Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks Bounce Back At Home

After two mediocre performances in Minnesota, the Blackhawks hoped to recapture some momentum at the United Center on Sunday night. Coach Joel Quenneville mixed up his lineup again, but a signature play by Jonathan Toews changed the complexion of the game – and perhaps the series.

Quenneville inserted Kris Versteeg, Peter Regin and Sheldon Brookbank into the lineup in place of suspended forward Brandon Bollig, Jeremy Morin and Michal Rozsival. All three players responded; Versteeg and Regin combined to win nine of 14 faceoffs and Regin showed a lot of speed bringing the puck into the offensive zone. Brookbank skated 17:13 and was credited with three hits and one blocked shot.

The moves gave Quenneville options, and he mixed his lines frequently as always. But he showed confidence to roll all four of his lines throughout the games, a change from the previous games in the series.

Bryan Bickell scored the Hawks’ first goal, tipping a Patrick Kane shot past Ilya Bryzgalov on a power play in the middle of the second period.

In the third, Toews scored his fourth game-winning goal to end a shift that exemplifies why he’s an elite player. He had a big hit in the corner, fought his way to the front of the net and tipped in a bouncing puck to give the Hawks the lead for the first time in almost nine periods.

Toews and Michal Handzus both won 12 of 20 faceoffs in the game.

Brandon Saad has a strong game and saw his ice time increase to 16:42, only 58 seconds of which came on the power play. Saad was credited with three shots on net and three hits in the game. Bickell led the team with four hits, but played only 11 minutes of even strength ice time in the win.

If the Hawks needed their big guns to show up, they got a much better performance on Sunday night. Patrick Sharp had an assist on both Hawks goals, and Kane and Marian Hossa each added an assist.

Quenneville skated all four of his defensemen relatively even minutes as well. Duncan Keith – who had four giveaways in the game – led all Blackhawks in ice time, but was on the ice for only 22:52 in the win. Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson were barely over 20 minutes in the game, and all six defensemen were between 17 and 23 minutes in the game.

Corey Crawford allowed one goal – to Erik Haula in the first period – while facing 28 shots in the victory.

The Hawks only had to kill one penalty, a Seabrook tripping call that came only 29 seconds in the game. Chicago converted one of their two power play opportunities in the game. As the final moments ticked away, a few Wild players took their cheap shots and Johnny Oduya and Nino Niederreiter were both hit with unsportsmanlike penalties after the game officially ended.

Game Six is set to start at 8 pm CT on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center.

Toews MIN

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69 Responses to Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks Bounce Back At Home

  1. Jax says:

    1st period sure looked like game 3+4 all over again with the exception of Crow. 2nd and 3rd looked like hawk hockey with bonus physical play. Well done Saad, nice elbow after being cross-checked. Regin played fast both ways. Toews is just hard to believe at times, a great hit, perfect positioning then quick,soft hands all on the same play, he and Hossa must be together. I have always been a Leddy fan, but he ditched the puck anywhere a few times when a hit was coming. Very few whistles but seemed to work both ways till the end of 3rd, Niederrieter…………………………..dead. All the pressure is now on the Wild. Go hawks!

  2. Mining Man says:

    Whew…that was close. Good on Regin, surely he can be a permanent fixture going forward. Seems like he was everywhere and doing a lot of good things. Handzus detractors can have few complaints because he played a very strong and smart game and was crucial in the last ten minutes. Strong game from Versteeg and Crawford made eagle eye catches with his glove hand though traffic. A lesser goalie and we would have lost. Captain serious, what can be said, the strength heart and soul of the Blackhawks. Compare this to Crosby’s performance in these playoffs…not even! Great effort, some luck, …not our best game but we found a way to win…thats the Blackhawks that were last years Stanley Cup Champs.

  3. Travis says:

    Good: Harder on the puck. Started winning board battles, I’d say about 60% of 50/50 pucks. Better puck support. Grittier from the top-down; even Kane and Toews with some decent contact. Much more aggressive defensemen pinching in at smart times and joining the cycle or the rush. Versteeg showed flashes of his potential, Regin with a strong game. Saad might break out soon. Hossa is still Jesus on skates. And Toews is still Toews.

    Bad: Passing was off, even when under little pressure. Sometimes egregiously so, particularly in transition. A team with more natural scoring talent will burn us for that (Boston, Montreal, Pittsburgh, Anaheim’s top line), should we advance. Several unnecessary neutral zone turnovers and icings.

    Better board battles = good for possession. Turnovers = bad for possession. Net effect: neutral. Fenwick reports that both teams were perfectly equal, both even-strength and overall.

    Crisper passing and same gritty effort = emphatic game 6 win. Without one or the other, it’s a coin flip, like tonight (don’t kid yourselves, it was a coin flip). Without both, we’re going 7.

    Still haven’t brought our A-game in the playoffs, and we’re a win away from the WCF.

    Go Hawks!

  4. Maybe '14 says:

    Expect to see Nordstrom, Regin, and Kruger play again in game 6. Q seems to have found the two way players who match up against the Wild. Saad and Kruger look like the 2014 version of Frolik and Kruger on the forecheck. Great to see the Hawks return to their puck control game outshooting the Wild by a wide margin. They miss the two way play of Shaw. The core players are as good as the core of any team in the NHL. I include Saad in the core.

