Brandon Saad, Blackhawks Top Oilers 5-4

The Blackhawks received production from all over the roster once again on Sunday evening, overcoming a few mental lapses to put away the Edmonton Oilers.

Shaw EDM

Brandon Saad deposited a bouncing puck in the first period to give the Hawks the lead, and the stat sheet was overwhelmed by Chicago. Edmonton only put six shots on net in the first 20 minutes, while the Hawks were credited with 11 shots.

In the second half of a back-to-back, up one against a struggling team, the Blackhawks came out of the dressing room and took the Oilers for granted. But a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins goal 54 seconds into the middle frame tied the game, and Nail Yakupov’s power play goal at 8:55 gave Edmonton the lead.

The Hawks had plenty of good chances in the first half of the second period, too. But extra passes cost them a few opportunities and the Oilers effectively took away angles when the Hawks skated out of position. Devan Dubnyk left a number of soft rebounds right in front of the net, but Chicago couldn’t cash in.

Until Brandon Saad made a play. Again.

Saad dug a puck out of the corner and threw it in front of the net, where Andrew Shaw was ready to put it home and tie the game late in the second period.

When the dust settled, the Hawks had out-shot the Oilers 13-10 but had opportunities to blow the game open and didn’t take advantage.

In the third, the Blackhawks finally put bodies in front of Dubnyk and were able to put a couple pucks past the struggling, soon-to-be-replaced netminder.Bryan Bickell parked himself in front of the net and scored 5:33 into the final frame, but the lead was short-lived.

David Perron scored a power play goal at 7:58 to once again tie the game as the Hawks had a rough night on special teams.

Edmonton scored on both of their power play opportunities, and added a short-handed goal late in the third. The Blackhawks had been perfect in November, killing the first nine penalties they faced to date. But on Sunday night, the Oilers scored on both of their chances with the advantage.

The Blackhawks scored twice in less than six minutes after Perron’s goal. Marcus Kruger, also in front of Dubnyk, received a pass from Ben Smith and a quick puck handle was enough for Dubnyk to open a gap for Kruger to abuse. It was Kruger’s second goal of the season.

Moments later, Duncan Keith scored a power play goal that would be the game-winner. It was Keith’s first of the season, and put an offensive number on another exceptional defensive performance.

Eberle would score the Oilers’ short-handed goal in the final 90 seconds of regulation, but that would end the offense for Edmonton.

The Blackhawks were as dominant at the dot as they have been all year. Jonathan Toews won 21 of 28 faceoffs to lead the effort, but every Blackhawks skater that took a draw won more than 50 percent of their faceoffs. Kruger won nine of 14, Brandon Pirri won seven of 12 and Shaw won 10 of 16 as the Hawks combined to win 50 of 73 in the game.

Saad led the Hawks with two points (one goal, one assist), one hit and two takeaways. Brent Seabrook was the only other Chicago player with a multi-point night, registering two assists with a team-leading four hits.

Pirri, Smith, Patrick Kane, Johnny Oduya, and Michael Rozsival also had assists in the game.

Late in the game, Rozsival was hit in the head with an errant puck while sitting on the bench. The Hawks’ medical team jumped into action, but he stayed down for a few moments before being helped to the dressing room for additional medical attention.

Brandon Bollig once again saw more ice time than Bickell, including 40 seconds of penalty kill duty. Bollig was credited with three hits in the game, while Bickell scored once and was credited with only one hit.

Corey Crawford allowed four goals against only 23 shots in the game, but earned another victory. He is now tied with Tampa’s Ben Bishop for the NHL lead with 11 wins.

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16 Responses to Brandon Saad, Blackhawks Top Oilers 5-4

  1. RyanDale says:

    Obviously anyone who expected an easy game doesn’t follow this series too closely. I thought Khabby might have started this one which only increased my trepidation. We won, and frankly vs Edm thats all I care about these days. It was sloppy at times but trying to be positive, we were great 5 on 5 and the dot numbers were incredible! Which seems to be somewhat of a trend of late. 4pts on weekend b2b, i’ll take it

    88 is +5 in his last 3g. Lets hope that -9 he owned is long gone now.

