The Chicago Blackhawks put a stranglehold on the Western Conference Final by defeating an impressive San Jose Sharks effort last night. Not to be undone, Chicago also played a tremendous game coming through in clutch situations proving the heart and dedication of the Hawks is second to none.
San Jose opened the scoring on the end of a lengthy 5 on 3 powerplay in which the Hawks came so close to killing off. Patrick Marleau was in the right spot at the right time as the Sharks took the lead 1-0 at the 3:58 mark of the first period.
Approximately 3 minutes later the Blackhawks got a rare powerplay opportunity of their own and managed to capitalize on it with Patrick Sharp being the recipient of an unreal pass by Jonathan Toews at 6:59 of the first. 1-1
David Bolland after yet another remarkable effort made a nice block in the defensive zone and skated the length of the ice to pot one past Evgeni Nabokov. 2-1 at the 13:05 mark of the 3rd period in the Hawks favor.
With time winding down and every Hawk fan watching the clock second by second it was looking like the Hawks may pull this win out. Didn’t happen, San Jose kept pushing and pushing getting multiple chances and Patrick Marleau notched his second of the game at the 15:37 segment of the 3rd period and game tied 2-2.
Off to overtime. It was a back and forth 6 minutes of overtime with furious offensive attacks from both clubs leaving fans sitting on the edge of the seat. The Sharks were desperate for the win to prevent falling down 3-0 in the series while the Hawks did not want to give San Jose any hope or motivation in this series.
At the 12:24 mark the Chicago Blackhawks turned the Madhouse on Madison into a frenzy with some good cycling down low and a bit of help by a break down by the Sharks as Dustin Byfuglien skated right into the slot and received a pass by Dave Bolland and buried it just under the cross bar. No chance for Nabokov whatsoever and Chicago put a stranglehold on the series being up 3 games to 0 over the San Jose Sharks.
Jonathan Toews has already locked up the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Win or lose for Chicago there has been no one that comes close to “Tazer” this year in the playoffs. Toews leads all players in the playoffs with 25 points with no one else even being close at this point in time, he has been remarkable on the power play and shorthanded. His 5 on 5 play is next to none, face off percentage is second for current players still playing only to Manny Maholtra of the Sharks, don’t forget Toews has taken 100 more draws the Manny. I dare you to show me a comparative player right now in the playoffs.
Antti Niemi is the second coming of Dominik Hasek.
Bold statement yes, but how can you argue? The styles are very comparable, he is rarely beaten on the first shot unless it’s deflected and he manages to make unbelievable saves with his unorthodox style which is very similar to the Dominator’s. I have been boasting Niemi’s style in comparison to Hasek since day 1 of the NHL season this year and I am standing by that. Niemi had his best game last night stopping 44 shots, just when we thought we saw the best from Antti he keeps coming back with more impressive performances.
Shots allowed is the only issue against Chicago.
So far there has not been any better hockey in the playoffs then this current series, it’s wide open with multiple scoring chances every minute of the game. San Jose has clearly decided to run and gun with Chicago and thus far it has failed them. The Hawks are by no means dominating the Sharks but are coming through at clutch times which is the biggest difference so far in this series. Earlier this season I blogged about goaltending and if teams that are deep up front need a superstar goaltender to win, seen here http://prosportsblogging.com/nhl-hockey/does-your-team-need-a-star-goalie/
(Many thanks go to Greg Wyshynski of YahooSports for posting the above link on one of his articles.)
I think this year’s playoffs shows that goaltending is still the most important position in hockey.
Not going to lie, I was leaning towards saying no a team does not need a superstar goalie to win but whatever goaltender you do have has to play like a superstar. Catch my drift? For game 4 Niemi will have to stand on his head again as San Jose is surely going to get over 40 shots again as will the Hawks against Nabokov. Over the season Chicago kept teams to minimal shots and led the league only allowing 25.1 shots per game but the playoffs are a different scenario and the current series is as wide open as it gets.
Some so called fans and media assuming they are “Experts” on Chicago’s future after this season need to get a grip.
This is really not the time to talk about next year’s Chicago’s team as they are in a great position to win a Stanley Cup if they can get by the Sharks. However, with a couple days off between hockey games fans of other clubs love to say “Chicago had better win this year because they are done next year due to the cap.” Really? Do they know what the cap is for the Hawks next year? Do they know how many options they have? Do they know how deep the farm system is down in Rockford? No, most just assume the entire team needs to split up and will be diminished for next year.
I won’t go on about this much but please, I beg of you, before the ludicrous comments on “Hawkey sites” all across the internet first look at the core players signed for Chicago. Hossa, Kane, Toews, Keith, and Campbell to name a few only, that’s a pretty damn good core to build around. Look at Detroit for years built around players like Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Lidstrom and were competitive every year by adding key young players from their farm system and some nice free aganet signings after they had to let players go due to salary cap issues. Chicago’s future is bright so to all the haters out there I’m sorry but your bad wishing upon Chicago will more then likely not succeed.
In ending, let’s cheer on the Hawks and hope that they can end this series quick and sweep the San Jose Sharks Sunday afternoon and blow the roof off the United Center!
Let’s 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 )