  5. terrible says:

    #1 Bickell is our netfront presence without shaw
    #2 We cracked 23 shots. whew. mainly 2nd period blitzing through their trap. chipping the pick in and finishing checks will force them to question whether the hawks are doing their typical neutral zone carry or pass strategy. so far passes in the NZ are going pretty horribly, but when we mixed up with dump/tip-ins it forced their D men back. plus regin can actually get in to the o-zone and retrieve (which bollig never did) forcing wild d-men to think twice.
    #3 Keifer made some brutal turnovers. this is mainly because of classic NZ trap/press and there are resolved strategies to beat this – which you can freely google. MN has the speedy forwards and active sticks to execute the press, so trying to make those passes should be happening less. first period seemed like failed breakout after failed breakout. hawks should just hang back and draw in their forechecker – only make a move once that forechecker is committed to blocking the d-2-d pass (this is where drilling 1-touch-passes or tip-in dumps helps)
    #4 Brookbank – welcome to a regular spot on the lineup. Not perfect, but much more solid than Roszival and look at his +/-. Smart plays and fulfilled his job description as a bottom pairing D man.
    #5 Steeger – does not want to go back to the press box. He and Regin were a solid line – can you remember a time in games 3-4 when the fourth line held the Wild in their zone for as long as those guys?
    #6 Zus – This guy has been reading the blog, because this game he pretty much said F&^* you to all of us and earned his paycheck in a big way
    #7 Last but not least – CROW. I’ll chalk this up as yet another game he stole for us. The last 8 minutes of the 3rd weren’t awesome, but Crow was. So we’re up 3-2. I get that he let some softies in and that he isn’t Tukka Rask, and that he is not the best goalie in the league. But if you can steal your team a playoff game against the Blues and Wild, you’re still an amazing goaler and integral part of the team. He is no coaster. So if you happen to be visiting the history department a McGill university, thank Crow’s mom.

  6. Travis says:

    ^ awesome posts! i love this blog.

  7. Jax says:

    RD post on 5/10/14 @2:51 am was dead on. I am guessing you caught Animal House reference.

  8. Nice win! I didn’t realize Versteeg was as good at the dot as reported, all I saw was him gettin the puck poached with little resistance, but I’m glad he produced, I like the guy and his wheels, just like I like Leddy’s wheels, who doesn’t, just hope their sticks can catch up this season in 5 on 5 action. I had no prob with their benchings, Versteeg may have earned his way into game 6, BB definitely did, Rosy vs Leddy is a crapshoot, if it’s me I go with the tough old dude. If Q sticks with Leddy and BB, hey, they just won a tough game, good for them.

    Toews.

    Keith was brutal except for his fleeting flashes at forward, glad he got that game out of the way, and at least his only goal was given up to the second best player on the ice this series.

    The only Q personnel call that confuses me is Nordstrom over Morin, sure Morin sucked most of game 4 but Nordstrom is just not there yet. Many commenters complain about Q’s short leash, I just don’t see 42’s contribution, haven’t dug into the stats yet though.

    Toews.

    I just can’t recall a player as fun to watch as Hossa, win or lose, offense or defense. And damned if I don’t like Handzus’ game, he’s just a great role player and the one time he leaves a juicy puck on the ice tonight, it’s cuz he’s on the way to check his man. He just plays the right way, slow as hell but at least I have fun watching him. He was asked to push offensively games 4 and 5 and did so, I haven’t checked the numbers but I bet he’s a plus. Better at the dot than I thought.

    Toews. And Crawford.

    Let’s get some flukey goals an finish up in 6, shall we? LET’S GO HAWKS!

  9. ebonyraptor says:

    The Hawks star forwards had to be the difference makers for the Hawks to win – there were and they did. They will have to be the difference makers in Game 6 too for the Hawks to have a chance to win.

    In his post game interview, Yeo said that the Wild didn’t attack as aggresively after getting the 1-0 lead. He said he wasn’t sure why because that was not the gameplan. I think he’s right about them playing a little differently but I’m not sure if it can be entirely attributed to what the Wild weren’t doing – I think some of that was the Hawks picking up their game a bit with better execution. But it’s easier to do that at home when you have the last change and the faceoff advantage.

    So Game 6 will separate the wheat from the chaff. Will the Hawks be able to play of their toes like they did in the 2nd and 3rd periods tonight or will the Wild force them back on their heels like they did in Game 4? Looking forward to it.

  10. RyanDale says:

    Jax, I did catch it and had a good laugh on it too, thanks!

    Gonna sleep well tonight.

  11. morrison says:

    Heres to Bick and Ben & Jerrys for taking their licks and allowing 4 lines to role.

  12. A quick stat follow up to my comment above; Handzus: last 2 games even plus minus, slightly negative Corsi, against very tough quality of competition. I was wrong guessing he was in the positive, but his numbers are much better than his playoff average since he was asked to play offense.
    Nordstrom: as they say in Sweden, oy vey. The only player with similarly abysmal numbers is Ben Smith, and he ain’t digging pucks out like Ben Smith, gimme a break. Please prove me wrong Joakim, seems like your coach believes in you.
    Surprising in tonight’s game was Oduya, who seemed to me to be coughing up pucks and over skating checks, and ended up with an 80% Corsi!? As always, he was thrown against the toughest competition, quite a performance.

  13. noonan96 says:

    Good things about today-
    -the sun is out this morning
    -the Hawks won
    -a can breath again
    -it was a much better game to watch last night
    -the blog is lacking a condescending tone (so far)
    E.R. -you said what I was thinking but probably better

  14. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    After 5 games I have to admit one thing…Minnesota poses a difficult match-up for the Hawks. Simply put, they get you to play their game. It’s what Colorado found out too, even though the Avs can blame their demise in that series on a not good enough defense.