  2. Travis says:

    I’m calling it. If Kruger stays healthy, sees 8-10 minutes of even-strength ice time per game, and keeps winning draws at this rate, he’s topping 10 goals and 30 points. Bollig and Smith will get 7-10 goals apiece as well. That 4th line is as good as I’ve seen in a long time.

    People may point to PK% and bemoan the loss of Frolik, but I’d argue that this year’s 4th line has the potential to be far, far more productive at even strength without him. Fro was an elite penalty killer, but every time he threw the puck on net from a terrible angle and we lost possession, it made me want to tear my hair out. Sorry, Eddie O, sometimes it IS a bad idea to throw the puck at the net.

    Loved how the 4th line was out with under a minute to go and a one-goal lead. Damn right. They deserve it so far.

  3. Pete says:

    Awesome puck possession by the Hawks last night. They relaxed at the end of the game with the power play and a 2 goal lead and let Edmonton make it look closer than it was. The Hawks playing 5 on 5 held the puck in the Edmonton zone for extended periods of dominant puck possession. It was fun to watch. It looks like Q rightfully doesn’t trust Khabby. Time for plan B on the backup goalie spot?

  4. wall says:

    Travis- agree that 4th line might produce a lot more than last year… but the 3rd line w/ 17 is a JOKE!!! The only chance 29/65 score is when 88 double shifts!

    Two teams that I thought could contend last 2-3 years – Avs, Oilers…
    but now I see why Oil suck… Oilers think they are playing in NBA and the defense is not allowed to stand in front of net for more than 3 seconds!!! Kane could have scored 5 goals in 2nd… 88 had at least 20 seconds of puck possession 6 feet in front of goal- and not one Oiler touched him!!! (and he wasn’t moving) Wow!!!

    This next week will tell a lot of were Hawks are-
    Please no more 17 at Wing!
    2nd line looked best it has looked this year!

  5. ebonyraptor says:

    There was plenty to like and dislike in that game, but in the end all that matters is getting 2 points. Some observations:

    Duncan Keith tried what seemed like a dozen shots in the game. At least half of them were blocked by a defender standing right in front of him and the other half missed the net with the exception of the last shot he took which found its way into the net. The difference between the last shot and all the other shots – it was a quick wrist shot. Note to Duncan: if you insist on shooting all the time, eschew the slow backswing slapper for the quick wrister … thank you.

    Losing the special team battle be the score of 1-3, but still winning the game by winning the 5on5 battle 4-1 – good thing the Hawks are scoring a lot lately.

    Dare I say that maybe YP is having a positive influence on faceoffs, especially Kruger who has probably had more 50%+ games over the last couple weeks than he has had over the last couple of seasons.

    The Hawk’s d-men did a good job of fending off the Oiler’s first wave of offensive attack last night but continue to struggle against the second wave coming in and getting decent chances off the pass from the first wave. Hossa had a nice backcheck takeaway on Hall on one play last night – but that’s Hossa who is one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL. We need a better focus by the forwards on getting back so we’re not chasing the second wave into our d-zone – especially against really fast teams like the Oilers and Avs.

    I don’t recall ever seeing a guy get hit with the puck while sitting on the bench and flip backwards like that. It looked like knocking over a target in a shooting gallery. I hope Rozy is OK.

    What’s with these 3 day breaks between games? I think the Hawks have had several of these already and it doesn’t make sense when the season is compressed because of the Olympics and the Hawks have 18 B2B games. How about changing the three days off to two days off and having less B2B games?

    Wow the Western Conference is tough. Anaheim keeps winning. Colorado keeps winning. The Hawks keep winning. Phoenix keeps winning. St. Louis keeps winning. San Jose has done their annual November swoon but they’re still right there and looks to be there all season long. The Kings aren’t even in the top-8 but you know they will be in the thick of it by the end. Vancouver looks like a more solid team with Torts behind the bench and they will be a legit contender all season long. And then there’s the Wild who have jumped up into the elite group of teams and at least for the time being looks to belong there. This is going to be a heckuva season in the West.

  6. Mike says:

    Thanks Tab and good comments. This is it for me. I was willing to see Habby 3 or 4 more times BUT this is the second back to back WITH travel that CC has had to endure. Our boy has got to be plenty tired.

