As expected the Chicago Blackhawks captured the crown of the Central Division over the weekend for the first time in 17 years. Detroit fans in general seem to be hanging their heads a bit as they figured they had a chance to catch the Hawks but that was a bit unrealistic. However, can’t say I blame them as one always hopes their team can achieve certain goals and why give up hope on achieving higher goals.
Chicago came off a nice comeback win over the pesky trapping New Jersey Devils who played a perfect game against a high flying team shutting the Hawks down until there were 26 seconds left in the final frame. Versteeg did a 360 and shot it on net and it deflected off of defense-man Mike Mottau and jumped through Brodeur’s legs to tie the game. Overtime solved nothing and in the shootout Johnny Toews scored the only goal and Niemi stoned the Devil shooters to give the Hawks a great come from behind road win.
- Niemi outplayed arguably the best goaltender in history which hardly ever happens
- Devils outshot the Hawks 33-26 and that rarely happens either
- Penalty free game which was the first in the NHL since 2001
- This was the Hawks first win in New Jersey since 1998
- Hawks swept the 2 game series from the Devils outscoring them 6-2 and 7-2 if you include the shootout goal
Chicago traveled home to prepare for the Calgary Flames for a Sunday afternoon matchup. One would have figured this would have been a physical tight game but really it was not. Chicago dominated this game from the get go and the differences in teams were quite obvious. Speed. Calgary could not keep up with the Hawks and surprisingly it really was not much of a contest especially considering this was a “must win” for the Alberta Cowboys. All the trade talk surrounding Iginla has surprised me but seeing him out there was a shock. He was invisible and a -2 on the game. The best Flame I saw out there was ex-hawk Rene Bourque and it’s nice to see the Lac La Biche, Alberta native having another great year.
- Kiprusoff was not that good when he needed to be for Calgary
- Niemi was yet again rock solid frustrating the Flames
- Byfuglien again was close to the 20 minute mark for TOI and is making the most of it
-Only one penalty for the Hawks which makes a grand total of 1 in 2 games, discipline is showing up at the right time of year.
- All 4 Hawk lines played very well and Chicago is getting production from all 4
- Anyone notice how fast Jordan Hendry is? Could he be another Brian Campbell? Wishful thinking but who knows.
Quenneville seems to have the correct line combination’s for once and is seemingly sticking with them for now which is good to see. Somehow Chicago has turned things around and are playing like they were from October to December giving Hawk fans something to be excited about again.
Let’s touch on arch-rivals Detroit for a bit. It seems the NHL is in a frenzy over the resurgence of the Wings but really should anyone be surprised? I do not know how anyone could be shocked with their turn around when every single person knew once they got healthy they would be a force to reckon with again. However, all the talk is being “scared” of Detroit and I don’t think teams should be at all, respect yes but scared NO. This is the playoffs and every team will be a tough match up and with the aging Wings with 8 players being over the age of 34 it will be tough for them to keep up to the speed of younger teams. Detroit can play a style of game to shut down teams sure but for how long we shall see. Personally I do not see Detroit beating Chicago or Vancouver but of course it’s the playoffs and anything can happen. I will go on record saying I would welcome Detroit in the first round.
- Niemi starts again tonight against Dallas who has owned the Hawks this year
- A Hawks win would eliminate the Stars from playoff contention
- Kyle Beach was called up to Rockford. Kyle’s stats are impressive with 52 goals and 86 pts in 68 games along with 186 pims in the WHL. Is this the power forward Chicago has been looking for?
- Look for Huet to get his final start of the year against St.Louis
- Sunday’s match-up against Detroit very well could be a game which decides if they meet up with each other 1st round or not. Still a lot to be decided though.
In ending, still a lot of very important games coming up before the end of the regular season and I am sure you are as excited as I am for the post season to begin to see if our Chicago Blackhawks are for real this year. I think they are.
Thanks again for reading. GO HAWKS!!
About the Author
Written by Trent Kondo
An all around sports fan and has been a Chicago BlackHawks supporter longer then he can remember. Currently writes for Prosportsblogging.com on the Blackhawks and NHLHotstove.com on the Edmonton Oilers. (If you would like to email feel free to contact Trent at TKONHOCKEY@gmail.com )