Blackhawks-Coyotes Game One: Jonathan Toews Returns, Hawks Lose In OT

Chicago had their captain back on the ice, and Jonathan Toews quickly made his presence known with a first period goal. But a sloppy second period ended with the Blackhawks trailing 2-1 on the road.

A frustrating third period saw more struggles from the Hawks in the offensive zone until Brent Seabrook, with an empty net behind him and 14.2 seconds left in regulation, scored an incredible game-tying goal.

Unfortunately the momentum couldn’t carry Chicago to victory, as the Hawks lost 3-2 in overtime.

Seabrook was a beast all night, leading the team in hits (6), tied for the team lead in shots on goal (7) and tied for the team lead with two blocked shots. He was also the Blackhawks ice time leader (31:10).

Coach Joel Quenneville revisited the experiment of skating Patrick Kane at left wing with Toews and Marian Hossa. At times, the overloaded top line wasn’t as effective as the team would hope. But at the end of regulation, Toews and Kane had two points each; Kane had an assist on both goals, while Toews had the opening goal and assisted on Seabrook’s game-tying tally.

Toews skated 24:29 in the game (29 shifts) and was clearly a target of the Coyotes’ physical play all night.

Corey Crawford had a really strong game. He held up against a strong late push from Phoenix at the end of the first period and made a number of other critical saves throughout the game. He made 31 saves against 34 shots on the night, and looked more like the Crawford that was so good last April than the guy who lost the net to Ray Emery earlier this season.

Meanwhile, Patrick Sharp was effectively worthless on a line with Marcus Kruger and Viktor Stalberg, who weren’t nearly as effective as a second line group as they had been recently. Kruger and Stalberg were both minus-two in the game.

Niklas Hjalmarsson had an especially rough second period that included gift-wrapping the Coyotes’ first goal by playing a puck that was about to be frozen by Crawford. Hjalmarsson was minus-two in the game.

Hjalmarsson wasn’t alone in leaving a lot to be desired, though. The Hawks’ entire fourth line of Brandon Bollig, Jamal Mayers and Andrew Brunette appeared to be too slow all night and struggled to get control of the puck, much less clear the defensive zone.

Sean O’Donnell also had a tough evening, though his hand pass to Crawford shouldn’t have ended up in the back of the net.  And Johnny Oduya struggled to clear the puck all night.

Not surprisingly, both teams looked awful on the power play. Chicago failed on four attempts, and Phoenix did nothing with two “advantages.”

For Phoenix, the concern moving forward is with their leading scorer from the regular season. Radim Vrbata skated only 45 seconds in the game before he was hammered into the boards by Andrew Shaw. Vrbata left the bench and did not return to the game.

At the end of the night, the Blackhawks received bad performances from most of the bottom half of their roster and still took the Coyotes to overtime in their barn. They’ll need to play better for 60 minutes to advance to the second round, but they certainly gave Phoenix all they could handle in the first game of the series.

54 thoughts on “Blackhawks-Coyotes Game One: Jonathan Toews Returns, Hawks Lose In OT

  • April 13, 2012 at 12:18 am

    w/o all the bs for 70 mins…..Odonnell has to go down to block that game winning shot

  • April 13, 2012 at 12:18 am

    I really do think our defensive approach needs to be more aggressive. Too much passive sitting back, not challenging the puck carrier or swarming the puck. When one of our players tries to go toward the net, he gets swarmed; that’s not what the blackhawks do. And for the love of Buddha, stop turning the puck over and giving everyone prime opportunities. ‘Hawks could have played much, much better than they did for most of that game.

  • April 13, 2012 at 12:23 am

    The Hawks have shown themselves to be a decent hockey team, as is PHX…but the difference, not just tonight, but likely all series long, was goaltending…Crawford was OK to good, and Smith was MVP quality…

    That’s it…Toews is one hell of an athlete, skated his butt off…Andrew Shaw is a special hockey player, that will be around for a long time…other than Hammer, there are no especial villains on the Hawks, the simple fact is that PHX, with Smith in net, are a slightly better hockey team than the Hawks…

    One last note, Q and the coaching staff should be very lucky to have jobs after this season…their coaching, or lack there of, for special teams is abysmal, just like their unspecial teams…

  • April 13, 2012 at 12:44 am

    I will say the offence tonight played with intensity & created a ton of great chances, but I don’t know. I thought there was some AWFUL defending on our part tonight. Oduya had several bad giveaways & I don’t think O’Donnell has any place in the lineup, I’d rather lose with Olsen than watch Jurassic Park in on our own end. Hammer & the Dinosaur on the ice for 2 out of the 3 goals tonight? Shocking!

