We’re back to playing a half a game and expecting to get a win. That won’t do it in the National Hockey League especially when the team your playing is in a battle to make the playoffs. Such was the case Sunday afternoon when the Boston Bruins came into the United Center, played well enough, and got out of town with a 3-2 victory.
Boston played last night at home against the Florida Panthers, picked up a win, got on the plane and made a mad dash to Chicago where they were rewarded with having to play a 11:30 a.m. start. What did they do? They played like they were on a mission jumping to a 1-0 lead and holding off a barrage of sixteen Hawk shots. Still Chicago didn’t appear like they were out of bed. Their play was slow and methodical. It wasn’t until the 18:12 mark of the second period before they got on the board cutting the margin to 2-1 on Artemi Panarin’s (29) wrister.
The Bruins jumped ahead 3-1 in the third on Kevan Miller’s chance past a bewildered Corey Crawford. Crawford essentially whiffed on the stop. Jordan Tootoo (2) cut the margin to 3-2 twenty five seconds later but Chicago wasn’t able to tie the game despite throwing 43 total pucks at Bruin goalie Anton Khudobin.
The takeaways? Despite clinching home-ice throughout the Western Conference playoffs with the Minnesota Wild’s 3-0 setback to Nashville on Saturday, Chicago is in a uncomfortable situation. The Hawks go on the road to face Colorado, Anaheim and Los Angeles. Will they rest players? No doubt. Will this loss, effectively their last “focus” game loss hurt their momentum heading into the playoffs next week? Maybe. Will Artem Anisimov test his injured ankle at some time during the road trip? Pretty unlikely. There haven’t been reports of him skating with the team so his return next week is questionable. Does Scott Darling get a couple of games in net or does Crawford continue to play with less than the usual squad. I think Darling gets at least one start maybe two. The Hawks concentration will be fragile to say the least. So, Coach Joel Quenneville has his work cut out of him….who to play, who to rest and what message is the underlying theme for this next week. 3 more left and then the real season. Can’t come soon enough.
Note: Panarin’s goal leaves him one short of joining select company of players who have tallied 30 times in their first two years in the league. So as not to jinx him, I won’t tell you those other two players are until he completes the task. Sunday night’s game with Nashville and St. Louis will have much to do in deciding the Hawks playoff opponent. Both are trending in the last 10 games, St, Louis 8-1-1 and Nashville 7-3. Pick your poison. Both will be tough outs. UPDATE: Blues won 4-1 on Sunday to take a two point lead on Nashville. San Jose’s Joe Thornton injured his knee on Sunday. Could San Jose fall to the Hawks? That would be very interesting.
Thanks for checking in,