    The good — Crawford (he won the game for the Hawks…he just did), Hossa (best player on ice), Kane, Hjalmarsson, Saad, Bickell, Handzus (invaluable on the kill and in the dot)

    The pretty good — Toews, Sharp, Regin, Kruger, Seabrook, Oduya, Brookbank

    The meh — Keith (the Wild are getting the best of him), Versteeg (from my seat some ill-advised passes into the zone and EASY shots on goal)

    The bad — Leddy, Nordstrom, Smith (tough night for Ben from my seat)

    ===

    Not sure what to expect in game 6. I know the Hawks WILL win this series, but game 6 could be the 6th consecutive game in this series where Minnesota controls the type of game that is played on the ice. And road ice line changes have been KILLING this team. Lets see what happens.

  15. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    I’ll say one thing about this series too. If anybody under estimates who great of a player Ryan Suter then they haven’t caught a whiff of this series. He is truly an elite player and has been HUGE for Minnesota. Honestly speaking, Duncan Keith can’t carry his jock strap in the 5 game assessment so far.

  16. Mike says:

    Any win is a good win and I am thankful that the Hawks came out on top.

    It is compelling to me that when forced to make lineup changes, suddenly the Hawks can successfully roll 4 lines. I know home ice has something to do with that. Bollig suspension may just be the best thing to happen to the Hawks puck control game.

    Agree with the post on Nordstrom. He will be a B, B+ NHL player with his skills, however, he is simply not ready. Or put another way, Hawks have better choices. Nordy is a minus 4 in 6 games.

    Can not agree on Handzus. His best positions are 4th line winger and PK (I guess). Zues leads the team at minus 4 and has 2 points playing a good deal of his time with 10 and 88. Last night again, when he centered Kane, not much happened.

    Game 6 should be interesting. Hopefully Regin and Steeger are both in the lineup. I would not mind seeing 26 center the fourth line and put in Morin for Nordstrom.

    Any word on Shaw?????

    BTW, I had to turn down the sound after Bickell scored. Is there any alternative to NBC announcers???

    Go Hawks

    Go Hawks

  17. JS says:

    Is my work computer going to let me post!?

  18. JS says:

    Christmas miracle!

    Anyway. Crow was good. I’m pretty sure he is undefeated in Game 5’s with ridiculous numbers.

    I think Bickell is the most fortunate playoff player ever. Pucks just him him and go in the net. Did that puck bounce in off his crotch yesterday? Was interesting to see his ice time dropped so much, I hope he’s healthy.

    Handzus made a couple of nice plays in the defensive zone. I still can’t help but laugh how easily such a big man is removed from the play. He bounces off of players and almost always ends up on his ass.

    Regin had a great game? You don’t say… I can’t wait for everyone to talk about how smart Q is for inserting him into the lineup even though the “0 Rings” crew here has been calling for it since… Game 1 of the first round?

    Nordstrom shows so many flashes. He might be a guy.

    The problem I see with the Hawks against the Wild, is that they have no idea how to actually dump and chase. They did it a few times last night where they actually dumped the puck in with speed and were able to get to the boards before the defenders… but it seems like they are always dumping the puck in with 3 guys standing at the blue line. That is not how to dump and chase. The defenders are already moving so they get to the puck way ahead of any forwards and they make easy outlet passes.

    This is part of the reason I was so irritated by the Leddy benching. The guy is a one man break out and if the Hawks can’t dump and chase effectively, he needs to be on the ice to create zone entries on his own. However, the guy is now playing tentative as hell, wonder why that is?

    Anyway, Tuesday night should be awful hockey since I’m sure Minnesota will slow the game to a crawl.

  19. Phil says:

    Great comments and insights everyone. Victory glow all around.

    Another chess match last night at the UC. Very taut and nervous atmosphere, buy hey that’s playoff hockey. The Wild remain a very capable and frustrating opponent. They play their system with great discipline and bring relentless puck pressure, and punishing physical play. A tough puzzle to crack. It is wearing on the Hawks and the Wild know this. The cumulative pressure is resulting in Hawks giveaways. There is a Flying Wild player near the puck or in passing lanes almost every play. Wild rang up 48 hits last night which is the biggest number I can ever remember.

    That said screw em. They interfere, hold, and hook constantly. I counted at least 3 pick plays that gave them advantage last night. No calls. Refs basically swallowed the whistle last night. This was to the advantage of the Wild. I am with you Jax Niederreiter………………dead!!!!!I am developing healthy dislike for McCormick and Cooke as well. I just wish the Hawks would start banging players instead of the simple seal off check. The Wild have been pounding our d men mercilessly. They should get back some of their own medicine.

    Hawks showed great mental toughness to grind out that game, and got a wonderful performance out of CC. The guy is coming up big when it counts. Speaking of coming up big, who else but the Cpt to break the tie with a gusty greasy goal that was all about heart. Don’t normally see Tazer get that emotional after scoring. You think he was a little pent up and frustrated. He is a champion world class player that is able to dig deep in pressure situations for winning plays. Amazing character in #19.

    Regin was a welcome addition and should stick in the lineup, at least until Shaw comes back. BB did his job. Rozy looked gassed Friday night and needed a break. Zus had a pretty good game and was one of the few Hawks that was willing to take the body. Hoss and Kane also looked determined last night. Kaner giving it all to out skate Wild player to nullify icing in the 3rd was huge.

    I will throw this out here and see what others think. I believe the Wild are starting to tire of their own system which requires aggressive skating on the entire ice surface, an aggressive forecheck where players have to hit the O zone with speed, get deep, throw a check and then have to skate hard all the way back if they don’t cause a turnover. It has to be exhausting to play that way game in a game out. Even Parese said in an interview over the weekend the players don’t really like the system, but it is getting results so they have bought in. Interesting he would say that though IMO. Notice the Hawks in the 3rd last night started finding some holes in the vaunted trap the Wild employ. I think they were running out of gas. We will find out how full their tank is in a Hawks clinch game #1 . I thought this series would go 6 all along and thought we would get 1 up North.