    Who knows…..maybe that is why Brookbank is in the line up. Think about it. Lines 1 & 2 are scoring goals. Add a defense minded wing to the third line and have a defense minded 4th line. Does this give CC an easier game?

    Saad is a beast regardless of what line Q puts him. I thought Smith played a pretty good game as well. Agreed with all. Morin for Brookbank!!! Use BB as a D man only.

  7. Sr. Brad says:

    Huge game by Mini Hoss…Brandon Saad…that kid is the real deal and is only going to get better…and imagine how well he would be doing skating next to Toews and Hoss?

    I don’t know what it is about EDM but they have gotten under the Hawks skin…there was no reason for this game to be 5-4, but it was…the Hawks were very good at times and INCREDIBLY sloppy at other times…I wonder how much fatigue played into it though, as CC keeps playing without a break and Q stubbornly continues to play the 3 minute wonder at RW on the 3rd line…

    At this point I honestly don’t know what Q is thinking and Bowman must be more than a little frustrated with the development of the younger players…Morin has played well in Chicago, and while his DZone positioning could be better, he was NOT a liability at all and was a force offensively…this BB on the wing fad had better end soon…Toews and Kane are logging WAY TOO MANY minutes this early in the season.

    And again, if Q doesn’t want Morin, bring someone else up…

    I am not sure if everyone here knows or not, but Kruger changed his hand positioning on his stick for face-offs…he dropped his lower hand to give him more torque and boy has it worked…he is over 60% since the change, with no end in sight it appears…it has also boosted his confidence and his whole game has taken a step forward…I said in the pre season that I thought the Hawks had a chance to field the best 4 lines in team history, and its looking more and more like it, as that 4th line is a terror out there…and as good as we have been, when Morin gets back to the 3rd line with Shaw and Bickell, the Hawks are going to be very tough to beat…Pirri has settled in nicely on the 2nd line and our defence is playing well, as Rozy’s play has improved dramatically…

    Now, once again, the back up goalie situation…CC is playing too much and clearly Q has NO confidence in Khabby…plus over the last 10 days Raanta’s game in Rockford has collapsed, and is struggling right now after a fantastic start…the goalie that has been lights out (besides CC) has been Mac Carruth in Toledo…there were some who said that Carruth would never be a pro goalie, and that’s ridiculous…he is controlling his rebounds and looks HUGE in the net…

  8. Morrison says:

    With Rozy being hit, then 17 can play D & we can have a FW in one of the 12FW positions. Man and Rozy was starting to get warmed up to the season/into the flow.

    Yea, not sure what to do with backup. Good thing we didn’t jump gun with Raanta when 39 was sucking, now hes off. Sometimes its better not to do it, but we do need someone who can play backup for this season.

    Like that fellow said, against Edm, we take a win of any-score anytime…

    Now that the conference games are in full swing, all of the good teams are going to beat each other. So everybodys going to take some hits. There might be a few who win more but its going to be some good hockey & non of this ‘bunch of pussies’ from the east conference (except for pit/bos). There are so many more good teams (8/10 top10) in the conference, even with those who bailed to the east in realignment.

  9. Travis says:

    Yes, BB at the wing is confusing as hell. The only way it makes any sense is if Q is putting a burr in Morin’s saddle, and/or sees him as a defensive liability.

    Also note that, with Bollig’s decline in fighting, and the loss of Carcillo and Mayers, BB is the best enforcer in our lineup. So against a physical team like St Louis or LA, it kind of maybe makes a tiny bit of sense. But against the Oilers? Seriously?

  10. JS says:

    Bollig isn’t fighting because fighting is stupid and useless. He’s shown he’s more than willing to fight after someone smashed Kruger earlier this year.

    It makes NO SENSE to play Brookbank at wing… but Q has done this with Hendry, Scott, Montador, Brookbank, and probably a handful of others I’m forgetting. I don’t know if it’s some pissing competition he is having with Bowman, but I don’t like it. All it is doing is hurting Morin’s development and his potential trade value.

  11. Mike says:

    JS, I agree about Bollig. A week ago I commented that I think Bollig is the most improved Hawk on the roster so far this year. You also have to give him credit for being smart as well. In the NHL he makes about 8 times what he would make in Rockford. He is doing what he needs to do to stay in Chicago. And he is a physical presence on the ice.

