Hockey Day In Chicago An Amazing Success

Sunday may have been titled Hockey Day in America, but there was no better city in the country to celebrate the great game than Chicago.

As Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said after his team’s victory, “In memory of [former Wisconsin head coach] Bob Johnson: It was a great day for hockey.”

Four of the top 20 college hockey teams in the country did battle at Soldier Field on a gorgeous day for outdoor hockey. The sun was bright – perhaps too bright – and both games were close all the way to the final seconds.

While those games were going on, the Blackhawks hosted the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.

When the lights were all turned off at the end of the day, Chicago was shown to be what residents have known for years: this is a hockey town.

HCC

Starting at just after noon at Soldier Field, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame took on the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, which made for a bright ice surface and required a great deal of maintenance be done during the game.

Both teams came out with a lot of energy, and there was a lot of heavy hitting. One of the big hitters in the game was Blackhawks prospect Stephen Johns, a junior defenseman for Notre Dame. He showed good instincts with the puck, pinched well, and used his large (6-4, 235-pound) body well.

He has one more year of eligibility in South Bend, and might need a year in Rockford to adjust to the speed of the pro game, but there’s no question Johns is the kind of big, physical defenseman the Hawks need.

As the clock was running out in Notre Dame’s 2-1 victory, the puck dropped at the United Center for the Hawks’ mid-afternoon game against the Kings.

It took little time for the Hawks to jump all over the Kings; I left the press box at Soldier Field with five minutes left in the first college game of the day, and the Hawks had scored twice by the time Notre Dame’s coach met the media.

Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews scored just over four minutes apart in the first period as the Blackhawks took a commanding 2-0 lead to the dressing room. Patrick Sharp finally missed the posts/crossbar and scored his third goal of the season during a 21-shot second period; Sharp’s tally would prove to be the game-winner.

Mike Richards added two powerplay goals in the third period for the visitors, but Ray Emery was able to hold the Kings to two scores in the game. Emery made 25 saves in the contest and stayed perfect on the season.

Toews (one goal, one assist), Duncan Keith (two assists) and Seabrook (one goal, one assist) had multi-point games, and Toews won 13 of 19 faceoffs. Michael Frolik and Johnny Oduya were each credited with an assist as well.

As the second period wound to a close at the United Center, the puck dropped for the second half of the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field, as two Big Ten powerhouses did battle.

The game between Wisconsin and Minnesota followed a similar script to the one being played a few miles to the west. Wisconsin took a three-goal lead to the dressing rooms after two periods, but Minnesota battled back to within one and had a number of great chances late in the game to tie the score.

Blackhawks’ prospect Justin Holl, a defenseman for the Gophers, had the primary assist on Minnesota’s first goal of the game. He was plus-one in the loss.

Three games. Each decided by one goal. Each in front of thousands of thrilled fans of hockey.

Indeed, on Hockey Day in America, Chicago proved to be one helluva hockey town.

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24 Responses to Hockey Day In Chicago An Amazing Success

  1. Brad Stevenson says:

    Thanks for the report Tab…sounds like a great day…both Johns and Holl have size and promising careers ahead of them…

    As for the big boys, it was a very good game, with the Hawks dominating for most of it…LA gave the boys their best “rope a dope” routine, allowing the Hawks to run rampant for 2 periods, and allowing ourselves to tire out for a bit of a 3rd period come back by LA…we should have won be a lot more than 1 goal.

    Emery wasn’t quite as sharp, but he is playing with such confidence, that most shots are just going to bounce off him right now…Toews was A LOT BETTER today from Friday night…the 4th line was a juggernaut again, and that was Bollig’s best game as a Hawk…he was good defensively, hit people, and skated well all over the ice…his almost 8 minutes of playing time helped to ensure fresh legs on the other lines.

    Bolly’s lack of face-off wins really hurt the puck possession game of the 2nd line…again, Dave is not a bad player, but he needs to get better at the dot…this is so crucial for a line that features Kane and Sharp.

    Good games by Keith and Seabrook…I thought that Keith was the best he’s been this season…Hammer and Oduya played well together…now, will Q give Karlsson a chance to start this coming week???

  2. Dean Youngblood says:

    Shaw impressed me with his battle in front of the net on the PP.

  3. McKay says:

    Keith continues a fantastic season with two highlight reel assists. Seabs, Hammer, and Oduya all put their body on the line with some very gutty shot blocks.