    Saw a few old North Star jerseys at the UC last night and all I could think of was “Dino sucks!” I loved the old Norris division.

    Lets Go Hawks!!

  20. wall says:

    JS- completely right on the “Regin” playing… two years in a row- us bums have called for the “obvious” line/inserts… I don’t get it… biggest difference between last year’s Wild and this year– is guys like Haula,Nieder,Coyle can actually skate well!!! So why isn’t Regin (a skater) actually playing from the start???

    JS- also completely “stole my thunder” on the Hawks inability/desire to play that dump and chase… led to the Haula-Haula goal… the Wild Actually broke out of that dump with so much speed… looked like they were on a PP… I replayed it 3-4 `times – just to see WTF was going on there???— no line change from Hawks- the Hawks almost looked like they dumped and tried to go into their own NZ trap… so the lesson? Perhaps the Hawks should skate the Puck all the way thru the Zone (like Haula)… ( the subtle Pick by Coyle- did help a bit)!!!

    Another observation— Q/Hawks are going into the same “Mode” they used on Bruins later in the series… They are making a conscience effort to throw shots from bad angles (cuz- Wild are covering “the good angled shots so well) and chase bad rebounds from the angles!!! and Cycling less – cuz the Wild are stronger on boards…
    Good adjustment- but really leads relying on a lot of “Puck-luck” (but u make your own luck)… I like the adjustment!!!

    Another Adjustment that should be made- imo- Hawks love to enter zone and Cross forwards w/ drop pass to trailing forward… I think the Wild are reading/anticipating that– Hawks need to mix in some “fake drops” and continue w puck (remember Kane’s Backhander?)

    Keith was terrible
    Handzus was good!!! I though His 20/26/88 were effective.

    Travis – this series is a coin toss/luck- you are 100% right.

    All about the last-change and Match-ups.

    Seems like Q- is trying to do less D man changes to negate some of Wild’s quickness during changes.

  21. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    1st excellent game by Regin and Steeger both were all over the ice and both deserve to be in the lineup for game 6. 2nd Toews! After the game Edzo did an interview w the captain. Edzo asked about the game winning goal. Toews starting saying “I” then caught himself and replace it w “we” the rest of his comment was we came out with the puck, we did this we did that,….That’s a leader! Its not about him at all it about the team! Let’s hope the team shows up again and game 6 and ends the Wilds season!

  22. JS says:

    Wall- I think part of the reason the Wild have been so good at stopping the Cross to Drop is because they don’t have to worry about the dump. They are attacking the Hawks at the blue line with a defender and a forward- forcing them to chip it deep (with no chance of recovery) or turn it over at the blue line. It doesn’t help that when the Hawks try to chip and chase the Wild defenders are throwing a lasso on them without a penalty being called.

    Anyway, here is to hoping it ends in 6 because I don’t want to buy a new bottle of booze for Thursday.

  23. AJ says:

    So it seems like Crawford is going to have to carry them through this year.

    I guess that isn’t really a terrible thing but it is weird to see this group so dependent on goaltending.

    It is getting difficult to describe Handzus. I guess Q wants to dance with who he brung but yikes. This is a reoccurring theme but it is getting more and more difficult to wrap my head around that one.

    Watching them have someone trail Kane and boxing the other four skaters is kind of hilarious. Too bad he isn’t skating with anyone who can make them pay.

  24. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    The idiot brigade who wants to keep ripping Handzus (and Q for playing him need to stop). Last night Handzus was, once again, vitally important on the ice. As I watched from my seats at the UC you could see – time and time again like so many other gams – the value of Handzus on defense, at the dot, on the PK, checking work in the middle of the ice. But the idiot brigade want to fixate instead of how he is a severe liability for Kane to play next to in terms of offensive generation. Does that really matter? The pros far outweigh the cons in this regard. And besides, the Q line blender is constantly whirling and it doesn’t really matter who Kane is paired with on the opening “lineup card.”

    Handzus had a quality game last night. He is part of the reason why Chicago came away with a very hard fought victory against a hyper-energetic opponent that has reduced the Hawks to playing “their style” of hockey for 5 consecutive games.

  25. Phil says:

    RTF your argument concerning Zus is well presented. As you said, do the positives outweigh negatives? Last night I thought Zus did little things quite well. He will always be the guy that slows someone down. That will not change. I prefer Ben Smith on second line. Not sure why Benny had a rough night, as he has been an extremely dependable and tenacious player. All Hawks players have to work even harder at sucking it up and fulfilling their individual roles on the team. Egos be damned when playing against Minny. As a team they most impose their will. The good news last night is the puck battles did not get lost and there was more drive to get possession.

    I think Saad is ready for a big game tomorrow. He looked really passionate in his play yesterday.

    All that matters is the Hawks find the way through to beat these guys. I think if they best the Wild this will open the door for further success. They will have had to solve 2 different and complex puzzles against very tough opponents. The goal is to get a shot at the Cup finals. Hawks are just 5 games away from that quest.

    Lets Go Hawks!!

