Game On. Let’s give the Minnesota Wild props for the season they’ve enjoyed thus far. They’re an excellent hockey team. They’re deep, talented and have a much better bench man for their destined playoff run. But even with all that good news, comes some bad. The team the Wild want to take down in the worst way possible, the Chicago’s Blackhawks aren’t ready to go away. They’ve heard it far too long. Hawks this. Hawks that. They’re a little tired of the banter.
Earlier this campaign the Hawks snapped an 8-game losing streak to the team from the State of Hockey. During that run, Chicago clearly struggled. Minnesota beat them in so many ways. In forechecking, backchecking, on the penalty kill, power play…but chiefly from hustling. Sunday’s 4-2 Hawk win at the United Center is proof the tables are a changing. With the win, Chicago has now beaten Minnesota three straight times and most crucial is the timing. Playoffs are right around the corner.
Chicago scored twice in the first five minutes of the contest Sunday afternoon. Patrick Kane’s wrister (30) on Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk and Artemi Panarin’s blast (22) several minutes later was the beginning and the end. Two shots. Two goals. Dubnyk sitting on the Minnesota bench. Day over for the Wild netminder.
The takeaway? Corey Crawford gave a vintage performance. He looked like the Crawford of old. 42 saves and a number of them of the highlight variety. Corey faced a barrage of Wild rubber. After two periods Minnesota had thrown 33 shots on goal. The Hawks were sitting at 15. The score? 3-1 Chicago. One other big note was the improved blueline play. The Hawks deal for defensemen Johnny Oduya is showing its importance. Oduya and Niklas Hjmarlsson have meshed quickly providing rock solid play. Chicago General Manager Stan Bowman’s acquisition of the bearded wonder might be the pickup of the season. And lastly let’s talk about the dash to the playoffs. Minnesota has 15 games left. The Hawks 14. The Wild have 92 points. Chicago 91. Minnesota has a 5-5 record in the last ten. The Hawks 8-2. Perhaps you can see what the season has come down to. Run baby run…..
Chicago is headed out for a crucial 3-game road trip beginning Tuesday night in Montreal. Then on to Ottawa and then a finish up game with Toronto. All three teams are playoff ready and under pressure of their own to get 2 points. It will be an interesting week to say the least. Are you? Are you ready for some Hockey???
Notes: Chicago announced during the game on Sunday the signing of John Hayden to a two-year contract that runs through the 2017-18 season. The 22-year-old forward served as the captain for Yale University during his senior campaign, and set career highs with 21 goals, 13 assists and 34 points in 33 games, which helped him become a 2017 Hobey Baker Award candidate for NCAA’s top player. He compiled 50 goals and 41 assists in 127 career games throughout his four-year career at Yale. Hayden is big (215 lbs.) and tall (6’3″) and a rugged center or winger. He’ll join the Hawks on their three game roadie. Check him out. His number? The internet buzz is focusing on the jersey he’ll wear. I’ll say 83. UPDATE: Dude took #40. That’s an okay number. Look for it…
Thanks for checking in,