Blackhawks Hammer Kings

The Blackhawks opened their season with a dominant victory over the defending champion Los Angeles Kings on Saturday afternoon.

As if the Hawks hadn’t waited long enough to get back on the ice, they had to wait for the Kings to raise their banner and kiss the Stanley Cup goodbye in a pregame ceremony. Once the game began, though, the action quickly came from the visitors in white.

Saturday’s game was a¬†almost the best-case¬†beginning to the season. Questions about Marian Hossa’s health were answered, the special teams performed well, and Corey Crawford had a good game.

But a “lower-body injury” to Daniel Carcillo, which coach Joel Quenneville indicated could keep him out of the lineup for “some time,” took away from an otherwise outstanding performance.

Hossa stole the show with an electric performance. He scored twice and added an assist as the Hawks ran away with a 5-2 victory. He skated 28 shifts in 17:24 and was credited with a blocked shot in addition to his offensive performance.

Jonathan Toews, who was far from 100 percent when the Hawks last played in April, looked like the player that was considered a Hart candidate for much of last season. He won 16 of 25 faceoffs, scored a goal and added an assist. Patrick Kane also looked great, opening the season’s scoring with an early power play goal. He also had an assist in the game.

One player the Blackhawks would love to see improve on the offensive end of the ice was Michael Frolik, who has struggled since joining the team. He followed up a good postseason series with a first period goal; if he can contribute on a regular basis – or at all for that matter – the Hawks depth could be a tremendous asset in the short season.

In net, Crawford wasn’t tested much thanks to a pretty good effort from the skaters in front of him. He did allow two goals on 21 shots (.905 save percentage), and benefitted from a great offensive performance.

Brent Seabrook was credited with seven of the Hawks’ 15 blocked shots in the game, and Quenneville employed a balanced approach when allocating ice time to his defensemen. Four Blackhawks skated over 21 minutes on Saturday – Seabrook (23:01), Duncan Keith (22:44), Johnny Oduya (21:26) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (21:03) – and Sheldon Brookbank contributed 1:57 to Chicago’s perfect penalty kill.

The Hawks killed all five of the Kings’ advantages in the game while scoring once in five power play opportunities.

One young player that had a very good game on both ends of the ice was Marcus Kruger. He won only four of 13 faceoffs (all in the first period), but made a number of noticeable plays. With the Kings working to come back, Kruger hustled back to break-up a 3-on-2 break that was noticed by his teammates and the television crew.

Kruger and Frolik led all Blackhawks forwards in short-handed ice time on Saturday, both skating 4:28 with a teammate in the box.

Unfortunately, Carcillo appeared to suffer a knee injury when hit by Drew Doughty. Rookie Brandon Saad and veteran center Jamal Mayers were healthy scratches on Saturday, and coach Joel Quenneville will need to dress at least one of them when the Hawks play at Phoenix on Sunday night.

15 thoughts on “Blackhawks Hammer Kings

  1. Thanks Tab…we saw a healthy, deep Blackhawks team, that really took it to LA for most of the game…Tazer and Hossa were outstanding…Kane looked better…Sharp was strong as were Keith and Seabrook. But for me, the great thing was the depth…Kruger was excellent (except in face-offs), Shaw was good, Bickell used his size and was good, Stahlberg looked good, Frolik was very good and Bollig didn’t hurt the team…

    Past the 1st pairing the D scared me a little bit…Hammer looked very solid, but Oduya struggled once again against size and pressure, so did Leddy…even Brookbank looked lost against LAs 4th line…if we can get better play from the back end of our D corp, the Hawks will be as good as anyone this season.

    Can’t say enough about Toews and Hossa…dynamic players!

  2. Da boys put in a good effort. Just great to see Blackhawk hockey again.

    This is gonna be a fun ride to April 27. The picture of Tazer’s eyes on the front page of da trib sports section Saturday said it all…

  3. I don’t think people realize how valuable Carcillo is to this team. He adds to the first line and protects our two studs from any “liberties” that might be taken out there. Hope he comes back soon. Is Saad the replacement?

  4. Saad will undoubtably get the shot in the line-up. My instinct says that Stalberg goes back up the top line. That would put Saad on the 3rd line with Bicks/Shaw or with Frolik going the 3rd line and Saad playing the 4th. All know is that Bollig is going to mess up someone tomorrow night!…

    Payback is sweet.

  5. Brad, I agree with everything you said, except Keith… I thought he panicked and coughed up the puck a few times (when there wasn’t that much pressure to be honest).

    Jeff I agree, and said it last week… Carcillo is a lot better player than stats show (capable of being Matt Cooke)- really can move the puck quickly- we will miss him.

    I am thinking Saad goes to 1st line (Stals will be 2nd option)-
    I would leave Frolik and Kruger together for while- really looked like there was some chemistry.

    Blues- will be team to beat— Terasenko is a beast– and they have a couple of BIG studs in the Juniors- as if they needed any more SIZE.

    If the NHL keeps calling the Interference, and cross-chex like Hawks game- the Hawks should have a very good year (skating teams will do well)!!! Hope it contin

  6. I thought Dunc was a lot better than he looked at the beginning of last year…and while he did panic a little, he did a good job of staying with the puck and keeping leverage on attackers, as did Leddy…but they both have that nervous “twitch” to their game which leads to a number of unwarranted give aways…here’s to hoping that they both turn that aspect of their game around…

    As to the 1st line, I would LOVE to see Stahlberg go there…a line of Toews, Hossa and Stahlberg might become the best in the league…Stahlberg’s speed and hustle would make that line a nightmare to defend.