  26. michael petan says:

    One Penalty was the answer, keep the WILD or the BRUINS to one power play the Hawks will be favored, that simple. Power Play has been the one way Blues and Wild have gained momentum, not in scoring but in puck possesion period. Hawks played okay and got the win as if the WILD where ready to take it back home for six. All I know for certain is Hawks and Coach Q know to avoid any game seven, they play the best in GAME SIX. Regin added speed and strenght was a plus. Leddy was okay and needs to add maybe some “strenght conditioning” so he can pull a Sutter and go coast to coast, Leddy can do it but currently is struggling. Still way too many unforced turnovers and poor puck decisions all game. as Hossa said they still are not smooth. I agree, but maybe small tweaks can build into a CUP the only REAL TEAM is the Bruins all the others the Hawks on any given day can win. Go hawks, Crawford a little better tonight still need BrookBank types to clean that crease. Sharp has also adjusted his game to finish his checks more and Hossa also is playing the man and body more than he likes. To beat WILD you gotta finish checks, play the man then puck even if this is NOT HAWKS Style otherwise its even,

  27. Mike says:

    RTF, No one is saying the Zues does not belong in a Hawk sweater or that he is an unimportant player. He simply generates no offense and is better suited for 11th or 12th man duties, PK and some Dzone faceoffs. However, he is visually and statistically a burden on offense particularly on the top 2 lines. The opinions that agree on this blog are as valid as those who think Zues is an irreplaceable asset on the team.

  28. Sr. Brad says:

    It is so easy to tell who here has actually played hockey and understands the game, and who are simply fans from the cheap seats…which is great…that’s what life is, lots of different mixes all coming together. And one’s reality is only ever what one believes. So to those of you who actually thought Handzus or Nordstrom had good games, keep on believing and hope for the best.

    However, an alternate reality might have noticed that neither were good. Handzus won the majority of his draws…GREAT…it hasn’t happened in a while…and some of them were actually in our own zone…and to Zus’ credit he competed hard…he wants to win and his effort is greatly appreciated by me and others. BUT, he is a liability 5 on 5 and if you can’t see it, then you don’t even know what to be looking for. So many times last night he put Sharp and Hossa into really tough spots because he either can’t or won’t follow up the play. And when only 2 forwards attack the offensive zone, they are at risk of getting caught up ice if they LOSE POSSESSION, or haven’t some of you figured this out yet? Countless times last night MIN had odd man rushes against that line because eventually Hossa and Sharp lost puck possession and were late getting back…and last night Q played Zus NINETEEN f$cking minutes…MORE than Toews, MORE than Hossa, MORE than Kane, etc…its unbelievable…and for the last 2 minutes of the game Q kept Zus ON THE ICE…and THREE times during this stretch, he almost cost us a goal because he is so SLOW getting down to the net to prevent bodies/rebounds. On the Pommerville near miss with about a minute to go, the Wild got THREE f$cking whacks at the puck because Zus didn’t collapse to the net, and when he did, Zus tripped and fell on the Wild player…incredible. Q is a HOF coach with 2 SC rings, but how the f$ck does he justify how he uses Handzus??? You want him in the lineup as a regular, FINE, he’s your f$cking 12th forward and PKiller. This 2nd Centre business becoming an anchor to 2 of the best forwards in the game is beyond a joke. Handzus was a -1 on the night with 2 giveaways (although they only tagged him with 1), no offence, and legs of lead in his own zone. Q almost gave that game away last night by keeping Zus on the ice for the last 2 minutes!

    Nordstrom is a good kid with a nice upside, BUT HE ISN’T READY. That is evident to even the NBC broadcasters…he is knocked around so much that he is now “nervous” of the hits and turning the puck over, IN HIS OWN ZONE, which normally would get you a one way ticket to Palookaville.

    Regin was great, not good, but great, and should have got WAY MORE minutes in the game. What a surprise! I can’t even imagine that anyone thought his inclusion in the playoff lineup might be a good thing…go figure? His strong move to the MIN net gave us the PP that netted the game tying goal.

    Q hardly played the 4th line until the 3rd period, where arguably, they helped to preserve the win for the Hawks. Besides the incredible shift by Toews and Co. on the game winning goal, the next best shift came from Ben Smith and the 4th line. And in fact, with a forward who was actually in the game with them, Smith and Kruger might have potted 2 goals last night. And yet dickwad calls Smith out as not having a good game??? He was f$cking wasted on the bench, along with a VERY courageous Kruger (who isn’t close to 100%), because Q couldn’t trust putting Nordstrom out on a regular shift. Wow…so there you have it, with the changes last night, including an awesome performance by Sheldon Brookbank, we are now one more lineup change away from advancing in the playoffs and getting to yet another Cup. Nordstrom has to go. Bring up Morin and give him some f$cking confidence by letting him play his game. Put him NEXT to Regin and move Steeger to the 4th line with Kruger and HANDZUS!

    How is Ben Smith not this team’s 2nd line Centre? Down the stretch last night, with our entire season on the line, Q counted on Smith more than anyone with the exception of Zus (if you can believe it). Put Bicks back on the 1st line with Hossa and Toews (what a novel idea, I’d bet you they would be good), Smith centring Sharp and Kane, Regin centring Saad and Morin, and Kruger centring Versteeg and Zus. That’s a lineup right in front of Q’s eyes, and a lineup good enough to win another Cup.

    Final thoughts, Crawford shouldn’t have given up that rebound on the 1st goal, but you KNEW after that MIN wasn’t getting anything. Thanks CC, great game! Hammer, our best DMan (I said this earlier in the year), thanks for another monster game! Hoss, what a stud. Totally dominated that game at times when we absolutely NEEDED it. You still have it old man. Kaner, back checking and finishing your checks??? Thank you! Sheldon Brookbank, oft out of the lineup, GREAT game under tough circumstances…Thanks!. Nick Leddy (how is anyone criticizing his game?), thanks for all those rushes and puck control…great game! Saadster, Lil Hoss, you beast, great game and great elbow on Suter. Bicks, another big performance, your passing is outstanding even though most aren’t recognizing it. Thanks! Smith and Kruger, warriors!!! Finally Tazer…for once again showing the world why you are not only the best player in the NHL, but the best professional/captain in all of sports! Go get ‘em Wolverine!