    We’re not going to win a series against Columbus playing like that in our own end.

    And Crawford, you’ve GOTTA stop that OT goal. You just have to.

  • April 13, 2012 at 12:57 am

    I only watched the first two periods because I had to go to work (went up 0400, lives in Sweden) but what I saw was that the Hossa-Toews-Kane line did create pressure in the Coyote zone and created some chances. What I didn’t see was Patrick Sharp, I had to go to to see if he was in the lineup. I think Shaw was great, winning board battles, hitting and going hard to the net.
    The PP at the end of second was good when the first unit played but as soon as they went to the bench it got all messed up, Johnny Oduya couldn’t keep the puck in the zone at two occasions that didn’t look too hard to handle.
    If Crawford can continue to play as he did tonight and the Hawks that wasn’t as good as normal can step up to at least normal playing level, this series will be for the Hawks to win.

  • April 13, 2012 at 1:17 am

    I havnt said anything in awhile, so I will for good luck.

    Were a better team than them and other teams like det., even w their goalie playing good. We just have to play our game and adjust to what they are doing (even though we knew what they were doing before the game started). We need to adapt to the them pressuring our defensman into to too many giveaways, by carry the puck out or getting it out everytime. I hope with more practice at this, everygame, we can do way better.

    All of their goals were on us not doing that. They scored on crap (6men on ice, no call in 2nd) or lucky roller (ot). We had the puck on everyone of their goals, they didn’t earn them by good plays coming up over the blue line, more relying on us to turn it over, or get it back by defelctions etc… or 45 iceings in ot. We have to figure theyll score one crap goal like that everygame on our pressured defensman. And dont ever allow it to happen more than once a game. Their hard to score against, like nashville in 2010, but we dont have to score too much to win. We win every game we score 3 in, it just important to be up or tied threwout the game and not playing from behind the whole 3rd period, we should have never been down in this game and then would have the series lead the whole series. Now we have to play from behind the whole series, thats what hurts. We should have won this game, even with our bad plays and it sucks that they won a game they didnt deserve too.

    I hope Stals, Kruggs and Sharpy can play good. So Those 3 guys can play on the same line hte entire playoffs. Somethings gotta give for that line, they could exploid. We need all 4 lines playing so we can keep min. distributed nicely, like we did the last 19 games of season (14-2-4). I felt really good going in to the series, now I feel like throwing up because we have to play from behind when we shouldnt have too. Maybe a game 7 wouldnt be a bad thing. I felt like we would win 4-2, now I hope its 2-2 and 3-3…

  • April 13, 2012 at 1:22 am

    Tab, I agree with your assessment. I think Bollig is a waste of a roster spot. Nobody is going to fight in the playoffs.

    I would rather see Hayes in his place, Olsen in for Odonnell, and why not call up Brandon Saad and put him in Brunnette’s place. I could see moving Sharp up to play with Toews and Saad, and Hossa with Kane and Stalberg. Leave the Bolland line as it is. Krugger with Mayers and Hayes.

    Ps. Sharp and hossa….. Check out Shaw and play with half his balls!

  • April 13, 2012 at 1:41 am

    I like what Chris said about lines. Even though Tazer, Kaner & Hoss should exploid ever other game. Doesnt Saad have to finish their season before he can come up?

    With the 4 lines your talking about would have us more balanced and still really good. Like when we went more balanced agasint Philly in 2010, so their better players couldnt cover all of our good players at once.

  • April 13, 2012 at 4:04 am

    Phoenix owns us. Well, them and about ten other teams in the NHL who have more depth….

    Difficult as a fan to go from cup winners to “got an outside shot of making a run”, but we can’t all be the red wings I guess (although they do not look dominant either).

    Guess we should probably be thankful to even be in the playoffs. Be nice to see them get the lucky breaks and win a round though.

