightness that finally relaxed? Whatever caused that switch to flip is the key to the Cup and what Q is talking about when he says the Hawks have another gear to rachet up to.

  32. EbonyRaptor says:

    Earlier in the season, when the Hawks were on “the streak”, there was talk about them peaking too early. I didn’t buy into that because half the season was still remaining when the streak ended which was plenty of time for the Hawks to (re)build momentum and ride that wave of confidence into the playoffs – which is what they did.

    But that is only one side of the coin.

    The other side of the coin is how well the opposition is playing. Unlike Minnesota, which did not enter the playoffs with any positive momentum, the remaining teams either entered the playoffs on a roll or will have gained momentum with a first series victory. Both San Jose and Detroit are playing better now than when the Hawks last played them.

    The sweep of Vancouver was impressive. Regardless how dysfunctional Vancouver can be when the playoff pressure is turned on, that is still a very capable team and San Jose clearly outclassed them (pun intended). These ain’t the doddering old Sharks that can be out skated all game long. They are a much improved team and will be make the series against Minny seem like a walk in the park.

    Detroit might not make it past Anaheim, my gut says they won’t, but if they do, it means they played well enough to knock off one of the better teams – on the road. Detroit is playing their best hockey of the season right now, when it matters most – no surprise coming from that team. They are showing the heart of a (past) champion and should they get past Anaheim, the Hawks will need to play on a higher level than they played against Minny.

    In either case, I like the Hawks chances and would rather be in this fan’s shoes than those of the San Jose or Detroit fans.

  33. McKay says:

    Go Hawks go.

  34. RyanDale says:

    Agree with neggz take. Many other good posts too.
    Otherwise, I am pulling for a Detroit series, though I can’t recall the last time I was rooting for them to win. Would love to send them to the off season in their last Western playoff. CC has totally owned the Wings (.970), as has the team in general. I don’t see that changing this season, playoffs or not. Not saying we win in a sweep, not that crazy, but love our chances in a series vs. them.

    I’ve watched quite a bit of the Eastern games, I dont see anyone who could come close to winning the West. Me crazy? Go Wings(gagging)

  35. Tails says:

    @ Negzz

    Game 3 wasn’t the only game the Wild were physical. It wasn’t even the game they were the most physical.

    Game 1: 36 Hits
    Game 2: 43 Hits
    Game 3: 34 Hits
    Game 4: 20 Hits
    Game 5: 32 Hits

    I would also quibble on you saying the Wild are the worst team in the playoffs. Certainly they are the worst team in the Western Conference playoffs (though Vancouver played worse in the first round). The Wild is better than some of the playoff teams in the East, however.

  36. JS says:

    A thing to remember is that every team that played the Hawks during the regular season gave them their all. The Hawks were the measuring stick that every team used to judge how good they are. And really, the games against Anaheim were so close they could have gone either way.

    As I’ve said 1000 times but no one wants to listen; in game 3 the Wild changed their forechecking strategy. In game 4, the Hawks adjusted to that and suddenly the Wild looked a lot less physical. This exact thing will happen if the Hawks play LA or Anaheim in the WCF.

    I’m not saying it’s going to be a cakewalk, but the Hawks are a damn good hockey team that has more talent than any team left in the West.

  37. wall says:

    JS- not sure about the “Wild changed their forecheck…” and Hawks adjusted to it.

    The way I saw it is that Wild beat us for 1st several minutes in the 4th and 5th games…
    and we took the lead – in spite of being totally outplayed – and the Wild were COMPLETELY deflated by that!!!

    Watching bits and pieces of other series- the Hawks better turn up the speed, INTENSITY, and desperation- or they will not make it to Finals.

    Perhaps it was just the Wild game plan – Jamming up the Blue lines- that has lead to what I thought was one of the least Intense/slow/boring Series going on when compared to some of the other action.

  38. JS says:

    You didn’t notice they went from 4 in the neutral zone with 1 forechecker to 3 in the neutral zone with 2 forecheckers? You didn’t notice the Blackhawks defensemen skating back harder to try to move the puck before the forwards got to them with the wings hanging back in the zone later to help move the puck out?

  39. Tails says:

    Bolland and Emery are both good to go now for game 1 the next series. Personally I’m hoping for the Hawks to just put Bolland in Carcillo’s spot on the 4th line. That’d give the Hawks a nice shutdown line with Kruger, Frolik, and Bolland all being defensive specialists. The 2nd and 3rd lines are also rolling right now.

  40. Ryan says:

    If Coach Q skates Bolland in between Bickell and Shaw, that means we could have a pretty dynamic 4th line of Kruger, Frolik and Stalberg. It is kind of puzzling that Q would mess with the 3rd line since has finally started winning faceoffs. Kruger hasn’t been as effective lately so sliding Bolland in on the 4th line could help Krugs at the dot and skating Bolland on the 4th line gives us more flexibility with him on Special Teams.

  41. Sr. Brad says:

    Nice to see Q has put his game face on for the 2nd round…the Hawks needed this…he told the press after the Wild series that the Hawk’s intensity wasn’t good enough and that the other teams advancing were playing at a higher level. Now he has benched Saad and Stahlberg in favour of Bolly and Ben Smith.

    Now I love both Saad and Stahlberg, but their play, especially the rookie’s, has been substandard and Q isn’t tolerating it…and by doing so he put EVERYONE on notice.

    Sharp can out yesterday and told the press that he doesn’t care who wins versus DET/ANA, he HATES BOTH TEAMS EQUALLY! It is this kind of ruthlessness, intensity and emotion that wins championships…I like to see Q setting the tone, as Toews hasn’t…Tazer has been actually very forgiving of his team mates for a while. and I think Q would have preferred the captain to set the tone, but since he hasn’t, Q did what he felt he needed to…so did Patrick Sharp. Great to see.

    Also, wonderful to see Bickell on top of his game…at 6’4″ 220, banging bodies left and right, and scoring goals, Bickell becomes one of the best hockey players remaining in the playoffs. With Bolly back in the lineup, it gives Q a 5th face-off man, giving him tons of in game options in key situations.

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