  29. Sr. Brad says:

    Can’t get my post to be “un-moderated”, so briefly, Dufus the Sheeple, you are a brainless worm, that lost all of its slimy ooze and was left hardened by the sun, just inches from a puddle of water…oh, and then you were stepped on…Baa, Baa

  30. Sr. Brad says:

    “Hello Kettle” said the Pot, “you’re black!”

    Baa, Baa, Dufus, trust your government…

  31. Pete says:

    Great game. It will be interesting to see how and if Q moves people in and out of the lineup for Game 6. Anyone hear whether Shaw traveled to Minnesota?

  32. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    According to Mark Lazerus on Twitter Shaw will not be available for game 6.

  33. Travis says:

    JS- thought the same thing on the dump-and-chase. Some were effective, many weren’t. Elite teams will toast us for botching such fundamentals.

    Wall- Every game this series has been a coin flip, except for game 4, where we got toasted. If/when we bring our A-game, that won’t be the case. It’s somewhat impressive that we’re even competitive in games where we dress a less-than-best lineup and don’t do the little things. But coin flips won’t go our way forever, and we gotta start playing better!

    Agreed on virtually all opinions on Handzus. He deserves a roster spot, but not as 2C. That role belongs to Smith, or possibly Regin.

  34. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    Brad, nice to talk down to me. One, my seats ain’t cheap! Two, I’m 51 years old and played hockey at a hi level thru high school and continued playing club hockey thru college. Three, I played recreational hockey until the ripe old age of 39. Four, I’ve been a diehard Hawks fan dating back to 1981. Not sure my dick size measures up to you, but nevertheless I think I’m a tad entitled to have an informed opinion or two about the Blackhawks.

    I think a 700 win two time Cup champion coach and former longtime player in this league who has led the Hawks for 6 seasons knows what he is doing. You continue to make the subliminal inference that Handzus has naked pictures of Quennville and a farm animal. I’m happy for you that your pipeline of insiders (ie, the dude who pilots the indoor blimp at Icehog games in Rockford) has enabled you to become the literal king of the dipshits on this board.

    Also, you might want to examine the course of the modern playoff era in the NHL. Very few teams in fact have ever rolled 4 lines in any meaningful way over multiple 7 game series. Might want to ask the blimp dude about that next find you’re in Rockford drooling over your autographed Jeremy Morin – Brandon Pirri – Jimmy Hayes – Kyle Beach rally towel.

  35. RyanDale says:

    So is it a beach towel? or just a…….ah never mind

  36. terrible says:

    Brad. You make good points, but you need to express yourself with more apposite charm. Put another way: “It’s obvious to me that here on this board there is a mix of those of us who are well-schooled in a quadrivium-trivium education after the Oxbridge fashion and those who are not. Your gauche attempt at rhetoric betrays your mid-cult station. QED, so sit down while is educate you.” It’s simply not politic, my lad.

  37. MS says:

    RTF and Brad are worth the price of admission! By the way didn’t the Hawks win?

    To me the real positive is that we won despite one of the worst games from Keith I can remember recently. That won’t happen again. Tons of props to Brookbank – amazing job to have to sit multiple games and then step in and be steady as a rock. Sure hope he plays again tomorrow. All the talk about the contracts for Bicks and Crow has sure stopped – they have been huge so far. Regarding the Wild where did Haula come from – I seem to recall he was playing for Iowa most of the year yet he has been very impressive in the series.

  38. JS says:

    I like terrible a lot. Stick around, new friend.

    I’m quite possibly the youngest on this board, at the ripe old age of 28. I quite possibly have the least amount of playing experience. I definitely haven’t been watching the game as long as most of you… since no 6 year old really understands what the hell is happening (then again, most 50 somethings still don’t know what the hell is going on). However, I’m capable of doing research and learning the game. I can view the game critically and remove most emotion from what I’m watching.

    Am I the best poster here? Absolutely not. What I try to do is share observations that aren’t simply ideas I make up in my head. You aren’t going to see me say that the Hawks have hit a wall and want an early summer, because that’s stupid and just conjecture. You aren’t going to hear me say that the Hawks just aren’t trying hard enough, because that’s stupid and have you watched this team? I try to share reasons I believe the Hawks are failing or dominating… not from ideas I make up, but from actually watching for strategy.

    There are A LOT of smart hockey minds on this board. Instead of bickering like an old married couple, I challenge you to share some observations. Make the people that read the board smarter. Call on specific plays to give support to your beliefs. Here is an example: “Handzus made a great defensive play in the final minute of the game when he worked his ass off to get inside position on Koivu to eliminate a scoring chance. That old man can sure be a pain in the ass but it’s nice when he actually makes plays like this!”

    Anyway, after the game Toews said that the Hawks play a lot better when they can roll 4 lines. Sometimes I wonder if he is trying to tell Q something without actually telling Q something.

    Phil- we still need to get that drink while watching the game one day! An away one, of course, since you are much better at life than me and have season tickets.

  39. JS says:

    Ruffie- couldn’t agree more on Suter. I always knew he was good, but kind of felt he was overrated. The man played a billion minutes this season and is absolutely unreal when he’s on the ice. Imagine if Yeo trusted his other defenders and limited his minutes a bit more.. guy could be even more of a terror.

  40. ebonyraptor says:

    Comparing hockey resumes and one’s manhood … can “my dad can beat up your dad” be far behind? The internet message board is a funny thing isn’t it? Stake out an implacable position, dig in deep and attack any dissenters like they insulted your mother. Just one big happy family. Too funny.