  • April 13, 2012 at 6:01 am

    I love Hossa… but he played like Kane’s little sister!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SCARED!!!!

    4th Line- SUCKED! Frolik for “skates like he’s in quicksand” Bruno- Hayes for Bollig- Please!!!!

    Olsen or Lepisto for O’Dorkell-now!!!

    We will not win w/ Hossa and Stalberg looking over their shoulders and Pee dripping down their legs- Common Hoss- you are better than that!

    Put Hoss down a line and move up Sharp- they both looked uncomfortable.

  • April 13, 2012 at 6:49 am

    Shane- Crawford had nothing to do with that last shot going in.. It was bad defense and a deflection. You can’t blame the goalie for that. He did what he needed to do and match Smith.

    Robinson- You are correct. Saginaw has to finish their season before Saad could join us. They play the 13th, 14th, and if needed 16th… so he could join us potenially for game 3 on Tuesday assuming they lose. If they beat London, we aren’t going to see him atleast the 25th… and if they beat Plymoth/Kitchener, then its even futher.

    As far as my take on last night, it came down the the same ending factor the Pens/Flyers game came down to… One team couldn’t clear the puck, and let forwards hang out need the crease in the most crutial moments. The PP still needs work, but it atleast showed some good things. I saw spaces, and open chances that can be exploited. Now its just making them pay for it next time around. Shaw and Seabs were men possessed last night. Hayes needs to come in for Bollig this series. Versus Vancouver, Bollig will have his place to help rough them up it what could the be only “bloodbath” type series in the west. I dont mine Bruno yet… he has veteran ice presence that can show up. But if we go down 0-2, we need better skates on ice. All of that said, if we play like that tomorrow, we should go home 1-1… and Hawks in 6 will look like a good possibility.

  • April 13, 2012 at 7:08 am

    Stalberg continued his improvement, but something fell apart on that line. Sharp was rather dull last night, which is shocking. Crawford was solid. I don’t blame any of the goals on him. It’s defense and the fact that 90% of our players can’t take a hit without crumbling to the ice. Oh yeah, and the fact that we can’t make a pass up ice to save our lives.

  • April 13, 2012 at 8:04 am

    Tim G – I can and do blame him. He was nowhere near the level of play that Smith brought to the table. But the problem lies much deeper than just Crawford being inconsistent (which shouldn’t be any surprise after his season) It’s that our defence looks as bad as it did early in the year.

    Better zone clearing & puck movement from our defenders is the only chance we have. Because there’s no way in hell Crawford’s going save for save with Smith.

  • April 13, 2012 at 8:11 am

    A good goaltender stops that shot in OT…plain and simple…so was Crawford bad last night? Not at all, but to win a Cup you have to be better, and he simply hasn’t been all season long, so why would he start now?

    As for the Defence, they are what they are…AVERAGE at the very best…Seabrook is coming into his own, after the effects of all those concussions have worn off, but Keith is not the same DMan that won the Norris 2 years ago, Leddy is still too young, O’Donnell is still too old and Hammer is a major disappointment (so much for the comparisons to Nick Lidstrom, hey Stan)…Johhny Oduya was a much needed addition, but he is what he is…at best a 3rd pairing DMan being asked to play 1st pairing minutes on this hockey team…

    This group isn’t good enough, and swapping out OD for Olsen isn’t going to be the answer (although it couldn’t hurt)…the Hawks management felt comfortable with this group of DMen all year, so now they have to live with them…

    As for the forwards, the reason the Sharp line struggled last night was not because Sharp or Stahlberg weren’t trying or weren’t good, rookie Marcus Kruger played like a rookie last night in one of his first playoff games…he was slow, he was tentative, he lacked drive and aggression, and without it that line was flat…but that’s what you get when you go into a Stanley Cup playoff drive with Marcus Kruger as your #2 Centre…and that’s not a knock on Kruger, he was a great pick in the 5th round, and is turning into a very nice player…but he is NOT a 2nd line NHL playoff centre…

    The fact remains, no matter how much some of you here want to romantically deny it, Stan Bowman has put together a decent hockey team in 2011/12…maybe we will be better next year, but this year, what you see is what you get.