    The Blackhawks look to be in fantastic shape. There is speed everywhere on the ice—whether it’s in defensive transition, offensive transition, or races to a loose puck. Their back check is ferocious. There is very little hesitation in their game which is awesome to watch.

    That being said, interestingly soft penalties by the forwards continue to hamstring this team. Granted tonight there were some questionable calls (I thought the Kane interference was a make-up for the Toews high-stick and I thought the first Sharp penalty was pretty weak). But at least with Sharp’s penalty he’s negating a high quality scoring chance. All season we’ve taken lazy penalties 100 and 200 feet away from our end… I just don’t get it. The Hawks hustle way too hard to put themselves in a position for Stripes to make an easy call.

    I wish I could have been at Soldier for the games. Thanks for posting the pictures. The environment looks amazing.

  4. Tim G says:

    Another very good game. If i had to be nitpicky, I would have to get on Oduya for taking that penalty at the end of the game. Very bad time to take that. But all in all it was another win, and I can’t be upset.

    I really hope management takes a hard look this offseason and get extentions done prior to UFA/RFA for the players who we are keeping. We are saw the impact contracts can have on a roster in 2010, and we are seeing it to a lesser degree with Stalberg, Bicks and Leddy. I would rather avoid that in 2014 with Kruger, Shaw, Bolland, Carcillo, Frolik, Hammer, Crawford, Pirri, Ben Smith, Jimmy Hayes, Olsen, and even Bollig. If you see them in the long term plans (and im not saying all the guys i mentioned are long term guys… was just listing guys with ending contracts), work out something reasonable before they play their way to 4mil/yr. Obviously all the players I listed are bottom of the roster type guys given our current studs. Yes all of these players could be replaced, but why replace them when we could just work our good deals and the fan base likes what we have. Yes, some of these guys might not deal, wanting a big pay day, but the less turnover, the better IMO.

  5. Zach Fasman says:

    Great game by the Hawks, again. Kane did not get any points, but watch the Sharp goal on replay and you’ll see Kane lift the stick of the King in front of the net, which allowed the puckl to slide back to Sharp for his goal. No points for that one, but Kane deserved an assist on that goal. Those little things (and their amazing play in front of their own net) are why the Hawks are 12-0-3.

  6. wall says:

    Am I still the only person on this site that sees the lack of chemistry w/ Saad and 19/81?

    I love Saad – has tons of skills… but he just isn’t near the same page as 19/81 yet!!! (couple years away)
    To me this line is the Checking Line! And if we just keep winning cuz are next three lines are better than every other next 3 lines that is great… but at some point we will need that 1st line to score… ( yes 19-81 have scored, a lot of PP and Individual play) I see a little frustration in 81 on the plays/passes that aren’t being completed.

    I guess it is a great problem to have… the 4th line (skating w/ 2 legitimate players) being one of your top lines in last couple of games.

  7. JS says:

    Wall- Saad and Toews seem to work pretty well on that line, Hossa has seemed pretty unspectacular. Not really sure what you do to change it up. Switch Saad and Sharp? Switch Hossa and Sharp? The second line has had a lot of really good games, do you want to change it? The third line has been incredible, do you want to change that one?

    My hope is that Sharp starts taking the draws on the second line so they can actually possess the puck more. Not really sure what can be done to fix the first line.

    I thought Emery had an ok game. His positioning was bad on both of the goals (they were rocket shots though, so not sure if he stops them even if he is squared up).

    Not too much to complain about in the end. They played a great 40 minutes and then kept shooting themselves in the foot. Really looking forward to Tuesday. The Canucks have been playing really good hockey and the Hawks have a record and redemption on their mind.

  8. Tim G says:

    Wall- I agree that Saad hasn’t quite “clicked-in” with 19/81, but that said, he has been drawing penalties in almost every game. You want that kind of player on the ice as much as possible. And its not like the first line has been “bad”. They have played well. They just haven’t been “as good as on papper”, much like the PP. But they have worn down the opponets, and opened up opportunities for the other lines.

    Maybe Q can flip Saad and Sharpie, if he thinks it will get more out of 19/81 with out droping the the production of 88/36. But I think having 10 across from 88 opens up more space for Kaner, but then again if Kaner is getting pressured with Saad across ice, it might open up looks for Saad to bury. Either way, I think relagating Saad to a Bottom 6 role would be a mistake. Only time will let him gel with him teammates. IMO, he is going to evolve before our eyes of ther next 18 months and in 2 years, he will be ELITE!