  7. NOTHING better than seeing the BELOVED sweater in either red or white back on the ice…that’s all for now!

  8. I don’t know how much we can really learn from 1 game. It seemed like after they jumped out to the early lead the forwards started to coast a little bit while the Kings started playing with more desperation. It seemed like Q was also experimenting with different defensive pairings for the last 2 periods.

    Based on how ragged some of the other games looked yesterday, it’s hard not to be impressed with how good the Hawks actually looked up until Carcillo’s injury. It also seemed like I saw less and less of Bollig until the game ended. Maybe that’s just a perception.

  9. I think both goals were scored against Leddy/Brookbank… I think we need to pair someone who can clear the net and win a puck battle w/ Leddy (His weakness). The only guy Brookbank knocked down was Crawford (on the 2nd goal)!!! Let’s give Rosey a chance or bring in Stanton for a shot ( he looked good in the practice I watched).

  10. I didn’t see much wrong with Brookbank yesterday. He was pushed into Crawford on the allowed goal, and was credited with a blocked shot and a couple hits; he was effective as a #6 d-man. There’s absolutely no reason to start talking about bringing up a defenseman when Rozsival hasn’t been in a game yet. And while Leddy was on the ice for both of LA’s goals, he assisted on Frolik’s and didn’t give the puck up. Yeah, he needs to be more physical… but he’s a 180-pound 21-year-old. They used him right last night – just over 15 minutes on the nice, almost 4 of which were on power play, 0:00 on penalty kill.

    I’ll never cease to be amazed that people are picking apart the roster after one game… a 5-2 win over the defending champions.

  11. Tab, I agree it is the 1st game… but This was a BIG issue most of last year… Inability to move Forwards from the front of the net (as well as win a scrum on the boards behind net) Hawks Dmen are built to move puck… I understand… not panicking, but something to watch… but understand he is the 6th man… and I understand Cap issues…
    so if it continues- Hawks will have to adjust! I have liked what little of Stanton I have seen!

    As stated before- If refs continue to call game(s) like last nite… this GREATLY favors quicker, puck moving teams-( because late/cheap hits will be punished quickly via penalties)- this will be great for Hawks/ Oilers/ Panthers and like.

  12. I thought we were very solid. I think we got some good bounces and didn’t generate a whole heck of a lot of chances to get 5 goals, and Quick wasn’t soft on any, he just had no shot.

    Car bomb’s injury is BIG. GREAT cross-ice pass to Hossa, several more little moves of the puck. He had 2 great plays his first shift.

    As to other players, I thought brookbank was solid. He rubbed a guy off on the far board in the 3rd, we don’t usually have D men that do that. Solid 6th guy. Amazing Rozival can’t make our lineup when he was 19 min a game on a good Phoenix team. I thought Keith was fine. Won a battle versus 2 guys and looked like 2 years ago #2. He looked light on his feet.

    #16 looked VERY good. Amazing. Keep him on 4th line and he can be good. It is just step up from the AHL there, where he can succeed. I don’t think he is top 6. Move him up he will struggle. On a good team, like we are, #16 is a nice 4 C. I don’t think Bolland-Sharp showed much chemistry. They might not have it. Some movie stars just don’t have it with each other etc. We shall see. Crow was very solid and square to the shooter.

    Having any major complaints after this game would be like complaining there was a stitch loose at the annual Victoria’s Secret show.

  13. I have questions for both Tab and Wall.

    Tab – Didn’t Oduya and Hammer struggle when paired together last year? So that could be a chemistry thing. I’d like to see Leddy and Hammer, with Oduya and a Brookbank/ Rozy pairing.

    Wall – Did Frolik skate this well in the practices you viewed? Cause with his finish to last year and the way he skated yesterday we may be seeing a resurgent Frolik one we thought we were getting in the trade.

  14. Ryan, went to several practices last year… What I took away from last year was : the hardest workers in practice were:

    I do believe Frolik can play- just think he has had some bed luck… and maybe just slow to adjust to hawks system… Or he really does have a hole in stick! lol

    these guys always stayed after practice and worked on stuff! As did Hayes, Shaw and Smith when they were up.

    The most frustrating was Kane… he acted as if he was under a different set of rules and almost always was one of 1st guys to exit!

    This year… the one open practice I attended- Kane was much more serious and his shot was harder/accurate than any practice last year.
    Carbomb is/was great in practice much better hands than he gets credit for… and Saad and Stalberg can really skate!

  15. Ryan: regarding the defensive pairs, I agree that the Blackhawks really don’t have another big guy like Seabrook to skate w/ Leddy, which would be ideal. But I thought Quenneville used his guys wisely in Los Angeles, spreading out minutes among the top four and skating Leddy as a #5 guy and secondary PP quarterback. If you’re looking for some size to be with Leddy, Roszival might be the best fit there… and he could give the Hawks 17+ minutes/game as well. As I’ve said before this Hawks roster doesn’t have a #3 guy like Brian Campbell, but they have decent depth and a number of guys that can play around 20 minutes any night. Spreading the minutes out is crucial in this short season, and Quenneville has guys he can do that with. Whether or not he continues using everyone is another matter…

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