  • April 13, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Twin Brother Brad, I was thinking of line changes a few hours ago… w/ Hossa looking scared, and the 4th line not able to clear a F*^&%$#ing puck at times!!!!

    I might drop Hossa and Kane to 2nd line, replace him w/ Sharp and Stalberg who were pretty invisible.

    Drop Kruger to 4th line… because he was tentative, and is much better at checking and playing “D” and clearing the F*&&^%$$ puck!
    4th line Kruger-Frolik-Mayers
    2nd line Hoss-Kane-Hayes or Saad when he is done!

    We have to go w/ speed, Yotes were quicker lines 1-4…. Bruno and O’don too slow this series!

  • April 13, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Guys the Hawks played an awful game and almost won. Why are you jumping to conclussions that this team is just not good enough? Because they aren’t going to sweep their first round series starting on the road?

    The Hawks played a bad game, got screwed by a blown call, and had two sloppy goals scored against them. I’m not sure how you can call them a bad team after Game 1 in a best of seven series.

    Also, Crawford should have stopped an open point shot that was deflected 5 feet in front of him? Alright…

  • April 13, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Hawks special teams were NOT awful that game. They were great. Killing a pivotal (but brief) 5-on-3. Some trouble entering the zone on the PP, and some room for improvement, but we got some really good looks on the PP. We scored on the 6-on-5 to tie it up (not a PP in the stat sheet, but for all practical purposes it’s a man advantage). The PP generated chances and a hot goalie stopped them, but another night we’d convert one or two and take that game.

    Crawford was strong in net. His D let him down by failing to clear the puck. He had *absolutely* no shot at 2 of the goals, and no softies allowed.

    Bollig does more than fight… he hits. He delivered some excellent body checks and, on a team that seems to struggle with physical play, he’s important. I like Hayes’ upside more than Bollig’s, but I’d only replace him with Hayes if Hayes upped his physical game from what we’ve seen over the regular season.

  • April 13, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I like Oduya and Hammer, but they had bad nights. ODonnell is just too slow out there. I say bring in Olsen for O’Donnell. I actually think Montador as the last defender #6 would help. Oduya and Hammer can’t play that bad again with the turnovers and we still barely lost. So I remain positive on this series. Phoenix has a physical aggessive style and maybe that affected our passing, which in my view was very bad. I just felt generally we were out of sync on passing and offsides etc and I don’t know if that was because of Phoenix or because of ourselves. I like loading up with talent on one line, but if it messes up the passing and negates Sharp in the process its not worth it IMO. My question is why do we need Brunette if we have Shaw. So sit Brunette as he is too slow and bring in Hayes on the 4th line with Mayers and Frolik. So my thought is sit O’Donnell for Olsen, Brunette and Bolig for Frolik and Hayes. We have to get our crisp passing game back so thats on the coaches to figure out what the problem was there and whether the lines should be switched up. Saad would be nice to add if Saginaw could just lose, but they could very well keep winning.
    Kane ‘s playe reminded me of the Olympics in the gold medal game against Canada i.e at the end of regulation I didn’t feel like we could score without him on the ice. Kane is such a great player, I don’t know how anybody could say we should trade him.

  • April 13, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Brad Stevenson is a fucking idiot. Saying the Coyotes are better than us is absolutely ridiculous, and if I remember this coaching staff helped us win a Stanley Cup two years ago. We are one of the best hockey teams there is, if you feel like complaining drag your ass to a Cubs game.

  • April 13, 2012 at 10:59 am

    A couple bad goals given up and a strong game by smith. We’ll get em game 2. Even though we had 45 shots if we even out the lines wehave a better chance of scoring more goals. I’m not worried after game one, It’s called home ice advantage for a reason.

  • April 13, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Keep smoking your own brand. The bottom line is that playoff hockey is a game of mistakes. The hawks make more of them then the coyotes. The difference is that the coyotes have a better goalie to cover their mistakes, the hawks do not, it is that simple. Actually, the first goal Smith gave up was a weak goal, he should have stopped that. It was his first weak goal in 10 games, so he didn’t play his best.

    Coyotes first goal, there are blown calls all the time, can’t use that one. There second goal, is the kind of shot Smith would stop, not Crawford though. That was the difference. Go look at hits and blocked shots, the coyotes dominated in both categories, it is called doing the little things to win games. None of the top forwards for Phoenix produced either, that will change.