    Right now we are winning, so we can’t complain. If the first line is only going to account for 1 goal, but then we win 3-1, who cares? Now if we were losing games 2-1 and the first line is absent that would be a problem.

  9. Brad Stevenson says:

    Wall, to be honest, I think that Hossa is in a slump right now…over the last 3 games, Saad should of had at least 4 assists from beautiful setups to either Toews or Hossa (mostly Hoss)…but they couldn’t finish…not Saad’s fault…

    Hossa makes up for his offensive woes by always playing stellar 2 way hockey, but he is stifling production on that line right now…

  10. wall says:

    With that I will add that Kruger has made some beautiful set-up passes (one to 81) the last couple of games and not much to show…

    Can’t wait for a Teuvo/Hayes/Danault/Hinosztra to get here and finish some plays for 16.

    And what can you say about Oh-Dabba-Dabba-DO-Ya!!!! He has been great.

  11. Brad Stevenson says:

    Kruger has been the best Hawk for the past 2 weeks…and in think Shaw would be second…these 2 kids are so good at both ends of the ice, how do you comprehend anything but increasing their ice time…and with Toews and Bolland as the other 2 centres, there simply isn’t any room for centres coming up the ranks…and for awhile…and yet we have drafted a plethora of good centres…that tells me that Bolly’s days in Chicago are numbered…even if he lasts until his contract runs out after next season, he won’t be here…it could be argued that someone could take Shaw’s centre spot and move Shaw over to wing, but WHY??? We need more centres that crash the net and actually win face-offs…

    Take last night…the combined face-offs taken OUTSIDE OF TOEWS, was a net MINUS 5, with Toews, as a team, we were a net PLUS 3…this is why a deal for O’Reilly makes so much sense…Bolly has value to Colorado, plus we have centres in the system with nowhere to rise…if we offered Colorado Bolly, Pirri and say McNeil, how could they say no to that? They wouldn’t…and how much would that hurt us??? OR for Bolly is a significant gain for us…Pirri will never be able to play here, and McNeil projects out as a 3rd or 4th line centre (at least in the next 2 to 3 years)…there is no drop off for us, only gain…

  12. Tim G says:

    Brad- I wouldn’t want to give up Pirri and McNeil. I think Danult could ultimately end up on the wing. Yes we are alittle Center heavy, but if we trade 2 away, and Danult ends up on the wing, now we aren’t as protected in the event we have injury trouble. We also have to keep in mind that Shaw is a RFA next year. If he keeps it up, we might have to give him a payday or see him go (See my above post for my worries on that). I would say we are more than capable of dealing one or the other (pirri/Mcneil). and the other remains as AHL injury insurance. McNeil may hold more trade value as he is younger.

    I just wouldnt want to cut ourselves thin. I we could deal Pirri, a middle prospect (maybe a guy like Ben Smith) and a 2014 3rd rounder that would be fine.

    I mean a projected roster of 20/19/81, 10/OReilly/88, 13/65/25, J Hayes/16/52, 2/7, 27/4, 8/Clendening, sounds good to me… and that is with the conservative approach of thinking we cant sign Bicks and Frolik if we pay OReilly.

    That would still leave us guys like TT, K. Hayes, McNeil, Danualt, Calnan, Holl, Johns, and Broadhurst(s) to develop.

  13. Brad Stevenson says:

    Excellent post Tim…and I like your proposal better than mine, I’m just saying that we could do this deal without hurting ourselves long term. I watched Danault play last week, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is going to be a VERY good NHL centre, that is why I didn’t mention him…I like him as much as any other prospect in the system…he has way more talent than people think, plus he is very, very smart…and physical too…he can stand to get bigger, but he doesn’t shy away from contact.

    And we haven’t even talked about Kevin Hayes looking very good as an enormous Centre at BC this season. Plus, Garrett Ross can play Centre, and don’t forget about this kid…he is a bigger Andrew Shaw, and he is going to make a good NHL’er (a 5th rounder like Shaw).

  14. McKay says:

    Hossa suffered some bad luck from bouncing pucks the two games at the UC. The ice has been shit, you can even tell from TV.

    I think Saad’s head needs to catch up to the game. There was a play where he was parked in front of the net and vacated his spot to support Toews as a cycle option low, then Toews threw it to no one in front of the net. Saad absolutely should not have left his spot. Then there was a bad play in the neutral zone where he should have driven wide but instead stick handled at the blue line. Both those plays shouldn’t happen and definitely frustrate 19/81.