    I read yesterday where Q said Zues would need another week or two before he is ready to play. It is to read into that, that Q is in no hurry to put him back on the game roster. Will be curious to see what Q does with him.

    I sure hope Morin is busting his ass in practice and returns to the 3d line SOON. BB needs to be on the 3d D pairing and get some chemistry and energy back on the third line. BUT the Hawks are 3-0 with BB on wing…..and Q tends to stick with what works until things change.

    I think Smith is making the case for himself on 4th line. Bollig, Kruger and Smith are starting to work together really well. I hope Q keeps it up.

    While Pirri may not be the ideal 2C, the Hawks need to make a decision. I would not be upset if Kruger moves to 2C and Pirri is at 4C. However, Pirri is getting “a little” more comfortable at 2C and therefore not a liability there. However, if Q continues to double shift Kane and Toews, it may hurt their performance come February.

  12. JS says:

    I think Pirri is improving every game and once he gets comfortable in the defensive zone, you’ll see him shine in the offensive zone. My guess is that right now, he’s focusing 100% on defense because he knows that’s what will get him benched.

    I’m really interested to see what Q does with Handzus when he comes back. You know he will start him because Q is going to Q.

  13. Mike says:

    JS, agreed about Pirri…..and if Kane is on his wing Pirri might as well stay at the center line (haha). But that is not a knock on Kane. Kane has one purpose, goals and assists. He will always be the weakest defender on whatever line he is on. I am OK with that. This is the ONLY reason I would put Kruger at 2C, otherwise I do think Pirri will improve enough to be a “good” 2C

  14. Sr. Brad says:

    Great comments guys…Travis, I have always agreed with JS about the fighting element in hockey…and what we are beginning to see with Bollig is the “Rat factor”, he’s playing sound positional hockey, he has good use of his stick, and now instead of thinking “goon”, he’s thinking PEST, and this can only help us come playoff time…Bollig’s performance this year and Kruger’s dramatic F/O improvement are the 2 things, if they continue, that could put us over the top in the playoffs this year.

    Mo, it will be interesting to see what happens with the backup goalie spot over the next 2 weeks if Khabby lays an egg in his next performance, if he ever gets one…

    JS, so true about Pirri…he’s focusing 100% on defence right now, and with 2 new linemates and one of them being Kane, he has to…his offensive game is there, and as you said, it will shine when he feels more comfortable defensively.

    Mike, agree with Smith solidifying a spot…he’s been good at every aspect of his game…he can even step in and win a F/O…that 4th line right now is dynamite…and I too hope Morin has been busting his butt in practise, he needs back on the ice…that 3rd line, with Morin, was so dangerous…and with Pirri coming around on the 2nd line, the Hawks have 4 lines that will grind opponents into the ground with their speed and their tenacity…short of a backup goalie, this is a frighteningly good hockey team…

    Message to Q…KEEP THE DMEN ON DEFENCE!!!

  15. Travis says:

    JS- Putting BB at wing cannot make “no sense.” I think it’s a bad decision, for many of the reasons you listed, but to dismiss it as asinine with no upside cannot be correct. Q must see some upside, and I like to wonder what it might be.

    BB is one of our two best enforcers, and our 7th-best defenceman. The Hawks are light on grit. Q likes grit. In a playoff series against St. Louis, putting BB at wing could be a defensible decision. Why not see if that move is viable in November? Why not experiment to determine how plastic the roster is, and how to get the most out of it against different teams and styles of play? While I still disagree with the experiment, it’s important to see the upside, as well as the (valid) downsides you listed.

    Brad- agreed. Solid 4th line = depth = cup contention.

  16. JS says:

    Putting BB at the wing in the playoffs would make me cry. It’s much more important to have a 3rd line that can play 13-15 minutes than a third line that plays 10. When you have to shelter a player against a team as bad as the Oilers, that is not the recipe for success.

    What does Brookbank skating 5 minutes on the wing do against the Blues in the playoffs? You know what it’s doing? Making actual forwards like Bickell play less minutes than the 4th liners.

    Not every decision Q makes is the right one.

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