  • April 13, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    You know that the numbers say that teams that hit less win more games? Also, blocked shots mean the Hawks are shooting more. Another sign of puck possession.

    I’m also glad everyone is so sold on Smith being the greatest goalie ever when he finally figured out how to play at age 30. Why do people think it is going to continue? The first goal he let in was soft but he definitely would have stopped the second one that beat Crawford? This is Niemi all over again. People thought he wasn’t good enough to be a Stanley Cup goalie (he was).

    None of the top forwards for Phoenix produced… probably because they don’t have any good to forwards? Ray Whitney was their leading point producer. Ray Whitney.

    Game one people. Calm down. Hawks played horrible and lost in overtime, on the road.

  • April 13, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    All I hear is blah blah blah. I think some of you guys (re: brad, scott) don’t even want the Hawks to win. Do you guys hate this team for a reason, or do you just use them as another thing to complain about. No one here should be talking about how the other team is better than us, especially cause they’re not. WE should be talking about what we need to do to win, and how we will win. WE need to support out team, not use this site to bitch and moan.

  • April 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Will- I don’t think some people will be satisfied until the Hawks pitch a shut out every night, score on every power play, kill off every penalty kill, never turn the puck over, hit every opposing player that touches the puck, and allow season ticket holders to sleep with the Ice Crew.

  • April 13, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Will, we are better than Phoenix. I made suggestions that I think would help and even though we played bad(our passing was the worst I’ve seen all year) and we still almost won. We need as much speed in the lineup as possible. I enjoyed watching Bickell pop Hanzal in the back of the head during that scrum at the end of the period. Anyone else catch that.

  • April 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Nice Will…we are both adults (I am assuming), we are both big Hawk fans, and all my opinions are well thought out and back by some form of facts…but you respond that I am a…

    I think those words must apply to you, since you can’t engage in a reasonable discussion about the team we support…

    Grow up, think about what has been said that is a critique of the Hawks and then respond…until then, eat some more Captain Crunch, with cow’s milk, I’ll bet…

    The Coyotes ARE A BETTER TEAM…they proved it against us ALL SEASON LONG…and the difference is on defence and in goal…

    I want the Hawks to win, and believe that we might be able to do so, but unless Crawford outplays Smith, we won’t…

    We have some great players, but we are still just a pretty good team…

    Seabrook, Toews, Stahlberg and Shaw played great, but where was everyone else?

  • April 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    You must think highly of yourself if you think your observations are facts. You didn’t back up your observations with any facts, just more observations. “I know that Sharp struggled because I observed that Kruger played poorly.” I’m pretty sure Sharp struggled to perform on the PP as well, even though Kruger was no where near him to drag him down.

    And seriously regular season record versus a team is indicative of how the post season match up? Please….

  • April 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    JS- Most goalies do not peak until they are close to 30, so Smith is just coming into his own now, FYI he didn’t play great, gave up an easy goal. I thought you wanted to complete your checks (coyotes) in the playoffs, unlike an all star game (Blackhawks). Maybe if the hawks blocked more shots, Crawford would look better, just saying.

    The Hawks top line is better, I’ll agree on that. Vrbata was out the whole game, he is there only good goal scorer, Whitney and Doan were silent. Line 2 is a push, lines 3 and 4, Phoenix is better.

    I hope I’m wrong but the hawks might be in trouble…

  • April 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    I think we all need to settle down a little. The Hawks had (easily predicted) chemistry issues in the first game w/ Toews on the ice in 6 weeks and some guys came out trying to get a feel for the flow of the series. The team will undoubtedly play better.

    To the Smith comments, while he has always been liked by many in the league, he’s never been given the chance. With that in mind, as I wrote in the series preview, his work load this year was exponentially more than he had ever been given in the NHL. We’ll see how he handles more ice time as the playoffs progress.

    To the comments about the Coyotes being a “better team” than the Hawks, I call bs. Viktor Stalberg would have tied Shane Doan for third on that team w/ 22 goals. They don’t have the top-end talent of the Hawks, and don’t have the depth. What they do have is a clear team focus and commitment to the scheme put in place by their coaches. And kudos to that organization for having that. But “better” I don’t agree with at all. The regular season records and numbers, almost across the board, indicate otherwise.