    However, the Q and the Hawks are playing with House Money right now. They’re earned it. And they can afford to develop 20 on the first line. He has the skill. Now he just needs to let his mind adjust to the speed.

    Plus, if you move him to checking, do you move Stalberg up? What does that really give you? Stal isn’t exactly a playmaker or finisher. He makes his plays with his legs and his heart (not his hands and his head) which is what Saad is giving the first line right now as well.

  15. McKay says:

    Brad….. Kruger and Shaw best Hawks over last two weeks…. you’re hilarious.

  16. Brad Stevenson says:

    I guess you don’t agree, but I will state it again…as forwards, they have been the 2 best over the last 2 weeks…

  17. ratboy36 says:

    Shaw has shutdown some elite forwards while floating around 50% at the dot.Krueger as I said before is a Pk machine and a supreme garbage man.I ve been looking for more pots out of #16.He has one in each of the last 2.I d like his faceoffs to improve and his consistency to come along.Saad is also on this list of numbers don’t tell the whole story with these players.Saad draws penalties like he has a remote control.This team isn’t all #19 #2 #81 etc.

  18. ratboy36 says:

    Not to mention some nice playmaking out of Shawzie wether they got em on the board or not.The vision he shown in multiple games is beyond his years.Specifically Sanjose (in SJ) and the Calgary game he made outstanding plays.

  19. McKay says:

    No Brad, I don’t agree. Shaw and Krugs give great effort and have definitely added depth. In Feb they combine for 10 points and are role players on PP and PK, respectively.

    Toews and Kane, on the other hand, combine for 19 points in Feb. Not only play critical skill roles on special teams, they are the engine room 5 on 5. SO much of the possession play goes through them. If either of those two did not play in Feb, the Hawks are in big, big trouble.

  20. Dickie Dunn says:

    I apologize (to Wall in particular, but also anyone else finding fault and not “enjoying the ride”) – my intention is not to be a prick, but “Can’t wait for _____” (and similar sentiments) — 12-0-3…27 of 30 possible PTS!?!? WTF.

    GO HAWKS!!

  21. Dickie Dunn says:

    Also, I wouldn’t change the lines – continued patience with Saad – I agree with McKay “they can afford to develop 20 on the first line. He has the skill”. Obviously, if they somehow manage to exchange Bolland (and ??? – “within reason”) for Ryan O’Reilly that would be marvelous (and then some).

    “Kruger and Shaw best Hawks over last two weeks…” — *maybe* not as far-fetched as it sounds, because *everyone* has been *playing their roles* at near 100% efficiency. Except for the powerplay, of course — well all hope that improves asap.

    GO HAWKS!!

  22. wall says:

    DD- I don’t mean to rain on Hawks parade… I am excited about them winning as much as anyone…

    My “I can’t wait” means-
    I am just as excited about this team’s future and some of the prospects… (especially TT- if you have not noticed). TT is going to be a special player-
    If you remember- I was the first guy on this site to suggest the Hawks bring up Andrew Shaw (Tab laughed at me!)… I have always said that Kruger has great Instinct and is a hard worker.

    And as a Guy who has always coached sports… I am always looking for little things the Team can improve on (even after wins)! The Hawks 1st line, (Saad can and will improve) and the 3rd man on 4th line are 2 areas that the Hawks can improve on…

  23. Dickie Dunn says:

    Wall – I agree with you about the future…I think – really never know what will happen?

    Everybody (incl. me) likes TT – believes he’s a special talent, but age & size = we probabably won’t see him in Chicago any time soon. Shaw was a real find – how many players taken in the 5th round do anything in the NHL?

    You’re correct about littel things/always improve….PP, faceoffs (except Toews), etc. The 4th line – most teams don’t have a lot of skill there – certainly not like Kruger and Frolik…and, for a team that may lack size and hitting (- although I’m with those who believe that their puck possession game is part of fewer hits), Bollig and Mayers play a role.

    After wins – certainly a few games could have gone the other way, but the Hawks found a way to win – it won’t happen every game, but hopefully, they keep playing as a team with this consistent effort.

    GO HAWKS!! (…nobody likes Vancouver anyway)

  24. Tim G says:

    For people who haven’t heard, Seabs is out tonight vs. Vancouver.

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