  41. Coach Q says:

    Guys, lay off Brad and Rufus. How are they going to convince me of anything without insulting one another?

  42. Jax says:

    And what would you two like to be when you grow up?

  43. Dickie Dunn says:

    RTF and Brad are worth the price of admission! By the way didn’t the Hawks win?

    Suter: “knew he was good, but kind of felt he was overrated. The man played a billion minutes this season and is absolutely unreal when he’s on the ice” – from what I’ve seen, he isalso no stranger to “stickwork” and cheapshot bullshit…I was disappointed that the retaliatory elbow Saad delivered didn’t break his jaw or nose. One of the lucid observations Eddie Blow provided was that nobody hits this douche = why he can glide 40-50 minutes per game.

    ONE more (game six closeout!!) – GO HAWKS!!!!

  44. Slay says:

    How about:

    81-19-10
    88-28-20
    29-12-11
    26-16-42 or 23

  45. AJ says:

    If there is an idiot brigade I would like to be the Captain. Seems like a neat title.

    I disagree that Zues deserves any type of spot in the starting line up. And this team clearly wins in spite of the coaching staff not because of them. Yes playing an uptempo system that builds from the back is appropriate. No that isn’t unique to Q and Detroit has done it the past 25 years with a lot of measured success. However having more talent up and down the line up, regardless of who dresses, than any other team in the NHL is why they are at where they are at.

    And that is fine that their philosophy has been to run the veterans into the ground during the post season. Or play ridiculous mind games with the other coaching staff to their own detriment. Clearly something is working somewhere but I think is a mistake to say the guys on the bench are making that much of a difference. There is something to be said for managing that many high level athletes but I am aghast at some decisions regarding the line up but hey that’s just like my opinion man.

    Finally, something has gone amiss with them leaning on Crawford this heavily. System, execution, motivation, Cup hangover, I dunno but there is no reason this team should have to have their goalie carry them through the first two rounds. I’m glad he is and Crow deserves a lot of credit but yikes.

  46. wall says:

    Haula-Haula!!! I believe is just another great skater from Europe (Swiss- Or Swede?)

    Gotta tip your hat to the Wild office… Going outside North America to find a couple of very good skaters in Granlund,Haula, Neider-…

    MS- I still stand by my dis-liking of the CC, and 29 contracts… CC had a terrible game 4 by the way… beating a dead horse– CC has played as well or better than last year— His numbers are worse– cuz the Hawks in front of him aren’t as good!!! I prefer to pay the guys in front of the goalie.

    Also, someone here recently posted the 29 contract looks like a bargain now… If 29’s contract is a bargain– What does that make Hossa’s contract??? I know they aren’t really comparable due to the timing… but my point is 81 is a Lock for HOF… 29 will have to stand in line and pay admission to get into the HOF…

  47. Phil says:

    Nice line combos Slay. One can dream….

  48. Phil says:

    Well pointed out DD about Hawks giving Suter a free pass. Anyone think Hawks #2 gets this protected status? He is getting hammered hard in these first 2 rounds. If you are going to take it, you might as well give some back to those guys. They will start coughing up the puck and rush passes like our guys have. It is unbelievable to me throughout this series that the Hawks have so far just given Suter a pass. He has no problem whacking and crashing our forwards. Same with Spurgeon who is really a little guy(that skates like the wind BTW).

    HIT EM!! Search and destroy.

    Lets Go Hawks!!

  49. ebonyraptor says:

    wall – Haula is a Finn.

  50. Tab Bamford says:

    So how bout that Blackhawks PK improvement since Handzus moved onto the top unit? Pretty remarkable, eh?

  51. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    Good call Tab Handzus has been amazing on the PK unit however at even strength I would be happy if he played less minutes

  52. Phil says:

    ER, in response to: “wall – Haula is a Finn.” I thought “Wall-Haula” was Norwegian…

  53. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    According to Mike Johnson: “Kuemper and Moulson back on the ice for Wild for morning skate but NO Suter which is a first for the series.”

    I highly doubt that he misses the game or a shift, but clearly he isn’t right going into the game.

  54. AJ says:

    Handzus was there most of the year and it was garbage to start.

    The difference is they made adjustments that aren’t allowing a plethora of free point shots and are cutting off the backdoor pass. It has been the same guys killing penalties the entire year and Sharp or especially Versteeg should be able to eat those minutes, get at more pucks and create a better opportunity for a short handed goal.

    It is preposterous to think that Handzus all of a sudden magically made the penalty kill better.

  55. JS says:

    Tab- Crawford also started the season with an abysmal save percentage on the power play. I’m sure it can be said that adding Handzus onto the PK helped his save percentage, but you can also argue it was just bound to improve regardless of who was skating in circles.

    The saddest part about watching Handzus is that you know where he wants to be, but he just can’t get there. This happens on the PK too, which is why you always see him pointing Kruger at positions that he can’t get to.

  56. Phil says:

    JS, I would look at a road game(not tonight) as an excellent opportunity for not only you but others on this board to meet up for a drink or two and the game. Judging how good we all are at life has nothing to do with Hawks season tickets, but at least I got back in the season ticket game 2008-2009 when semi-savvy old fans like me figured out this team was going to be good potentially for a very long time. Prior to that season I had 3 season tickets red line second balcony seats at the Stadium from 1979-80 until they closed up shop and moved across the street. While I went to my share of games during the interim dark years, I saw no need to fully invest my time and money in a team run by a guy that was out of touch with his team and the market. “Dollar Bill’s” demise and the ascension of Rockey showed the clouds were leaving, and it was time to get back on board. My wife rolled here eyes knowing I was “back on the NHL hard stuff. “I like many other hockey fans are loving this. The Hawks are in the hunt, and remain the team to beat IMO. Remember everyone these are the good times.