  • April 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Anyone hear anything on the Vrbata injury?

  • April 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Also, it was nice to see Konroyd come out of his nuetral shell and advocate a bit with some passion for the Hawks on the TMM missed call and that somebody should pop Torres to slow him down.

  • April 13, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Stahlberg is actually spelled Stalberg in real life. Kruger was unnoticeable like usual (not in a bad way) and Sharp had an off night. Those two speedsters (Stalberg/Sharp) are streaky anyways so that is to be expected every now and then.

    This game was not lost by a goalie, it was lost because of some very poor puck management and the Coyotes made less mistakes than the Hawks. Oops. Which is why they play 7 games and not 1. Those things WILL even out.

    Trying to say Crawford wasn’t good enough is a ludicrous statement. He had an amazing game and unfortunately was let down by some mistakes.

    The third line was arguably the most reliable line for the Hawks and outplayed everyone on Phoenix so I don’t know how they are getting thrown under the bus?

    Frolik makes no difference on the 4th line aside from a terrible wrist shot and complete ineptitude in the offensive zone with little to no upside at the other end or physicality wise depending on who you swap him for…

    Doom and gloom totally unnecessary, the bounces will even out, the Hawks will rebound and they will advance.

  • April 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    I really don’t think the hawks played poorly. They had 45 shots on net, they controlled the puck more, there power play looked good, just no points. The regular season numbers don’t across the board indicate the hawks are better, but the regular season does not matter anyway. I know one thing, if you give up 3 goals to Phoenix without their leading goal scorer in the line up, more losses are coming. Smith is not likely to give up many 3 or more goal games even against our mighty hawks but Crawford is another story…

  • April 13, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Scott and Brad sounds like Leafs fans who have forgiven Gretzky for ’93. All you’ve contributed to the conversation is doom and gloom. The hawks played awfully last night, but the chips are down now and you support your team. All their goals were flukes and Shane Doan is a fucking child molester. We must destroy them. GO HAWKS.

  • April 13, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Not such great pronoun and verb agreement in that previous post, mea culpa… but I was talking about phoenix scoring fluke goals.

    Also, I don’t mean to bring the civil war into this, but why the hell is there a team in Phoenix when Hamilton could pack the house every night? Hamilton is in a region where there are 10 million rabid hockey fans for whom other sports are an afterthought; fans whose every town is built around an arena, who all grew up playing puck, and who desperately need an alternative to the Larry Tanenbaum/Pension Plan/Stavros product.

    Non-sequitur? No, because it’s the Hawks duty to wipe out the Coyotes so that PHX fans can go back to their true passions: watching football or catching iguanas or some other non-hockey related shit.

  • April 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    To those who are commenting on the Greatness of Smith…

    Smith has been great like Niemi was for the Hawks and Keith was in 2010…

    the TEAM scheme is great!!!

    Smith is thriving because of the intense “shadowing/checking” that the Yotes apply!
    IMO- Hawks have troubles with faster teams! See the Oilers! Yet looked dominant against The Rangers??? (not so fast)

    How many times did Eddie O plead for the Hawks to hesitate and go upstairs on Smith? Problem is – Yotes tenacity – does not allow for alot of hesitation!

    Q has to go quick up and down line up!!! Frolik- Kruger- Mayers and whoever is faster Bollig or Hayes (Hayes could play up though on 1st or 2nd line)

  • April 13, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    We need as much speed as possible in our lineup right down to the fourth line. We have more skill than Phoenix, thats obvious. Our timing was off a bit on the passing but that will be corrected. I just don’t think we can have slow players like O’Donnell and Brunette out there. Bolig is a tougher call because he brings energy and a physical presence and its not like we have a great option to replace him with.

  • April 13, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Hey Brad you say Phoenix owned us this year but it has been brought up on this site (by Tab) that we played Phoenix on the back end of a back to back 3 out of 4 times this year. Not really a sample that lends itself to the playoffs but nice try. Also the Blackhawks have been poor all year with 4 days off in between games and that is exactly what happened before game one. The Hawks were arguably as rusty as anything Thursday and when one looks at the way they played that makes sense.

    I agree with others Brunette doesn’t cut it. I think the 4th line should be Mayers, Frolik and Hayes. Also I’d lke to see one of the other available D men than O’Donnell. Why is Montador still out haven’t heard anything about him since he played limited mins against New Jersey. Even if Montador isn’t available I’d rather see Olsen or Lepisto than O’Donnell.

  • April 13, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    If Crawford had a better regular season, we’d all be lauding his performance in game 1 and saying that he deserved to win. If the PP was better during the season, we’d be complimenting the chances they generated. I wonder how objective we’re being with our observations… maybe the trends we noticed during the season bias the observations we’re making.

  • April 13, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Wall – I know Eddie O was pleading for the Hawks to hesitate and go upstairs, but I honestly don’t think you need to hesitate at all. Smith was hitting the deck far too early, like anytime the puck went below the goal line he was immediately on his knees. Hopefully we scout that and make the proper corrections, no hesitation needed.

  • April 13, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    great points Travis. Nice post

  • April 13, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Let’s get off the ledge and stop replacing almost everybody with somebody else…the boyz will come out much better tomorrow night. As much as Saad may be a comer down the line, I can’t see banking so much on a kid who hasn’t seen the NHL since October. With so many playing like crap last night, the only way to go from here is up and we still almost pulled it out. We’re better than PHX and Saturday we’ll show it and come back to the UC tied 1-1. We’ll take the series in 5 or 6. Book it.
    ‘Special’…in the dictionary there’s a photo of JT to illustrate the word.
    And Seebs was a monster last night as well.

  • April 13, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    What a pathetic thread…most everyone simply wants to see life with their really cool 3D Hawks “Everything is Fine” glasses…I thought this site used to be populated with intelligent, non biased Hawks fans…it has turned into a forum for children…

    PHX has been the better team VERSUS Chicago all year long…Christ Tab, that doesn’t mean they were the better team against every other opponent throughout the year…but head to head, PHX was BETTER…again, why? Defence and Goaltending…”but we have Patrick Kane, we have to be better…”…”we played PHX on the back end of road trips 3 out of 4 times…”

    Good grief…talk about bitchers and moaners…those are pathetic excuses…the fact is the Hawks struggle against teams like PHX consistently because of 3 reasons (and please take note):

    1. They are a physical team that can skate with us
    2. They have a disciplined style of hockey that rarely sees them give up chances and give other teams easy scores…they make you earn everything you get
    3. They have an outstanding goaltender

    We are NONE of these 3 things…gee, maybe that’s why we struggle against this team…

    Again, let’s hope the Hawks can turn things around, but giving up 3 goals to the Coyotes with their leading scorer out of the lineup, while still peppering 45 shots on their goalie doesn’t bode well.

    I am NOT blaming Corey Crawford for the loss, but he was once again outplayed by the opposition netminder, and that has happened all season long…and until that changes, we won’t win…this is playoff hockey, not ball hockey!

  • April 14, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Good points Brad…Look at Vancouver down two zip to the Kings that have a better defense and much better goalie, like the coyotes. Scary for the hawks now…Coyotes capitalize on mistakes and don’t make many, when they do, smith bails them out. Hopefully the Hawks will catch a break, they have more high end talent for sure….

  • April 14, 2012 at 1:38 am

    Brad, I disagree.

    5 games is a small sample size. 2 of the 4 meetings occurred when we were playing our worst hockey of the past 3 years. If we go down 2-0 or 3-1, then maybe PHX matches up really well against us. Right now, it’s too early to tell.

    No way Phoenix can skate with the Hawks. Yes they’re disciplined, yes they’re physical, yes Smith is hot, but no way can they skate with us.

    The Hawks DO have a solid goaltender. Crawford wasn’t outplayed by Smith last night. He made some absolutely dazzling saves and didn’t allow any softies. All the talk is about Smith, but let’s not forget that Crawford is red-hot too. When he’s not chasing the puck and stays in his crease, he’s a lot like Halak: strong butterfly, conservative movement, and well-positioned. Despite his numbers, he’s a slightly-above-average NHL goalie. And he has a high ceiling: if he can make the right choices on when to be aggressive with his positioning and when to stick in the crease, he’s going to be excellent.