    Can’t meet up tonight JS, but I will be so bold as to say in the next round lets pick a place hoist a few, and talk some hockey.

    Hawks game 6 records are impressive

    Lets Go Hawks!!

  57. torourke says:

    SSHM,

    According to Chris Peters via twitter, Suter missed the morning skate because he was at the dentist.

  58. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    Thanks torourke, I shouldn’t have trusted a hack like Mike Johnson for a scoop to begin with. Bum player and bum hockey insight. Want a good laugh go check some of his picks prior to the playoffs

  59. Gou says:

    Hardly ever post but have stated many a time the banter here is the best. Guys like Sr. Brad and Rufus pick up where Tab started along with many of you.
    We all have opinions which are like…well you fill that in. But everyone has one and that is what makes this site good.
    Great stuff as always.

  60. Sr. Brad says:

    The Hawk lines today were the same as last game…even though Nordstrom struggled mightily and held back the 4th line from more minutes. Not smart…and remember, I LIKE Nordstrom, he’s going to be a good Hawk forward.

    Tab that’s a pretty scary comment from someone who operates a hockey blog site.. Zus is NOT a great PKiller. The first mark of any good PKiller is F/O%, especially in your own zone. Goaltending and F/O% are always your 2 best PKillers. Zus has been abysmal this year with F/O’s. During the reg. season he finished at 48% 5 on 5 and at 42% on the PK. In the playoffs this year, his 5 on 5 FO% is 46% and on the PK 41%. If these numbers were had by say Shaw or Kruger, people would be calling for reduced ice time, with Zus, they are simply overlooked. The only reason our PK #’s have turned around falls directly on goaltending. His PK save %, before he got injured, was the worst in the NHL…When Raanta came in our PK started its turnaround, because Raanta had almost a .100 point gain on CC’s #s. When CC came back, he hit his gear, and completed the season that way…thus our #s. We play the most outdated, antiquated PK in hockey. Its old, old school, like the coach. It allows teams to set up easily within our zone and keeps the square tight, so that the forwards can collapse down on the net, to prevent further scoring chances. It is also designed to block shots, to which Zus has contributed some, but ANY fan here can tell you that Zus has missed blocking shots more than he has connected because he is always a little to slow, especially when he lays out…in fact, I haven’t seen Zus successfully block a shot by laying out at any point this year. And Zus’ lack of speed actually belies Q’s PK system, because he is slow to collapse the square in front of the net…see last game vs. MIN in the final 2 minutes.

    I LIKE MICHAEL HANDZUS! He has had a serviceable NHL career, but he is done. And playing Zus heavier minutes than ANY OTHER CHI forward, which you chose not to report on, at this stage of his career, is just plain DUMB, as was keeping him on the ice for the full 2 minutes to end the game. And insisting to play him as the 2nd line Centre, in light of STANDOUT, HORRENDOUS #’s, is childish stubbornness. Again, I remind you that Zus will not be on an NHL roster next season.

  61. ebonyraptor says:

    Phil – “wall haula” – that’s “As gard” as it gets … nyuk nyuk nyuk

  62. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    In other hockey news:

    Teemu Selanne chuckled Sunday at the thought of his first encounter with the Anaheim Ducks phenom goalie. “When he was first here, we were having lunch or something, and he said, ‘I think my mom is the same age as you,'”.

    Selanne says he wanted to punch him

  63. RyanDale says:

    Gou speaks! u should do so more often. Enjoy the game tonight!

    John Gibson’s Mom and Selanne are NOT old damnit!

    I love G7s, but not our own! Too risky. We need our best game of the series to win tonight. Alot of comments lamenting we haven’t played our A game, well dont assume we have one to spare. Its not that ez! Big chance to get a little rest while LA area teams hopefully are pushed to limit. Road hasnt been too kind so far.

    This may call for some extra time pregame in the Temple of the Gods. We should all take some time to visit there and supplicate with earnest in hopes they will deem us worthy of their blessed intent and a few bounces our way.!! Commence conjuring mates! For this is a BFG, without a 7 attached! Can OT be expected? .

  64. Mining Man says:

    “As gard” as it gets Shaw is still mighty “Thor”.

  65. Hawklover77 says:

    Thank god Q put Regin in! Why is it that even though he played really well at the end of the regular season, he was taken out of the lineup in the playoffs? Q afraid of him not having any playoff experience?

  66. Windy City Z says:

    Tracey Myers ?@TramyersCSN 4m
    No surprises on scratches: same as last game. So yes, Brookbank in for Rozsival.

    It’s been fun and all, but it’s time to end this. Go Hawks!!!

  67. Windy City Z says:

    Hawks Win! Hawks Win! Hawks Win! Woohoo! #88 drops the BOOM in OT! Western Conference Finals here we come!!! #StanleyCupPlayoffs #HawksTalk

  68. Tab Bamford says:

    true story: it cracks me up how seriously Sr. Brad takes his hate for Handzus. I was trolling… the fact is, the Hawks PK has been better since he took a role on the unit and they have performed. Is he slow? Absolutely. Is he ancient? Certainly. Is he performing adequately in the role they’ve asked him to at the level they hope he can maintain for two more series? Hell yes.

  69. Nice win! I take back everything I ever said about Versteeg, Seabrook was everywhere, and I only saw Nordstrom on his ass once. Fun to watch no matter the result… But a lot better this way.

    Crawford.

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