  • April 14, 2012 at 3:29 am

    All the doubters are slurping Smith but let’s also not forget Smith was the one that gave up a soft goal on Toews.

    That was a feeling out game—both teams looked anxious—and PHX stole one from us. Let’s see the outcome of Game 2 before we start freaking out and calling for Coach Q’s head.

    If this were a Penguin’s blog and I watching my team squander two multi-goal leads, then I’d be freaking out.

  • April 14, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Brad, Phoenix can skate with us if we keep putting Brunette and O’Donnell and possibly Bolig out there. They need to be swapped out of the lineup with better skaters even if they(Frolik, Hayes and Olsen) aren’t the greatest options. Besides their young and have more upside(even Frolik). In my opinion St. Louis is a better version of Phoenix and we did well against St Louis so I’m not sure your argument is so clear as you make it. We have more talent out there and that should prevail over seven games.

  • April 14, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Also Saginaw lost last night and they could be eliminated from the playoffs in the OHL tonight. If that happens couldn’t Saad be skating in the game with the Hawks on Tuesday night?

  • April 14, 2012 at 11:07 am

    I know Olsen is young and inexperienced but he was good enough to make the final push to the 6th seed in t he playoffs Play the Kid

  • April 14, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Yea boys and girls, we are down 0-1, in Phoenix. Remember, the home team is supposed to win the first 2 games, we win the next 2 games in Chicago, then steal one in Phoenix, somehow, then close it out in Chicago. Can we win 4 in a row? Why not?

    The overtime goal wasn’t Crawfords fault. Leddy, who is NOT strong in front of the net, let a player get body AND stick position on him in a very “high risk” area and the player deflected the puck past Crawford. Tough break.

    Brad, I do have to agree with you on how poorly Sharpy played, though. He had 5 turnovers in the first period, alone. 3 of them in our own zone. Again, a tough night for a player who shows up EVERY game and plays his butt off!! He’ll be better, tonight.

    Teams like the Hawks and Detroit are NOT physical teams, they are skating and play making teams. In order to beat Phoenix we need to control the puck in all 3 zones and NOT turnover the puck so much. Saying it is one thing, making it happen is another.

    Tonight will be a close game, but the Hawks will prevail, 4-2.

  • April 14, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    I’m not too concerned about losing the first game.As has been mentioned here,we are less than stellar with 4 days rest.The Hawks were off thursday night.With the return of Toews there seemed to be a let down.If Q can get his troops to stay the coarse they were on down the stretch,than all will be fine.
    Saad update;GP 11,G 8,A 9…tied for 3rd.His team is trailing the London Knights 3-2 and play tonight at home.Saad also recently was voted the most sportsmanlike player in the OHL.He will be a good depth player if he becomes available.

  • April 14, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Travis, I disagree w “no way they can skate with the Hawks”…
    are you kidding me? That 1st goal they scored was because Yotes out worked (like Brad said) and outquicked us and pressured that HORRIBLE 4t line w/ OLD-Donnell on the back end!!!!

    That possession was critical in changing the game… furthermore Our 4th line needs to be blown up!!! They weren’t quick enough (and tough enough) to get the puck off the boards and move it up ice. Kruger-Frolik- Mayers on 4th line is a much better option. much blame has been put on the D-men… but Bruno and Bollig were late in trying to get from defensive position to side boards for the puck!

    That possession was a flashback to how the Hawks could control a puck in the “O” end for 2-3 line changes at a time in 2010!

    Because the Hawks were FASTER then everyone else LINES 1-4!!!!!

  • April 14, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    It seems that when Toews is on the same line as Kane, Kane feels that he can take a few shifts off because he has Toews to pick up the slack. We need this tonight. It puts a bit of familiarity and hard work with Sharp. It moves Kruger to a line where Hossa and Kane dominate.

    Stalberg – Toews – Sharp
    Kruger – Kane – Hossa
    Bickell – Bolland – Shaw
    Frolik – Mayers – Hayes

    Keith – Seabrook
    Leddy – Oduya
    Hammer – Olsen

    Also. Has anything been said about ice condition? It’s been fairly warm in Arizona lately.

  • April 14, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Brad, a little holier-than-thou, eh?

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